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It's All In The B-Roll

Snickers, candidates, whatever

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There's a phrase TV types use that started out as a film term: "b-roll." Simply, it's video that we use when we edit a piece, commercial or program that takes you away from the action. For example, you'll have a soundbite from a subject, and while they're talking about, say, a Snickers bar, you cut away to images of the candy. You want to take the viewer's mind off the dull human on camera and cut to the chase of what you're trying to sell, or what you're trying to explain.

Talking heads can be boring, you see, or they take five minutes to talk about what they could say in about 45 seconds, so you use that wonderful b-roll to cut and paste and edit.

That's what I love about a big election year, despite my apolitical nature: I always vote, but pretty much loathe the men we have to choose from each time. It's a banner time for deftly used b-roll, especially in carefully targeted TV political ads.

A spot this year for former Congressional candidate Ed Broyhill had it all. The requisite shot of a church steeple (b-roll means: "I am religious"), a walking shot of him and his family (b-roll means: "I have "family values,' none of that gay stuff"), and the favorite of all spin doctors everywhere, a shot of factory workers that includes at least one minority person (b-roll means: "I'm a millionaire, but I can still get down with the blue-collar brothas").

In most cases, the b-roll speaks louder than the candidate. The soundbite or the convention speech is drowned out by one-stop political shopping in generalities, hot-air pundits, and the pollsters' mission to clearly mark who is "us" and who is "them."

ROCK THIS, GEEZERS WWMG-FM lost the "Magic" last week when it changed to a younger music format and dumped oldies and older listeners along with its morph to "The Beat." It's a move to make more money, and take on rival Infinity Broadcasting, which owns the two Charlotte stations that currently cater to the pop and hip-hop crowds, KISS-FM and WPEG-FM.

Survivors from the shake-up are Liz Luke and morning man Jim Shafer, who move to sister station Lite 102.9.

Stay tuned.

E-mail with feedback and tips at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com

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