Jump to content


Photo

Requirements as a Camera Operator


  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 Jeremy M Lundborg

Jeremy M Lundborg
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 61 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 18 July 2011 - 10:23 PM

I would like to know what I can expect to be asked as a Camera Operator for a multi-cam television show in a studio. While I have worked independently as a cinematographer and I know what I would like my camera operator to do on said independent films, I have very little knowledge of how TV and upper level studio shoots work.

My question relates specifically to what I should be ready to do upon arrival in the studio, then during and after shooting. Any thoughts beyond 'frame it well!" are appreciated.
Maybe even some anecdotes from previous experience?
  • 0

#2 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 19 July 2011 - 12:26 AM

at the very least, probably wear all black.
  • 0

#3 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 19 July 2011 - 02:10 AM

I don't know about the TV studio you'll be using, but usually the cameras are mounted on movable pedestals with a central column which moves over a smooth floor. The pedestal has a ring that allows you to either steer or crab it and the column is pressurised so that you can raise or lower it with a light movement. Also, best not to get yourself into a knot with the camera cables getting mixed up.

TV studios also have a talkback intercom to all the cameras, so that the director can talk to you. This not only has the director, but the vision engineers may pass the odd piece of information or request. The intercom can get quite noisy at times, with various conversations sometimes going on the control room, but the director always stands out.
  • 0

#4 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2431 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 19 July 2011 - 03:34 AM

But whatever you do, don't answer the talkback.
  • 0

#5 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11947 posts
  • Other

Posted 19 July 2011 - 06:42 AM

My experience of this is very limited, but in the main it involves getting from A to B very, very quickly, keeping in mind where you are, where you're going next, where your colleagues are and where they'll be going, what state the cabling will be in, and good grief, I've only got "Hello, and welcome to tonight's edition" to get to my next shoooooottt......

....you'll get the hang of it.

P
  • 0

#6 Gary Lemson

Gary Lemson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 155 posts
  • Other
  • Santa Cruz Mountains

Posted 19 July 2011 - 08:06 AM

Get to know your director. I have worked with some to where I know what they expect, then I anticipate their directives, move into place, and frame up ahead of time.

Edited by Gary Lemson, 19 July 2011 - 08:07 AM.

  • 0

#7 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 19 July 2011 - 08:23 AM

Get to know your director. I have worked with some to where I know what they expect, then I anticipate their directives, move into place, and frame up ahead of time.


This really depends if you're working with the same directors, you may find you're working for different productions that have different directors. These TV studio productions tend to go through rehearsals, so you do get a feel for what's going on, however, it depends on the type of TV programmes we're talking about, some are more of a production line.
  • 0

#8 Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1234 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Dallas, TX

Posted 19 July 2011 - 07:22 PM

I would like to know what I can expect to be asked as a Camera Operator for a multi-cam television show in a studio. While I have worked independently as a cinematographer and I know what I would like my camera operator to do on said independent films, I have very little knowledge of how TV and upper level studio shoots work.

My question relates specifically to what I should be ready to do upon arrival in the studio, then during and after shooting. Any thoughts beyond 'frame it well!" are appreciated.
Maybe even some anecdotes from previous experience?


Frame it well and listen to the director. No freelancing. Sometimes you may think you have a better shot but there is a chance that another camera has that shot already. I remember sitting in on the editing of a Gwen Stefani video and all the cameras had Gwen in a Closup form different angles. You should be on head phones and as long as you do what is asked, you should be OK.
  • 0

#9 Phil Connolly

Phil Connolly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 377 posts
  • Director
  • London

Posted 02 August 2011 - 05:04 AM

I agree with the comments about not having long discussions over talkback - one thing you can do is if you are asked a yes or no question over talkback is nod or shake the camera. So the people in the control room can see quickly on the monitors your response - for example if the director asked prior to a take - "cameras are you set" its easier to see all the cameras nodding on the monitors rather then hearing five or six people (or more) simultaneously talking on talk back.

Always bring a pencil with you, as you will often be working off camera cards, these are a list of shots for each camera. Very often you will have to make adjustments to shots during rehearsals. Make a note of these on the camera card, or you will forget. On a longer show with hundreds of shots you probably wont remember that shot 59 is now 2 shot and not a CU. Its your job to remember the director may just call the shot numbers and not describe the shot - this is very true during music performances, shots happen very quickly and you have to be on it. Sometimes music performances are scripted eg the shots are worked out in advance, otherwise they are "busked" with the director calling shots as the see them. On a "busked" or as directed section, try to offer interesting shots and check what other cameras are doing so you don't repeat shots. In most studios you can switch the vision mixers(vision switchers) output into your viewfinder, so you can check whats on air and how that effects your shot.

Pedestal operating can take a bit of practice, very often you can find yourself having to dolly, pull focus and jib at the same time and you tend to run out of hands. Depth of field in this situation is your friend, you may not have enough hands to pull focus, so find the focus for the end of the move and use a wider lens.
  • 0

#10 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2660 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:43 PM

I think I'm a little late to the discussion, but I'll tell you about a couple situations I've been in.
The first time I was ever booked to shoot baseball was a bit of a last minute call and I had no clue what to expect. When I got to the stadium the other operators asked me what camera I normally did. I told them honestly that I'd never shot baseball before. A couple of guys shook their heads and turned and walked the other way, but a couple of them were very kind and gave me some tips and made sure I got camera 4, which happens to be on the air more than any other camera but is also the most simple and straightforward. I was also honest with the director about my baseball experience and he was very helpful in making sure I knew what my responsibilities were in every situation. The combination of a couple helpful operators and a helpful and understanding director made my first game an easy and fun experience. And at the end of the game the director made a point of telling me how well I did on comms. Of course, the whole thing could have gone completely differently if the director and/or operators weren't so willing to work with me. Some people like to have someone to yell at and look down upon, but everyone has their first day at some point and we all have to learn somehow. How you approach those learning situations can make a big difference in how your day goes.

The first time I ever operated on a sitcom was also the first time I ever used a geared head on a job. I'd practiced with one A LOT, but I'd never actually been paid to turn the wheels before. I was probably about 29 at the time, and I felt like the baby of the camera dept. Even the utilities and 2nd's were all in their forties. So I was very nervous and felt a bit out of place. I was "B" camera, which is generally the tighter wide shot, and I was doing a dolly move on the same track as "A" camera tracking two people walking down a sidewalk. Pretty simple, but man was I nervous! At the beginning of the shot I was panning the actors in before the move started. We did a couple rehearsals and everything went fine. On the first take I turned my pan wheel the wrong way and panned them right out of frame! I quickly corrected and finished the take and no one said anything to me about it. At the end of the take the (very veteran) 1st said, "Did you cut early?"
me: "No, why?"
1st: "I noticed the camera wasn't rolling at the end of the take."
me: "Well, did you roll it?"
1st: "No."
me: "Why not?"
1st: "Because operators roll their own cameras on this show."
me: "Oh, crap!"
1st: "Don't worry, I'll let Scripty know. By the way, we'll do about 20 more takes, so it's no big deal."
me "Oh, good."
In my nervousness I hadn't thought to ask if the 1st would roll or not, and I was too preoccupied to notice that we weren't rolling. Whoops! So this is another instance where I could have been thrown under the bus, but wasn't. After that I relaxed a lot more and had a nice night of work with some great people on a fun show.
  • 0


Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

Broadcast Solutions Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Opal

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

CineTape

Technodolly

Technodolly

Opal

Visual Products

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider