Have you ever watched a television show, movie, or church service? I’m sure you have seen one of those three, maybe even more. But they all have one thing in common, well mostly they have one thing in common. Multimedia, and camera operators are an intricate part of any multimedia video production. Here’s the guys at the Video Editing Sage to give you an idea.
I’ve had the fortunate chance to work in Television for years. I’ve freelanced at a TV studio, student projects, weddings, commercials and more recently, direct services with my church. This article is designed to help people who want to learn how to operate a camera or break into the business.
Rule number one is to always be teachable.
Keep your ear to the ground when just starting out. Ask questions when you are unsure of anything. Even thought you may think your question may be dumb or not important, ask anyway. The one caveat is that if you have been told multiple times the same thing, don’t ask again it will make things difficult for you. Just pay attention and everything will work out just fine. Back to the main thought, if you ask a question you will help the team stay on track. If you assume things can get really hairy and usually the blame will come to you for not being prepared. So make sure you know what you are doing, and what you director wants.
The second best piece of information I would suggest is to learn and know your gear. When you are on a shoot or in the middle of a shoot anything can happen. Be mindful of your equipment and how it works. There are people called engineers who are the lead guy to go to if something breaks or fails. But the little easy things you can fix you should learn. Know how to focus your camera. This a the basic cornerstone of being a camera operator. You might have the coolest shot, sweetest angle and perfect light. But if the main person in your shot is blurry then all your work was wasted.
So be mindful of your focus. After a while you will know if you are in focus or not, it just takes time. Your zoom control will be your next most important technique to master. Zooming in and out will be something every camera operator will do. Get used to the speed of the camera and how much pressure to apply to the zoom control. Other things to know would be back focus, gain, manual iris, and your viewfinder. I will cover these parts of the camera in a later article. Overall, be prepared, anticipate and practice. Most of these things will come with time and patience, but they will come.
Work out your shoulder and body. Being a hand held camera operator can take a lot of energy and focus. If you are running a camera from a tripod then this part of the article is not really for you. But if you move up to putting a camera on your shoulder and getting shots for your director, then be ready to move. Handhelds have the hardest job, but the biggest payoff. You have to lug a 30 pound or lighter camera on your shoulder for however long the shoot. However you can get some of the best shots and greatest accolades from your peers and bosses. So be in shape and build a strong shoulder.
Finally, here is an excellent young man making videos on Youtube about making videos. I highly suggest checking him out:
To get back to more tips on cinematography, click here.