no work for a month or two. News camera operators, also called electronic news gathering (ENG) operators, may have to be available on short notice to fly to distant places. They may have to quickly edit their footage themselves for immediate broadcast. Their work can also be dangerous, especially if they cover wars or natural disasters. The sorts of cameras used by people in this profession vary widely. You might have a camera light enough to be carried in one hand, or one that you need a crane to move. Some TV and film camera operators use specialized cameras, such as Steadicams (made by Tiffen) and those used to shoot special effects or animation. Start Preparing Now • Assemble a “reel,” or sample tape, of work you’ve done. This can showcase your shooting and editing skills. • Volunteer or intern. This will help you meet people who can help you get entry-level jobs. • Take classes. There are many filmmaking programs, and though you don’t need a formal degree to be a camera operator, employers may want to know that you know what you’re doing. A Typical Day Here are the highlights of a typical day for a TV or film camera operator. Start early. Your phone rings at 5 a.m. A client you worked for last month is shooting a TV commercial today, and the regular camera operator is sick. Are you interested in some work? Oh, yes— you have an hour to get to the set. Hurry up and wait. The talent doesn’t have to be on the set until 10 a.m., but you’ve already spent the past four hours setting up the cameras. Unfortunately, this is a diaper commercial, which means the “talent” is a pair of two-year-old twin girls—which means you have to wait around while the director gets them just in the right spot, tries to get them to smile, or swaps them when they begin crying or need a diaper change. Finish late. Long after the talent goes home, you’re still at work, spending hours getting shot after shot of a box of diapers for the commercial. You leave work exhausted—but with a large paycheck! TV/Film Camera Operator  • 15

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