Camera Assignments and Responsibilities

Even though boundaries can seem limiting at times, we need them to avoid chaos. Stephen Proctor once said, “The greatest artists create their own boundaries to work within. It gives purpose to their work.”

A sports team performs best, not when all the players chase after the ball, but when each player plays strategically in his/her assigned position. Applying that concept to a camera environment shows us that when each Camera Operator operates within his/her assigned responsibilities, the entire team succeeds. Camera assignments help keep all the cameras from shooting the same thing at the same time, and help the Camera Director with having the appropriate shot at the appropriate time. If all the Camera Operators stay within their own boundaries of certain kinds of shots, then the Director doesn’t have all the Camera Operators “fighting for the ball” per se.

A typical 3-camera setup for a live music performance or church service includes a wide ISO, a tight ISO, and a variable shot. Camera assignments could change depending on the needs of the production, but a lot of times Camera 3 is the wide shot, Camera 2 is the main tight shot, and Camera 1 is the variable shot. If the production has added handheld cameras, 1 of them may be assigned to the keys and drums while the other may be assigned to guitars and singers. If there is more than 1 jib, one of them may be super wide the entire time (which would take the place of Camera 3’s wide-shot), and the other may be closer to the musicians.

A typical 5-camera setup for a basketball game includes a medium-wide game shot, a tight ISO, a home-bench handheld, a visitor-bench handheld, and a low or high slash. Each of these cameras have their own responsibilities and shot-types. If the cameras stick to their assignments, the Director always knows which camera will have which shot in any given scenario.