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Article: Technical Careers in Film, TV and Radio

Summary

This article covers the following jobs:

  • Broadcast Engineer
  • Broadcasting Sound Operator
  • Camera Operator
  • Disc Jockey
  • Film/Video Tape Editor
  • Floor Manager
  • Sound Recording Engineer
  • Studio Manager
  • Video/Maker Producer.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Television

There are many different technical careers in television. Because entry is highly competitive, some sort of relevant experience is usually needed before entering training or employment.

Work is sometimes on location or for outside broadcasts, which involves travelling and periods away from home. Hours can be long and irregular, and evening and weekend work are common.

Camera Operator

Before filming, camera operators read the script to plan camera angles and shots. They discuss these with the director.

During filming, the operator positions and focuses the camera to create the right effect. They receive instructions from the director through headphones. As well as working in a studio, some camera operators work on outside broadcasts for television or on location with a film unit.

Competition for training and employment is fierce, so relevant experience is usually needed. Academic requirements vary, but it's useful to do a broadcasting-related course. Good eyesight, hearing and colour vision are essential.

Film/Video Tape Editor

Film/video tape editors prepare the final versions of programmes and films. They:

  • put shots together in a logical sequence
  • adjust and enhance picture quality
  • add special effects, music and background sound
  • match sounds to pictures.

There are many courses at all levels in film, TV and video. Basic understanding of film/video editing and technical ability are required for entry to courses. Good colour vision, along with an eye for detail and special effects, are essential.

Broadcasting Sound Operator

In television studios, broadcasting sound operators work on the studio floor. Their job is to capture the right sound for any programme. They make sure that the studio sound system is working properly. They set up, position and operate sound booms, microphones and loudspeakers.

They also work on location, setting up and taking apart equipment, and checking the quality of the link back to the studio.

There is no formal academic requirement for entry to this career. Successful applicants have often completed vocational courses, which are available at a variety of levels. Entry is competitive.

Broadcast Engineer

Broadcast engineers develop, maintain and support the equipment used to make television broadcasts.

Broadcast engineers who work in television are responsible for the audio and video equipment used for studio recordings, and for network and outside broadcasts.

In a large television company, studio engineers are likely to provide support to different departments, including news, broadcast and production. Some broadcast engineers are responsible for the quality of signals fed to and received from a number of networks.

Competition for this work is fierce, so successful applicants tend to have relevant work experience. Most entrants have a relevant degree or HND.

Floor Manager

Floor managers check that sets are arranged correctly before filming begins and act as a link between the director and the studio floor. They also organise and co-ordinate what is happening on the studio floor, ensuring that the performers, audience and technical equipment are all in their correct places.

Floor managers may also work on outside broadcasts for both television and film.

Entrants to this career should be able to show that they are committed to broadcasting, usually through relevant experience, such as stage management in a theatre.

Sound Recording Engineer

Sound recording engineers record music and other types of sound performance in a recording studio or on location. The sound recording process starts with the build-up of individually recorded performances.

The engineer will advise on the best methods, effects and levels needed to achieve the desired sound. This often involves spending a large amount of time electronically enhancing and fine-tuning the quality of particular sounds.

After recording, the engineer will produce a rough 'mix' before producing the finished version. Engineers are also responsible for arranging microphones, headphones and other pieces of sound equipment used for the recording.

There are no formal entry requirements. However, GCSEs in Maths, Science or Physics are useful. Practical experience is very important for entry. You can also take a further or higher education course.

Film and Video

There are a number of technical careers in the film and video industry. Because entry is competitive, relevant experience is usually needed for entry to employment or training.

Work is often on location, which means travel and time away from home. Long hours are common and evening and weekend work may be required.

Film/Video Tape Editor

Film/video tape editors prepare the final versions of programmes and films. They:

  • put shots together in a logical sequence
  • adjust and enhance picture quality
  • add special effects, music and background sound
  • match sounds to pictures.

There are many courses at all levels in film, TV and video. Basic understanding of film/video editing and technical ability are required for entry to courses. Good colour vision, along with an eye for detail, is important.

Video Maker/Producer

Video makers produce videos for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes. These cover a range of subjects such as education, advertising, music promos and weddings. Some independent video producers also make videos for television companies.

Technical aspects of the work include operating cameras, lighting and sound recording equipment and editing. Video makers often also produce and direct the video. This can involve looking at customers' requirements, planning and preparing recording, writing scripts and organising those taking part.

Other aspects of the work include sales, marketing, finance and making presentations to clients.

There are no set entry routes for this type of work. It's possible for experienced amateurs to move into professional video making. There are a number of courses available at all levels. For entry to courses, applicants are often required to have relevant work experience.

Broadcasting Sound Operator

Broadcasting sound operators capture the best sound for films and videos. On the studio floor, they set up, position and operate sound booms, microphones and loudspeakers. They are also responsible for maintaining equipment.

On outdoor film sets, sound operators perform many of the same tasks that are carried out in the studio, but they have the extra job of getting rid of unwanted background noise.

There is no formal academic requirement for entry to this career. Successful applicants have often completed vocational courses, which are available at a variety of levels. Entry is very competitive.

Sound Recording Engineer

Sound recording engineers record music and other types of sound performance in a recording studio or on location. The sound recording process usually starts with the build-up of individually recorded performances.

The engineer will advise on the best methods, effects and levels needed to achieve the desired sound. This often involves spending time electronically enhancing and fine-tuning the quality of particular sounds.

After recording, the engineer will create a rough 'mix' before making the finished version. Engineers are also responsible for arranging microphones, headphones and other pieces of sound equipment used for the recording.

There are no formal entry requirements. However, GCSEs in Maths, Science or Physics are useful. You can also take a further or higher education course. Practical experience is important.

Camera Operator

Before filming, camera operators read the script to plan camera angles and shots. They discuss these with the director.

During filming, the operator positions and focuses the camera to create the right effect. They receive instructions from the director through headphones. As well as working in a studio, some camera operators work on outside broadcasts for television or on location with a film unit.

Competition for training and employment is fierce, so relevant experience is usually essential. Academic requirements vary, but it's useful to do a broadcasting-related course. Good eyesight, hearing and colour vision are essential.

Radio

Entry to all careers in radio is competitive, so you usually need to have some relevant experience before entering training or employment.

Work in radio can involve long and irregular hours and working at nights and weekends. Travel and stays away from home may be required for outside broadcasts.

Disc Jockey

Disc jockeys (DJs) present and play music to an audience.

DJs operate technical equipment and use a microphone to communicate with the audience. They also use creative skills, eg, when mixing tracks, carrying out interviews or talking to the audience.

Relevant experience is important because it teaches you the necessary skills and shows enthusiasm and commitment.

Studio Manager

Studio managers are responsible for making sure that radio studios are set up correctly and all the technical equipment is in order. Typical activities include checking sound balance and quality, controlling the mixing desk, and recording and editing material to be broadcast.

Studio managers sometimes work in an outside broadcasting unit.

Relevant work experience, such as work in hospital or campus radio is useful. GCSEs in Maths and Physics are also useful.

Sound Recording Engineer

Sound recording engineers record music and other types of sound performance in a recording studio or on location. The sound recording process usually starts with the build-up of individually recorded performances onto a disc.

The engineer will advise on the best methods, effects and levels needed to achieve the desired sound. This often involves spending time electronically improving and fine-tuning the quality of particular sounds.

After recording, the engineer will create a rough 'mix' before producing the finished version. Sound recording engineers are also responsible for arranging microphones, headphones and other pieces of sound equipment used for the recording.

There are no formal entry requirements. However, GCSEs in Maths, Science or Physics are useful. You can also take a further or higher education course. Practical experience is important.

Broadcast Engineer

Engineers in radio broadcasting are responsible for the maintenance and testing of control and switching systems. They use both analogue and digital coding equipment.

Competition for this work is fierce, so successful applicants tend to have relevant work experience. Most entrants have a relevant degree or HND.

Broadcasting Sound Operator

In radio, sound operators are responsible for operating equipment such as mixing desks and recording equipment. On location, they have the additional task of getting rid of unwanted background noise.

In post-production, they use technical equipment to mix sound with background effects and music, and add sound effects and narration.

There is no formal academic entry requirement for entry to this career. Successful applicants have usually completed vocational courses, which are available at a variety of levels. Entry is competitive.

Further Information

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

BBC Careers

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/careers/home

British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society (BKSTS) Accreditation

Course accreditation

Email: mark.trompeteler@bksts.com

Website: www.bkstsaccreditation.com

British Film Institute (BFI)

Website: www.bfi.org.uk

National Film and Television School (NFTS)

Tel: 01494 671234

Email: info@nfts.co.uk

Website: www.nftsfilm-tv.ac.uk

Northern Ireland Screen

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Email: info@northernirelandscreen.co.uk

Website: www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk

Wales Screen

Website: www.screenwales.com

Cyfle (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: S4C Media Centre, Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff, UK, CF14 5DU

Tel: 029 2046 5533

Email: caerdydd@cyfle.co.uk

Website: www.cyfle.co.uk

S4C (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff, UK, CF14 5DU

Tel: 029 2046 5533

Website: www.s4c.co.uk

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