Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.
What they do
Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, movies, and other media. Editors arrange footage shot by camera operators and collaborate with producers and directors to create the final content.
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 digital footage with video-editing software
- 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, such as the type of lens or lighting
- Shoot or edit a scene based on the director’s vision
Many camera operators supervise one or more assistants. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. Assistants also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.
Likewise, editors often have one or more assistants. The assistants support the editor by keeping track of each shot in a database or loading digital video into an editing bay. Assistants also may do some of the editing tasks.
Most operators prefer using digital cameras because the smaller, more inexpensive instruments give them 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. In addition, drone cameras give operators an opportunity to film in the air, or in places that are hard to reach.
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:
Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually work with a team of camera operators and assistants. Cinematographers determine the angles and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. They also adjust the lighting 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 to film an action scene; others carry the camera on their shoulder while they move around the action.
Some cinematographers specialize in filming cartoons or special effects. For information about a career in animation, see multimedia artists and animators.
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. The use of robotic cameras is common among studio camera operators, and one operator may control several cameras at once.
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. 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.
Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or offices. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.
Film and video editors work in editing rooms by themselves, or with producers and directors, for many hours at a time. Cinematographers and operators who shoot movies or TV shows may film on location and be away from home for months at a time. Operators who travel usually must carry heavy equipment to their shooting locations.
Some camera operators work in uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions, such as severe weather, military conflicts, and natural disasters. They may have to stand for long periods waiting for an event to take place. They may carry heavy equipment while on shooting assignment.
How to become a Film and Video Editor and Camera Operator
Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.
Most editor and camera operator positions require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, such as communications. Many colleges offer courses in cinematography or video-editing software. Coursework involves a mix of film theory with practical training.
Film and video editors and camera operators must have an understanding of digital cameras and editing software because both are now used on film sets.
Employers may offer new employees training in the type of specialized editing software those employers use. Most editors eventually specialize in one type of software, but beginners should be familiar with as many types as possible.
Editors may demonstrate competence in various types of editing software by earning certification, which is generally offered by software vendors. Certification requires passing a comprehensive exam, and candidates can prepare for the exam on their own, through online tutorials, or through classroom instruction.
The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and film was $55,160 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,560, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,790.
Employment of film and video editors is projected to grow 22 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Employment of camera operators is projected to grow 14 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.
In broadcasting, the consolidation of roles—such as editors who determine the best angles for a shoot, the use of robotic cameras, and the increasing reliance on amateur film footage—may lead to fewer jobs for camera operators. However, more film and video editors are expected to be needed because of an increase in special effects and overall available content.
Similar Job Titles
Camera Operator, Cameraman, Master Control Operator (MCO), News Videographer, Production Assistant, Production Technician, Studio Camera Operator, Television News Photographer, Truck Operator, Videographer, Editor, Film Editor, News Editor, News Video Editor, News Videotape Editor, Non-Linear Editor, Online Editor, Tape Editor, Television News Video Editor, Video Editor, Cue Select, Electronic News Gathering Camera Operators, Electronic News Gathering Editors
Mapping Technician, Audio and Video Equipment Technician, Computer Operator, Desktop Publisher, Prepress Technician and Worker, Broadcast Technician, Sount Engineering Technician, Film and Video Editor
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Guild of Court Videographers
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
- National Press Photographers Association
- Society of Broadcast Engineers
- Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
- American Advertising Federation
- Motion Picture Editors Guild
- Motion Picture Sound Editors
- National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians - Communications Workers of America
- National Association of Broadcasters
- The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
- Wedding and Event Videographers Association International
- Writers Guild of America East
Magazines and Publications
Film and Video Editor:
Film and Video Editor:
“Cut!” While credit for a film’s success may go to the director, it’s often editors who turn hours of raw footage into an enjoyable blockbuster movie. Film and video editors select and cut film and video footage of actors and settings and arrange it into stories with a clear sequence and meaning or to achieve certain emotional or psychological effects. These film professionals often look closely frame by frame to ensure that the final product achieves the desired impact. An editor might work at a Hollywood studio… spending hours alone in the editing booth… or in an office producing video content for a media company. Many editors work in motion picture and video industries or in television broadcasting, and some are self-employed. Editors need creativity and the ability to work collaboratively with producers and directors to achieve a common vision. Most jobs require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting. As in most industries, technology has had a profound impact. Today, most editing is performed digitally using specialized software. Film editors typically choose to specialize in one type of software, and some employers offer training in the type of specialized editing software they use. Internet-based video creation services have provided additional platforms and opportunities for editors.
Whether it’s the silver screen of 1950s Hollywood or the computer screen and YouTube of today, Americans have long carried a torch for moving pictures. When the director yells “Action” the camera operator’s eyes are glued to the camera’s lens, making sure to catch everything. There are three main types of camera operators. Studio camera operators work in broadcasting and follow directions as part of an ensemble production. They film their subjects from a fixed position. Cinematographers film motion pictures. They determine the angles, lighting, and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. Videographers may shoot special events, such as weddings, or work with companies to make corporate documentaries. They typically edit their footage for clients. Many videographers run their own businesses or do freelance work. Most camera operators work full-time schedules, but may have long, irregular hours while filming. Like anyone in the movie industry, once filming wraps there’s no guarantee when the next opportunity will come along. Camera operators may have to stand for long periods, and they may carry heavy equipment wherever production happens, which could be an office or a remote setting. Camera operators must be creative, detail-oriented, and effective communicators. Camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, such as communications.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org