Knowing more about the TV industry and the potential career options available to you will help you focus on your area of expertise.
Popular careers directly related to the course include:
Camera operator (studio/outside broadcast)
Camera operators cover all types of Outside Broadcast (OB) and studio-based programmes. They operate one of several cameras capturing images simultaneously (multi-camera shoots), which involves receiving camera directions (usually over a headset) from the director, who is based in a gallery away from the location or set.
Camera operator (portable single camera)
On high budget television dramas or commercials, the camera operator's main role is to support the Director of Photography (DoP or DP) and the Director, by accurately carrying out their instructions regarding shot composition and development. Camera operators also cover other drama productions, documentaries, current affairs and news, operating Portable Single Cameras (PSC) and shooting on various formats.
Director of Photography or lighting camera person
The most senior role in television camera departments. They interpret the director's vision for the programme, and use their advanced technical skills in lighting and camerawork to produce and capture moving images. They also liaise closely with other members of the production team to create each required shot, and to motivate and encourage them in their work.
On a high-budget television drama or commercial, the role is referred to as Director of Photography (DP or DoP) and involves supervising a camera department of approximately 6 people. On other drama productions, documentaries, or factual or news productions, the role is known as lighting camera, and the crew sometimes comprises of only 2 or 3 people, as budgets are usually much lower.
Script supervisor or continuity
Script supervisors work as part of the camera department on feature films and television dramas. They ensure that, despite the fact that films are shot entirely out of script sequence, they eventually make continuous verbal and visual sense. This entails checking on and keeping detailed records of dialogue, action, costumes, props and set design, so that when different takes and scenes are finally edited together, the fictional world of the film is not disrupted by continuity errors which may distract the audience. Script supervisors closely observe every shot filmed, and take extremely precise and detailed notes, in order to provide an authoritative reference point should any doubt arise about how a previous take or scene was filmed.
Using the script or brief from the production team the lighting director designs the specific look required for each shot. They use their advanced technical skills to realise the design and, with the help of the rest of the lighting department, set up and operate specialised lights and accessories. As lighting is an essential part of programmes' overall design and style, this is a key creative and technical role. Lighting directors work closely with the lighting console operator, senior electrician (Gaffer) and several electricians (Sparks). On single camera shoots, the lighting camera person often takes responsibility for the lighting, although a Gaffer, working alone or with a Spark, may be brought in to assist on large projects or special set-ups.
Sound recordist - TV
As original sound is vital to the creative media industries, sound recordists play an important role within the production process by ensuring that high quality sound is captured at all times.
They record sound on location or in a studio, usually in synchronisation with the camera, to enable the highest quality 'real' sound to be recorded at the time of filming/recording. They monitor the quality of the sound recording through headphones, and work closely with the director, boom operator and sometimes the sound editor, often using multiple microphones.
Boom operators play an important role within the production process, working under the direction of the sound supervisor/production mixer to achieve the best quality sound recording.
Working either on location or on a studio set, the boom operator's main responsibility is to control the long boom arm, either hand–held or dolly–mounted (on wheels), with the microphone attached, manoeuvring it as close to the action as possible without getting it in shot. They may have to learn the script in order to anticipate lines and to move the boom arm accordingly. They are responsible for fitting radio microphones to artistes, for placing microphones appropriately for a required shot, and for keeping recordists informed of changes on the set. Depending on the scale of the production, boom operators may also have to make simple recordings and undertake basic repairs.
Vision mixers work across all genres of television programmes, which are either transmitted live, recorded as live, or pre-recorded in any multi-camera environment in studios or during Outside Broadcasts (OBs). These include news, sport, current affairs, light entertainment, one-off studio-based dramas, children's programmes, situation comedies, and soaps or serial dramas. On studio-based programmes, vision mixers work in the production gallery, on OBs they are based in the mobile production gallery in the OB vehicle.
Vision mixers edit programmes live (as they are being transmitted or recorded), using a variety of transition methods, such as cuts, mixes, wipes, frame manipulation, etc. They join together images from various visual sources, including cameras, video tape recorders, graphic generators, digital video effects (DVEs).
Network operations assistant
Network operations assistants co-ordinate the movements of programme materials in and out of satellite and cable broadcasting organisations. They are involved in all the genres of programming within the remit of each broadcaster. Their role is largely administrative, and also involves quality control and troubleshooting.
Network operations assistants are responsible for ensuring that all relevant materials are available, in a suitable format, of transmittable quality, and on-deadline for transmission. This is a desk-based role, which can be extremely pressurised when working to tight deadlines.
In television directors work across all genres, including news, sport, documentaries, current affairs, light entertainment, children's programmes, situation comedies, soaps or serial dramas, or one-off dramas. These programmes may be either transmitted live, recorded as live, or pre-recorded in any multi-camera environment in studios or during Outside Broadcasts (OBs), or shot on single or multi camera film or tape shoots and edited in post production.
Directors are responsible for the look and sound of a production and its technical standards; they interpret the producer's and/or writer's vision. Every production has its unique internal dynamic, and directors are responsible for ensuring that the final programme is faithful to the original concept.
Production managers are responsible for all the organisational aspects of production scheduling and budgeting. They assist Producers to interpret and realise the Directors' vision, both financially and logistically.
Production managers prepare production schedules or script breakdowns to confirm that sufficient time has been allocated for all aspects of the production process, and to verify producers' budgets and schedules. On drama productions they use Movie Magic (a specialist scheduling and budgeting software package) which provides logistical breakdowns of scripts, detailing all aspects of production requirements. These include: how many and which actors are needed on which days; what locations are required each day; crewing requirements etc.
Location managers work on television drama, drama-documentaries and continuing drama productions. They research and assess suitable locations, negotiate contracts and payments, and present their findings to Producers and other decision makers. They oversee all logistical aspects of the location during shooting.
They assess any possible problems or difficulties, including checking whether suitable local power supplies are available, or if there is sufficient space for any required generators. They also consider the climatic, physical, environmental and health and safety factors which may affect the use of locations.
Researchers originate or develop programme ideas, drawing on their knowledge and understanding of industry requirements, and present their findings to decision makers. They are also fact checkers and 'brief' writers for on-screen presenters. They must understand, and work within, relevant legislation and regulations.
They may produce original programme ideas for consideration by producers, broadcasters, production companies, or other decision makers. They identify relevant data, contributors, locations or archive material etc. collate and assess information from various sources, and ensure that legal, compliance and copyright requirements are met.
Television is the biggest employer of runners. But before making any approach, it's important to research the work of the company or department that you're applying to.