Volunteering – Camera Operator

The third show that we broadcast took on the theme of Volunteering. This was a broad topic and could allow for many different story paths. The route our show ended up taking was about volunteering abroad, Food cycle and local radio stations that you can get involved with. Please give it a watch below and find out how you can become a volunteer.

For this show I chose the role of camera operator, but ‘What is a camera operator?’ 

“Camera Operators make sure the camera and equipment are prepared for the required set-ups and ready for any last-minute changes. They must be able to multi-task and to watch, listen and think on their feet while carrying out complex technical tasks.” 

Read further about a camera operator here

As the camera operator, I made sure that the camera was set up correctly, filming at 1920/1080 for the aspect ratio to be 16:9. Throughout the degree I have had many chances to use the cameras which include the; JVC HM300 and HM600’s, Sony and EX3. This production used all apart from the HM600. From filming this I was able to practice focus pulling and adapting the aperture to certain lights.  

The camera operator normally records shots depending on the Director and Producer’s vision. However, for this show I could decide on what shots would be best. This enabled me to be creative with the cutaways for the VT’s (video tapes) and so that I could be sure there was enough footage for the editors to work with. I learnt from this that if you are not receiving direction that you need to use your initiative to gather the most effective footage. 

Filming the fake ‘live’ interview in the Express FM studios, was a challenge as I had never used the Fig Rig (used to stabilise a camera) before. But I really enjoyed using it and being able to practice holding a camera steady for the duration of the interview (it also tested my upper arm strength, which seems to need work). This and the Food Cycle VT that I filmed, both gave me the chance to have freedom with what I was filming. 

Please see below for some photos from the production. 

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Since the Express FM interview was unable to be live (like originally planned), we pre-recorded it. This enabled me to take on the role of floor manager in the upstairs studio, which meant telling the presenter when she was live. It also meant that we were able to do a second take of the interview in Express FM to get the correct camera angle, as it was a fairly small room. 

The mix of our content gave an overview into different types of volunteering but from looking back the show could have been developed a lot further. This could have been achieved by incorporating shorter VT’s, which had interesting content and creativity. This production taught me that VT’s need to be more creative to keep an audience engaged, and that long chunks of reading to the viewer is not enjoyable to watch.

The interview for the volunteering abroad section was worth reshooting as it was overexposed, however due to time restrictions and interviewees availability this was not possible. The group was struggling for content as one of the interviews was unuseable but managed to pull it all together in the last week, successfully broadcasting a 30 minute show. I feel that even though there was not much direction or planning around the VTs it allowed me to develop my camera skills through having a flexible brief. It made me realise that communication is fundamental for a strong production and team.

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