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Job Description

Cinematographers, camera operators, and gaffers work together to capture the scenes in the script on film. Cinematographers compose the film shots to reflect the mood the director wishes to create. They do not usually operate the camera; instead, they plan and coordinate the actual filming. Camera operators handle all camera movements and perform the actual shooting. Assistant camera operators check the equipment, load and position cameras, run the film to a lab or darkroom, and take care of the equipment. Commercial camera operators specialize in shooting commercials. This experience translates easily into filming documentaries or working on smaller budget independent films.

Median Annual Salary


Unions are very important in this industry. Art directors, cartoonists, editors, costumers, scenic artists, set designers, camera operators, sound technicians, projectionists, and shipping, booking, and other distribution employees belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (I.A.T.S.E.) or the United Scenic Artists Association.

Educational Requirements

Cinematographers, camera operators, and sound engineers usually have either a college or technical school education, or they go through a formal training program. Computer skills are required for many editing, special-effects, and cinematography positions.

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