Video operator

Video operator article illustration


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.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to video operator:

visual and graphic operator
projection operator
video projection operator
visuals operator
video and graphics technician
video and graphics operator
video projection technician
visual projection operator
live video operator

Minimum qualifications

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

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to video operator.

video technician
followspot operator
automated fly bar operator
stage machinist
light board 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.

video designer
mask maker
puppet designer
video artist
programme funding manager

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of video operator.

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

  1. Video operator – ESCO
  2. Video assist operators in the film and TV drama industry – ScreenSkills
  3. Featured image: By Patrick Gruban –, CC BY-SA 2.0
Last updated on February 22, 2023

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