What does a Camera Operator do?
Camera operators typically do the following:
- Choose and present interesting material for an audience
- Work with a director to determine the overall vision of the production
- Discuss filming and editing techniques with a director to improve a scene
- Select the appropriate equipment, from type of camera to software for editing
- Shoot or edit a scene based on the director's vision
Many camera operators have one or more assistants working under their supervision. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for storing it and caring for it. They also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.
The increased use of digital filming has changed the work of many camera operators. Many prefer using digital cameras because these instruments give them more angles to shoot from. Digital cameras have also changed the job of some camera assistants: instead of loading film or choosing lenses, they download digital images or choose a type of software program to use with the camera.
The following are examples of types of camera operators.
Studio camera operators work in a broadcast studio and videotape their subjects from a fixed position. There may be one or several cameras in use at a time. Operators normally follow directions that give the order of the shots. They often have time to practice camera movements before shooting begins. If they are shooting a live event, they must be able to make adjustments at a moment’s notice and follow the instructions of the show’s director.
Electronic news gathering operators work on location as part of a reporting team. ENG operators follow events as they unfold and often record live events or breaking news. To capture these events, operators must anticipate the action and act quickly to shoot it. They sometimes edit their own footage in the field and then send it back to a studio to be broadcast.
Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually have a team of camera operators and assistants working under them. They determine the best angles and types of cameras to capture a shot. They may use stationary cameras that shoot whatever passes in front of them or a camera mounted on a track that moves around the action. Some operators sit on cranes and follow the action. Others carry the camera on their shoulder while they move around the action. Some cinematographers specialize in filming cartoons or special effects.
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