You may be behind the camera on a television set, on a movie set or simply on a family reunion or other personal reasons.
Regardless of the purpose, there are tips helping in getting a great outcome. There is always something new to learn to better one’s techniques and vision when handling the camera.
Humility is important, questioning your options, seeing beyond the lens, framing the ideal shot, determining on the spot what is good from what is not. Unless you are filming a feature where the Director may want to proceed with multiple takes, you often need to work fast, analyze accurately and feel comfortable working within a certain amount of pressure. A positive attitude is helping a lot when working with a production team for a specific project, but if working alone, the cameraman needs to be open to constructive criticism.
Many professionals teaching audio-visual techniques will say that being a good cameraman is to be a good photographer first, mastering the still image before controlling the live one.
Framing an action, scripted or not means capturing the motions, the moments, the light with harmony. A good cameraman has an artistic sense and a very sharp eye to detect any thing that might affect the outcome.
The young adults aspiring to become professionals will learn different ways of working with different reasons the camera is used.
On a television set, the cameramen will have a headset receiving indications from the Director who is in the control room watching all the monitors at once and choosing the camera with the best angle to broadcast on our TVs.
Similarly, the role of a cameraman on sporting events will be less static but his role is still influenced by the control room.
On a movie set, the cameraman is often next to the Director with whom he has prepared the scene to shoot. He takes in consideration the best possible angle to optimize natural lighting or use the background to enhance the scene.
Big movie productions will provide cameramen with assistants helping in preparing all the necessary tools for the shoot, building the traveling rails, operating the articulated arm, etc.
On small budget productions, the cameraman will oversee logistic, setting the material accordingly.
It may sound glamorous to be a cameraman on a feature but consider that your work depends on a lot of factors you do not control: the weather, the hours, rushing to finish within the production timing and budget, traveling to obscure places, sleeping in crappy motels. Let us be fare, it is not always the case and passion for what you do supersede the trade annoyances.
On a television set, cameramen will often work with a similar schedule in the same location. It may not be as exciting, but expectation has its advantages.
Then, there is the amateur cameraman capturing a family reunion for the next generation to view, if an understanding of basic techniques will enhance the film, the production value is in the memory, the good time.
Social media have created a new generation of amateur filmmakers, combined with a technology allowing for great quality images on a miniature gear, producing your own adventure is now easier than ever. With miniature cameras set on helmets or sticks, capturing unbelievable images has made for some of the most popular videos on social media, notably on extreme sport, speeding down a dare devil slop, flying like an eagle or swimming with the sharks.
Locking the images in the camera is one thing, even with instant winners, adjustments in post-prod will deliver a compelling film/video. The addition of music enhances the thrill, the suspense, or the softness of the images. Music Partner can help.