Keep Good B-Roll Off The Cutting Room Floor

Bond Falls, Ottawa Nat'l. Forest

Bond Falls, Ottawa Nat’l. Forest

The cutting room floor… where good ideas go to die. Actually, that phrase should be left on the cutting room floor because there really is no more cutting room floor, so you better not be leaving your good ideas there.

Huh? Okay, a brief history if you’re not up on the origins of that phrase.

The actual cutting room floor

It all goes back to film editing. The editor would have to splice the raw film that was shot into a finished movie, newsreel, etc. That process would result in all sorts of good material that didn’t make it into the finished film literally being left on the floor of the editing room.

Well, very few people still shoot and edit on actual film. The vast majority of what you see in theaters, on TV or online is all shot on digital formats and edited on computers.

The point behind this history lesson is that your good ideas and cool shots don’t have to end-up dying. Save that raw material for future projects whether or not it makes it into the original project. Your creativity doesn’t have to end-up scratched and broken on the cutting room floor like old film strips.

We’ve got that b-roll

Mrs. G will tell you, I even shoot stuff when there isn’t a specific need for it. Over our vacation, I shot some video of Bond Falls in Ottawa National Forest. Did I do it for any specific project? Nope. But why not shoot it? You never know when it might come in handy. You need waterfall b-roll? We’ve got that b-roll!

Back in the day, storing random stuff like that would have been a nightmare. Developing the film, storing it in bulky canisters, knowing that most of it would be destined for the cutting room floor.

Not any more. I shot some raw b-roll in Washington, DC about four years ago and used it for the first time in a project last winter. Bonus… I can save that same raw video and use it for multiple projects in the future because it’s all digital.

There is no more cutting room floor, so keep those ideas alive.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.