Video operators control the (projected) images of a performance based on the artistic or creative concept, in interaction with the performers. Their work is influenced by and influences the results of other operators. Therefore, the operators work closely together with the designers, operators and performers. Video operators prepare media fragments, supervise the setup, steer the technical crew, program the equipment and operate the video system. Their work is based on plans, instructions and other documentation.
This occupation is focused on live performance and not on media or broadcast activities.
The following job titles also refer to video operator:
visual and graphic operator
video projection operator
video and graphics technician
video and graphics operator
video projection technician
visual projection operator
live video operator
The most common route to becoming a video operator is though working at a junior level for camera hire companies or video playback companies. This helps to understand the equipment and to get contacts in the industry. Trainees spend time getting to know the role before becoming video assistants and, in time, video operators.
An associate’s degree in art, art and design, photography, filmography, or a related field, or an apprenticeship in similar fields are recommended to start as a video operator.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Video operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Video operator career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to video operator.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of video operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of video operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of video operator.
- Draw up artistic production: File and document a production in all its phases right after the performance period so that it can be reproduced and all relevant information remains accessible.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Understand artistic concepts: Interpret an artist’s explanation or demonstration of their artistic concepts, inceptions and processes and strive to share their vision.
- Safeguard artistic quality of performance: Observe the show, anticipate and react to possible technical problems, ensuring optimal artistic quality.
- Run a media server: Set up and run a media server.
- Perform quality control of design during a run: Control and ensure the quality of design results during a run.
- Communicate during show: Efficient communication during live performance, anticipate any possible malfunctioning.
- Adapt artistic plan to location: Adjust plans to other locations with regards to the artistic concept.
- Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
- Adapt to artists’ creative demands: Work with artists, striving to understand the creative vision and adapting to it. Make full use of your talents and skills to reach the best possible result.
- Prepare personal work environment: Correct settings or positions for your working instruments and adjust them before starting operations.
- Interact with actions on stage: Take cues from actions on the stage and interact with them. Decide on the exact timing and procedure in a live environment, in order to produce a fluid and consistent performance.
- Install image equipment: Install and connect projection and image equipment.
- Use communication equipment: Set up, test and operate different types of communication equipment such as transmission equipment, digital network equipment, or telecommunications equipment.
- Translate artistic concepts to technical designs: Cooperate with the artistic team in order to facilitate the transition from the creative vision and its artistic concepts to a technical design.
- Support a designer in the developing process: Support designers in the course of the developing process.
- Organise resources for artistic production: Coordinate human, material and capital resources within artistic productions, based on the given documentation e.g. scripts.
- Edit digital moving images: Use specialised software to edit video images for use in an artistic production.
- Adjust projector: Adjust the controls of projection equipment to obtain a clear and well-positioned image.
- Manage personal professional development: Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.
- Work safely with mobile electrical systems under supervision: Take the necessary precautions while providing temporary power distribution for performance and art facility purposes under supervision.
- Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
- Mix live images: Follow different video streams of a live event and mix them together using specialised equipment and software.
- Interpret artistic intentions: Interpret the artistic intentions of the author.
- Consult with stakeholders on implementation of a production: Consult with different people and groups who hold a stake in the production. Be on the same page on the practical side of the production, and keep them up to date.
- Use technical documentation: Understand and use technical documentation in the overall technical process.
- Plan audiovisual recording: Plan audio-visual recordings.
- Set up projection equipment: Install and connect equipment for projection in an artistic context.
- Keep up with trends: Monitor and follow new trends and developments in specific sectors.
- Set up equipment in a timely manner: Make sure to set up equipment according to deadlines and time schedules.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of video operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Monitor developments in technology used for design: Identify and explore recent developments in technology and materials used in the live performance industry, in order to create an up-to-date technical background for one’s personal design work.
- Operate a camera: Capture moving images with a camera. Operate the camera skilfully and safely to obtain high quality material.
- Manage technical resources stock: Manage and monitor technical resources stock to ensure that production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
- Lead a team: Lead, supervise and motivate a group of people, in order to meet the expected results within a given timeline and with the foreseen resources in mind.
- Provide documentation: Prepare and distribute documentation to ensure all people involved in the production receive relevant and up-to-date information.
- Assess power needs: Prepare and manage the provision of electrical power for different areas.
- Ensure safety of mobile electrical systems: Take the necessary precautions while providing temporary power distribution independently. Measure and power up an installation.
- Update design results during rehearsals: Updating the design results based on observation of the stage image during the rehearsals, especially where the different designs and the action are integrated.
- Set up cameras: Put cameras in place and prepare them for use.
- Pack electronic equipment: Safely pack sensitive electronic equipment for storage and transport.
- De-rig electronic equipment: Remove and store various types of electronic equipment safely after use.
- Maintain audiovisual equipment: Perform routine maintenance tasks on audiovisual equipment as well as minor repairs, such as replacing parts and calibrating the instruments, on equipment used in processing sound and images.
- Plan teamwork: Plan the working schedule of a group of people in order to meet all time and quality requirements.
- Assemble performance equipment: Set up sound, light and video equipment on stage before performance event according to specifications.
- Advise client on technical possibilities: Recommend technical solutions, including systems, to the client within the framework of a project.
- Coach staff for running the performance: Give instructions to all team members about how they should run the performance.
- Keep personal administration: File and organise personal administration documents comprehensively.
- Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
- Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
- Adapt existing designs to changed circumstances: Adapt an existing design to changed circumstances and ensure that the artistic quality of the original design is reflected in the final result.
- Document your own practice: Documenting your own work practice for different purposes like assessment, time management, job application etc.
- Maintain system layout for a production: Establish a workable layout for the system you manage and maintain it for the duration of a production.
- Store performance equipment: Safely dismantle sound, light and video equipment after a performance event. Make sure the equipment is correctly stored away.
- Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.
ISCO group and title
3521 – Broadcasting and audiovisual technicians
- Video operator – ESCO
- Video assist operators in the film and TV drama industry – ScreenSkills
- Featured image: By Patrick Gruban – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gruban/201176252/, CC BY-SA 2.0