Video Careers – Camera Operators, Editing, & Film Production

Have you ever watched your favorite television program and thought about how the show was made? What you see on television or at the movies is the end result of many complex operations that take place behind the scenes.

Key elements in any media production are the photography (video or film) and editing. Camera operators and editors are in demand at television stations, news organizations, film production studios, advertising agencies, and even corporate video communications divisions. With the right career training, you could enter the exciting world of video or film production and enjoy a rewarding career. Here is a look at some dynamic media career choices and the training you might need to get started.

Camera operators capture the story on television, film, or video cameras. They work in film studios, on location, and for news organizations in the field. They may also work for corporations as in-house content producers. Some camera operators are self-employed and are hired to videotape special events including weddings and conference program sessions. Camera operators in television studios use large cameras on rolling mounts to videotape a program.

Producing a high-quality image requires having technical knowledge of digital camera systems, selecting the right equipment, and knowing how to set up a shot.

News camera operators work as part of a team with an on-air field reporter. The challenge is to get to the scene of a newsworthy event and get the story on video in time to be edited for the next news program. Occasionally, news teams including the camera operator are required to “camp out” at a location (such as at a lengthy trial or the scene of a missing-persons case) for days or even weeks.

Physical fitness is required to carry heavy equipment. Steadicam operators, who work for film production companies, wear a special harness that supports the camera. The harness and the camera are specially designed provide a smooth picture while the camera operator moves with the action. For some dramatic scenes the director may specify a hand-held camera that mimics what a real person might see.

Film and video editors take the “raw footage” that has been delivered on film or as a digital file and assemble the finished product. They select from many different shots and blend the edits together to tell the story seamlessly. Nowadays, most of the editing work is done on a computer. The editor works closely with the film or news director to create an effective visual narrative.

Education and Training

Production companies and news organizations seek camera operators and editors with creativity, imagination, and a thorough technical understanding of how cameras and editing equipment operate. Many people get their training at accredited vocational schools, colleges, universities, or photographic institutes. For some positions a bachelor’s degree may be required, particularly film and video editors.

Reputable career and broadcasting/media colleges offer many quality television production career training programs that could prepare you for exciting entry-level positions. Basic courses usually cover the use of video camera and editing equipment, digital processes, and editing techniques. Many programs provide training in computer technology. Film schools also may provide instruction on the artistic or aesthetic aspects of filmmaking, including the study of the history of film as an art form.

How Large Is the Industry?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition, in the United States about 47,000 jobs are held by camera operators and editors in television, video, and motion pictures. Video editors hold about 21,000 jobs, while about 27,000 are camera operators. Many are employed by local affiliate stations of television networks, while others work for independent television stations, cable and television networks, corporations, and smaller independent production companies.

Job Outlook

In the current decade from 2008 to 2018, the USBLS expects rapid expansion of the entertainment market, especially movie and television production, to spur demand for camera operators. Computer and Internet services are expected to provide new outlets for interactive productions.

Employment is expected to grow about as fast as the average. Over the 2008-2018 decade, opportunities for camera operators and editors are expected to grow about sixteen percent, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Camera operators will be needed to film Internet broadcasts, including live music videos, sports features, digital movies, and entertainment programming.

If you dream about an exciting career behind the scenes at a television program, news organization, or film production company, the future could hold many opportunities. With the right training, you could be a part of the action and enjoy a rewarding career making television and video programs enjoyed by millions around the world.