Thursday, December 30, 2010

Job of the movie camera man

By Chris Fox

A cameraman has a lot of work to do on set. Directing the Gaffer as to where to put the lights and creating that perfect lighting is just one task and being able to think up new angles and camera movements freely is the most fun part of the job. Getting to see your final work on the big screen can be a whole new magical experience, totally separate from those on set.

Seeing your audience reacting how you wanted them can also be somewhat over-powering. When the audience reciprocates how you intended after watching your work, a feeling of achievement comes alive inside. All the hard work dedicated to bringing a production alive is well worth it when it is mastered.

A cameraman claims the job of visualizing all the elements of the picture-and hardly anyone can do that with light-which is one of the hardest parts of my job as a cameraman. It takes patience and a good eye to assemble all elements creatively and think of creative lighting set-ups. Mimicking the feeling of "being there," with the camera also takes a good eye and agility. One must be fit in order to hold a camera without shaking for long takes, so build your muscle and your stamina!

Showing up to work early and staying late are a standard procedure in a cameraman's job because it takes so long to prep a camera. Sometimes, a cameraman ends up taking longer than anyone else in the crew because of prep-time. Bigger cameras are more delicate than smaller ones and come with a lot smaller pieces. Every piece of the camera has its own case-which means more to watch over.

It's always a good idea to thoroughly check every piece of camera equipment you rent to make sure it works the way it's supposed to. Camera equipment tends to be on the heavy side-especially equipment rented from such large places like Panavision or Arri-so it's a good idea to stay in shape and lift weights so you can move all the heavy cases of camera equipment as fast and carefully as possible. Working in the crew on set requires that you are able to move quickly without hurting yourself or others on set.

A lot of camera preps can take up to a week, so during that time, the camera crew can get acquainted with all the pieces, where they go and what they do. A cameraman must be in good shape for holding and running around set with heavy pieces of equipment. Considering how the crew moves so quick and how time is of the essence during every production, being able to move heavy equipment quickly and with ease is also mandatory.

Creativity and perseverance are key in this industry. The more creative, outspoken and efficient you are, the more people are going to want to work with you. Knowledge of the cameras you work with is also key, as you should know at least a little bit about all cameras currently in the industry.

In my opinion, freelance camerawork is the most difficult kind of camerawork because it's like living on the edge. As with any freelance job, you live from job to job, acquiring a sum of money that you'll have to budget for some time. However, no job is a promise and sometimes you can lose one merely days before you were supposed to start. Getting jobs in the film industry has most to do with meeting other camera people and networking. Making friends is key!

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