job profile : 1st Assistant Camera Part1

Fiche métier : 1er Assistant Caméra Partie1

1st Assistant camera

(assistant operator)


Today, I start my roundup of the trades of the cinema and the television. I’m going to get close to the camera. I even believe that one can not really be more close to the camera when talking to the assistant operator, also called the 1st assistant camera. With the camera operator, the two technicians closest to the camera.

Although I walk up and down the sets for a long time, the job of the 1st assistant camera is can be one of the ones I know the least. Not that I don’t know what it does on a shelf, but to be honest, I find it hard to grasp all the knowledge it takes to make a good 1st assistant camera. This is why, I’m going to show you a 1st assistant operator that I have worked with several times : Julien Richez.

In this way, you will have a true vision of what this profession through the path of an experienced technician : (o) Julien will be the best person to explain to you how his business is exciting.

Before you begin, it’s important that you know around the camera, there are several assistants operators :

– 1st assistant

– 2nd assistant

– assistant camera assistant (wizard video)

I will make you a sheet for each of the positions, at a later time. The 1st assistant camera has under his orders the 2nd assistant and assistant camera assistant (wizard video).

A 1st assistant camera, what is it ?

How to locate the 1st assistant operator on a plateau ? Nothing more simple, it is the technician who is glued to it ! The assistant camera is next to the camera and moves very rarely because he or she is responsible. It is responsible for its proper functioning, of l’recording and of the restitution of images.

But its mission does not stop there, it must also make the point…I’ve already talked about it in an article. The point is to make the subjects being filmed, net.

When you turn a movie or a telefilm, we do not use the’auto focus for various problems. The cameraman can not frame, that is to say, pay attention to what is going on in the eyecup and do the point at the same time. This is why this task is delegated to the 1st assistant camera. But I’ll come back on his role during the filming, a little later.

Prepare the shooting

Nowadays, one can find a great number of different cameras : digital :

– Alexa

– Phantom

– Red : Epic, One, Scarlet

– Arriflex D-20

– Viper etc


But also of the original film-based cameras :

– Arriflex 35mm

Aaton Penelope etc…

And guess what ? 1st assistant camera should all know. This is why, when it is chosen by the chief operator, he has for first mission to learn about the camera that will be used for the shoot. He must learn to know it in every detail ! It also means, knowing the breakdowns of the most common and weak points of each camera.

Once this compilation of information is done, he can do what is called the testing camera. Behind this name hides in fact a battery of tests to ensure that the camera works well.

As I say regularly, the cameras cost ” an arm “. Productions prefer to hire the equipment for rental rather than purchase. To give you an example, the photo below is an Alexa, it is equipped with a zoom and if a production had to buy, it would cost….then?….170 000 euros, fully equipped ! Not counting the revisions, the parts to change etc…

In short, the camera was just a renter, hence it is used for many productions, for different films, shot in different conditions. It is necessary to ensure that the camera is not returned as defective.

Then begins a series of tests “protocol” is very specific :

For the film :

– Scratches

– the fixity

– the timing and the pumping

– the conformation of the framework

– speed test

– the aiming light


For the digital :

– the timing and the pumping

– the conformation of the framework

– speed test

– the aiming light


If the filming had to encounter difficulties (bad weather, shooting extreme or situations outside the norm) the wizard camera should test the camera to see how the camera would react in these conditions. In general, testing the camera last 5 days.

1st assistant camera on the shelf

As I said above, the 1st assistant camera is taped to the camera and the cameraman.

The camera operator and the 1st assistant operator must therefore work together. It should be on the lookout for the slightest change of plan, framework , or value, in order to adjust the focus. But it is also important that they look at what’s happening on the tray, on the placement of the actors and he listens to the instructions of the first assistant director or chief operator (in case he change his mind on the placement of the camera).

This is a profession that goes to 300 at a time ! And you don’t have a right to be wrong ! You are responsible for the Rec. It is you that trigger the camera to each of the sockets, and then give the time code to the script.

The assistant camera is responsible for giving his orders to the 2nd assistant, in order that it brings him the focal lengths or it needs so that it can reload the camera without affecting the filming (loss of time, etc..). He must know, therefore, anticipate the needs.


End of the first part…

So much for this first part of the article on the 1 st assistant camera, I’m not going to make you wait too long. So here is the link to read the rest. Note that in this second part we will talk about the work of the 1st assistant camera on the set of filming, the salary that wins the 1 st assistant camera. I’ll also explain to you what training you need to follow in order to exercise this fabulous profession (self-taught…school…). We will conclude with an overview of the qualities that you need to do the job of a 1st assistant camera.

You can if you want to read other articles by returning to the site plan (article) by clicking on this link.

If you liked this article on the job of 1st assistant camera – share with your networks or click the ” like “button at the top of the article. You will help of this way to get to know a little more on the blog. Thank you to those who will do so ;o)

You can also leave me a message or post your question at the bottom of this page ;o)

Don’t forget that the best way to have a global vision of a business is to meet those who exercise ! This is why I propose to you the interview of Julien Richez, 1 er assistant operator that I have worked with several times. If you want to have a clear idea of the business, then read the following interview ;o)

Good reading to all,



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