Career and Job Search Guide

Television, Video and Motion Picture
Camera Operator and Editor

Camera operators, whether they work in television or motion pictures, operate video cameras to film movies or record live events. Editors review completed recordings and television broadcasts and remove sections they deem as unimportant or unnecessary. Camera operators sometimes edit their own work.

Camera operators work for news organizations, television studios, television companies that cover sports, and movie production companies. Camera operators are responsible to film from numerous angles. Because of computer technology, most film editing is done digitally. Camera operators, as well as editors, usually work for cable companies, small television studios, and locally managed television studios serving as network affiliates.

To create high quality films and television productions, video and editing professionals must be creative and have a strong grasp of technology. They must also have the ability to determine interesting and quality images to film and leave in their productions, and camera operators must have the ability to operate a camera smoothly.

Camera operators are often hired by individuals to film weddings and other ceremonies or celebrations. Operators who exclusively use video cameras to cover these events are known as videographers. Operators working in television studios, usually operate cameras situated in a fixed location. Those who work for news organizations, known as electronic news gathering (ENG) operators, work with reporters to cover news stories. Since they record events as they are unfolding, these camera operators must be highly skilled to anticipate movements, and ENG operators are often required to perform video edits while in the field before transmitting their footage to a television studio.

Camera operators that work for television and move companies use video cameras to film television shows, commercials, and motion pictures. Operators that film movies are called cinematographers. They can be experts in special effects or cartoons. Since cinematographers must film from numerous angles and positions, most cinematographers are experts in using cameras on mobile or special mounting equipment. However, cameras utilizing digital technology has made it easier for cinematographers to film higher quality productions and film from angles. Many motion production companies use cranes to capture shots at various angles, and as a result, cinematographers often work on cranes. Since cinematographers are constantly moving, they often use a steadicam attached to their shoulders to capture quality shots. Cinematographers are an integral part of film making, so they often collaborate with producers, actors, directors, and editors to provide suggestions during filming.

Work environment. ENG camera operators and people filming news stories and sports are often required to travel and be away from their homes for extended periods of time. This also applies to camera operators working for television stations or movie companies filming away from a studio.

ENG operators, and others filming wars, manmade and natural disasters, and covering news in unstable regions sometimes do so in hazardous environments. Many people involved in filming must work in inclement weather conditions and stand for hours at a time. ENG operators must adhere to stringent deadlines.

Camera operators and editors have very different work hours. Camera and editing professionals working for cable or marketing companies often work 40 hour weeks, occasionally working overtime to meet deadlines. ENG operators frequently work erratic hours and are required to be on call to immediately respond to news stories. Camera and editing professionals in the movie industry work erratic and long hours.