Cinematography : Thought I'd share by Landis Stokes

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Landis Stokes

Thought I'd share

Essential Things You Should Learn About Working as a Camera Operator http://ow.ly/10eW0J

What Does a Camera Operator Really Do? Watch the Legends Tell It Like It Is
What Does a Camera Operator Really Do? Watch the Legends Tell It Like It Is
Three camera operators tell their stories, one frame at a time. Ever heard of a "famous" camera operator? Not really, right? That's because they're consistently overshadowed by a distinct chain of command.
JD Hartman

Camera operators, operate, they don't decide framing or what lens or what part of the frame to keep in focus. That's the DP's job. The link is full of mis-information.

Landis Stokes

Anyone agree or disagree with JD? Is this mis-information? Or mis-interpretation? What's your experience?

Royce Allen Dudley

Its not opinion, it's fact. Sort of... :) Union camera operators in the U.S. on scripted material who work under a DP do not make compositional or other choices... they execute the shot as designed and report back adjustments needed in framing or blocking, dolly move, focus pull, etc. That doesn't mean that a cam op doesn't have ideas, input or make on the fly adjustments as a scene unfolds... and they can be given plenty of rope ("keep a medium shot of the female lead as best you can, when she leaves the set, find me some reaction shots among the extras"). They are the forward battle eyes and hands of the DP, and the type of show and.work style of the directo and DP will dictate how much autonomy they have. It has become more normal for DP's or even directors to operate cameras, ans also for some directors to forego a.DP and only hire a cam op. Any of these things makes the dynamic change.

Landis Stokes

I side more with Royce's comment. I prefer the union standard but everyone does not work in the union and everyone was not trained (or works) in the traditional sense. Like Royce said, there are so many factors per production. Does this article perpetuate misinformation or fact? I don't think so. It's an article about the experience of the three camera operators. How can you argue someone's experience? Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

JD Hartman

Nothing to do with union/non-union, student film, amateur production. The is a hierarchy on a film set, a chain of command and it works well if you let it. If you're a 1st or 2nd AC you might suggest...., but the DP, if he's a good DP already has the shot mapped out before hand including how it will cut together.

Royce Allen Dudley

A good DP can work many ways, including shoot everything with zero planning, know it will cut as he goes out of sequence, and get hired all the time. I freestyle a BUNCH. I trust my crew whether we use the traditional union heirarchy or an invented, custom one that suits our needs du jour, and collaboration and input can often be incorporated. And sometimes not. Ah well. Lol.

Andrew Sobkovich

Misinformation? Well that’s sort of up to interpretation. I have no question they believe what they are saying so i don’t think they are trying to misinform but perhaps there is maybe a little self-congratulation going on. Listening to the clip I kept thinking of how some opinions will change when a videotap or monitor can be linked to the camera. I work with Operators in many different ways. Each project has different folks and different internal dynamics so they all end up working in their own unique fashion. The traditional hierarchical form we “always’ use on union shoots is time tested and works extremely well and as such is used most often. This allows me to concentrate more on working with the director which is overall better for the picture. However, the operator is also a skilled knowledgeable member of my team, and as such is someone I rely on to help make the picture as good as it can be. As a DP the responsibility for creating the images is mine, however the separate things that go into creating the image are delegated, or not, to various crew members. I trust the folks on my crew as professionals who have the knowledge and experience to deliver exactly what I asked for because that is why they are on the picture. Within that framework they have latitude to change things to do what they feel will make the picture better. The parameters of the shot, the blocking, lenses, camera moves are all a given, but should be open to change if they can be made better. Realistically it is a very changeable situation and pretty much everything can be acceptable if it works for the picture. The camera operator position is one that often gets shortchanged in planning. A producer - director - actor - agent - caterer - will often say “my (insert relative here) is a camera operator so hire them”. As if there is nothing to it. No wonder operators feel they need more recognition. The Camera Operator is an important integral part of making a picture within the parameters of the position.

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