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The Camera Operator

A television camera operator works with digital, electronic and film cameras in multi- and single-camera operational conditions, producing pictures for directors by combining the use of complex technology with creative visual skills.

The work is based in two settings:
* in a studio, where the camera operator usually follows a camera script, which gives the order of shots practised at rehearsal and is cued by the director during recording. The skill lies in interpreting what the director wants and acting quickly and effectively to achieve it;
* on location, where there is likely to be more opportunity for creativity through suggesting shots to the director.

Typical work activities
A camera operator usually works under the direction of a director or director of photography and is sometimes supported by a camera assistant (or a focus puller/clapper loader, although with the advent of digital and electronic cameras these functions are in decline). The role is an interesting mix of the creative and technical.

Typical work activities include:
* assembling, preparing and setting up equipment prior to filming, which can include tripods, monitors, lighting, cables and leads, and headphones;
* offering advice on how best to shoot a scene, explaining the visual impact created by the angle of particular shots;
* planning shots - when filming an expensive drama scene, such as an explosion, there is only one chance to get things right so shots need to be meticulously planned beforehand;
* practising required positions for pre-arranged shots;
* studying scripts;
* finding solutions to technical or other practical problems (in outside broadcasts, for example, the natural light conditions need to be taken into account when setting up shots);
* being prepared to innovate and experiment with ideas;
* taking instructions from the director or the director of photography;
* working quickly, especially as timing is such an important factor;
* taking sole responsibility in situations where there is only one camera operator involved in the filming;
* keeping up to date with filming methods and equipment;
* repairing equipment;
* demonstrating a good awareness of health and safety issues.

Part of the role involves interacting and maintaining good working relationships with other members of the camera crew, including:
* sound recorders;
* lighting technicians;
* actors.

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