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Reel Opportunities

Assistant Production Accountant

Also known as: Junior Production Accountant, 1st Assistant Accountant, Cashier, Key Assistant Accountant

What does an Assistant Production Accountant do?

Assistant Production Accountants (APA) help Production Accountants keep accurate records of how the money on a film or TV production is spent.

They primarily deal with expense claims, comparing what people have claimed with the receipts they have submitted. A major responsibility of the APA is to log timesheets given by crew members for the Payroll Accountant to process. They alsotrack money that’s been given to the crew (floats), and make sure this money is available to the relevant crew members (and returned at the end of a shoot).

They also perform petty cash reconciliations, where the cash on the site is counted and cross-referenced with outgoing spending. They photocopy, input data, and back up data. They might help ensure the production isn’t over-spending by providing comparisons between the budget and the actual spending.

What’s an Assistant Production Accountant good at?
  • Math and Computer Skills

    Enjoys crunching numbers , preparing spreadsheets and logging/computing data

  • Taking instruction

    Listen to the Production Accountant and do what’s asked

  • Discretion

    Able to keep confidential information to yourself

  • Communication

    Be social and work well with the accounts department, be able to chat to people in each department and learn what is going on in the production

  • Working long hours

    Work the same hours as the crew who will be working longer than 9 to 5 to make the most of the shooting day

Who does an Assistant Production Accountant work with?

APAs work with Production Accountants and Payroll Accountants, as well as Production Managers and heads of departments.

How do I become an Assistant Production Accountant?

There isn’t a single route to become an Assistant Production Accountant, you have to be interested and skilled in budget mathematics. You should try to sharpen your skills in this area and look for similar jobs in accounting and project management.

Here are some more tips:

Educational requirements: You might find going into a university program that has a focus in accounting, business or business studies and math useful. It will also look good on a resume when applying for different jobs.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Try reaching out to different organizations and production companies and inquiring about possible internships.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Production Accountant

What does a Production Accountant do?

Production Accountants do all the things accountants do, but they do it on film and television productions amidst the buzz and creativity of making a movie. They calculate finances, work out the cost of a production, talk to the completion guarantor (an insurance policy to make sure the film is delivered on time and on budget) and control the cash flow, or spending.

In pre-production, Production Accountants help the Producers and Production Managers prepare budgets and estimated final cost reports. During production, they oversee all payments, manage payroll and provide daily or weekly cost reports. They also produce cost forecasts to evaluate the impact of any production changes.

Production Accountants prepare a statement of account showing all income and expenditure for the Producer or production company and the financiers. They may also have to arrange an independent audit. Depending on how the film is financed, they may also have to deal with bank finance and completion guarantors.

On larger productions, Production Accountants may work with Finance Controllers, who are often permanently employed by studios and broadcasters. Production Accountants are usually freelancers.

What’s a Production Accountant good at?
  • Accountancy

    Keeps records meticulously, knows and understands Canadian revenue regulations and insurance. Using finance software: be able to use Movie Magic Budgeting or other budgeting packages

  • Knowledge of film production

    Have a thorough understanding of how film dramas are made and a love of the industry

  • Communication

    Be able to listen to and be understood by everyone from producers, financiers, finance controllers and cashiers

  • Discretion

    Be trustworthy with personal and production information

Who does a Production Accountant work with?

If the production has a Finance Controller, the Production Accountant works closely with them. If it doesn’t, then the Production Accountant heads up a team that may comprise an Assistant Production Accountant, and an Accounts Trainee. They may also work closely with the Production Manager and Assistant Production Managers.

How do I become a Production Accountant?

Some Production Accountants have a degree in accounting but by no means all. Some get into the accounts department having worked in other roles in the industry. A good route is to start as a Cashier and work your way up to an Assistant Production Accountant role before becoming the Production Accountant.

Get a degree: A degree in accountancy will be immensely beneficial, but it is not essential. Some people get qualified as bookkeepers then work their way up without a degree.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Descriptive Video Transcriber

Also known as: Audio Describer, DVT

What does a Descriptive Video Transcriber do?

Descriptive video transcribing, otherwise known as audio describing, is the process of narrating descriptions of nonverbal elements on the screen, such as characters’ surroundings, artworks, costumes, and body language, with the goal of making visual media more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

A media professional who translates visual imagery into verbal information for the benefit of people is known as an audio describer. Audio Description facilitates access to video content for visually impaired viewers by providing a carefully crafted spoken audio commentary that corresponds to what is on screen. Descriptive Video Transcribers begin by writing a project script, narrating and recording content, and then creating the necessary files for integration into the rest of the production.

Audio descriptions can be created for film, television, plays, musicals, operas, dance performances, parks, national monuments, museums, galleries, public service announcements, transportation – the list is endless. In general, audio description can improve the experience and understanding of any visual information. Professional Descriptive Video Transcribers are frequently hired by major film and television productions to write and voice the descriptions for their videos.

What's a Descriptive Video Transcriber good at?
  • Writing

    Write in such a way that when the text is read it seems as if the words come spontaneously and are not at all scripted. Explain concepts and ideas in a clear and simple manner

  • Communication

    Work well with the members of the project, understand the vision of the content and communicate what's happening on-screen effectively for individuals who are blind or otherwise visually impaired

  • Attention to detail

    Listen and watch actively, perform tasks conscientiously and effectively, taking into account all their aspects and convey all the necessary details via the audio descriptions

  • Pronunciation

    Be able to properly and understandably pronounce words

Who does a Descriptive Video Transcriber work with?

It’s not uncommon for Descriptive Video Transcribers to work with Directors, Producers, Sound Editors, and other team members during post-production.

How do I become a Descriptive Video Transcriber?

There is no direct educational path to transcribing descriptive video, but a background in writing and post-production or audio engineering production is useful.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Assistant Editor

What does an Assistant Editor do?

Assistant Editors are the ones that keep the flow of post-production smooth and do the busy work so the Editor can focus on the edit. The role of the Assistant Editor is to communicate with the production departments such as the camera, sound, and Digital Imaging Technician. They must bring in the daily footage, and make sure it is organized and named properly for the Editor to access.

They have to make sure all the footage is organized in a way so the Editor can easily find the shots they are looking for. The names of the files need to be named specifically so the Editor knows what the shot entails. They will also implant metadata to the shots so the Editor can search for it with a tag and find it. Once the picture is “locked” (final edit of the film) the Assistant Editor’s job is still not over, they have to conform and transfer the files correctly for the sound team.

On large budget films, there is sometimes a team of Assistant Editors to work on the flow of the post-production pipeline. On lower-budget films or television, there is typically one Assistant Editor to the Editor.

What's an Assistant Editor good at?
  • Using edit software

    Be adept with tools like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, and Lightworks

  • Communication

    Work well with the editor, and production team in getting all the correct files and information

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, show attention to detail and good organizational skills, often under pressure

  • Organization

    Must have great organization skills to keep the files in order, properly named, placed, and streamlined for the Editor

Who does an Assistant Editor work with?

Assistant Editors work directly under the Editor and will be doing anything the Editor directs them to do. They will also be working closely with the production team as the daily footage comes in. They will work with the 2nd Assistant Camera by gaining the camera logs and data from the shoot. They will also work with the Sound Recordist and gain the sound logs from them. Finally, they will work with a Digital Imaging Technician, in gaining the footage from the hard drives on set.

How do I become an Assistant Editor?

You can start as a Production Assistant (PA) for editing houses or Editors. You will build connections and create a reputation for yourself in the post-production field. You will need to be well-versed in editing software such as Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro. If you have experience in editing already or have been in a school program focused on film and media production, create a reel of your work.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Subtitler

Also known as: Translator

What does a Subtitler do?

Subtitlers make it possible for films to be enjoyed by audiences all over the world and by the deaf and hard of hearing. They translate all the dialogue, music and sound effects of a film into two-line written captions that appear on the screen, either in the language in which the film is made or in a foreign language.

After carefully watching and listening to the whole film, they write captions with accurate time codes that describe music and sound effects as well as the dialogue and voice-overs. The captions have to be punctuated and spelt correctly and should be on the screen long enough to be read easily. Translating subtitlers translate the dialogue and write subtitles in the language for a particular audience.

Once they’ve done that and checked that all spelling is correct and that captions don’t obscure characters’ faces, the files are sent to the post-production house (transferring the final soundtrack onto the film in all the various formats). It can then be distributed to cinemas offering subtitled screenings or to cinemas around the world.

Subtitlers are usually employed by specialist post-production companies but sometimes work on a freelance basis.

What's a Subtitler good at?
  • Grammar

    Spell, punctuate and use grammar accurately

  • Languages

    Translate the dialogue into the required language sensitively (for Translator Subtitlers)

  • Screen spatial awareness

    Understand how captions will appear on a screen and their impact on the viewing

  • Attention to detail

    Work precisely to tight deadlines with text and timing

  • Interest in deaf audiences

    Care about the experiences of the deaf and hard-of-hearing

  • Use of software

    Be adept in using the subtitling software

How do I become a Subtitler?

Many post-production companies that offer subtitling services train the Subtitlers themselves. If you have an interest in becoming a Subtitler, practice your language skills and keep a portfolio of writing examples. You can reach out to post-production houses and inquire

Educational Requirements: You might find courses in film post-production, language skills, and courses on transcription and subtitling software to be helpful.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Colourist

Also known as: Grader, Post-Digital Imaging Technician

What does a Colourist do?

Colourists contribute to the mood and look of a film by defining its colours. They work with the Director and Director of Photography to decide the palette; whether it’s restrained or hyper-coloured, whether it uses milky colours or primary ones. Colourists are able to contribute to these looks by changing the luminance levels (brightness) and chroma (colour).

Film and TV dramas are usually shot on digital cameras in a raw format, which means the information about the colour is captured in the data but can’t be seen until the colour is applied. If shooting on film, the rushes are taken to the lab where they are processed and then scanned into a digital workflow. It’s the job of the Colourist to perfect the way in which the colour is put into the picture. This is known as grading.

When Colourists receive the files in the edit, they stylize the colour in line with the vision of the director and director of photography. They match the shots, balancing colour saturation and luminance to maintain a consistent look from shot to shot. . They also offer creative solutions to picture-related problems. They might know what to do with under-or over-exposed images, or provide day for night corrections, for example.

Colourists are also responsible for ensuring the film complies with the scientific law and theory around luminance levels and chroma.

What's a Colourist good at?
  • Understanding colour

    Know how to use colour to enhance a story, appreciate the psychological effect of colour, have a good eye, know what look fits the style of the drama

  • Knowledge of digital and film process

    Understand how best to get the creative look from the raw camera negative

  • Knowledge of film production

    Be aware of the whole process of making a film or TV drama

  • Using software

    Adept at using colour editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, Baselight or Davinci Studio, keep up-to-date with software developments and know the best tools for the job

  • Communication

    Work well with the director, understand the vision of the director of photography, share the process with the edit assistants and the script supervisor

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, work with tiny changes in colour and tone, keep attending to detail when under pressure

Who does a Colourist work with?

The Colourist works closely with the Editor, Director and Director of Photography. It’s quite a solitary job as much of the detailed work is done alone.

How do I become a Colourist?

Programs in post-production for film or media are available. You can also develop your workflow and build your portfolio by working on small-budget or passion projects in your area. Learn how to use colour-grading software, while studying colour theory and cinematography, which will teach you about how light and colour are related. A background in art or photography is helpful. Most Colourists start out as post-production edit or tech assistants or runners and get to know the post-production process well over several years.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: It’s not essential, but having some experience in post-production or editing software from film programs can be helpful when searching for a job position.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry. It’s also one of the best ways to learn about editing, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Look for post-production companies: Try to connect with post-production companies to gain a network and possibly find some with entry-level positions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Editor

Also known as: Picture Editor

What does an Editor do?

An Editor is in charge of “cutting” and assembling the raw footage of the film into a cohesive final product. Films tend not to be shot in the order in which the story unfolds, so Editors might be working on scenes from the end of the film before the beginning is even filmed.

Their job is to take scenes in non-story order, analyze every shot (which sometimes means hundreds of hours of footage), and meticulously select and assemble the takes that will achieve the desired emotional and thematic impact of a film.

In pre-production, Editors work closely with the Director to decide how to make the most of the script. Once filming starts, they look at the dailies each day, checking technical standards and the emerging sense of story and performance and editing it into a series of scenes. By the time the film wraps, Editors will have spent hours reworking scenes and cutting them together to create a rough assembly.

During post-production, the Editor and Director will work closely to refine the assembly edit into a Director’s cut, which must be approved by Producers, until they achieve the final cut, (also known as “picture lock”). After that, the music and sound are added to the mix, a process that Editors will oversee.

When it comes to Editors in the animation realm, the planning process is more labor intensive as no footage is produced that hasn’t been precisely planned. In live-action, Editors work with existing footage in post-production, choosing between a variety of shots. In animation, the whole film, including each of its scenes and their order, is planned out beforehand. So essentially, in animation, the editing happens first.

What's an Editor good at?
  • Storytelling

    Understand how to use pictures, rhythm, pace and tension to tell a tale

  • Visual awareness

    Have a good eye, know what look fits the style of the film

  • Using edit software

    Be adept with tools like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premier, Final Cut and Lightworks

  • Communication

    Work well with the director, and share the process with the edit assistants and the script supervisor

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, show attention to detail and good organizational skills, often under pressure

Who does an Editor work with?

Assistant Editor
Assistant Editors take charge of the day-to-day running of the cutting room, leaving the editor free to concentrate on editing the film. Their primary task is to communicate with other departments, like production, camera and sound. They check camera sheets when the rushes arrive and note any technical problems. Sometimes the editor asks the first assistant to do an assembly cut.

Second assistant editor, third assistant editor and edit assistants
First assistant editors might be helped by several assistants, depending on the size of the production. The assistants label files and do simple cutting, editing and sound syncing. They read oscilloscopes and audio meters, TV and video signals, are familiar with technical specifications for different broadcasters, and understand compression.

Sound Editor
Sound Editors are responsible for all sound post-production. They are the picture Editor’s main point of contact for everything concerning the production soundtracks.

ADR Recordist
The ADR Recordists have a close working relationship with the picture Editors due to script changes and replacement dialogue with the actors.

Colourist
Colourists contribute to the mood and look of a film by defining its colors. They work with the director and director of photography to decide the palette.

How do I become an Editor?

The traditional route to becoming an Editor is to start as a Production Assistant and go on to become an assistant editor. It’s common to work as an Assistant Editor in lower budget productions before moving into feature films.
Here are some more tips:

Educational Requirements: A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training, so they’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want.

Edit: Make videos. Set up a YouTube channel showing off your work.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Sound Designer

What does a Sound Designer do?

Sound Designers combine all the elements (music, background noises, dialogue, effects, and other atmospheric sounds) into one unified soundscape that forms the sonic backdrop for a film.

Sound design commonly involves performing and editing of previously composed or recorded audio, such as sound effects and dialogue, but it can also involve creating sounds from scratch through synthesizers or other instruments.

In animation, Sound Designers create the soundscape. In animation, there are no natural sounds to work with (as there would be when filming live action) so everything in sound in animation is created from scratch by Sound Designers.

Sound Designers decide which sounds to use to create the right atmosphere and communicate the story and characters to the audience. They discuss with the director the kind of effect they want and then find creative ways to achieve this.

Most Sound Designers are experienced sound editors who may even supervise the work of the entire sound post-production process, in addition to having a specialized creative role in putting together the entire sonic aspect of the production.

Good communication skills are needed, along with imagination and creative flair to produce original sound elements and effects.

What's a Sound Designer good at?
  • Creativity

    Be able to imagine a soundscape that doesn’t exist yet, translate ideas into sound, create bespoke sounds to enhance the storytelling

  • Storytelling

    Have a good understanding of the characters and the story and design sounds which communicate these well, understand the importance of timing, when sound design is necessary and when not

  • Using software

    Record sound, have extensive knowledge of ProTools and other audio design software

  • Communication

    Understand the director’s vision and be able to articulate creative and technical ideas, have productive discussions and address constructive feedback, work closely with the dialogues and always keep the music in mind

  • Organization

    Be able to work to tight deadlines in post-production

Who does a Sound Designer work with?

Sound Designers work closely with the Director and Editor. They might also work with the following people:

Supervising Sound Editor
Supervising Sound Editors work directly with the filmmakers to structure and advise on schedules and creative styles. They liaise closely with the picture editor. They build the team of editors responsible for creating the film’s soundtrack. Supervising Sound Editors organize the effects (FX) and Foley recording sessions. They provide the creative input during the mix and ensure the final mix and various versions are delivered.

Sound Effects Editor
Sound Effects Editors work closely with the Sound Designer and Supervisor. They create backgrounds using specific sounds, such as clocks, wind, birdsong, cars passing. They create the ambience that can be altered to work with the dialogue and music.

Dialogue Editor
Dialogue Editors are responsible for editing the recordings of the script and synchronizing this with the animation.

Foley Artists
Bigger studios might have specific Foley Artists who create everyday sounds which are then added to films during post-production. It can be challenging to record every small sound that happens in a scene while you’re actually on set (keys rattling in a door, footsteps, a spoon clinking inside a cup, someone typing on their keyboard, etc). Sometimes, these sounds have to be recreated or included after the fact. For example, when actors do a fight scene, they aren’t really hitting each other, so there are no punching sounds to record! The job of a foley artist is to find something that can sound convincingly like a real fight to the audience (while avoiding real violence, of course!)

Music Editor
Music Editors determine where music is needed in the film and the style and purpose of the music. Sound Designers will collaborate with them to make sure their sound effects work well with the music being written by the Composer.

How do I become a Sound Designer?

Most Sound Designers begin as Production Assistants in post-production or audio post-production houses. They work their way up to Assistant, Mixer or Sound Editor and spend many years perfecting their craft.

Educational requirements: Education options range from 1-year diploma programs to bachelor’s, post-graduate, and master’s degrees in sound design. Art schools, film schools and universities offer programs in the industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Film Festival Programmer

Also known as: Programmer

What does a Film Festival Programmer do?

Film Festival Programmers select the films to be shown in festivals, whether in theaters, online or on TV.

Film festivals, like Cannes or the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), are where film professionals see unreleased films and network with their peers in the film world. They also function as markets where Sales Agents, Distributors, and Theater Programmers go to do deals over the rights of movies they are interested in buying.

Film Festival Programmers select the films that will make their festival successful. Diversity is key. They create a balance of tone and form and aim to start a conversation with the audience or to draw attention to lesser-known films.

Film Festival Programmers can’t just pick the films they like the best. An understanding of the audience is essential so they often carry out audience research. They use box office data, focus groups and surveys for this.

What's a Film Festival Programmer good at?
  • Knowledge of film

    Have a passionate interest and extensive knowledge of film, enjoy watching a wide range of content (even the bad stuff) and understand various film formats (digital cinema prints, 35mm, IMAX)

  • Audience awareness

    Know audiences, be able to research audiences to understand how they watch films or TV dramas

  • Judgment

    Spot films or TV dramas that will be popular, be able to create a balanced programme appropriate to the venue or TV channel

  • Negotiation

    Communicate with distributors, other programmers and local or regional organizations to achieve an effective programme, get the best deal, understand contractual obligations

  • Finance

    Manage a budget, know what funding sources are available

Who does a Film Festival Programmer work with?

Film Festival programmers will work with other programmers and members of their festival. They could be working with filmmakers, producers and production companies to gain films for the festival. Sometimes festivals or venues will hire a team of programmers who work together to select films. They also work closely with Distributors, marketing teams, and technical staff.

How do I become a Film Festival Programmer?

Many programmers progress to their role from administrative or technical roles in cinemas or exhibition venues. A passion for theater and knowledge of the market is the most important thing. Any marketing or business experience will also be useful in this area.

Volunteer: See if any film festivals near you need volunteers. This will be a great way to network and understand more about how the exhibition side of the industry works.

Start your own channel: Set up a review blogging site or content channel. This is the marketing version of having a portfolio. You can send a link with your channel to show your writing and online skills, and, equally importantly, your interest in film and TV drama.

Host your own screenings: Set up your own events locally to screen films. Try to find your own alternative niche and do something different. The film community is a small one, and getting known as tasteful and knowledgeable, as well as communicative, about film can lead to great opportunities.

Watch a lot of films: The most important thing to do if you want to be a programmer is to watch as much as you can. You need to get a sense of what’s out there across a range of genres.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Composer

What does a Composer do?

Composers write original music that reflects and communicates the atmosphere, character’s emotions, and story. A film score has to work with the film, rather than as a standalone piece of music.

Composers are usually given a scope of work at the start of the project. This happens at the stage where storyboards are edited in time with the soundtrack. They then can create a full score for the final film. Composers rewrite their score according to feedback from the Director, Producer, and Editor. A section of music might need to be a different length, highlight a different onscreen moment, or have a different feel to it.

Composers need to be aware of the genre they are composing for. For works such as feature-length musicals, or TV shows with a theme song, the composer might be involved with writing these. Or this might fall to a different musician, with the Composer sometimes scoring the backing for the songs.

On big-budget productions, Composers prepare the score, usually on midi files, for the orchestrator and copyist. In most TV and lower-budget films, Composers do their own orchestration. They also prepare the score’s electronic aspects for the recording sessions and deliver the score to the Producer, together with all recordable media. Composers often need strong music production, recording, and performance skills in order to realize their works for projects as music budgets are generally tight. They are freelancers and usually work from their own home or office.

What's a Composer good at?
  • Music

    Have a high level of technical musical skill and be able to compose and notate original, high-quality scores with interesting and distinctive musical ideas that fit the style of the animation

  • Storytelling

    Be able to communicate a story and reflect its themes through music

  • Music production

    Have good recording and production skills to create demos and professional-level scores, be able to use music composition software and music editing software such as Avid ProTools

  • Communication

    Be able to work to a brief, act on constructive feedback, and compose music to contribute to the Director's overall vision, build extensive contacts with musicians who can contribute to your work

  • Business management skills

    Understand legal and contractual aspects of the job as a freelancer contributing your work to a different project

Who does a Composer work with?

Composers work closely with the Director, Producer, and Music Editor (if there is one), as well as communicating with the Sound Designer and Editor.

How do I become a Composer?

Composers get jobs based on their portfolio. You need a high level of musical knowledge and technical skill, so generally, all Composers are formally trained in music. Some have specific degrees in composing for film and television. The most important thing, however, is that you have a strong body of work to demonstrate your skill and personal style. You also need to make connections with filmmakers and musicians. Even if you are working on live-action films rather than animations, it will give you invaluable experience insights into the process of adding sound to film.

Here are some more tips:

Watch a lot of films and listen to music: Watch as many films and television shows as you can and pay attention to how the music is scored. Get a feel for how music interacts with the film and musical styles vary between genres.

Build a portfolio: Start writing your own music. Learn music composition and notation software. Find filmmakers who need someone to write the music for their film and collaborate with them, or you can practice and add to your portfolio by writing your own new scores for existing films. Building your portfolio is essential.

Look outside the industry: Composers are needed in lots of industries – aside from live-action film and TV and games, there are also composing jobs in advertising and theatre. See if you can get a job in one of these fields and gain experience that you can later use to compose for animation.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Sound Editor

Also known as: Supervising Sound Editor, Sound Effects Editor

What does a Sound Editor do?

Sound Editors manage the team that looks after each part of the sound of a film or TV drama. This includes those responsible for dialogue, additional dialogue recording (ADR), sound effects, background sounds, and Foley.

Their role varies according to the budget of the production. On lower-budget films, they start work when the picture Editor has achieved picture lock – the point at which the Director or Producer has given the final approval for the picture edit. On bigger budget films, they start work before shooting begins and appoint specialist Sound Editors to supervise separate teams for each area of work.

After picture lock, Sound Editors attend a “spotting session” with the Director and other Sound Editors. They discuss any concepts for the overall feel of the sound (naturalistic or stylized), and check every sound effect and line of dialogue to see what’s needed.

They will then have a hands-on role in creating the overall soundtrack for every discipline.

They are responsible for the sound budget and for organizing the workflow – from sound editorial, foley recording, ADR sessions, pre-mix to the final mix, and making plans for any special requirements. After the final mix, Sound Editors usually oversee the creation of the different deliverables, including a music and effects version which allows dialogue to be replaced with dialogue in different languages.

Among the challenges that Sound Editors face are creatively adding together various elements to create believable sounds representing everything you see on screen. The Sound Editor must put all the elements of sound together in a way that not only sounds seamless and natural but also heightens the dramatic tension or emotional impact that the Director wants in each scene.

What's a Sound Editor good at?
  • Listening

    Have a good ear, know what sounds good, be able to hear sounds that shouldn’t be there

  • Story-telling

    Understand the process of film production, appreciate how sound contributes to the narrative

  • Using software

    Record sound, use editing software, and understand how sound is made

  • Organization

    Budget, recruit staff, plan the workflow, and work to the deadline

  • Communication

    Understand the vision of the director, work with actors replicating dialogue with ADR, collaborate with the producers, picture editor, and sound editors

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, and attend to the smallest sounds, often under pressure in the final mix stage

Who does a Sound Editor work with?

Sound Editors work closely with the Director, Editor, and the Post-production Supervisor, who is responsible for the smooth running of the whole post-production process. They also work with the following people in the post-production sound department.

Music Editor
Music Editors intensify the emotional impact of a film by creating the soundtrack. They contribute mood, atmosphere, and the occasional catchy theme tune.

Sound Designer
Sound Designers are concerned with all the sound effects whether that be gunshots, clocks, doors closing, dog barking (spot effects) or rain, wind, traffic, birdsong (atmosphere effects), or special effects such as aliens talking.

Foley Editor
Foley Editors add subtle sounds that production microphones often miss. These often relate to movement, such as footsteps, fights, fist banging on a door, or pouring wine, shards of glass falling from a broken window. The process gives scenes added realism. They note every Foley effect that is required and works out how to create that sound in special studios. They create the sounds with Foley Artists in front of a projected picture and may try several different ways to get the right effect. After the studio recording, Foley Editors fit all the Foleys to the images in perfect sync.

Re-recording Mixer
Re-recording Mixers mix a soundtrack for preview sessions. They work at large mixing consoles smoothing out sound and adding a temporary music soundtrack prepared by the Music Editor. After previews, when the film or show has been re-cut, Re-recording Mixers further pre-mix the sound and reduce the number of tracks in preparation for the final mix. In the final mix, the soundtrack is refined in consultation with the director and mixed to industry standards.

ADR Mixer or ADR Dialogue Editor
ADR Mixers review the original sound files of a production to spot technical or performance-related problems and analyze whether they could be replaced by an alternate take. Working on a digital audio workstation (DAW), they use editing software to cut between a number of takes to create crisp clean lines of dialogue. If this isn’t possible they will use additional dialogue recording (ADR). This is where actors come in for a voice recording session, watching themselves on screen and re-voicing as accurately as possible. After the newly recorded ADR has been edited into the original track, ADR Mixers work to make all background or ambient sound smooth.

Descriptive Video Transcriber
Descriptive Video Transcribers are responsible for creating detailed descriptions to be provided in cinemas or as home-viewing additional soundtracks for visually-impaired viewers. They use a specially designed programme that simultaneously displays the film script, actual image, and timecodes to enable them to write their own narration according to precise timing. Once the audio description script is prepared they will spend several days recording and mixing the new specific soundtrack, which will be reviewed by the Distributor.

How do I become a Sound Editor?

Most Sound Editors begin as Production Assistants in post-production or audio post-production houses. They work their way up to Assistant, and Mixer and spend many years perfecting their craft before becoming a Sound Editor. A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production audio, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.

Make films: Do the sound on student productions. Make a showreel of your work and build your sound portfolio. This is evidence of your practical skills and creativity that you can show collaborators and employers.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Music Editor

What does a Music Editor do?

Music Editors intensify the emotional impact of a film by creating the soundtrack. They contribute mood, atmosphere, and the occasional catchy theme tune.

They usually start work while the film is being edited. They work with the Director to decide on the purpose of the music, find a style to suit the story and mark the points in the film where music is required (spotting). Music Editors then work closely with a Composer, who is usually appointed by the Director, and who composes the music using the temp score as a template. The temp score is also used by the film editors to achieve the right tempo with the cut. Music Editors often act as a bridge between the sound and picture teams.

They attend all recording sessions, helping with any revisions and design a ‘click track’ which is used to help the musicians achieve synchronization with the movie. Working with a specialist music mixer, they create different mixes, lay down the tracks and fit them exactly to the picture, ready for the final mix or dub.

What's a Music Editor good at?
  • Music

    Know the history and construction of music, compose in different styles and genres, improvise, read scores, create themes quickly under the pressure of deadlines

  • Understanding film production

    Appreciate the process and techniques of making films, know how music affects images and adds drama, have a passion for the industry

  • Collaboration

    Listen to the Director, translate the vision into music, be flexible, communicate the vision with the Editor, Composer and other musicians

  • Using software

    Produce electronic scores using technology such as ProTools, use editing and mixing software

  • Networking

    Know people in the music, film and TV industries, build up contacts, understand contracts and copyright clearances, organize, communicate and negotiate

Who does a Music Editor work with?

Within the post-production house, music editors work closely with the supervising sound editor. They also work with the following:

Music Supervisor
Music Supervisors negotiate deals and contracts, prepare budgets, and attend scheduling meetings. They oversee the composing process, ensuring that the required music is being written, listened to, and reported upon. They organize music orchestration and copying. If the music is to be published, they ensure that it’s registered properly.

Composer
Composers write original music. They write themes to pictures and deal with any revisions, collaborating with the editor. Composers prepare the score, usually on midi files, for the orchestrator and copyist. They also prepare the score’s electronic aspects for the recording sessions and deliver the score to the producer, together with all recordable media.

How do I become a Music Editor?

Music Editors are usually graduates in sound technology or music. After graduating, they may work their way up the post-production sound department, starting as runners, training as assistants, and progressing to Dubbing Mixers or Sound Editors.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: You might choose one in music, sound technology, or sound engineering.

Start composing and recording: Write your own original compositions. Collaborate with friends making videos and writing the score.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Sound Mixer

Also known as: Production Sound Mixer

What does a Sound Mixer do?

Sound mixers head up the department responsible for all the sound recorded during filming. This is predominantly dialogue but can include sound effects, music, and atmosphere.

Before shooting starts, they meet with the Producer and Director to discuss the best method of capturing sound alongside the Director’s shooting style. They visit locations to check for potential sound problems, like passing trains or road noise.

During filming, Sound Mixers ensure audio from radio and boom microphones are recorded at a good level for every take. If they flag up a problem, the Director decides whether to do another take or correct it in post-production.

A lot of sound on a film or TV drama is added afterward in the edit. Speech is often corrected through ADR (automated dialogue replacement), a way of re-recording in a studio.

Most film sets are challenging environments for Mixers. Costumes rustle. Generators hum and cameras point in places where a microphone needs to be. Sound Mixers solve the problems, often under pressure. They must put all the elements of sound together in a way that not only sounds seamless and natural but also heightens the dramatic tension or emotional impact that the Director wants in each scene. They work on a freelance basis.

What's a Sound Mixer good at?
  • Hearing

    Be able to hear precisely and to concentrate on sound in a distracting environment

  • Understanding sound

    Know how it moves, how we hear, how sound can be manipulated and distorted

  • Knowledge of equipment

    Understand electronics, recording, playback and editing gear

  • Attention to detail

    Be able to listen to and manipulate tiny sounds, keep accurate and precise records

  • Film production

    Know how sound can tell a story, understand the requirements of other departments, including camera, rigging, art, wardrobe and hair and make-up

  • Communication

    Be able to listen to the director, give instructions to other members of the team, persuade other departments of the importance of the needs of the sound department and share decisions made while under pressure

Who does a Sound Mixer work with?

Boom Operator or First Assistant Sound
A boom is an extendable arm on which a microphone can be mounted. They are designed to pick up the sound without appearing in the shot. Boom Operators are responsible for operating booms as well as placing radio or clip microphones to capture the best quality dialogue and sound effects. They must carefully note all planned camera movements and lighting requirements to make sure the microphone is always hidden.

Sound Assistant (second assistant sound, third assistant, utility sound technician, cable person)
Sound Assistants begin work on the first day of shooting and help unload, check and set up sound equipment. They find and stop unwanted noise (including laying carpets) and check batteries for the sound crew. They may help attach clip microphones, negotiate cables on the studio floor, and ensure sound rushes are correctly filed at the end of the day.

How do I become a Sound Mixer?

A good route to becoming a Sound Mixer is to start as Production Assistant and work your way up through the roles outlined above.

Here are some tips:

Get a degree: It’s not necessary to have a degree, but you might want one in sound engineering or music technology.

Educational Requirements: To go to university for a sound-related course, you might want to study courses in math, physics, and music. A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production audio, is also useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training, so they’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Think about taking that job, learning the core skills of sound and transferring those skills into film and TV drama at a later point. Before taking any internship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Screenwriter

Also known as: Screenplay Writer, Scriptwriter, Writer

What does a Screenwriter do?

Screenwriters write and develop screenplays for film or TV drama. They do this either by basing it on an original idea, by adapting an existing story into a screenplay or by joining an existing project (TV).

Screenwriters prepare their script in a way that enables readers to envisage the setting, emotion, and the way it will work on screen. They collaborate with Producers, Directors and Actors to draft and redraft their scripts, often working to tight deadlines.

Screenwriters are almost always freelancers. In many cases, a Screenwriter shops their feature-length script around through their Agent, or through competitions until it garners interest from a Producer. The Producer (or production company) then “options” the screenplay for a starter fee which can be as low as $1. This means the Producer has the right to try and produce the screenplay for a certain length of time. If the Producer is successful they then pay the Screenwriter a pre-negotiated sum for the screenplay rights. If they are unsuccessful the screenplay rights return to the Screenwriter. Alternatively, a Screenwriter may be commissioned by a Producer or production company to create a screenplay. Once a screenplay is picked up by a production company, more Screenwriters may be brought in to work with a Story Editor to get it ready for production. In this case, any new Screenwriter may share a credit with the original Screenwriter, or they may be credited for additional dialogue, or as a story consultant. In some cases, the original Screenwriter may be replaced entirely by another Screenwriter.

Television Screenwriters generally work as part of a team of Writers, led by a Story Editor or Supervising Producer. The Screenwriter pitches their ideas for stories/episodes and works through the storylines with the Story Editor (and writing team) to create a polished script that fits the continuity of the episodic television show.

Animation Writers develop story ideas and present them in the form of scripts. Their scripts are used by Storyboard Artists and Directors to work out the visual art style of a project.

What's a Screenwriter good at?
  • Knowledge of screenwriting

    Understand all the features of a great screenplay, know how to improve and amend one

  • Creativity

    Write well and innovatively, express your ideas effectively in screenplay-form

  • Arts knowledge

    Have a deep and wide knowledge of all genres of art, so as to be able to source ideas from a range of sources and understand the cultural context

  • Watching film and TV drama

    Have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry

  • Freelancing

    Find work opportunities for yourself and manage your finances, be self-motivated

Who does a Screenwriter work with?

Screenwriters work with Development Executives, Producers, Directors, and their assistants. They are sometimes assisted by Researchers, who provide information to allow for screenplays to be fact-checked. Screenwriters may have their screenplays overseen by Story Editors, who, in turn, may be supported by Assistant Story Editors.

How do I become a Screenwriter?

Write your own screenplays as soon as possible. Practising the form is essential. A degree is not a prerequisite to become a Screenwriter, but having relevant education, whether that be in English or screenwriting subjects, is very useful.

Read and write: Practise writing screenplays in a professional format. Read existing screenplays online to familiarize yourself with the form.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Computer Graphics (CG) Supervisor

Also known as: Senior CG Supervisor, VFX Artist

What does a CG Supervisor do?

Computer Graphics (CG) Supervisors are ultimately responsible for the delivery and quality of the 3D computer-generated (CG) elements of a VFX project.

Before a film goes into production, CG Supervisors identify areas of the VFX work that need to be researched by Software Developers. They design the VFX pipeline – which means they decide the order in which the work needs to be done. They manage the team of Technical Directors (TDs), helping decide which digital tools need to be created to streamline the pipeline.

Once production is underway, they supervise the creation of all CG imagery and manage the artists creating it. Some walk around the desks of the VFX Artists to check their work and provide feedback. They ensure the art is true to the vision of the film or TV Director. Once complete, the art, or assets, are given to the compositors who put the whole scene together.

CG Supervisors tend to be employed by VFX companies or studios. Supervisor positions are some of the most senior in these companies; as such, CG Supervisors are often involved in the hiring process for new VFX Artists.

What's a CG Supervisor good at?
  • Art

    Have a good eye, understand the principles of composition, know what looks good and why

  • Understand the VFX pipeline

    Know the process of how VFX get created, be able to plan and implement an effective pipeline

  • Working with Linux or Unix operating systems

    Know how to work with these operating systems, which are different forms of Microsoft Windows or macOS (Apple)

  • Knowledge of VFX programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Adobe After Effects, Blender, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya, Nuke, RenderMan, and 3DS Max

  • Programming and coding skills

    Have knowledge of programming in C++ and Python with a high level of technical ability

  • Leadership

    Manage the VFX artists and the TDs within the VFX pipeline, inspire them to do their best work, manage their output in terms of quality and deadlines, review and inform all creative work

Who does a CG Supervisor work with?

CG Supervisors work with the VFX Producer and VFX Supervisor to review budgets and schedules. They might also have discussions with the Producer and Director of the production company making the film.

In pre-production, they may identify areas of the VFX work that need to be researched and developed by Software Developers. They manage the TDs, such as Effects (FX) TDs and Rigging TDs, and lighting TDs. They are also responsible overall for the output of VFX artists such as Modelling Artists.

How do I become a CG Supervisor?

The CG Supervisor position is one of the most senior in VFX. Companies may ask for you to have at least five years’ worth of experience working in a senior film or TV production management or a senior VFX Artist role. Therefore, you can initially look for work in more junior-level positions in VFX, such as being a Motion Capture Technician, Prep Artist, Roto Artist, and then progress from there. Alternatively to the VFX artist route, you can start work as a Production Assistant in the production department.

Along with the desired length of work experience, employers also expect you to be skilled in using one or some VFX program(s). These likely include Houdini, Maya, Nuke, and RenderMan. It is also useful to have a knowledge of scripting languages such as Python and C++.

Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: There are degree courses available in computer animation, computer programming, computer science, mathematics, information technology that would provide you with useful experience and knowledge towards becoming a CG Supervisor.

Create your own showreel: An important thing that you can do is to create a showreel to illustrate your abilities (even established CG Supervisors can have their own showreels).

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Data Capture Technical Director

Also known as: Data Capture Technician

What does a Data Capture Technical Director do?

Data Capture Technical Directors (TDs) go onto a film or TV set to collect information about the live-action footage that the teams in the VFX studio need to add visual effects to.

They take photographs of the set and the way the cameras are positioned. They “capture data” about the type of lens being used, its focal length, filters, focus and color temperature. They also record the camera height, camera mount and distance between the camera and actor, along with other details. They also take photos of surfaces so that the textures can be recreated digitally later on.

All this information is necessary so the exact live action scene can be recreated digitally later on, and so the VFX can be incorporated in a believable way.

Data Capture TDs use a variety of tools to capture data, including cameras and a ‘total station’ which electronically measures horizontal and vertical angles and distances.

They upload, log and backup all data, before sending it on to the relevant members of the VFX company on a daily basis.
Data Capture TDs tend to be employed by VFX companies or studios rather than working as freelancers.

What's a Data Capture Technical Director good at?
  • Being accurate

    Be methodical in your work, pay close attention to detail, have strong problem-solving skills

  • Technical knowledge of cameras

    Have an in-depth understanding of all motion picture equipment, cameras, lenses, monitors and lights

  • Understand the VFX pipeline

    Know the process through which visual effects are created

  • Using software

    Use the data sharing application FileMaker Pro. Be able to operate and maintain your data collecting equipment yourself

  • Being efficient

    Work quickly and accurately on set so that the physical production can run smoothly. Organize and prioritize your tasks

Who does a Data Capture Technical Director work with?

Data Capture TDs work with Camera Trainees and Camera Operators on set to gather data about the cameras, camera shots and lenses. They also work with Script Supervisors to the same end.

Data Capture TDs work with the VFX Supervisor and Motion Capture Technicians on set to ensure that the sets and actors have tracking markers placed on them in the necessary way so that the footage can be used by the Motion Capture Technicians and Roto Artists.

They also need to communicate with the various VFX Artists and Compositors who will be using the information that they have provided.

How do I become a Data Capture Technical Director?

Employers tend to want you to have a couple or more years’ experience working either on sets or in VFX before taking you on as a Data Capture TD. As such, one career path is to work in the camera department in the film and TV drama industries. This will give you good knowledge of cameras so you can more accurately collect camera data as a Capture TD. It also gives you on-set experience. Another route is to first work for a VFX company as a Motion Capture Technician. That is an entry level role in the VFX industry. It gives on-set experience and also involves working with Data Capture TDs to place tracking markers on actors or parts of the set.

Here are some tips:

Get a degree: It is not essential to have a degree in order to become a Data Capture TD. It is important to understand photography and cameras; both the DSLR and film varieties. Alternatively, you can take a degree in computer graphics, computer science, computer animation or VFX-related subjects.

Educational requirements: You can take courses in art, art and design, graphic design or communication, computer or computing science, and math.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. You might want to enter the VFX industry through an apprenticeship as an Assistant Technical Director.

Build a portfolio: Get as much experience as you can in photography, both still and moving images. Create a stills photography portfolio that you can show to admissions personnel or employers. Go to build your VFX portfolio to learn how.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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Data input/output (I/O) Technician

Also known as: Data Technician

What does a Data I/O Technician do?

Data Input/Output (I/O) Technicians are responsible for organizing, transferring and storing the computer files and data for a VFX production company.

They manage the computer storage and retrieval systems, including company hard drives. VFX companies process large amounts of data because they deal with high-quality video files and digital 3D animation files. They know different digital camera formats such as Alexa, Cannon, Phantom, Red, etc. Data I/O Technicians troubleshoot any issues that come up to do with file storage.

Data I/O Technicians ensure that all the transferring and storing of data is done securely and that files are encrypted wherever necessary. They make logs of all of the files that they receive and perform quality control checks on these files to see if there are problems or if the files are corrupted. They use file transfer programs in order to perform their role.

Data I/O Technicians give technical support to people working in a VFX pipeline when needed. They are usually employed by VFX companies or studios rather than freelancers.

What's a Data I/O Technician good at?
  • Programming and coding skills

    Have knowledge of programming in C++ and Python with a high level of technical ability

  • Computing technical skill

    Be able to work in Microsoft Windows, macOS (Apple), Linux or Unix operating systems, understand how the data sharing application FileMaker Pro works and be able to use it, understand file transfer protocols (FTPs)
    Understand the VFX pipeline: know the process of how VFX get created

  • Communication and teamwork

    Communicate well with the other data I/O technicians, and VFX Artists, when necessary, so that there is a cohesive and structured file storage system

  • Organization

    Be attentive to the detail of the files and data that you process and store, maintain a working system of file storage

  • Efficiency

    Work quickly and accurately, organize and prioritize your tasks

Who does a Data I/O Technician work with?

Data I/O Technicians work with other Data I/O Technicians in a team. They communicate with all of the other departments in a VFX company. They also talk to the film production company about the files needed for creating the VFX shots.

How do I become a Data I/O Technician?

Data I/O Technicians tend to have a degree in computer science or information technology (IT). Employers may ask for up to two years’ worth of experience in either a similar role, Data Technician (including this role but in other industries, such as ‘Data Wrangler’), or in VFX, film or TV drama production management. Therefore, you can look at becoming a VFX Production Assistant first as this is an entry level position, and gain experience and promotion from there. Similarly, you can look for post-production Production Assistant roles. Ultimately, the most important factor of becoming a Data I/O Technician is developing and maintaining good IT skills.

Educational Requirements: You can study courses or programs in computer or computing science. You can possibly study long enough to get a degree in computer science or IT.

Look outside the industry: See if you can get a job as a runner with a 3D animation studio or company. This will help you build contacts, skills and knowledge related to VFX. Look for Data Technician, Data Wrangler or IT roles in any industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

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VFX Editor

Also known as: Editor

What does a VFX Editor do?

VFX Editors work as the link between the film or TV production team, which shoots the live-action footage and the VFX studio that does the visual effects. A VFX Editor can be employed by a VFX studio or directly by the film or TV production company. The role varies depending on whether they are in-house (employed by the studio) or client-side (employed by the film or TV production company).

Client-side VFX Editor: Client-side VFX Editors work on set, while the live-action footage is being shot. They check everything is being captured in a way that makes it possible for the VFX to be created and integrated effectively. They keep track of the Director’s notes and make sure that the VFX Editor employed by the VFX studio knows about any changes that will affect the way the VFX needs to be created. The client-side VFX Editor brings drafts of the shots together so that the Director can see how they will look with the VFX incorporated and make sure the footage all comes together to create a cut of the film or TV programme that’s in keeping with what was signed off in previsualization.

In-house VFX Editor: In-house VFX Editors work closely with client-side VFX Editors but are responsible for ensuring that the VFX Artists at the VFX studio have everything that they need to create their work.
While the project is being worked on, the VFX Editor creates a workflow that allows the VFX Supervisor to evaluate the VFX Artists’ work and provide feedback on the aesthetic and on the technical direction. As the client approves shots or versions, the VFX Editor incorporates them into the current cut (edit) and oversees the passing of work back to the team that is editing the film or TV programme.

What's a VFX Editor good at?
  • Attention to detail

    Be meticulous with a strong eye for detail, making sure all shots are of the highest possible quality

  • Editing

    Have a good understanding of story-telling and be adept at using editing software

  • Communication

    Have excellent communication skills, understand exactly what the desired effect is in each shot and give effective direction to achieve that, keep clients informed on progress

  • Organization

    Be on top of the work that needs to be done and its progress with a good understanding of the pipeline, keep track of any changes in the project and keep all staff informed

  • Working to deadlines

    Have very good time-management skills, make sure the project stays on track for its deadline and cope well with working under pressure towards tight post-production deadlines at the end of the project

Who does a VFX Editor work with?

Client-side VFX Editors work closely with the Director, Producers, Editors in post-production and in-house VFX Editors. In-house VFX Editors work closely with a large range of staff across the VFX pipeline. They work directly under the VFX Supervisor. They work closely with Data Input/Output Technicians, TDsand VFX Producers to manage all incoming media and outgoing deliverables. They also communicate with the client-side VFX Editor and the post-production Editor of the film or TV programme.

How do I become a VFX Editor?

VFX Editor is a senior role so you will need to gain experience of both working in VFX production pipelines and doing editing work. There are a variety of routes into this job. You might want to start working as Production Assistant or Assistant Technical Director in a VFX studio. Alternatively, you could find your way into the industry by working as a Post-production Assistant in a post-production studio. Most VFX Editors have a degree in computer graphics, animation or a related subject.

Get a degree: Provided you have strong show-reel and know VFX software, it’s not essential to get a degree to become a VFX Editor, but it can help.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. You might want to enter the VFX industry through an internship as an Assistant Technical Director or a Junior 2D Artist. If you can’t find an internship with a VFX company, it might be worth getting an internship in a related industry, such as games or animation, which could give you some experience to help you find your way into VFX at a later point.

Build a portfolio: Learn how to use, and then experiment with, VFX programs and create a show-reel that you can show to admissions personnel or employers.

Network: Get to know people in VFX by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the sector. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Research VFX companies you’d like to work for. Go to their websites and check if they are advertising for junior roles in the art or technical art department. Even if they aren’t, send in your CV and showreel and ask them to bear you in mind for future positions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Modelling Artist

Also known as: Model Maker, Modeller

What does a Modelling Artist do?

Modelling Artists build the digital or physical versions of everything that is seen on screen in an animation, film or television project (using VFX). They translate concept art, character designs and environment designs into models ready to be animated.

In stop-motion animation the role is known as ‘model maker’. In 3D computer-generated animation and visual effects, it’s usually known as ‘modeler’.

They start with a brief, which might be 2D or 3D art produced by a Concept Artist. They can also work from reference materials (such as photographs or line drawing sketches) which can then be scanned into 3D software.

They first create a ‘wireframe’, commonly referred to as a ‘mesh,’ of the object. This looks like a series of overlapping lines in the shape of the intended 3D model. From the mesh, they are able to sculpt the model of the object to closely resemble what’s intended. They use digital tools, such as sculpting brushes, and a physical graphics pen and tablet.

Modelling Artists work at an early stage of the CG and 3D part of the VFX pipeline. The 3D models that they produce can then move on to be animated, given texture, and lit.

If a Modelling Artist specializes in creating a specific type of 3D model – for instance, characters – then they may refer to themselves as a Character Artist. In this case, they will likely create both the models and textures for characters.

What's a Modelling Artist good at?
  • Art

    Be able to draw, have a good understanding of form, color and texture, and know how these elements work together

  • Interpretation

    Be able to create a 3D model from a 2D brief, decide upon the best method to complete a 3D model quickly, while having a required level of detail and quality

  • Knowledge of 3D modeling programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Blender, Maya and ZBrush, continuously learn new ways to fix problems in your models

  • Organization

    Work within the production schedule, manage files and meet deadlines

Who does a Modelling Artist work with?

Modelling Artists take the brief from the Concept Artist. They draw their models into the work created by Environment Artists, so they work closely with them. They then pass their work onto the Texture Artists, Riggers or Animators.

How do I become a Modelling Artist?

VFX companies or studios generally prefer it if you have a degree in graphic design, or another VFX-specific course. But the thing you need most is a strong portfolio that illustrates your abilities. If you can’t find a junior role as a Modelling Artist, it’s worth looking for one as a Motion Capture Technician and working your way up.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Storyboard Artist

What does a Storyboard Artist do?

A Storyboard Artist visualizes a story for film or TV, and creates frame-by-frame sketches. Storyboard Artists may use photos, or they might illustrate the images themselves. They work under the supervision of the film’s Director and/or Cinematographer (DoP) to illustrate what the movie will eventually look like – sort of like a comic book version of the film that shows all the camera movements, angles and shots.

The purpose of storyboards is to help the Director, Cinematographer and crew plan how to set up certain shots. They can also sometimes be used by Producers as a way to illustrate the Director’s vision in a presentation to funders or other supporters. Animated projects are often pitched on the basis of storyboards alone (that is, a screenplay may not be written until later), and Storyboard Artists continue to work throughout the production to develop particular sequences. As a sequence is edited, the Director, Storyboard Artist and creative team may need to rework the sequence.

What's a Storyboard Artist good at?
  • Drawing

    Have excellent drawing skills and be able to produce artwork in a range of styles

  • Listening

    Be able to listen and execute the visions of the Director, Writer and creative heads

  • Storytelling

    Be able to communicate a narrative well

  • Learning by watching and asking

    Observe what’s happening in your department and company, take initiative, ask questions at appropriate times

  • Watching films

    Have a passion for the medium and a love of the industry

  • Computer software knowledge

    Many Storyboard Artists choose to develop their frames using readily available storyboarding software

Who does a Storyboard Artist work with?

Once the script has been broken down into a ‘shooting script’. Storyboard Artists work with the Director, and sometimes the Director of Photography and/or the Writer to create a visual rendering of the proposed frames and shots.

How do I become a Storyboard Artist?

The most important thing when applying for roles in storyboarding is to demonstrate good drawing skills. You need to show storytelling skills and an understanding of film. Many Storyboard Artists have a degree but you don’t necessarily need one as long as you have a strong portfolio and can show your experience. In some companies you can move into being a Junior Storyboard Artist from being a Production Assistant.

Educational requirements: Any art school with an animation or illustration department is a solid place to build fundamental skills. The essential part is strong illustration skills.

Develop Art and Illustration Skills: Regularly practise drawing and observing how people and things around you move and look. Carry a sketchbook with you.

Build a portfolio: Learn how to show story sequences cut together in an animatic form. Start creating work that you can show to admissions tutors or employers.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.