What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do
Most video editing is done digitally.
Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events. Editors organize the final productions from the many different images that camera operators capture. They collaborate with producers and directors to create the final production.
Film and video editors and camera operators typically do the following:
- Shoot and record television programs, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events
- Organize raw film footage into a continuous whole
- Collaborate 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 the type of lens to the appropriate lighting
- Shoot or edit a scene based on the director’s vision
Most camera operators have one or more assistants working under their supervision. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. They also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.
Likewise, editors usually have one or more assistants. The assistants support the editor by keeping track of each shot in a database or loading raw film into an editing bay. Assistants also may do some of the editing tasks.
The increased use of digital filming has changed the work of a large number of editors and camera operators. Many camera operators prefer using digital cameras because these inexpensive instruments give the operator more flexibility in shooting angles. Digital cameras also have 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.
Nearly all editing work is done on a computer, and editors often are trained in a specific type of editing software.
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.
Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually have a team of camera operators and assistants working under them. They determine the angles and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. They also adjust a light in a shot, because that is an important part of how the image looks.
Cinematographers may use stationary cameras that shoot whatever passes in front of them, or they may use a camera mounted on a track and move around the action. Some cinematographers 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.
Videographers film or videotape private ceremonies or special events, such as weddings. They also may work with companies and make corporate documentaries on a variety of topics. Some videographers post on video-sharing websites for businesses. Most videographers edit their own material.
Many videographers run their own business or do freelance work. They may submit bids, write contracts, and get permission to shoot on locations that may not be open to the public. They also get copyright protection for their work and keep financial records.
Many editors and camera operators, particularly videographers, put their creative work online. If it becomes popular, they gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance work.