The Camera Operator or Cameraman does exactly what you imagine the job to be. He operates the camera and maintains composition and camera angles throughout a given scene or shot.
The Operator is in charge of the Camera Crew – First Assistant, Second Assistant and Trainees. The Operator works under the Director of Photography (DoP) and the Director and is usually the first person to look through the lens to assess how all the elements come together to create the cinematic experience.
The seamless ease with which the camera moves is key to the narrative flow of feature films and is the Camera Operator’s responsibility, working alongside the Key Grip whose crew operates the range of complex equipment needed to carry the camera smoothly, gracefully and effortlessly through each scene.
What skills does a Camera Operator need?
- A good sense of visual composition, perspective and movement, combining creativity with technical skills.
- Precise attention to detail combined with effective communication skills.
- Tact, diplomacy and patience when working with crew and performers as there are many unavoidable delays on set.
- Initiative and the ability to respond quickly to many different situations.
- Stamina and strength combined with agility and speed are essential attributes, as is manual dexterity, as is the ability to work comfortably on location or in the studio at heights or in challenging situations. The job is physically demanding, the hours are long and the work is very hands-on.
- The British Society of Cinematographers
- The BSC Club
- Guild of British Camera Technicians
- BAFTA – British Academy of Film & Television Art
- WFTV – Women in Film & Television
- BECTU, the trade union representing camera personnel
- BKSTS (The Moving Image Society)
- British Cinematographer
- Sight and Sound
- American Cinematographer
- Network Nine News
- Sight and Sound available through the BFI website
- Screen International
- Moviescope, for film makers
- Cinematography: A Guide for Film Makers and Film Teachers byKris Malkiewicz, Jim Fletcher
- The Camera Assistant’s Manual by David E. Elkins SOC
- Practical Cinematography by Paul Wheeler
- FilmCraft: Cinematography by Mike Goodridge Mike Goodridge & Tim Grierson
- High Definition Cinematography by Paul Wheeler
- The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner
- Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice) by Elliot Grove
- From Script to Screen: Collaborative Art of Film Making by Lynda Seger & Edward J Whitmore