Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
|Quick Facts: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators|
|2017 Median Pay||$58,210 per year
$27.99 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2016||59,300|
|Job Outlook, 2016-26||13% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2016-26||7,600|
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Film and Video Editing and Camera Operator Career, Salary, and Education Information
What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do
Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events. Editors take footage shot by camera operators and organize it into a final product. They collaborate with producers and directors to create the final production.
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Duties of Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Film and video editors and camera operators typically do the following:
Shoot and record television programs, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events
Organize digital footage with video-editing software
Collaborate with a director to determine the overall vision of the production
Discuss filming and editing techniques with a director to improve a scene
Select the appropriate equipment, such as the type of lens or lighting
Shoot or edit a scene based on the director’s vision
Many camera operators have one or more assistants working under their supervision. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. They also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.
Likewise, editors often have one or more assistants. The assistants support the editor by keeping track of each shot in a database or loading digital video into an editing bay. Assistants also may do some of the editing tasks.
Most operators prefer using digital cameras because these smaller, more inexpensive instruments give them more flexibility in shooting angles. Digital cameras also have changed the job of some camera assistants: Instead of loading film or choosing lenses, they download digital images or choose a type of software program to use with the camera. In addition, drone cameras give operators an opportunity to film in the air, or in places that are hard to reach.
Nearly all editing work is done on a computer, and editors often are trained in a specific type of editing software.
The following are examples of types of camera operators:
Studio camera operators work in a broadcast studio and videotape their subjects from a fixed position. There may be one or several cameras in use at a time. Operators normally follow directions that give the order of the shots. They often have time to practice camera movements before shooting begins. If they are shooting a live event, they must be able to make adjustments at a moment’s notice and follow the instructions of the show’s director. The use of robotic cameras is common among studio camera operators, and one operator may control several cameras at once.
Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually have a team of camera operators and assistants working under them. They determine the angles and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. They also adjust the lighting in a shot, because that is an important part of how the image looks.
Cinematographers may use stationary cameras that shoot whatever passes in front of them, or they may use a camera mounted on a track and move around the action. Some cinematographers sit on cranes to film an action scene; others carry the camera on their shoulder while they move around the action.
Some cinematographers specialize in filming cartoons or special effects. For information about a career in animation, see multimedia artists and animators.
Videographers film or videotape private ceremonies or special events, such as weddings. They also may work with companies and make corporate documentaries on a variety of topics. Some videographers post their work on video-sharing websites for prospective clients. Most videographers edit their own material.
Many videographers run their own business or do freelance work. They may submit bids, write contracts, and get permission to shoot on locations that may not be open to the public. They also get copyright protection for their work and keep financial records.
Many editors and camera operators, but particularly videographers, put their creative work online. If it becomes popular, they gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance opportunities.
Work environment for Video Editors and Camera Operators
Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture held about 25,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of camera operators, television, video, and motion picture were as follows:
Motion picture and video industries: 38%
Radio and television broadcasting: 21%
Self-employed workers: 15%
Professional, scientific, and technical services: 5%
Film and video editors held about 34,200 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of film and video editors were as follows:
Motion picture and video industries: 58%
Self-employed workers: 16%
Television broadcasting: 9%
Professional, scientific, and technical services: 5%
Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.
Film and video editors work in editing rooms by themselves, or with producers and directors, for many hours at a time. Cinematographers and operators who film movies or TV shows may film on location and be away from home for months at a time. Operators who travel usually must carry heavy equipment to their shooting locations.
Some camera operators work in uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions, such as severe weather, military conflicts, and natural disasters. They may have to stand for long periods waiting for an event to take place. They may carry heavy equipment while on shooting assignment.
Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in additional hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have long, irregular hours while filming, but go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.
How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator
Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.
Most editor and camera operator positions require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, such as communications. Many colleges offer courses in cinematography or video-editing software. Coursework involves a mix of film theory with practical training.
Film and video editors and camera operators must have an understanding of digital cameras and editing software because both are now used on film sets.
Editors may complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some employers may offer new employees training in the type of specialized editing software those employers use. Most editors eventually specialize in one type of software, but beginners should be familiar with as many types as possible.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Editors may demonstrate competence in various types of editing software by earning certification, which is generally offered by software vendors. Certification requires passing a comprehensive exam, and candidates can prepare for the exam on their own, through online tutorials, or through classroom instruction.
Experienced film and video editors and camera operators with creativity and leadership skills can advance to overseeing their own projects. For more information, see the profile on producers and directors.
Communication skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must communicate with other members of a production team, including producers and directors, to ensure that the project goes smoothly.
Computer skills. Film and video editors must use sophisticated editing software.
Creativity. Film and video editors and camera operators should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.
Detail oriented. Editors look at every frame of film and decide what should be kept or cut in order to maintain the best content.
Hand–eye coordination. Camera operators need to be able to move about the action while holding a camera steady.
Physical stamina. Camera operators may need to carry heavy equipment for long periods, particularly when they are filming on location.
Visual skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must see clearly what they are filming or editing in the postproduction process.
Salaries for Film and Video Editors or Camera Operators
The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture was $53,550 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,980.
The median annual wage for film and video editors was $61,180 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $163,440.
In May 2017, the median annual wages for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
Motion picture and video industries: $59,240
Professional, scientific, and technical services: $52,600
Radio and television broadcasting: $47,410
In May 2017, the median annual wages for film and video editors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
Motion picture and video industries: $63,770
Professional, scientific, and technical services: $55,000
Television broadcasting: $53,040
Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in long hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have long, irregular hours while filming, but go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.
Job Outlook for Film and Video Editors or Camera Operators
Employment of film and video editors is projected to grow 17 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Employment of camera operators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.
In broadcasting, the consolidation of roles—such as editors who determine the best angles for a shoot, the use of robotic cameras, and the increasing reliance on amateur film footage—may lead to fewer jobs for camera operators. However, more film and video editors are expected to be needed because of an increase in special effects and overall available content.
Most job openings are projected to be in entertainment hubs such as New York and Los Angeles because specialized editing workers are in demand there. Still, film and video editors and camera operators will face strong competition for jobs. Those with more experience at a TV station or on a film set should have the best prospects. Video editors can improve their prospects by developing skills with different types of specialized editing software.
Employment projections data for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, 2016-26
Employment, 2016: 59,300
Projected Employment, 2026: 66,900
Change, 2016-2026: +13%, +7,600
Careers Related to Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.
Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.
Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.
Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.
Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm