Cinematography and Video Production

If you want to join the entertainment industry and would like to work in video production, a career in cinematography might be a good fit for you. Read on to learn more about employment options, salary potential and education for cinematographers.

Is Cinematography and Video Production for Me?

Career Overview

If you like photography, have a knack for telling stories and love movies, then you might want to consider a career in cinematography and video production. Cinematographers use cameras to shoot motion pictures, often from various angles, and also assist in the preparation of scenes prior to filming. Frequent travel may be required, along with fluctuating schedules and long workweeks.

Career Options

Employment opportunities for cinematographers can include a position as a news camera operator, also known as electronic news-gathering (ENG) operator, steadicam or studio camera operator, video editor or videographer. You might also pursue a job as a cameraman, floor director, master control operator (MCO) or photojournalist. Cinematography skills can also be useful when working as a production assistant, production technician or television news photographer.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of television, video and motion picture camera operators was expected to increase by just 3% nationwide between 2012 and 2022, which is notably slower than the average of 11% for all occupations. In May 2013, camera operators earned a mean annual salary of $52,530, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How to Work in Cinematography and Video Production?

Educational Options

Cinematography programs are offered through film schools, community colleges and universities and can culminate in a certificate or an undergraduate or graduate degree. Credits earned through a certificate program may be transferable to an associate's degree program in film and video or a bachelor's degree program in film production. Distance learning options, such as online courses in cinematography, might also be available.

What You'll Learn

A cinematography program can provide you with hands-on experience in camera operations and lighting, as well as the chance to shoot a wide range of projects, including black and white, as well as color films. You might also learn how to use multiple types of cameras. Course topics may include training in sound and visual production, editing and digital cinematography. Additional training in pre-production and post-production processes, screenwriting and high-definition productions might be covered. Undergraduate programs can also serve as preparation for a master's degree program in cinematography or a doctoral degree program in film studies.

Required Skills

An attention to detail, creativity, good vision and manual dexterity are some of the skills you'll need to pursue a career in cinematography and video production. Good communication and technology skills are also beneficial.

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