Film and video camera operators (NOC 5222)

About this job

Film and video camera operators work with film, video and digital media cameras and related equipment and technology. They record news, events, movies, television shows and other activities – including online productions. They often produce livestream videos, allowing people to watch events, meetings and other activities in real time online.

Watch the video below to learn what a typical day is like for a camera operator.

Common job titles
  • camera operator, EFP (e. field production)
  • camera operator, ENG (electronic news)
  • camera operator, film / news / movies
  • videographer - news / arts / dance

Duties

Film and video camera operators:

  • Meet with producers, news directors and senior members of video production crew to:
    • Discuss assignments
    • Plan camera movements, picture compositions and lighting conditions
  • Find good locations for filming, video sequences and interviews
  • Select what type of camera, lens and filters to use
  • Adjust focus, exposure, lighting and other camera settings 
  • Operate cameras to record news, live events, interviews, movies, videos and television, cable and online broadcasts
  • Test, maintain and store equipment
  • If using film, label and record the contents of exposed film
  • If using video or digital media, complete their report sheets, label, manage and organize the recordings or digital media files 
  • May meet with clients to discuss the project
  • May be required to follow the movie or television series’ director’s instructions on set 

Work environment

Film and video camera operators may work for television networks, stations and cable outlets delivering content across platforms, such as online, television and film. Corporate advertising and marketing agencies, video production houses, government and other organizations may have in-house camera operators. Also, online producers often create their own content for social media channels, such as YouTube and TikTok.

Camera operators may work for production houses on documentaries, television shows or movies. Some may own their business or work on contract or freelance.

Those who work for television and cable networks, advertising or marketing agencies, corporations or government usually work a 40-hour week. They may be required to work on weekends for specific projects or events. Other assignments may require camera operators to work long, irregular hours on short notice.

Some camera operators may work indoors in production/broadcast studios. They may also work outside depending on the location/set. Often, camera operators travel, either locally or to distant places, to set up and secure interviews and footage.

Many camera operators wait long hours in varying weather conditions for an event to take place and must stand or walk for long periods while carrying heavy equipment. Camera operators who cover news events may be required to work in uncomfortable or dangerous surroundings such as accidents, natural disasters and military conflicts. Camera operators who work on location must be able to get their work done efficiently and might not have easy access to internet, printers or other tools that are readily available in urban areas.

Insights from industry

Advances in technology have provided opportunities for those interested in a career behind and in front of the camera. Social media start ups often do their own camera work and this gives them creative freedom. Specializing in certain technologies is common. For example, using smartphones to create content or providing expertise in drone operation for filming.

While some productions may use traditional film, for the most part it’s used in artistic work. Most production companies, news organizations and individual camera operators use digital forms of media for videos. Improved technology has allowed digital media to provide quality that is equal to more traditional forms and is easier to store, access and transfer.

There are new opportunities to freelance for media outlets. This is attractive for those who enjoy a fast-paced environment and like to think and produce quickly in challenging circumstances.

Film and video camera operators should have technical, business and people skills for this type of career. They need to keep up to date on what the audience expects. Also, it’s important to troubleshoot any equipment issues to avoid losing time with an interview subject or at an event.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

With experience and training, camera operators may progress to supervisory roles or to director of photography positions. They may also start their own business or establish themselves as a senior news videographer or as the head of in-house video/digital production for a large corporation.

Additional resources