A motion picture camera operator is a professional cameraman who works on film sets. Working on motion pictures is typically one of the highest-ranking positions for cameramen, and it’s one of the most challenging ones as well – there are a variety of skills required to perform the job properly. A motion picture camera operator will rarely hold the camera in their hands, instead they will most commonly use various stands and mechanisms for moving the camera around the set in a smooth manner.
Becoming a motion picture camera operator takes a lot of experience and knowledge, as well as usually a degree in filmmaking from a good university. The job requires a lot of specific knowledge, such as how to work with different types and models of cameras, intricate knowledge of different types of filters and lenses, as well as efficiently achieving various effects. The operator in a motion picture must also be able to coordinate their work with the director’s vision in order to bring the movie as closely as possible to their original idea, something which is usually the most difficult part of the job.
A camera operator on a film set has the potential to earn between $25,000 – $55,000 a year. Of course, high-profile studios that shoot big productions tend to pay their operators considerably more than the industry average, but that’s mostly valid for the other positions in the film industry as well. This range is the most common one, however, and even newcomers to the market can earn quite well if they’re skilled enough.