Camera Operation & Responsibility – Lesson Five, Television Production

Responsibilities of being a camera operator are limited but they are still your responsibilities. What does it all mean to you? These are two totally different things – Camera Operation and photography, when you are speaking of community access television and operating a camera inside of a studio. In the body of this article, I have placed a link that gives excellent camera descriptions and basic use operations guidelines for studio and field cameras.

Camera operation is just that. Camera operators are very important in all television productions. After all you will get the shots, hold the shots and you will correct anything that should be corrected. Without the camera operator, you will just have an ordinary operation. You are the life behind the camera. You are the person that allows creativity in shots. Yes, there are some shows that can use just a robotics camera, but that operation is limited. So, as a camera operator you have an important role in television production.

You are the hands behind the camera and though you have eyes, your eyes are under the direction of the Director of the show. What does this mean to you as a photographer? It means that you can be an awesome photographer and yet still produce bad shots if you are acting under someone’s direction who is not a photographer. In the studio, while doing television shows, the Director who is in the control room calls all the shots. Some Directors take full charge and the camera operator is not allowed to use his mind or eyes to change the shots or do any experimentation. On some shows, the Director can and does use the talents of a professional photographer who is operating the camera and the Director will instruct the photographer, ahead of time, to get the best shots he can get (while that particular camera is not on program). So, if you are a fussy photographer who wants to control all of your own shots, do not work as a camera operator inside a television studio.

There are basics to camera operation and the basics begin with safety of the camera, safety of the operator, and having the knowledge to know who is in charge of the show/shots.

Cameras and Responsibility:

  • Most times, in the studio, it is best for the executive producer to handle the robotics cameras. You, as the executive producer are responsible for the studio, including the robotics, so take that responsibility seriously. If these robotics need to be moved across the floor, then you move them. You can be the first one inside the studio and uncap the robotics and move them to where you want them.
  • Examine all cameras and make sure they are all working, uncapped and in place.
  • Bring no liquids in the studio or near the cameras.
  • Before moving or adjusting any cameras, check to see that the camera is unlocked. Check all locks. (Do the same when placing the cameras back at the end of the production. (Lock cameras and replace all caps). I suggest that only the Executive Producer in charge of the entire production tend to the robotics cameras -when it comes to moving them in the studio. You, as the Executive Producer are responsible and these cameras are very fragile.
  • Never allow any children near the equipment inside the studio. Have the children stay in the dressing room while the studio is being set up and have someone stay with the children in the dressing room. I strongly suggest that when children are in the studio building that an adult always be present with them. The studio is packed with large, heavy and dangerous equipment; for the safety of all children (whether they be guests, hosts or children of talent, guests, hosts or producers), adults must accompany them everywhere in the studio.
  • When you are setting up the camera, close in on the object that you are photographing and focus at that point farthest from the camera. When I am focusing the camera, I always focus on the eyes of the subject. That’s a preference for me. Others focus on the draperies or curtains in the studio. Everyone has their own opinions, depending on what they want to accomplish. Once you focus clearly, then bring the zoom all the way out to the desired picture that you want (either wide shot, or head and shoulder etc). See this website for complete camera operation guidelines – http://www.cybercollege.com/tvp017.htm That website gives you basic information about cameras; you will need to check this out and then go on to the next lesson at that website for more details.

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