Quick Guide to Key Positions on a Video Production

Posted by on Jun 28, 2015 in blog | No Comments

Cinematographer (Director of Photography or DP) / Camera Operator – collaborates with the director to execute the visual look and style of the video.

Colorist – works with Director and DP to give a final, consistent color grade or visual look for the video, often matching the hue, contrast, brightness, saturation, gamma, sharpness (and more) in all of the shots in a scene, which may look wildly inconsistent as raw media.

• Composer – works with Director and Editor to write and deliver original music/score for video.

 Director – in charge of all creative decisions – very involved from concept through delivery.

Editor – works with Director to splice the best clips together to complete a final, fluid video piece.

First Assistant Camera (1st AC) – primarily responsible for keeping each shot in sharp focus.

First Assistant Director (1st AD) – in charge of maintaining that production is on schedule and oversees the health and safety of the cast and crew; may also call out commands such as, “quiet on set!”, etc.

Gaffer – head electrician, works directly with DP to manage lighting design and oversees electrical power/safety concerns.

 Grip –  works under the key grip, may be a specialist like a Dolly Grip or a Crane Operator.

Electric – works under the gaffer.

Key Grip – head of rigging technicians, responsible for overseeing the set up of stands and instruments that shape the light like silks and flags.

• Make-Up Artist – applies make-up to talent, on low budget shoots he/she often doubles as Hair Stylist. If there is a need for bruises, gore, or prosthetics, this would fall under a different title, Special Effects Make-Up Artist.

Post-Production Audio Engineer – runs recording session for voice-over or automated dialogue replacement (ADR), which may be necessary if the production sound was not usable for specific lines or if the Director and Editor decide to add or change lines in post

 Producer – in charge of the logistics involved to execute the director’s vision. On a low budget shoot he/she may create schedules, hire crew, set up casting, assist in location scouting, book recording sessions, manage contracts, process invoices, and generally put out fires.

• Production Assistant (PA) – responsible for general tasks: carrying things, driving van, watching equipment, preventing passersby to cross during exterior shots, holding a bounce board if needed. Often PAs may work additional days beyond production (helping to pick up/return equipment, prop rentals, etc.)

Production Designer / Art Director  – These are two different roles on a larger production, but it is often condensed into one on low budget videos. He/she works with the Director and DP to help flesh out the visual world of the video. Every table, chair, poster, pillow, strip of wallpaper, crumpled up Kleenex on the floor, etc. should be a deliberate choice and the arrangement of those items is the responsibility of the Production Designer. Perhaps the DP wants to have a blue/grey palette for a particular scene. Then the Production Designer must use props or items in the scene that adhere to that color scheme. He/she is also responsible for “greeking” or disguising brand labels (such as an Apple logo on a prominently featured iMac). He/she usually has an assistant, either a Set Dresser or an Art PA.

Production Sound Mixer / Boom Operator – records the sound during the shoot.

Script Supervisor – in charge of notating each take against the script and tracking continuity. For instance, did the actress pick up the cup with her left hand or right hand? What is the time on the clock on the wall when the scene begins, where should it be when we punch in for a closer shot?

Second Assistant Camera (2nd AC) / Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) – safely and securely swaps and cleans lenses when requested by the DP, manages any camera paperwork, operates clapboard before each take (which helps Video Editor have both a synch point and a numerical reference for each clip), offloads media to hard drives and tracks media (for instance, which solid state drives (SSD) or secure digital (SD) cards have been backed up and can be wiped).

Sound Designer / Sound Editor / Audio Mixer – works with Editor to EQ (alter audio frequencies) and sweeten certain audio clips, match audio clips to sound the same (say, a boom mic and a lavalier mic recording the same source), add sound effects when needed, and create a final mix with appropriate volume levels for dialogue, music, and sound effects.

Storyboard Artist – creates drawings of the frames that the Director and DP envision (before production), which helps them visualize composition, lighting, blocking, and editing before the shoot begins.

Talent – simply means actor(s).

Teleprompter Technician – operates teleprompter (usually necessary for wordy corporate videos or lengthy on-camera narration).

Visual Effects Artist / Motion Graphics Designer – works with Director and Editor to provide the visual effects, animation, and titles that accompany the live action video.

Wardrobe Stylist – responsible for choosing outfit options for talent. This position is not to be confused with Costumer Designer, which would require making/creating specialized costumes for talent.

Writer – creates the story and scripts the narrative.

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