What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do
Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and film was $55,160 in May 2019.
The median annual wage for film and video editors was $63,780 in May 2019.
Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than 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.
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, movies, and other media. Editors arrange footage shot by camera operators and collaborate with producers and directors to create the final content.
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 supervise one or more assistants. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. Assistants 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 the 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:
Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually work with a team of camera operators and assistants. Cinematographers 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.
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.
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. 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.
Camera operators, television, video, and film held about 29,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of camera operators, television, video, and film were as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||28%|
|Radio and television broadcasting||19|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||6|
Film and video editors held about 38,300 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of film and video editors were as follows:
|Motion picture and video industries||49%|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||5|
Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or offices. 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 shoot 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 busy schedules while filming, but they go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of film and video editors and camera operators.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for media programs.
|See How to Become One||$45,510|
Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.
Multimedia Artists and Animators
Multimedia artists and animators create images that appear to move and visual effects for various forms of media and entertainment.
Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$36,280|
Producers and Directors
Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions.
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events.
For more information about film and video editors and camera operators, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/film-and-video-editors-and-camera-operators.htm (visited ).