Camera operators are employed by television and cable companies, within the film industry and by video production houses. They are responsible for operating a variety of technical equipment including single and multiple portable, remote-control and electronic cameras, cranes and mobile mountings.
Other responsibilities include:
- assembling and setting up equipment
- planning, preparing and rehearsing scenes
- following camera scripts
- creatively framing and capturing action
- responding quickly to directions
- liaising with lighting and technical staff.
The job can be physically tiring and demanding - often requiring travel between locations and long and irregular working hours.
Practical skills, enthusiasm and relevant experience are usually more important than qualifications, although a television, film, photography, media studies or performing arts degree may be helpful. Potential employees need plenty of stamina, should be physically fit, observant, capable of concentrating for long periods of time, and must have excellent hand-eye co-ordination, hearing and colour vision.
It is important to be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the work, backed up with evidence of theoretical competency and good technical abilities. Experience can be gained via interests and amateur photography, film or video work.
Where to find out more
Most vacancies occur in major cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London. Opportunities are advertised via the internet, in newspapers, and specialist publications such as Audio Visual, Media Week and Broadcast. As there is strong competition for vacancies, maturity can be a disadvantage and most people enter the profession in their early twenties.
Networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable (directories such as the BFI Film and Television Handbook can provide useful contact information).