Camera operators operate a wide variety of technical equipment during film, television and video production projects. During shoots, they assemble and operate a wide variety of high-tech equipment, such as single electronic cameras and multiple portable crane mountings.
Duties and responsibilities
- Study scripts, take notes and try to understand the content
- Carry out instructions immediately when directed to do so
- Record various scenes using a diverse array of shots under the direction of the director of photography (DP)
- Follow shoot schedules and call sheets
- Practise the camera moves as stated in the screenplay or recommended by staff in rehearsals
- Assemble, repair and set up equipment pertinent to the day’s shooting schedule
- Maintain expensive equipment, film and recording devices to avoid additional costs
- Remember the rehearsals and follow the script that outlines the shots to take
- Offer advice on how to get the best shot and explain its impact
- Come up with solutions to practical or technical problems, like natural light or sound
- Cooperate with other crew members, including lighting technicians, sound recordists and producers
- Showcase your understanding of local health and safety regulations
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally
A camera operator can anticipate unpredictable, long and irregular working hours. Their workday primarily consists of standing and moving around, operating heavy camera equipment, and performing their job in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions.
Work environments can be stressful, particularly on television and motion picture sets.
Many camera operators often go through long bouts of unemployment between projects.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in film or broadcasting
To become a camera operator, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting. Entry into this profession is also possible through vocational training, related on-the-job training or an associate’s degree. You could also work your way up from an intern or production assistant position.
Familiarity with digital cameras and editing software is essential.
After proving your competency level as a production assistant, you will eventually move up to a camera assistant, which is then followed by a camera operator job. With a stellar portfolio of films, television shows, music videos and other video productions, you can move up the ladder in the entertainment industry. This usually consists of camera operators becoming directors or producers.