Movie and TV Camera Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Camera Operators - Television Video and Motion Picture Career Video



Operates a television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, video production, or motion pictures.

This career is part of the Arts, Audio-Video Technology and Communications cluster Audio and Video Technology and Film pathway, Journalism and Broadcasting pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Operates television or motion picture cameras to record scenes for television broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Edits video for broadcast productions, including non-linear editing.
  • Composes and frames each shot, applying the technical aspects of light, lenses, film, filters, and camera settings to achieve the effects sought by directors.
  • Adjusts positions and controls of cameras, printers, and related equipment to change focus, exposure, and lighting.
  • Confers with directors, sound and lighting technicians, electricians, and other crew members to discuss assignments and determine filming sequences, desired effects, camera movements, and lighting requirements.
  • Sets up and performs live shots for broadcast.
  • Sets up cameras, optical printers, and related equipment to produce photographs and special effects.
  • Assembles studio sets and selects and arranges cameras, film stock, audio, or lighting equipment to be used during filming.
  • Tests, cleans, maintains, and repairs broadcast equipment, including testing microphones, to ensure proper working condition.
  • Uses cameras in any of several different camera mounts, such as stationary, track-mounted, or crane-mounted.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Commercial Producer -- Responsible for financing, overseeing and sometimes even creating multimedia products that are meant to be sold to consumers.
  • News Photographer -- Captures snapshots of live events for audiences reading journals, magazines or newspapers.
  • Photojournalist -- Photographs newsworthy events, locations, people, or other illustrative or educational material for use in publications or telecasts, using still cameras.
  • Wild Life Photographer -- Uses a combination of technical and creative skills in order to photograph wildlife in their natural habitat.
  • Medical Videographer --
  • Videotape Editor --