Week 4: Cameraman – how to become one and what do they do? – Unit 3


In this task I will be looking into what a cameraman is and what they do, ill also be looking into what the best way to become one is and if there is more than one way.

There are 4 main jobs revolving around camera work, they are:

  • Camera Assistant
  • Camera Operator
  • Focus Puller
  • Director of Photography/Cinematographer

How to become one:

Most people start out as a Camera Operator on medium or low scale movies, or a Camera Assistant on a large-scale operation. The usual route into one of these jobs is to have a degree in film production that you specialize in Camera/Cinematography in the third year.


At Arts University Bournemouth you can do a 3 year course in Film Production and then specialize in BA (Hons) Film Production (Cinematography)

Another option is to start out as a runner on a set, but this route requires a lot of luck to be able to get a job as a Camera Operator, as you will be the Camera Assistant’s assistant in a way. It also requires you to have family connections of some sort in order to get the job in the first place.

Camera Assistant:

The job of the Camera Assistant is to help the Camera Operator in any way he needs, but mainly to set-up and prepare equipment (including Camera, Tripod, Lens etc) before the Operator turns up. This is to save time so they can get straight into shooting the scene.

Camera Operator:

The Camera Operator is in charge of physically controlling the camera and pressing record. It is more than standing still with a camera on a tripod though, aerial shots may mean the Camera Operator is on a crane or cherry picker and is filming from there. More creative films like “Birdman” that uses lots of Long Takes require the Camera Operator to use a steady cam and be very versatile and film for a long continuous amount of time. Tracking Shots usually take place on a dolly and require the Camera Operator to sit in a small trolley on a track and get the Camera Assistant to push it along.

Focus Puller:

During a shoot the Focus Puller changes the focus on the lens of the camera, as it is impossible for the Camera Operator to do this whilst filming. This is usually to divert attention to another character in a shot. Focus Pullers start out measuring the distance of the characters and then doing calculations to figure out what they need to change, however experienced Focus Pullers will just know the distances and be able to do it. If an actor moves from 2m away from the camera to 8m away from the camera then the Focus Puller will change the distance setting on the lens in order to keep the sharpness on the actor.

Director of Photography/Cinematographer:

The Cinematographer is in charge of all of the camera crews working on the set of a movie. They create the “visual identity” of the movie in accordance to what the Director wants. He will select the Camera, lens, different filters, and film stock in order to realise the vision of the directors film. The Director of Photography also is in charge of Framing and composition in some instances of the film, and helps out the Editor in post production with colour correction.


I now understand how there are different roles of people that all work with cameras, and that the cameraman doesn’t change the focus, but instead there is a separate job, the focus puller, for this.

Week 4: Cameraman – how to become one and what do they do? – Unit 3

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