Reel Opportunities

2nd Assistant Camera

Also known as: 2nd AC

What does a 2nd Assistant Camera do?

The 2nd Assistant Camera is an important role on the camera team. They are responsible for the accessories for the cameras, including changing memory cards and charging batteries.

The 2nd Assistant Camera works mainly with the “clapboard” or “slate”– the black and white board that’s become iconic for the beginning and end of film takes. A traditional way to sync audio with each take, the 2nd AC uses the slate to indicate for an Editor when the camera has started and stopped recording. The 2nd AC will mark on the slate what scene, take, and camera memory card the production is on. Modern clapboards or slates are digital and include a timecode generator on an LED display. The 2nd AC clearly lists out the information on the slate before clapping the sticks at the beginning (or sometimes the end, known as tail-slate) of the take. This helps keep all the shots organized for the post-production team and allows the picture and audio to be synched together.

The 2nd Assistant Camera will also keep track of all of the camera data for each shot. They fill in reports called “camera logs”; that mark the focal length, the scene, the take, and some small notes. They will also mark which take is the director’s favourite, so the editor has an easier job looking through the footage.

In addition, they will assist the 1st Assistant Camera in marking spots for focus and helping in the organization of the equipment.

What's a 2nd Assistant Camera good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive

  • Handling cameras

    Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot

Who does a 2nd Assistant Camera work with?

The 2nd Assistant Camera will work directly under the camera operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will be close with the 1st Assistant Camera and the Camera Operator. The 2nd AC will work in tandem with the 1st AC to make sure everything is set up for the camera department to thrive. The 2nd Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography). They may also work with the Assistant Editor in sharing the information of the camera logs.

How do I become a 2nd Assistant Camera?

Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier as a Production Assistant and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions in your area and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to help acquire entry-level positions on sets.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

1st Assistant Camera

Also known as: AC, Focus Puller

What does a 1st Assistant Camera do?

The 1st Assistant Camera (1st AC) is responsible for maintenance of the camera, such as keeping it clean or adjusting the focus. Often, an AC whose main job is to maintain the camera lens’ focus during each scene is called the “Focus Puller”.

Pulling focus is not an easy job onset and is very important for production. The 1st Assistant Camera will sit next to the camera operator and use a dial to bring the picture in and out of focus. The 1st Assistant Camera will need to know exactly where the actor, or the object, that needs to be in focus is, so they can correctly mark the dial and pull to it.

They also manage the camera equipment and make sure it is organized on set. They will help with preparing the equipment, cleaning the lenses, and even setting up and tearing down the camera rig each day.

What's a 1st Assistant Camera good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have a good understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, filters monitors, and lights

  • Taking instruction

    Listen, do what’s asked accurately, stay calm under pressure, pay close attention to detail

  • Communication

    Work well with crew members, onscreen contributors, presenters and production staff, be responsive

  • Handling cameras

    Be well-coordinated, prepared to lift and move heavy camera equipment frequently throughout a shoot

Who does a 1st Assistant Camera work with?

The 1st Assistant Camera will work directly under the Camera Operator of the production or the operator of the camera unit. They will work closely with the Camera Operator and be by their side for most of the production. They will also work closely with the 2nd Assistant Camera as they both will help in the daily functions of the camera department. The 1st Assistant Camera will also work with the DOP (Director of Photography).

How do I become a 1st Assistant Camera?

Like many other departments on a set, it is possible to learn on the job by starting out in the lowest tier of the Camera Department and working your way up. Another way to gain an intimate knowledge of the gear is to work at a camera rental house. Many equipment rental companies encourage their employees to learn about the equipment that they offer, and it can be a great way to gain experience that you will later use on set. You can also look into the local camera unions such as IATSE and try to gain experience from them. They can provide qualifications to acquire entry-level positions on sets.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Set Decorator

Also known as: Set Dec, Set Dresser, Stylist (commercials)

What does a Set Decorator do?

Set Decorators are storytellers. They create the background of the action, explaining the context, adding mood and visual interest as the drama unfolds. While Prop Masters deal with the placing of objects an actor holds, Set Decorators are concerned with the walls, floors, vehicles and furniture.

Before filming begins, Set Decorators work with the Director, Art Director, Props Master and Production Buyers to go through the script and work out what sets are needed. They make a list and a plan for the Props Master to follow. Then they buy or hire the items and get in Props Makers to make furniture.

The day before shooting, Set Decorators arrive early to begin dressing the set. After the Director and Director of Photography have checked it, the Set Decorators move on to the next scene. Once a scene has been shot, they are responsible for striking (taking apart) each set.

What's a Set Decorator good at?
  • Understanding film

    Be able to pick up the director’s vision, know how a background can tell a story

  • Style

    Have a good eye for decoration, a sense of colour and form, precise attention to detail

  • Historical knowledge

    Research different eras and dress a set authentically

  • Communication

    Work closely with the production designer and other departments, share the vision with the team

  • Organisation

    Break down a script for set requirements, manage staff, budgets, complex schedules and transport

Who does a Set Decorator work with?

In larger productions, Set Decorators will have a team made up of Assistant Set Decorators, Buyers, Set Dressers, painters, drapers, cabinet makers, sculptors and so on. They report to the Production Designer and work closely with the Art Director and Props Master.

How do I become a Set Decorator?

There is no standard career path to be a Set Decorator. Often, they will have experience working as a Production Buyer or an Assistant Set Decorator. They have usually worked in the art department for several years or in set design in the theatre.

Here are some tips:

Educational Requirements: If you want to go to university, courses in art and design, architecture, photography, theatre, graphic design or graphic communication are useful.

Get experience: Volunteer to do set decorating for student videos. Or decorate stage sets in amateur theatre productions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Art Director

What does an Art Director do?

The role of an Art Director varies slightly depending on the kind of production being produced. Art Director is a title that appears in many industries, including film, theatre, advertising/marketing, fashion, and more. The Art Director makes decisions about visual elements.

Art Directors start by examining the script and working with the Director to understand the vision for the film or TV show. They then create their designs and determine the tone, mood and colour palettes.

In a studio show, Art Directors are responsible for turning the creative vision of the Production Designer into reality by drawing plans and visuals and making models. They organize the art department and oversee the construction of the set. They are responsible for the way the set is dressed and the inclusion of any props. They remain on set throughout the production to ensure the set is maintained and dressed appropriately to accommodate the varied content.

On shows where there isn’t a set, but where the content is filmed at various locations, they work with the Producer and Director. They create ‘mini-sets,’ managing the dressing and styling of an area (indoors or outdoors) in which to film. Often, they design these props themselves and oversee their build.

While the Production Designer is the creative mind behind the overall look of a production, the Art Director is the hands that makes that vision come to life. Art Directors are the metaphorical “architects” of the art department. If there is not a Production Designer on a production, Art Directors ensure that what they are doing meets health and safety guidelines as well as the needs of the Producer and Director, and is within budget.

In animation, Art Directors are responsible for the visual style of the animation. They decide how the characters, props, and environments are going to look and provide a basis for the rest of the art department to work from.

This is a job that involves a lot of communicating with people and needs strong management skills. Art Directors are responsible for ensuring all artwork is of high quality and in keeping with the Director’s vision. They are also responsible for making sure everyone in the art department stays on budget and on schedule.

What's an Art Director good at?
  • Creativity

    Visualize what a production requires, the look of a set or location, imagine how it will accommodate the production brief and department requirements. Have the artistic skill and imagination to produce original and high-quality designs

  • Leadership

    Have strong management skills to lead a department, be able to communicate visual ideas, and be able to work as part of a team

  • Art

    Be able to draw conceptually and technically, work with specialist design software, build props and small sets, have knowledge of art history

  • Knowledge of construction

    Source appropriate materials and props, be aware of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities and the challenges of working on location. In animation, be able to understand what is going to be achievable further down the line on an animation production by the animation and post-production teams

  • Leadership

    Be able to share their vision with a wide number of different people, manage budgets and people, draw up schedules, prioritise and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Understand what the director wants, be able to explain ideas, give constructive feedback, have good presentation skills

Who does an Art Director work with?

Art Directors project-manage work within an art department. They oversee construction teams, Production Buyers, Art Department Assistants, Carpenters, Greensmans, Painters, Scenic, Set Dec and Production Assistants. Art Directors work closely with Production Designers, particularly on studio shows, and on-location work with Producer and Directors and their teams of Associate Producers, Researchers and Production Designers. They also collaborate with camera, sound and lighting operators to ensure their work complements theirs and doesn’t create technical issues, such as with colour, lighting or the creation of unnecessary sound problems. They also work closely with Production Managers in planning and budgeting.

In animation, Art Directors work closely with the Director and as well as the artists in their teams, including Background Designers and Modellers.

How do I become an Art Director?

Art Directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in an area relating to visual art or design, preferably as they relate to film. Courses in theatre, architecture, digital design, fine art, film history, and interior design are all relevant to study.If you’re going the film school route, courses in production design are especially useful.

On-set experience is also key, as well as organizational and administrative skills. Art Director is a senior position, so you usually need some experience before you can progress to this role. A good route would be through starting in a junior position in the art department, such as a Set Decorator. You’ll also need to develop strong management skills. To be an Art Director in the animation realm, you will also need a good understanding of how an animation project works.

Here are some other tips:

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modelling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: Create work that you can show off to employers. As an Art Director, you will be hired based on your personal style and skill, so you need to have a strong portfolio. This could be made up of your own independent artwork or work you’ve done for collaborative projects. This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

Look outside the industry: Art Directors are needed in many industries outside of film and animation, including advertising, theatre, print magazines and product design. Getting experience working in the art department of a company in one of these fields would be a good way to gain relevant experience which you can translate into film.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Camera Operator

Also known as: Cameraperson, Studio Camera Operator, Steadicam Operator, Cameraman

What does a Camera Operator do?

Camera Operators are responsible for capturing the action on a film or television production. They play an integral role in the film and television production process, working closely with the Director of Photography, ensuring that the shots produced are in line with the visual style and tone of the project. They know how to choose which cameras to use in certain conditions and consider the composition, framing, and movement of a shot. They can also shoot what’s happening live, whether that’s on location for a news programme, documentary, or a large multi-camera studio show.

On larger productions there may be more than one Camera Operator, known as Camera A and Camera B. This allows for simultaneous coverage of a scene from various shots and set-ups. Each Camera Operator would have several Assistant Camera and Grips working as part of a cohort or mini-team in order to achieve each shot. On smaller productions, one Camera Operator would be responsible to cover all shots, and scenes may be played out several times in order to get a variety of angles and framing choices.

When shooting on location, such as on documentaries, they might be the only Camera Operator working in all kinds of conditions — underwater, in a snowstorm, or in a desert. They often operate a variety of different cameras, including handheld cameras mounted on a body frame (Steadicam) or a drone. They are responsible for taking care of the kit wherever they are shooting, and on smaller productions often own their equipment. They are also skilled at lighting composition.

What's a Camera Operator good at?
  • Photography

    Have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, focus, and framing. You may specialise in certain genres, but you must also be able to adapt to different shooting styles

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have an in-depth understanding of the latest motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, monitors, and lights

  • Communication

    Listen, do what’s asked by the producer, director and work as a team with other crew and production staff

  • Multi-task

    Watch, listen, think quickly, and problem solve on the go, all whilst carrying out complex technical tasks, adapt to requirements of different shoots

  • Concentration

    Be patient, maintain focus over long programme shoots, stay calm under pressure

Who does a Camera Operator work with?

Camera Operators report directly to the Director of Photography and the 1st AD. Sometimes they may even take direction directly from the Director. Camera Operators work with the Grips to move and set up camera equipment and talk to the Gaffers about lighting too. They often have a Camera Assistant or two working with them. Lastly, they work directly with the Digital Imaging Technician on preserving data from memory cards.

How do I become a Camera Operator?

Camera Operator is a senior and experienced position. Most work their way up into this role from a position like Camera Assistant.

Here are some more tips:

Educational requirements: You may find courses in a combination of subjects that include art, art and design, graphic communication or photography, along with maths and physics.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. If you can’t get an internship with a broadcaster, it might be worth trying to find one outside the TV industry, where you can develop your skills and your craft. You can then move into TV at a later point. Before taking any internship , check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will give you the skills you want.

Work for an equipment company: Contact an equipment rental company. Ask if you can become a kit room assistant for them. That way you will get to learn more about the kit and build up contacts.

Get a degree: It’s not essential to have a degree in order to become a Camera Operator. There are, however, degree courses that specialize in television production and photography that you might consider.
Get work experience: Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Digital Imaging Technician

Also known as: DIT, Data Management Technician (DMT)

What does a Digital Imaging Technician do?

The Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) is a relatively new crew position in the film and television industry. Previously thought of as nothing more than a “data wrangler” the DIT is now widely considered one of the most integral members of the camera crew, bridging the gap between production and post-production, and working closely with the Director of Photography to achieve the optimal look for the project. The reason for this is that what used to be reels of exposed film is now “data” – digitally recorded images stored on cards or drives.

The DIT is almost an extension of the DoP. Helping with digital image manipulations such as aspect ratio, camera settings, resolution, codecs, frame rates and even LUTs (color grading). One of the primary functions of the DIT is to indeed wrangle data—offloading, copying data and keeping data secure in at least three locations. He or she works closely with the Video Assist Operator to get the raw footage ready for dailies—reviewed by the Director, and other members of the production team. As raw footage seldom looks right, the DIT manipulates the footage, applying color grading and other techniques to prepare it for viewing.

Lastly, the DIT is also in the middle of the workflow between production and the post-production team, liaising with the Editor or Assistant Editors and transferring data. The workflow focuses on secure and efficient handoff of data, making sure no prize footage is lost or corrupted during the process.

What's a Digital Imaging Technician good at?
  • Digital cameras and computers

    Have expert knowledge of cameras, file formats, storage media, and computer systems to get the smoothest workflow

  • Digital photography

    Understand contrast, focus, lighting, cinematography, and color. Have a good eye for grading raw footage

  • Problem-solving

    Be able to fix kit, tech, and cable connections

  • Communication

    Advise the director of photography on the benefits or limitations of particular set-ups, be the liaison between the set and the post-production team, create the best possible workflow between the two

  • Film production

    Understand how a film set works, the roles within it, and the production process

  • Staying calm under pressure

    Stay alert in a live environment, adjust picture accurately

  • Attention to detail

    Label files, wrangle the data without loss, notice corruptions

Who does a Digital Imaging Technician work with?

DITs work most closely with the camera department. On some shoots, they are needed at the Director of Photography’s side. They also need a good relationship with the 2nd AC, who gives the footage to the DIT when needed. (On larger sets they’re assisted by a Data Wrangler). DITs will often have to make reference notes for different departments like hair and make-up, costume department, and the Script Supervisor.

How do I become a Digital Imaging Technician?

Typically, Digital Imaging Technicians work their way up through the camera department. One good route into this is through becoming a Camera Trainee.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Director of Photography

Also known as: Cinematographer, DP, DoP

What does a Director of Photography do?

The DoP is the head of both the lighting and camera departments. They are responsible for artistic and technical decisions related to the images captured by the camera.

They read the screenplay and work closely with the Director to discuss the look and feel of a film. They then research how to create the look through lighting, framing, and camera movement and what they will need in terms of equipment and crew to achieve this. The DoP works with other departments, like sound and the director’s unit, to coordinate production needs.

During production, the DoP coordinates the camera crew and works with the Director to make sure each scene is set up and shot to match the overall vision. A DoP can have a lot of creative input on the look and feel of the film. For each scene, the Director of Photography decides on the best combination of cameras, filters, and lenses, as well as camera placement, camera moves, and lighting best suited for the scene.

It’s the job of DoPs to make sure every shot satisfies the Director’s vision and fits with the aesthetic of the film. They view the dailies with the Director and work closely with the Colourist in post-production. On smaller productions, they sometimes double as the Camera Operator.

The DoP is considered one of the key creatives on a film set. The position is both highly technical and artistic, requiring extensive experience and training.

What's a Director of Photography good at?
  • Photography

    Have an eye for composition and color, know how to tell a story through a shot, understand camera and lighting techniques, know how to use them to evoke an emotional response




  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have an in-depth understanding of all motion picture equipment, cameras, lens, monitors, and lights

  • Editing knowledge

    Understand the post-production workflow, and how shots fit together to tell a coherent story

  • Making decisions

    Think quickly, often under pressure

  • Organization

    Plan, know how to do things and how long it will take, get the right kit and crew, think about logistical, artistic, and budgetary considerations at the same time

  • Communication

    Ensure everyone in the team knows what’s expected, work closely with the grips and the gaffer, lead the team and resolve conflicts in situations that can sometimes be stressful

Who does a Director of Photography work with?

The Director of Photography works closely with, and oversees the Camera Department which consists of the Camera Operator who looks through the camera and is the DoP’s eyes, the 1st Assistant Camera who makes sure the shots are in focus, the 2nd Assistant Camera, who prepares the equipment and keeps records of the shots, and the Camera Trainee who assists the whole department. The DoP also works closely with the Digital Imaging Technician who makes sure that all the digital settings on the cameras are set to bring the DoP’s vision to life, as well as the Video Assist Operator who makes sure that the director can see what is being shot.

How do I become a Director of Photography?

This is a senior role and people come into it through a variety of routes. Some start as Camera Trainees and work their way up through the roles outlined above. Others come up through the lighting department. IATSE has an excellent apprenticeship training programme that is the most direct way into this field. You can also learn a lot about cameras and other equipment in a film production programme in college, university, or independent training programmes. Here are some more tips:

Educational requirements: Many film schools offer courses in cinematography, touching on lighting, shot design, and how to tell visual stories. You can also start out as an entry-level assistant in the camera department, learn on the job, and work your way up.

Work for an equipment company: Contact an equipment rental company like Panavision, Provision, or ARRI Rentals. Ask if you can become an intern or driver for them. That way you will learn more about the equipment and build up contacts

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

LED Technician

Also known as: Virtual Production Manager

What does an LED Technician do?

An LED Technician works with a form of film-making technology called virtual production (sometimes referred to as virtual reality walls), which is becoming more and more popular. Virtual production involves large surfaces (walls, ceilings, sometimes floors) created out of LED screens. These large screens, called LED walls, are built on a soundstage. Visuals are then created in a 3D software named Unreal Engine and generated on the screens. The screen acts as a background and can be linked with motion capture cameras to add the effect of a real background. They move in relation to the camera movement and provide a real, immersive background experience. This creates less work in post-production.

An LED Technician is responsible for assisting in creating these immersive environments for productions. They have to build and calibrate the large screens and work with the production to achieve the right space and look. The Technician will be responsible for managing the screens on set, making sure the correct backgrounds are displayed for the scene. They will assist the production in creating this large world and if needed, advise the on-set camera team on the optimum settings for the screens.

What's an LED Technician good at?
  • Understanding light

    Have an artistic eye, know the techniques required to achieve different lighting effects

  • Electrical knowledge

    Have an in-depth understanding of circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, thermal relays, fault current protection switches, heating, lighting, air conditioning, and more

  • Knowledge of film-making

    Be able to understand the production process

  • Communication

    Be able to draw up plans and explain them to the crew, communicate well with the Director of Photography and the lighting crew, be clear and approachable even when making quick decisions under pressure

  • Organization

    Work within a budget, schedule the crew and the kit requirements, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Understanding of LED and Unreal Engine Technology

    Have a clear and in-depth understanding of the technology you are working with

Who does an LED Technician work with?

An LED Technician will work with the Director and the DOP to understand the desired look of the scene. They will discuss the construction of the LED screen wall and the type of lighting effects and backgrounds desired. On-set, the LED Technician will work with a crew of Grips and Gaffers to construct the LED screen wall and make sure everything is working properly. LED Technicians will also work closely with the artists that are creating the landscapes in Unreal Engine.

How do I become an LED Technician?

Develop lighting and camera skills: The entranceway into becoming an LED Technician begins with understanding the fundamentals of lighting and camera. You can begin by learning these aspects by getting involved with a local lighting and camera union or by attending educational courses.

Look for Opportunities: After working on sets and gaining experience in lighting, camera, and the technology required on a film set you can move into LED virtual production. You can either attempt to find productions utilizing this technology and work with it to gain experience or work with a company that rents out the technology and services.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Colourist

Also known as: Grader, Post-Digital Imaging Technician

What does a Colourist do?

Colourists contribute to the mood and look of a film by defining its colours. They work with the Director and Director of Photography to decide the palette; whether it’s restrained or hyper-coloured, whether it uses milky colours or primary ones. Colourists are able to contribute to these looks by changing the luminance levels (brightness) and chroma (colour).

Film and TV dramas are usually shot on digital cameras in a raw format, which means the information about the colour is captured in the data but can’t be seen until the colour is applied. If shooting on film, the rushes are taken to the lab where they are processed and then scanned into a digital workflow. It’s the job of the Colourist to perfect the way in which the colour is put into the picture. This is known as grading.

When Colourists receive the files in the edit, they stylize the colour in line with the vision of the director and director of photography. They match the shots, balancing colour saturation and luminance to maintain a consistent look from shot to shot. . They also offer creative solutions to picture-related problems. They might know what to do with under-or over-exposed images, or provide day for night corrections, for example.

Colourists are also responsible for ensuring the film complies with the scientific law and theory around luminance levels and chroma.

What's a Colourist good at?
  • Understanding colour

    Know how to use colour to enhance a story, appreciate the psychological effect of colour, have a good eye, know what look fits the style of the drama

  • Knowledge of digital and film process

    Understand how best to get the creative look from the raw camera negative

  • Knowledge of film production

    Be aware of the whole process of making a film or TV drama

  • Using software

    Adept at using colour editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, Baselight or Davinci Studio, keep up-to-date with software developments and know the best tools for the job

  • Communication

    Work well with the director, understand the vision of the director of photography, share the process with the edit assistants and the script supervisor

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, work with tiny changes in colour and tone, keep attending to detail when under pressure

Who does a Colourist work with?

The Colourist works closely with the Editor, Director and Director of Photography. It’s quite a solitary job as much of the detailed work is done alone.

How do I become a Colourist?

Programs in post-production for film or media are available. You can also develop your workflow and build your portfolio by working on small-budget or passion projects in your area. Learn how to use colour-grading software, while studying colour theory and cinematography, which will teach you about how light and colour are related. A background in art or photography is helpful. Most Colourists start out as post-production edit or tech assistants or runners and get to know the post-production process well over several years.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: It’s not essential, but having some experience in post-production or editing software from film programs can be helpful when searching for a job position.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry. It’s also one of the best ways to learn about editing, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Look for post-production companies: Try to connect with post-production companies to gain a network and possibly find some with entry-level positions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Director

Also known as: Filmmaker

What does a Director do?

Directors are the creative leads of the film. They control a film‘s artistic and dramatic aspects and visualize the screenplay (or script) while guiding the technical crew and actors from pre-production through to the final edit in the fulfillment of that vision.

They are employed by the Executive Producer or Producer, who is ultimately in charge of a production. Directors start with a script, and work with a Screenwriter and sometimes a script editing team such as Story Editor. It’s not uncommon for the Director to be the Screenwriter as well.
It is the job of a Director to imagine the script in a visual form. As soon as a production has raised the cash it needs , they work closely with the Producers to appoint the heads of department, such as the Director of Photography, 1st Assistant Director and Production Designer.

They then work with Producers and Casting Directors to select the actors and with the Director of Photography to develop the filming style, including notes about camera shots and script changes. Some Directors rehearse actors ahead of shooting, though not all do. They ‘block’ the performance with the actors before filming begins, meaning they choreograph where actors are positioned in relation to the camera, where they and the camera will move to over the course of a shot, and how they will deliver their dialogue.

At the same time, a Director will also be instructing other members of the crew, especially lighting, wardrobe, and make-up supervisors. Directors work to get the best performance out of the actors but also need to ensure that all technical aspects are in place to get a great scene filmed.

After filming, they lead the editing of a film, preparing a ‘director’s cut’. That cut will be reviewed by Producers, Distributors, and other collaborators before the final cut is completed.

What's a Director good at?
  • Leadership

    Share the vision of the film with a range of people from different departments, inspire them to do their best work, manage the cast and crew, make creative decisions

  • Imagination

    Envisage the film they want to make, see it, hear it, create the vision and execute it

  • Arts knowledge

    Have a passion for and deep knowledge of film and TV drama, appreciate all genres of art, so as to be able to draw ideas from a range of sources

  • Production

    Understand the film or TV drama production process from start to finish, from both technical and creative points of view

  • Staying calm under pressure

    Work methodically within a high-stress environment, make creative decisions when things don’t go to plan

Who does a Director work with?

Directors hold the creative vision for the whole production, so they have relationships with every department head. In pre-production, they work particularly closely with the Producers, Casting Directors and the production designer. During production, they have close on-set relationships with the Director of Photography and the First Assistant Director. In post-production, Directors work with the Picture Editor and Sound Editor to ‘cut’ the film or programme to create a desirable final product.

How do I become a Director?

There are many pathways to becoming a film Director. Some start as Screenwriters, Cinematographers, Producers, film Editors or actors. Others go to film school and start by making their own independent short films before “graduating” to feature-length works.

Whatever the route, this is a role that requires extensive knowledge of the film or TV drama production process. It’s worth starting your career by getting work as a Production Assistant on set or in a production office before working your way up through entry-level positions

Here are some more tips:

Training: Training is always a good idea. In Canada, there are tons of courses at college or university. Also lots of stand-alone courses. Both extended and short-term. You can also plunge in, try to get on-set, and gain the experience. Here’s a list of uni & college programmes.

Build a portfolio: Create work that you can show off to employers. Direct your own short film, maybe using your smartphone, and edit it. This process is very helpful.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

VFX Supervisor

Also known as: Lead Visual Effects (VFX) Artist, Senior VFX Artist

What does a VFX Supervisor do?

This role is responsible for overseeing all VFX work and managing technical and artistic VFX personnel. While it is a creative role, most Visual FX Supervisors possess a strong technical background and are capable of making informed decisions about the most efficient and effective technique to employ to solve the problem at hand. Often a supervisor will work in tandem with a Visual Effects Producer and Computer Graphics Supervisor.

VFX Supervisors begin their work on a project in the early stages of pre-production. They are the main point of liaison between a VFX studio and the Director or Producer of the film or TV program. Together, they decide on what VFX is needed for every shot of the film. VFX Supervisors then work with the VFX Artists to create prototype materials to present. These can include concept art and 3D computer-generated images (CG). The prototype materials help to inform the style of the VFX in the production.

VFX Supervisors are present for filming during production so that they can see if the shots are satisfactory and will work with the VFX elements. VFX supervisors continue to lead their team when the film is being put together during post-production. They oversee the quality of all work produced and make sure that it is in line with the vision of the Director and/or Producer.

What's a VFX Supervisor good at?
  • Art

    Have excellent design, layout, colour, and composition skills

  • Knowledge of photography

    Understand cameras, cinematography, and how films are made, be able to influence the shoot so it works for the VFX

  • Knowledge of VFX programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Maya, Blender, Nuke, and Photoshop

  • Collaboration

    Work in pre-production with the director or producer to decide on which shots will need VFX work, respond to their creative and artistic direction

  • Leadership

    Share the director or producers’ vision of the film with the VFX artists of all departments, inspire them to do their best work, manage their output in terms of quality and deadlines

  • Communication

    Be able to clearly articulate what needs to be done on-set to achieve the desired VFX shots, be able to relay information between the production and your artists

Who does a VFX Supervisor work with?

VFX Supervisors work with film Directors and Producers. Together, they decide on what VFX is needed for every shot of a film. They also lead all of the different kinds of VFX Artists within a VFX company or studio.

How do I become a VFX Supervisor?

The VFX Supervisor job is the highest leadership role within an entire VFX company or studio; therefore, you will work in other, more junior, VFX roles first before reaching this position. VFX Supervisors need the same technical skills and relevant software proficiency as Junior VFX Artists do, so you could start VFX work as a Roto Artist or Prep Artist and progress from there. In this case, an important thing that you can do is to create a show-reel to illustrate your abilities (even established VFX supervisors can have their own show-reels). Alternatively, you can start work in the production department as a Production Coordinator or Production Assistant and go from there.

Educational requirements: A college degree in film and TV production, computer animation, or art and design is key. These are taught at many colleges, universities, and art schools. Training in the use of visual effects and animation software is a must.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Compositing Supervisor

Also known as: Comp Supervisor, Head of Compositing

What does a Compositing Supervisor do?

Compositing Supervisors are in charge of the department that puts together all the different elements of the visual effects (VFX) shots. They manage the Compositors, who do this work, and check it for quality. They are also responsible for ensuring the continuity of colour between shots.

Compositing Supervisors are very experienced in compositing. They are experts in taking different digital materials, like computer-generated (CG) images and live-action footage, and combining them to appear as one cohesive shot. They organize the team of Compositors to meet the deadlines so the film or TV production company gets the VFX work on time. They may also composite shots themselves if needed.

Compositing Supervisors tend to be employed by VFX companies or studios rather than being freelancers.

What's a Compositing Supervisor good at?
  • A good eye

    Recognize what makes an image appear realistic in terms of light, colour, composition and perspective

  • Knowledge of photography

    Understand cameras, cinematography and how films are made

  • Communication and leadership

    Be able to manage compositors and share the creative vision of the project with them, inspire them to do their best work, manage their output in terms of quality and deadlines

  • Organization

    Plan workflows with a view to meeting deadlines, distribute work amongst your team

  • Knowledge of VFX programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Adobe After Effects, Blackmagic Fusion, Blender, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, RenderMan and 3ds Max

Who does a Compositing Supervisor work with?

Compositing supervisors work with the Compositors in their team. They also have to work out precisely what’s needed and the order in which things need to be done. They work with the head of the whole project (the VFX Supervisor) and with the Computer Graphics (CG) Artists in order to do that. They also talk to the film production company and VFX Producers.

How do I become a Compositing Supervisor?

Supervisor roles are some of the most senior in film production. To be a Compositing Supervisor, you need to have four or five years’ experience in a senior VFX role, such as senior Compositor or a technical director (TD) role. You can start off in a more junior VFX role, such as Motion Capture Technician, Prep Artist or Roto Artist. You might find a company that’s offering a junior compositor position.

A degree in a VFX subject is useful too. Or you might want a degree in animation, computer programming or computer science. It’s important to create a show-reel that shows off your abilities (even established compositing supervisors can have their own show-reels).

Here are some tips:

Build a portfolio: Learn the software, experiment with VFX programs and create a show-reel that you can show to collaborators or employers. Focus on producing a portfolio which includes relevant work to showcase your immediate practical skills This is essential. It’s really important to develop your appreciation for VFX. Make sure you’re familiar with what’s out there.

Get VFX industry skills: There are various VFX image and video-editing programs in which it’s useful to receive training.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Compositor

Also known as: Compositing Artist, Finishing Artist, Visual Effects (VFX) Artist

What does a Compositor do?

Compositors create the final image of a frame, shot, or sequence of a film, television show, or animation. They take all the various digital materials used (assets), such as computer-generated (CG) images, background plates, graphics and special effects (SFX), live-action footage, and matte paintings, and then combine them to appear as one cohesive image and shot.

Compositors consider visual aspects of a scene, such as realistic lighting. Anything caused by light hitting a “lens” is a compositor’s responsibility. They relight in order to improve the look of the image. They also create shadows and motion blurs as necessary to improve the shot.

Compositors are also responsible for continuity; making sure art from different sources and different artists looks the same. They make sure the blacks and other colours match each other in the image. They spot mistakes and either correct them or send the work back through the pipeline to be improved. Compositors ensure the overall style of the film is consistent and in line with the director’s vision.

What's a Compositor good at?
  • A good eye

    Recognize what makes an image appear realistic in terms of light, colour, composition, and perspective. Be able to scrutinize the media and work on compositions until they appear cohesive and consistent

  • Knowledge of photography

    Understand cameras, cinematography and how films are made

  • Knowledge of compositing programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as After Effects, Blackmagic Fusion, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, and Photoshop

  • Knowledge of the animation production pipeline

    Have a thorough understanding of the computer-generated animation process

  • Collaboration

    Be able to work with other VFX artists, use each other’s resources effectively and efficiently

  • Working to deadlines

    Work within given time frames, be able to complete work under pressure

Who does a Compositor work with?

Compositors work with the Visual Effects Supervisor to understand the final expectations. They also work with the various artists that create all the different elements such as:

Lighting technical director (TD)

There is some overlap between, and blurring of responsibilities of, the work of Compositors and Lighting Technical Directors (TDs), as lighting is such an important part of a film. Lighting Technical Directors are incharge of managing and creating the artificial lighting in a scene to match the scene requirements. Whether that be to match it realistically or add more of a fun lighting scheme.

Roto Artist

Roto Artists work closely with Compositors, as the mattes which Roto Artists produce serve as important layers for Compositors to work with. Often, Roto Artists work towards being promoted to a Compositor position. Compositors are expected to know how to rotoscope.

Compositors will also often work with Background Designers, Matte Painters, and Compositing Supervisors.

How do I become a Compositor?

It takes many years working in the industry to become a Compositor. However, some companies have Junior Compositor roles, which give you the opportunity to develop into a Senior Compositor position. You might get into a Junior Compositor role straight after college or university, or you might start in a related role, such as a roto artist or modeler, and work your way into the compositor role from there. The most important thing that you can do to become a Compositor is to create a showreel to illustrate your abilities to potential employers. A degree in VFX is useful too, especially as it gives you time to build up a portfolio.

Build a portfolio: Learn the software, experiment with programs, and create a showreel that you can show to potential collaborators or employers. Focus on producing a portfolio that includes relevant work to showcase your immediate practical skills. This is essential. Make sure you’re familiar with what’s out there.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Roto Artist

Also known as: Junior Visual Effects (VFX) Artist

What does a Roto Artist do?

Roto Artists manually draw around and cut out objects from movie frames so that the required parts of the image can be used, a process known as rotoscoping.

The parts of an image that are wanted after cutting out are known as mattes. Roto Artists work on the areas of live action frames where computer-generated images (CGI) or other live-action images will overlap or interact with the live image.

If the live-action camera is not moving within a shot, rotoscoping might involve only one frame. If the camera’s moving, roto artists trace the relevant areas of every frame within the shot so that CG can be combined accurately with the live-action. Roto Artists need to have a keen eye and patience in order to complete this meticulous and repetitive work.

In addition to rotoscoping, Roto Artists assist in the preparation of material for compositing.

What's a Roto Artist good at?
  • Drawing skill

    Trace accurately with a good line

  • Patience

    Be methodical and thorough, taking care to rotoscope well so as to help to produce a high-quality final image

  • Knowledge of programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Photoshop

  • Delivery

    Work well with strict deadlines, be able to complete work under pressure

  • Taking initiative

    Observe what’s happening, be proactive, ask questions at the appropriate time

Who does a Roto Artist work with?

Roto Artists work most closely with Compositors, as the mattes which Roto Artists produce serve as important layers for Compositors to work with. They pass on their work to Prep Artists, as part of a VFX production pipeline, to help prepare plates for Compositors.

How do I become a Roto Artist?

It is important that you create a showreel to show potential employers and collaborators what you can do. In terms of formal education, there are degrees available specific to the VFX industry, and they can help you to become a Roto Artist.

Build a portfolio: Learn the software, experiment with VFX programs and create a showreel that you can show to collaborators or employers. Focus on producing a portfolio which includes relevant work to showcase your immediate practical skills.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Motion Capture Technician

Also known as: Mocap Tech

What does a Motion Capture Technician do?

Motion capture jobs, often shortened to Mocap, focus on using a special camera and set of tracking systems to record movement for later animation.

In the capture, cleanup, and processing of high-quality 3D motion capture data for both real-time in-game animation and pre-rendered cinematics, a Motion Capture Technician works closely with the Lead Animator and animation teams. Before, after, and during shooting, the Motion Capture Technician is in charge of setting up and maintaining the motion capture studio. During shots, Motion Capture Technicians will be in charge of running the capture station and ensuring high-quality marker tracking and motion capture.

When appropriate, the Motion Capture Technician can also provide direction, comments, and support to the performers on site. In preparation for the animation team, they’ll also be responsible for cleaning up the marker data and processing it using a custom pipeline. Mocap experts collaborate with the animation team to design, refine, and optimize the studio’s motion capture method and pipelines.

What's a Motion Capture Technician good at?
  • Being accurate

    Be methodical in your work, pay close attention to detail, have strong problem-solving skills

  • Technical knowledge of cameras and animation

    Have an in-depth understanding of all motion picture equipment, cameras, lenses, monitors, and lights

  • Understand the animation pipeline

    Know the process through which animation productions are made

  • Using software

    Use the data sharing application, be able to operate and maintain your data collecting equipment yourself

  • Being efficient

    Work quickly and accurately on set so that the physical production can run smoothly, organize and prioritize your tasks

  • Programming and coding skills

    Have knowledge of programming with a high level of technical ability

  • Communication and teamwork

    Communicate well with the other technicians, and animations artists, when necessary so that there is a cohesive and structured file storage system

  • Organization

    Be attentive to the detail of the files and data that you process and store, maintain a working system of file storage

  • Efficiency

    Work quickly and accurately, organize and prioritize your tasks

Who does a Motion Capture Technician work with?

Motion Capture Technician works closely with the Lead Animator and animation team. They communicate with all of the other departments in the animation company, as well as the talent. On set, they work with the Director and specialized camera team.

How do I become a Motion Capture Technician?

Like many roles in film and TV, there are many routes to becoming a Motion Capture Technician. From getting degrees, diplomas, certificates, internships, apprenticeships, or even freelancing and volunteer work, there is no standard recipe. Training on set is also a great route, and there are lots of ways to do it, both extended and short-term.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

VFX Editor

Also known as: Editor

What does a VFX Editor do?

VFX Editors work as the link between the film or TV production team, which shoots the live-action footage and the VFX studio that does the visual effects. A VFX Editor can be employed by a VFX studio or directly by the film or TV production company. The role varies depending on whether they are in-house (employed by the studio) or client-side (employed by the film or TV production company).

Client-side VFX Editor: Client-side VFX Editors work on set, while the live-action footage is being shot. They check everything is being captured in a way that makes it possible for the VFX to be created and integrated effectively. They keep track of the Director’s notes and make sure that the VFX Editor employed by the VFX studio knows about any changes that will affect the way the VFX needs to be created. The client-side VFX Editor brings drafts of the shots together so that the Director can see how they will look with the VFX incorporated and make sure the footage all comes together to create a cut of the film or TV programme that’s in keeping with what was signed off in previsualization.

In-house VFX Editor: In-house VFX Editors work closely with client-side VFX Editors but are responsible for ensuring that the VFX Artists at the VFX studio have everything that they need to create their work.
While the project is being worked on, the VFX Editor creates a workflow that allows the VFX Supervisor to evaluate the VFX Artists’ work and provide feedback on the aesthetic and on the technical direction. As the client approves shots or versions, the VFX Editor incorporates them into the current cut (edit) and oversees the passing of work back to the team that is editing the film or TV programme.

What's a VFX Editor good at?
  • Attention to detail

    Be meticulous with a strong eye for detail, making sure all shots are of the highest possible quality

  • Editing

    Have a good understanding of story-telling and be adept at using editing software

  • Communication

    Have excellent communication skills, understand exactly what the desired effect is in each shot and give effective direction to achieve that, keep clients informed on progress

  • Organization

    Be on top of the work that needs to be done and its progress with a good understanding of the pipeline, keep track of any changes in the project and keep all staff informed

  • Working to deadlines

    Have very good time-management skills, make sure the project stays on track for its deadline and cope well with working under pressure towards tight post-production deadlines at the end of the project

Who does a VFX Editor work with?

Client-side VFX Editors work closely with the Director, Producers, Editors in post-production and in-house VFX Editors. In-house VFX Editors work closely with a large range of staff across the VFX pipeline. They work directly under the VFX Supervisor. They work closely with Data Input/Output Technicians, TDsand VFX Producers to manage all incoming media and outgoing deliverables. They also communicate with the client-side VFX Editor and the post-production Editor of the film or TV programme.

How do I become a VFX Editor?

VFX Editor is a senior role so you will need to gain experience of both working in VFX production pipelines and doing editing work. There are a variety of routes into this job. You might want to start working as Production Assistant or Assistant Technical Director in a VFX studio. Alternatively, you could find your way into the industry by working as a Post-production Assistant in a post-production studio. Most VFX Editors have a degree in computer graphics, animation or a related subject.

Get a degree: Provided you have strong show-reel and know VFX software, it’s not essential to get a degree to become a VFX Editor, but it can help.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. You might want to enter the VFX industry through an internship as an Assistant Technical Director or a Junior 2D Artist. If you can’t find an internship with a VFX company, it might be worth getting an internship in a related industry, such as games or animation, which could give you some experience to help you find your way into VFX at a later point.

Build a portfolio: Learn how to use, and then experiment with, VFX programs and create a show-reel that you can show to admissions personnel or employers.

Network: Get to know people in VFX by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the sector. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Research VFX companies you’d like to work for. Go to their websites and check if they are advertising for junior roles in the art or technical art department. Even if they aren’t, send in your CV and showreel and ask them to bear you in mind for future positions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Previsualisation (Previs) Artist

Also known as: Previs Animator, Previs Lead, Previs Modeller

What does a Previsualisation Artist do?

Previsualization (Previs) Artists help to plan out what a film is going to look like. Previs is the process of visualizing a scene before creating it.

Previs Artists generally takes the form of a 3D animatics, namely a rough version of a scene or scenes. Previs Artists usually start with a 2D storyboard from a Concept Artist. They create draft versions of the different moving image sequences and they put it all together using their compositing and editing skills.

The previs process is used to plan shots, work out the scale and timing and to show roughly where the characters are going to move. It’s used to map out how the visual effects (VFX) will fit into an otherwise live-action scene. Creating previs can save films and television series and shows valuable time and money on set or in post-production.

Once a film is in production, Previs Artists help the other VFX Artists maintain a consistent style in their work.

Previs Artists are either employed by VFX studios or they work as freelancers.

What's a Previsualisation Artist good at?
  • Cinematography

    Have a good artistic eye for composition, particularly for camera shots and movements

  • Creativity

    Be able to tell a story in the previs work that you produce, come up with original ideas for what the shots should look like and spark the director’s imagination

  • 3D software

    Have a high level of skill using 3D animation and VFX software and a strong understanding of form and volume (the way that objects exist and move in 3D), coding skills are also useful

  • Basic editing skills

    Have basic video editing skills as well as some knowledge of rendering and compositing, which you can use to create animatics

  • Organization

    Have excellent organizational skills, stick to production schedules and budgets, be on top of your data management

  • Communication

    Work well within a team, understand and help to achieve the director’s vision

Who does a Previsualisation Artist work with?

Previs Artists work closely with the Director. They also communicate regularly with the production management team to ensure the project meets its deadlines. They usually report to the VFX Supervisor.

How do I become a Previsualisation Artist?

To become a Previs Artist, you need to understand the VFX production pipeline and have a high level of skill in using 3D software. You might progress to this role by first becoming an Assistant Technical Director. Or, you might go the route of becoming an Environment Artist and later transferring your skills to previs. Previs Artists often obtain a degree in animation, computer science, film production, or a related discipline. The most important thing to do is to develop a strong portfolio which demonstrates a talent for cinematography and visual storytelling.

Build a portfolio: Learn how to use, and then experiment with, VFX programs and create a showreel that you can show to admissions tutors or employers. It’s really important to develop your appreciation for VFX. Make sure you’re familiar with what’s out there.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Modelling Artist

Also known as: Model Maker, Modeller

What does a Modelling Artist do?

Modelling Artists build the digital or physical versions of everything that is seen on screen in an animation, film or television project (using VFX). They translate concept art, character designs and environment designs into models ready to be animated.

In stop-motion animation the role is known as ‘model maker’. In 3D computer-generated animation and visual effects, it’s usually known as ‘modeler’.

They start with a brief, which might be 2D or 3D art produced by a Concept Artist. They can also work from reference materials (such as photographs or line drawing sketches) which can then be scanned into 3D software.

They first create a ‘wireframe’, commonly referred to as a ‘mesh,’ of the object. This looks like a series of overlapping lines in the shape of the intended 3D model. From the mesh, they are able to sculpt the model of the object to closely resemble what’s intended. They use digital tools, such as sculpting brushes, and a physical graphics pen and tablet.

Modelling Artists work at an early stage of the CG and 3D part of the VFX pipeline. The 3D models that they produce can then move on to be animated, given texture, and lit.

If a Modelling Artist specializes in creating a specific type of 3D model – for instance, characters – then they may refer to themselves as a Character Artist. In this case, they will likely create both the models and textures for characters.

What's a Modelling Artist good at?
  • Art

    Be able to draw, have a good understanding of form, color and texture, and know how these elements work together

  • Interpretation

    Be able to create a 3D model from a 2D brief, decide upon the best method to complete a 3D model quickly, while having a required level of detail and quality

  • Knowledge of 3D modeling programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Blender, Maya and ZBrush, continuously learn new ways to fix problems in your models

  • Organization

    Work within the production schedule, manage files and meet deadlines

Who does a Modelling Artist work with?

Modelling Artists take the brief from the Concept Artist. They draw their models into the work created by Environment Artists, so they work closely with them. They then pass their work onto the Texture Artists, Riggers or Animators.

How do I become a Modelling Artist?

VFX companies or studios generally prefer it if you have a degree in graphic design, or another VFX-specific course. But the thing you need most is a strong portfolio that illustrates your abilities. If you can’t find a junior role as a Modelling Artist, it’s worth looking for one as a Motion Capture Technician and working your way up.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Storyboard Artist

What does a Storyboard Artist do?

A Storyboard Artist visualizes a story for film or TV, and creates frame-by-frame sketches. Storyboard Artists may use photos, or they might illustrate the images themselves. They work under the supervision of the film’s Director and/or Cinematographer (DoP) to illustrate what the movie will eventually look like – sort of like a comic book version of the film that shows all the camera movements, angles and shots.

The purpose of storyboards is to help the Director, Cinematographer and crew plan how to set up certain shots. They can also sometimes be used by Producers as a way to illustrate the Director’s vision in a presentation to funders or other supporters. Animated projects are often pitched on the basis of storyboards alone (that is, a screenplay may not be written until later), and Storyboard Artists continue to work throughout the production to develop particular sequences. As a sequence is edited, the Director, Storyboard Artist and creative team may need to rework the sequence.

What's a Storyboard Artist good at?
  • Drawing

    Have excellent drawing skills and be able to produce artwork in a range of styles

  • Listening

    Be able to listen and execute the visions of the Director, Writer and creative heads

  • Storytelling

    Be able to communicate a narrative well

  • Learning by watching and asking

    Observe what’s happening in your department and company, take initiative, ask questions at appropriate times

  • Watching films

    Have a passion for the medium and a love of the industry

  • Computer software knowledge

    Many Storyboard Artists choose to develop their frames using readily available storyboarding software

Who does a Storyboard Artist work with?

Once the script has been broken down into a ‘shooting script’. Storyboard Artists work with the Director, and sometimes the Director of Photography and/or the Writer to create a visual rendering of the proposed frames and shots.

How do I become a Storyboard Artist?

The most important thing when applying for roles in storyboarding is to demonstrate good drawing skills. You need to show storytelling skills and an understanding of film. Many Storyboard Artists have a degree but you don’t necessarily need one as long as you have a strong portfolio and can show your experience. In some companies you can move into being a Junior Storyboard Artist from being a Production Assistant.

Educational requirements: Any art school with an animation or illustration department is a solid place to build fundamental skills. The essential part is strong illustration skills.

Develop Art and Illustration Skills: Regularly practise drawing and observing how people and things around you move and look. Carry a sketchbook with you.

Build a portfolio: Learn how to show story sequences cut together in an animatic form. Start creating work that you can show to admissions tutors or employers.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Production Designer

What is a Production Designer?
What does a Production Designer do?

Production Designers create the way a film or TV drama looks. Films can be set in any number of places; a Victorian orphanage, a Caribbean cruise ship, or another planet, for example. They are an artistic jack-of-all-trades and a confident leader who manages the entire art department. They work with all the other visual departments, costume, lighting, visual and special effects, and graphic design. They help create the visual world in which the story is set.

Production Designers start with the script. Researching and collaborating with the Director, Director of Photography and other heads of department, they imagine the screenplay visually. They draw sketches showing mood, atmosphere, lighting, composition, colour and texture, which are given to the Art Director to develop.

The Production Designer is also in charge of hiring and managing the art department, which can be one of the biggest departments on a film crew.
They then work with other art department members to draw up a budget. They prioritize the work schedule and allocate the management of finances to team members performing different tasks.

What's a Production Designer good at?
  • Creativity

    Visualize the whole look of a film or TV drama, starting with words on a page

  • Art

    Draw by hand to scale, do technical drawings and computer-aided design

  • Design

    Understand colour theory, know the history of architecture and interior design

  • Knowledge of Photography

    Understand cameras, lenses and lighting and their effect on a film’s look and mood

  • Organization

    Manage budgets, draw up schedules, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Share the vision with a wide number of different people and keep a team working together well

Who does a Production Designer work with?

Set Decorator
The Set Decorator is responsible for the decoration of a set, including furnishings and all objects that are on view.

Production Buyer
Before the start of shooting, Production Buyers prepare orders for props.

Art Director
On big productions, Art Directors may start work months before shooting starts. They analyze a script to identify all the props or special items that will be needed and find cost-effective creative solutions to construction and decorating problems.

Assistant Art Director (first assistant, second, third)
Assistant Art Directors’ responsibilities vary depending on the size of the production. They may help the Art Director with research, surveying locations, model making or producing sets. On large productions with multiple sets, an Assistant Art Director will take responsibility for some of the smaller sets and manage the cleanliness and props for that set. Assistant Art Directors also sketch ideas, refine them, and work on 3D models.

Concept Artist
Big studio productions usually hire a number of concept artists to design specific elements, such as fantasy creatures. Concept Artists may analyze source material and work on illustrations that are both striking and accurate to be presented to the Producer, Director, and FX Supervisors. Many Concept Artists start their careers as graphic artists or illustrators before moving into the screen industries.

Set Designer
Set Designers provide hundreds of technical drawings that serve as a template for the construction department. Drawings are often still produced by hand, but computer-aided design software (also known as CAD software) is also used.

Production Assistant
Production Assistants usually start work in the early stages of pre-production and can be specifically assigned to the art department. This is an entry-level position and tasks vary.

How do I become a Production Designer?

As with many creative fields, there is no set way of becoming a Production Designer. Degrees in graphic design, theatre, architecture, or art, however, will give you a solid background in some of the key skills you’ll need to get into the industry—and can provide you with valuable industry connections. Courses in woodwork and set construction at your local college can be valuable to gain experience in building and design.

Most Production Designers have worked in the art department for many years. Aim to start as a Production Assistant and work your way up through the ranks outlined above.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.