WHAT IS A-ROLL?
To make it simple, A-roll is raw footage where there is a person on-screen talking (whether it is an interview, a panel discussion on stage, or a speech). A-roll is the primary track of video content as well as audio. And therefore, A-roll has to be planned before to set recording devices (be it wireless microphones, boom mic, or zoom recorder plugged to the desk). In a nutshell, A-Roll is the backbone of video pieces of content.
Being the primary footage, A-roll footage not only tells the story but also includes the primary audio. In its raw state, A-roll footage is a compilation of long clips with people on screen talking, which means that all devices (cameras as well as audio recording devices) need to be set up beforehand to make sure that nothing is missed. The only way to select great sound bites for post-production is making sure while shooting that interviews panel discussions, keynote presentations, or speeches are captured in full.
Therefore A-roll footage requires planning in advance: knowing if a boom operator needs to join the production crew, subjects that need to be mic'd up, or if a zoom recorder that needs to be plugged to the desk. If these questions are not answered beforehand, it is unlikely that the production crew will be able to improvise and come back with excellent results. However, the more information we have about your project, the more we will be able to come up with suggestions and a solid production plan.
A-roll footage in post-production is used as a backbone to the content and is what drives the story forward. However, on its own, A-roll footage is dull and monotonous to watch as everything is in there in full. Therefore its audio has fumbled lines, coughs, sniffles, and stutters that need to be edited out. That’s when B-roll footage comes in: to cover up all A-roll jump cuts. Therefore, when assembled with B-roll footage and music, A-roll footage does so much in telling the story, addressing thoughts and ideas that cannot be communicated visually.