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Camera operator (film, television or video)

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Summary of occupation

Camera operators record film or television productions using film or video camera equipment. They read scripts to work out the best shots to take and liaise with the director, producer and other key technical personnel about the best way to achieve these. They set up camera equipment in conjunction with lighting technicians, compose or frame shots, and operate and monitor camera equipment for the duration of filming. Camera operators work all over the State, filming television programs and news footage for community, government-funded and commercial television stations in our cities and towns, and shooting films on location in our beautiful remote and regional areas.

ANZSCO description: Sets up and operates cameras to photograph scenes for film, television or video productions.
Alternative names: Cameraperson, Cinematographer
Specialisations: Director of Photography, Focus Puller (Film)
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A camera operator needs:

  • a passion for film and visual arts
  • creative flair
  • the ability to follow instructions
  • technical and practical ability
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to work as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Camera operators work in film and television studios, as well as on location on film sets. When working outside they may experience all types of weather conditions. They work long hours, often until late, and may be required to work on weekends or public holidays. They may also be required to travel locally, across the State, interstate or overseas to shoot on location.

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Salary details

On average, camera operators (film, television or video), classified under performing arts technicians, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a camera operator (film, television or video) develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase. 

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Tools and technologies

Film camera operators use 16 mm and 35 mm film cameras or digital video for motion pictures, whereas television and video camera operators use cine-electronic television or digital video and video cameras for direct telecast and for recording. Camera operators may also wear headsets to receive instructions about shot type and effects from the director or assistant director.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a camera operator (film, television or video) without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a formal qualification in screen, film, media or other related areas.

VET qualifications and degree courses in these fields are widely available at TAFE Colleges and universities throughout Western Australia. Contact the training institution or university you are interested in for more information.​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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