Media / Digital Media

Cinematographer

Cinematographers manage camera and lighting crews and oversee the selection and manipulation of technical equipment on a TV or film set.

  • Entry-level education

    VET qualification

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Cinematographer do?

Cinematographers manage camera and lighting crews and oversee the selection and manipulation of technical equipment on a TV or film set. A cinematographer may also be known as a Director of Photography.

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Work activities

As a cinematographer, you would:

  • study the script
  • conduct research into different styles and motifs which relate to the subject matter of the script
  • talk with directors and producers about creative ideas and the visual impact of shots
  • plan the technical execution of each shot
  • direct the technical production crew and make sure the correct equipment and lighting is used for each shot
  • operate camera equipment as needed
  • solve any practical or technical problems that arise during filming
  • innovate and experiment with ideas
  • work alongside directors and editors to make sure the colour grading of the film or TV show is correct.
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Key skills and interests

To become a cinematographer you would need:

  • creative visual skills
  • good knowledge of camera and lighting equipment and technologies
  • an interest in photography, film and digital video
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to give instructions clearly and accurately
  • attention to detail
  • good colour vision.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time role in a TV studio, you would usually work a regular number of hours per week, which may include shift work and nights. If you work on news programs, you might need to be flexible and able to work at short notice.

In a role in film, your hours could often be long and irregular, depending on the production you are working on. You may also need to be flexible and work at short notice. You may work away from home for long periods.

Conditions

You could work anywhere from studios to outside locations in all weather conditions. You may have to work at heights on cranes or scaffolding.

A drivers licence would be an advantage as you would be required to drive to and from locations.

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How to become an Cinematographer?

Entry Level Education

To become a cinematographer you usually have to complete a VET qualification such as a Diploma of Screen and Media. You may be required to attend an interview and/or submit a folio of work.

Alternatively, you can become a cinematographer by completing a degree in creative arts, media (film & sound), screen production, or film and television. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English. You may be required to attend an interview and/or submit a folio of work.

You would usually start work as a camera trainee or assistant, and learn on the job from experienced camera operators and other cinematographers over a number of years.

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of cinematographers is projected to remain relatively neutral.

The consolidation of roles in broadcasting, the increasing reliance on amateur film footage, and the decrease in local production of new TV content may lead to fewer jobs for cinematographers in TV.

However, new content delivery methods in film and video production, such as mobile and online TV, may lead to more work for cinematographers and camera operators.

Roles for cinematographers in movies may require you to move overseas to gain work on projects.

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