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How to become a Camera Operator

Camera Operator
avg. starting salary

Looking for a role with a little more ‘action’? You should shoot for a role as a Camera Operator… Camera Operators (sometimes known as Cameraman or Camerawoman) use video cameras to record TV, film, and other video broadcasts. A Camera Operator’s day-to-day responsibilities will vary dependent on the area they work in. If they’re based on a ‘studio’ set, they’ll mainly focus on rehearsing and following a script alongside a director’s instructions. However, ‘outside broadcasting’ (e.g. sports and music events) and ‘on location’ work require the Camera Operator to be more creative, and they’ll be required to use more of their own judgment to capture and frame the most visually effective action shots. Typical duties for a Camera Operator include:
  • Assembling and arranging equipment
  • Planning and practicing each camera move
  • Executing complicated camera movements
  • Using specialist equipment, including digital, electronic and film cameras, to capture the perfect shot
  • Using cranes and stands to adjust views and shot lengths
  • Learning about new camera techniques within the TV and film industry
  • Liaising with lighting and technical staff
  • Transporting, maintaining, and fixing camera equipment

To become a Camera Operator, you’ll need excellent practical skills, as well as a good technical knowledge of video camera equipment. You’ll also need to be able to communicate with others effectively, whether you’re heading up filming, or focusing on a single aspect of the shoot as part of a larger camera crew. Because of the practical nature of the job, you’ll additionally need to be patient and always able to keep your concentration levels high – even if you’re working long hours and carrying heavy equipment. See also: uncooperative actors. Other key skills for a Camera Operator include:
  • Multitasking
  • Stamina, and physical fitness
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination
  • Manual dexterity
  • Patience
  • The ability to take direction and follow instructions

"I’ve always been a bit of a camera geek, and after studying Media Production at University, I decided to make a career out of it. I work on a freelance basis and specialise in outside broadcasts, which is really fun. Basically, I go to sports and music events across the country, and work with a team of Camera Operators to capture the best bits. It takes a lot of patience, and you’ve got to be in tune with the technical aspects to set up and use the equipment properly - especially when the weather’s against you. But with my team, I’m confident we can capture the perfect recording every time – because you only get one shot (literally)."

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