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News camera operator
War Cameraman (Photo: Patrick-André Perron)
A camera operator on top of Brandenburg Gate in 1926

A camera operator (Abbreviation: C.O.) is a person that operates a film or video camera for the purpose of recording a production to film, video, or a computer storage medium. Camera operators serving in an official capacity in the process of filmmaking may be known variously as a camera operator, cameraman, television camera operator, video camera operator, or videographer, depending on the context and technology involved.

The operator is responsible for physically operating the camera and maintaining composition throughout a given scene or shot. In narrative filmmaking, the camera operator will collaborate with the director, director of photography, actors and crew to make technical and creative decisions. In this setting, a camera operator is part of a camera crew consisting of the director of photography and one or more camera assistants. In documentary filmmaking and news, the camera is often called on to film unfolding, unscripted events. In 2006, there were aproximately 27,000 television, video, and motion picture camera operators employed in the United States.[1]

Important camera operator skills include choreographing and framing shots, knowledge of and the ability to select appropriate photographic lenses, and other equipment (dollies, camera cranes, etc.) to portray dramatic scenes. The principles of dramatic story telling and film editing fundamentals are important skills as well. The camera operator is required to communicate clearly and concisely on film sets where time and budget constraints are ever present.

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