*These overviews are in order according to ICG 669’s Constitution and Bylaws.
Motion Picture Technicians Category
Director of photography
The Director of Photography, also known as the DOP or Cinematographer, is the person responsible for a film’s visual elements. They are tasked with creating the look of a film, developing a film’s visual style, determining lighting and composition and planning camera angles.
A DOP will elevate a Director’s vision, and introduce ideas and concepts the Director may not have considered. The DOP controls everything that affects what the camera can capture. The Director of Photography is the head of the Camera, Lighting and Grip departments on set, and is also responsible for the selection of equipment including the cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, and camera platforms to be used on a shoot.
Second Unit Director of Photography
A Second Unit is a discrete team of filmmakers tasked with filming shots or sequences of a production, separate from the Main or “First” Unit. The Second Unit will often shoot simultaneously with the other unit or units, allowing the filming stage of production to be completed faster.
The Second Unit camera crew is headed by the 2nd Unit DOP. This team is responsible for shooting supplementary footage; including establishing shots, stunts, inserts, and cutaways. This crew is separate from the Main or “First” Unit., which is the team that films scenes with the Leading Cast. The 2nd Unit DOP’s task is to adhere to the Vision and Concepts developed by the Director and the Main Unit DOP. They must replicate the look and feel of the Main Unit work. This work is directly supervised by the Main Unit DOP to ensure a seamless and consistent look and feel.
A camera operator is responsible for controlling the movements of the camera, both directly and through communication with the dolly grip, focus puller, and others on the crew. Additionally, a camera operator is expected to collaborate with the director and DOP to conceive, build, and execute the shots desired for the production. They work closely with all departments on set to achieve this, from the cast to the production assistants.
Alongside the DOP, the primary operator on a production shepherds the director through the execution of their vision. Their work will have a large impact on a production, in diverse ways; from micro-adjustments of framing choices and subtleties of camera movement, to the effective use of the crew, equipment and time, to helping set the tone on set for the cast when they arrive.
Ideally, they have a strong understanding of filming aesthetics and techniques, scene blocking, the equipment and tools available to them, and the needs of the particular production they are on. Skills such as leadership, clear communication, political acumen, and an ability to put others at ease are of value, as are traits like confidence, calm, and physical and emotional fortitude.
A Steadicam Operator is a Camera Operator on a TV or film set who physically handles a Steadicam – a special type of camera stabilizer often used in filmmaking because it maximizes freedom of movement while minimizing camera shakiness.
Similar to Camera Operators, a Steadicam collaborates with the Director, Director of Photography, and Actors to set up and film the scenes for a production. The Steadicam system and Operator together provide the fluidity of a handheld camera with the stability of a dolly shot, allowing to track the movements of Actors and objects more easily. The apparatus is mounted to the Operator, requiring great physical strength and endurance, as well as delicate and precise movements.
First Assistant Camerapersons
Under the guidance of the Director of Photography and Operator, the 1st AC (sometimes referred to as “focus puller”) is responsible for maintaining in-focus images, configuring and ensuring proper functioning of the camera as well as making all necessary technical adjustments on a shot specific basis.
As the primary technical lead in the structure of the camera department, the 1st AC must maintain excellent communication with other departments and production, to resolve any difficulties should they arise. 1st ACs will constantly find themselves in situations that demand strong leadership and direction for the entire department
Second Assistant Camerapersons
The Second Assistant Cameraperson, often referred to as the “2nd AC,” is a position where responsibilities exist in the technical elements, administrative aspects, and logistical movement of the entire Camera department. Some of the examples include slating, assisting the First Assistant Cameraperson (1st AC), and organizing and scheduling gear.
Many of these tasks include liaising between the Camera department and other departments, such as Production office, transportation, script supervisor, post house as well as camera rental houses. Communication is central to the position. In addition, the physical strength to work in all weather conditions and the ability to multitask under high stress and pressure are critical in this fast-paced industry. The definition of a Second Assistant is constantly adapting and changing with the environment of any production. There are a number of variables to consider, and it makes for a dynamic and exciting career.
3d technicians category
3D photography or stereoscopic photography is the art of capturing and displaying two slightly offset photographs to create three-dimensional images.
A stereographer is a professional in the field of stereoscopy and visual effects using the art and techniques of stereo photography, 3D photography, or stereoscopic 3D Film to create a visual perception of a 3-dimensional image from a flat surface.
Digital Technicians Category
Digital Imaging Technician
The Digital Imaging Technician (D.I.T.) is responsible for all monitoring, colour correction and management systems that will be used on set and in how it relates post-production as either viewing dailies creation and or for editorial dailies creation. This work may also be used for final colouring directly or as a reference. The position includes quality control of the monitoring systems used for viewing by the Director, the Director of Photography and all other live viewing systems used during shooting.
A detailed understanding of all colorimetry systems and technical standards is required, including how live viewing is affected by software and hardware and environment to ensure the accuracy of the on-set viewing by the DOP.
D.I.T’s directly serve the DOP as a technical reference providing a link between the set and post-production. It is their responsibility to make certain that the vision of the DOP on set is accurately conveyed in the post-production workflow.
When the DIT works without a loader, the DIT assumes all the responsibilities of the Digital Loader as well.
The Digital Loader is responsible for all data management during the on set shooting process. This includes quality control, data storage tracking and shipping to the post facility. In conjunction with the camera assistants, the Loader must track, test and verify all of the images captured during shooting by coordinating the recording media and its usage.
Once digital media is removed from the camera by the camera assistants, the Loader is responsible for the safe handling of the live media, its storage and for making verified copies of the camera data until its reception at the post-production facilities and editorial.
It is a highly responsible position as there is only one thing produced on set during production, that is the digital media and the data it contains. If this process fails, the entire days’ work may be lost.
A Utility takes on the role of coordinating location moves, ordering daily crew and gear, and helping the rest of the camera team in building, dismantling and moving gear. This position also allows for immediate contact, response, action between the camera department, the office, payroll, transport, rental houses, and production staff.
Video Technicians Category
EPK Director of Photography / Camera Operator
In the BCCFU Master Agreement, EPK/BTS Members are listed under the Electronic Camera Category of Electronic Director of Photography (DOP) and Electronic Camera Operator (originating from the Film vs. Video camera era).
Shooting “Behind-the-Scenes” is a specialized craft requiring particular skills. While B-roll material can be captured by the EPK Operator category or EPK DOP if lighting is required an EPK DOP is utilized.
Work performed by ICG 669 EPK/BTS includes promotional interviews, “Making Of” content on location, behind-the-scenes documenting, and recording for promotional, press and social media or gallery events.
A teleprompter is a device used in video, film and TV that prompts actors or other on-camera talents for lines that may be forgotten or missed. The Teleprompter Operator transcribes scripts or recordings into readable banners or special screens that are used to prompt people to remember what they are to say.
Teleprompter Operators must have a good working knowledge of the language being used in the production and must be able to work with various individuals on the production that have different speech patterns. Since the Teleprompter Operator must match the information on the screen with what is occurring in the scene it is very important that they have the ability to work in highly distracting settings.
Playback Technicians Category
Motion Picture Video Coordinator (MPVC)
Motion Picture Video Assistant (MPVA1)
Remote Systems Technician Category
Remote Head Technician
Remote Head Technicians are responsible for the rigging and performance of remotely operated camera heads. One or more cameras may be mounted to these heads, and they may have anywhere from two to five-or more-axis. The heads can be stabilized or non-stabilized and may be controlled by wheels, joysticks or the actual physical movement of the controller through space. These heads may be rigged on stationary mounts, RC carts, dollies, descender rigs, cable runs, swings, cranes, cranes-on-cranes, vehicles of all descriptions, jib arms and various track-mounted carts.
Safety is the primary concern of the technicians. They work closely with the camera, grip and sometimes stunt departments. As always, the ability to communicate clearly and listen well is key. An ability to quickly find creative solutions to ever-changing challenges and problems is a great asset.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Category
Drone Operator (Pilot)
The Drone Operator, also known as the Pilot in Command, is the person responsible for operating the aircraft in a professional and safe manner. They oversee the flight operation and have the final decision on what shot can be achieved based on weather and physical limitations. A film and television production drone pilot exercises precision flying in order to repeat camera moves for multiple takes. They work in direct communication with the Drone Camera Operator and Drone Assistant/Visual Observer to safely complete a mission. It is required that any ICG 669 Drone Pilot must hold a valid RPAS Pilot certificate issued by Transport Canada.
Drone Camera Operator
The Drone Camera Operator, also referred to as a CamOp, is responsible for the camera payload on the drone. They work directly with the Director of Photography and Director to maintain the frame during a take as well as manage any camera settings and configurations as per the DOP or DIT.
The CamOp communicates directly with the Pilot during a flight in order to ensure the aircraft’s position, timing and speed successfully translate the desired look for the scene. The CamOp is a conduit between the Pilot and the Director during a shot for any “on the fly” adjustments. Their influence can also help to create compelling images by making suggestions to the Director and DOP.
Drone Camera Assistant
The Drone Camera Assistant, also known as a Visual Observer or Safety Spotter, is much more than a second set of eyes on the aircraft. They serve similarly to a Second Assistant Camera does to a production. They organize and manage all the equipment for the drone operation. A drone assist handles slating, cabling, communicates with the camera department and other departments to help coordinate a successful drone flight. A good Drone Assist knows what both the Pilot and Camera Operator need to complete their job and can anticipate when they may require something.
Their duties are both quiet and powerful in the sense that they keep the wheel moving forward on the ground while everyone is looking up to the sky.
Still Photography Category
The responsibilities of a unit Still Photographer are primarily marketing, advertising, archiving, and asset creation in support of the art department.
Marketing and advertising means capturing on-camera action and performances, behind-the-scenes moments, and interesting vignettes, all of which typically give the public their first look at a forthcoming motion picture or television property. On occasion, a Still Photographer may also be tasked with shooting gallery images for the promotion of a project. The creation of this imagery also serves to document the project for the network and/or studio’s historical archives. Meanwhile, photography for the art department can itself be multifold: from prop stills to backdrops, to anything in between that may appear on-camera. A Still Photographer must be prepared to quickly shift between these various responsibilities as needed and have the necessary equipment and expertise to do so.
At its heart, being a unit Still Photographer necessitates that one be a good generalist photographer with a strong understanding of photojournalism, portrait photography and the cinematic style. Crucially, it also requires that one can stealthily navigate a hectic, chaotic environment; capturing requisite imagery while remaining mindful of the space and energy of actors, artisans, and technicians on set.
Senior Unit Publicist
A Unit Publicist handles various aspects of publicity and marketing during television and film shoots and provides a vital conduit between producers, cast, crew, media, and studio/network marketing departments. Tasks vary from project to project depending on specific deliverables requested, and typically encompass management of the EPK, cast and crew interviews, gallery/marketing shoots, social media activity, on set media visits, press releases, press kit and production notes, other written materials such as loglines, synopsis, and spoiler documents, charity requests, special promotional events, and VIP visits to set. The demands of the job continue to be ever-evolving as digital multi-platform marketing and publicity change and grow.
Underwater Technicians Category
Underwater Director of Photography
An Underwater Director of Photography must take several different skill sets, pooled from camera operating, lighting and grip knowledge and funnel those skills into one cohesive discipline, all the while possessing superior diving skills which allow them to move the camera through the water with efficiency. The role requires not only a knowledge of composition, exposure and lighting but also the physical demands of swimming and in some cases apnea. Additionally required are a specialized commercial diving license and an adherence to Occupational First Aid and Dive Accident Management curriculum in addition to upkeep of dive logs in order to maintain that license, and an annual medical exam with cardiovascular stress tests, indicating the high level of fitness required.
Underwater Camera Operator
An Underwater Camera Operator ultimately has somewhat less of the responsibilities outlined for the Underwater Director of Photography, with lighting and grip concerns typically performed by the surface crew, under the helm of the topside Director of Photography.
The role involves not merely operating the camera and composing the frame but skilled control over buoyancy and the ability to maneuver the camera through environmental elements present in diving, which can include current and tidal swells. Communication with the surface is usually achieved via an underwater loudspeaker and hand signals in front of the lens port of the housing, which has a hardwired underwater cable to a surface monitor for the topside Director and crew to view.
As with the Underwater Director of Photography and any diver on film sets in the province, the same requirements of a commercial diving license, diver medical, Occupational First Aid and dive curriculum courses and logbooks are required.
Underwater Camera Assistant
The duties of the underwater camera assistant are split between two sub categories: Underwater Camera Housing Technician and Underwater Camera Assistant.
Underwater Camera Housing Technician:
The duties of the Underwater Camera Housing Technician are to prep and assemble the camera for use in underwater housing, including camera placement, lens mounting, manual gearing or remote focus and iris motor mounting, and sealing the housing for submersion.
Underwater Camera Assistant:
The above duties differ from the Underwater Camera Assistant, which can be described for film cameras as the Underwater Focus Puller or for digital, the Underwater Assistant.
Both duties require knowledge of underwater lens focus nomenclature and housing port selection. In some cases, on certain productions, the Main Unit Focus Puller can supersede the Underwater Camera Assistant with regards to camera focus, but the Underwater Assistant is still responsible for the care and attention of the camera in the housing, including battery and film or media changes.
There are some cases where both the Underwater Camera Housing Technician and Underwater Assistant are blended into one job, so the technician tends to the housing and pulls focus (for digital this is surface focus pulling via a handset tethered via cable to the housing, but for film, this does not apply, as the underwater focus puller is required to pull focus in the water beside the camera).
Manned Aerial Photography Category
Aerial Director of Photography
Traditional aerial work, using cameras hard mounted to helicopters and requiring extensive experience and knowledge to operate. This requires a unique skill set that is completely different from Drone work, having an acute sense of spatial awareness and working closely with the pilot.
Aerial Camera Operator
Special Photography Technicians Category
Phantom Camera Technician
Responsible for operating a special high-speed digital camera, capable of shooting at incredibly high frames per second. As the specific camera used is quite complex, these technicians require extensive knowledge and experience to operate it, working with the Director and DOP to configure it optimally from the initial setup to shooting, onset playback and then transferring the footage.