Lights! Camera! Action! The production phase of a project takes dedication and skill from a large and diverse team who has the ability to turn an artistic vision into a reality. Both traditional and virtual production are in-demand skills needed in the Toronto film industry. Learn about these roles below.
The Camera and Digital Departments personnel handle everything related to capturing what appears on screen. They handle camera equipment, and in key roles have great creative input starting in pre-production and throughout production. A passion for the still and moving image and its relationship to storytelling as well as camera handling and formal technical training are important facets for this type of career.
The Union representing Camera and Digital Departments positions is IATSE Local 667. Industry Group: Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC). The job descriptions are provided by IATSE Local 667.
The Director of Photography (DP or DOP) is responsible for the overall look of the production. They work very closely with the Director in establishing a mood and feel of what people will see on-screen to help tell the story. During production/photography, the Director of Photography leads the technical crew, and the camera, lighting and grip teams in particular.
The Camera Operator physically operates the camera during a take. Looking through the eyepiece of the camera, they maneuver the camera to establish the continuity of composition. The Camera Operator works closely with the Director and the Director of Photography from setting up the shot to the final take. They also work closely with the 1st Assistant Cameraperson and the Dolly Grip.
The Steadicam Operator, like the Camera Operator, maneuvers the camera to establish the continuity of composition, but uses a special rig that enables special fluid moving camera shots for specific scenes. The Steadicam is rigged via a vest strapped onto the Steadicam Operator that allows them to move with the action especially in tight spots such as an actor running through a forest or up the stairs, etc. The rig allows the Steadicam Operator to run along with the camera mounted on and it remains steady instead of moving with the operator’s stride. Steadicam is used for scene-specific requirements so this position may be hired on an as-needed basis
The First Assistant Cameraperson’s (First AC or Focus Puller) primary responsibility is to keep the picture in sharp focus, while never actually looking through the camera. With a tape measure, a keen eye, a monitor and very good reflexes, they must keep every frame in focus by relying on distance judgment, anticipation and a lot of confidence. The First AC is responsible for the maintenance of the camera and lenses and ensuring that the production has all the camera equipment and personnel required for each day. They make sure all other Assistant Camerapersons and Trainees are working effectively and efficiently.
The Second Assistant Cameraperson (Second AC) works closely with the First Assistant Cameraperson and helps to build the cameras. They take primary responsibility for moving and organizing the camera equipment throughout the day, including protecting it from external variables such as dirt and weather. The Second AC assists the Director and DP during the blocking of shots by placing marks for Actors and/or helping with the viewfinder. If there is no Video Assist person on the project, then the task of setting up the monitors falls to the Second AC. During shooting, they control the digital media inventory, slate the cameras and fill out the report sheets. Under the First AC, the Second AC manages the ordering of special daily camera equipment and personnel, as well as organizes all paperwork involved in running the camera department. They are primarily responsible for guiding the Camera Trainee.
Due to the size/scope of a production and/or location or camera needs, a Digital Utility will be hired. A Digital Utility takes on the role of organization and extra assistance such as coordinating location moves, ordering daily crew and gear, and helping the rest of the camera team in building, dismantling, and moving gear. This position also allows for immediate contact, response, and action between the Camera Department and the office, payroll, transport, rental houses, and production staff. When film is being used, a Camera Loader will replace the Digital Utility. The Camera Loader is responsible for darkroom duties, film inventory and other critical duties such as ordering gear, maintaining film stock as well as the functions listed above.
The Camera Trainee is enrolled in the IATSE Local 667 Camera Trainee program and placed on productions by them. This program provides field training into a film career for those who aspire to be Camera Assistants and ultimately, after years of experience, Directors of Photography.
The Still Photographer shoots photographs of the Actors while acting and/or in character. These photographs will be used for publicity purposes for the promotion of the film prior to or during its release. The Still Photographer must capture the photographs quietly in a very short period of time. In addition to the creation of publicity stills, Still Photographers create key art for gallery shoots and a wide variety of imagery used by production including translights, prop and set dressing photography.
The Motion Picture Electronic Cameraperson is hired on a motion picture production for taped shots that form part of the film sequence or shots that form part of a ‘prop’, such as a scene that will be played back on a screen, monitor or television.
The 24 Frame Media Playback Operator synchronizes video footage or computer images to camera and maintains exposure. The 24 Frame Media Playback Department is responsible for media playback to all displays that appear in front of the camera. This includes, but is not limited to: televisions, monitors, cell phones, tablets, projection, PMP, virtual wall backgrounds, smart watches, live feeds, LED panels and video walls. They are also the technical coordinator of complex multi-monitor functions.
The VFX Department is responsible for achieving the creative aims of the Director and Producer(s) through the use of Visual Effects. On-set VFX roles include VFX Artist-Technicians, VFX Technicians (Data Wranglers), VFX Coordinators and VFX Supervisors who are the creative and administrative head of all computer graphics (CG) operations.
All members in the Underwater Cameraperson category are experienced camera professionals who specialize in underwater photography. They are knowledgeable and experienced with the various underwater camera systems and diving gear operations and must meet the provincial mandate and labour codes for underwater work.
The Digital Imaging Technician (DIT), works in collaboration with the Director of Photography to establish and maintain the digital workflow, camera settings, look files, signal integrity and exposure, as well as manipulate the image, in order to achieve the highest quality visual result that will satisfy the demands of the individual production. They are responsible for verifying, downloading, duplicating and managing the dataflow, coordinated with post-production and sound, in order to deliver the day’s work that is both properly secured and reflective of the DP’s vision. The Digital Manager is equally responsible for maintaining the workflow and dataflow, though from a more off-set perspective.
The Digital Engineer (Eng) is an ‘on-set’ versus post-production position. They establish the workflow and dataflow on complex technical camera systems such as 3D, VR, HDR and HFR. They provide in-depth, on-set painting and colourizing with matrix and gamma detail, set scene files, match cameras, and establish and maintain time code procedures and guidelines with post-production. Some elements of these tasks may be delegated to the DIT or Data Manager (DMT) as required.
Electronic Camerapersons (ECam) shoot live-action or live-to-tape in various forms and shooting styles. For example, some camera people specialize in handheld configurations, others in studio pedestal or long lenses for sports events. Most electronic camera people own and operate their own camera and equipment packages which are of the highest broadcast standards, from digital betacams to high definition cameras. Some of the projects they work on include, corporate videos, rock concerts, electronic press kits (EPKs), sports, news, live events and corporate productions.
The Carpentry/Construction and Paint/Scenic Departments are responsible for the physical build of the set and its aesthetic and texture. They work to achieve the vision of the storyboard and collaborate closely with the Director and Art Director on the physical environment created on set.
Trades training is a major asset and often more important than any formal film training. Experience in construction, woodwork, commercial or artistic painting are necessary paths to pursue to become carpenters and painters on sets.
Unions representing Carpentry/Construction and Paint/Scenic Departments positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. The job descriptions are provided in part by IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M.
The Construction Manager coordinates all work dedicated to the manufacturing and building of sets, from platforms to cut-outs, parts of sets to full sets. This work includes all carpentry work inside studios on stages and on location builds. They oversee the construction budget and spending timelines to maximize the quality of the delivery. Trades training and managerial experience on set are required.
The Head Carpenter reports to the Construction Manager and oversees the delivery of the construction within budget and timelines and assigns tasks to Carpenters on the projects. Trades training, extensive carpentry experience and on-set experience are required.
The Carpenter/Buyer is tasked with sourcing and buying all necessary materials and is required to do administrative duties as required by the Construction Manager. Carpentry trades training and experience with bulk purchasing are key assets.
The Assistant Carpenter helps the Carpentry/Construction Department in all areas.
The Labourer is responsible for moving and storing construction materials and scenic elements. They must keep all areas safe and clean for all crew members and workers to move through the set and production areas.
The Key Scenic Artist supervises and organizes the painting of all sets, parts of sets, props, backdrops, cut-outs, all painting of permanent buildings and stages, including scenic painting mattes, illustrations, signs and graphic cards. They are responsible for purchasing and procuring necessary materials and equipment, disbursement of assigned budget and may delegate work required for the efficient running of the department.
The Painter must carry out various jobs, without direct supervision and to the satisfaction of the Key Scenic Artist. This includes sanding, filing, sealing, priming, undercoating, spray painting, plastering, faux cement, painting and varnishing of sets, props, permanent buildings, interior and exterior, both in the studio and on location.
Within the Costume Department, training and experience specific to wardrobe is often a major and necessary asset. Experience and skills in fashion, sewing, materials handling, and cleaning are directly applicable to the needs of the film industry.
Unions representing Costume positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. Industry Group: Canadian Alliance of Film and Television Costume Arts and Design (CAFTCAD). The job descriptions are provided in part by CAFTCAD.
The Costume Designer decides the visual look of the wardrobe based on the requirements of the script and in collaboration with the Producer, Director, Production Designer, and/or the Director of Photography. This role does research, presentations, creative meetings, and selects all costumes and accessories, as well as liaises with other creative department heads and attends costume fittings with all lead cast. With assistance from Costume Supervisor, the Costume Designer also hires Department personnel.
With input from the Costume Designer, the Costume Supervisor sets the budget and disperses allocated funds, maintains accurate financial records and oversees procurement of all materials for costumes and accessories. This role, along with the Costume Designer coordinates the hiring of personnel, sets schedules and approves departmental time sheets. On shows where a Costume Supervisor is not present these duties fall on the Costume Designer and Assistant Costume Designer.
The Assistant Costume Designer assists the Costume Designer in all tasks and acts as liaison to the set and coordinates costumes and supplies going to and from the set. This role also clarifies and assigns duties to Costume Department personnel.
The Set Supervisor acts as the Costume Designer’s representative on the set. Where no Assistant Costume Designer/Costume Supervisor is required, the Set Supervisor may assume these duties during the pre-production. This role also establishes, documents, and maintains costume continuity as well as provides weather protection to the Actors.
The Costume Truck Supervisor organizes, supplies and maintains the truck in an orderly fashion, maintains costumes in a camera-ready condition including laundry, dry cleaning, ironing, aging, and any necessary breakdown as is required. The Costume Truck Supervisor is responsible for costume layout and wrap, has a working knowledge of script breakdown and continuity systems, may dress extras, and assists Set Supervisor, when required.
The Costume Buyer sources and purchases costumes, accessories, and supplies as directed by the Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor, and/or Assistant Costume Designer. This role also maintains accurate documentation of petty cash and/or card expenditures.
Interprets the costume designs into garments, creates costume patterns, oversees the construction of the garments, measures and fits actors, determines the materials and supplies needed and communicates this to the Assistant Designer and/or Costume Supervisor.
The Stitcher sews garments and accessories, performs alterations, attends fittings if requested. Familiar with various sewing techniques by hand and machine, people in these roles must be able to sew on industrial machines and know how to work with different materials.
The Costume Breakdown Artist is familiar with various textile arts to age, distress, decorate, dye, paint, and repair costumes so they match the artistic vision of the scene.
The Coordinator oversees the costume needs for the background performers. With the direction of the Costume Designer supervises the research, procurement, fitting, altering, and aging necessary for the background performers costumes as well as the on-set documentation and maintenance of the costumes. Estimates for approval the amount of labour required for prepping and filming background costumes through meetings and production paperwork are also part of this role.
A member of the costume department that helps in any aspect of costuming including organizing, preparing, documenting, laundering, dressing performers, taking inventory, or helping any other member of the costume department.
The Craft Service Department’s function is to ensure food and beverages are available and safely available for the cast and crew during a shoot.
Although Film, Television and Digital Media Programs are useful, Crafts Service roles do not require extensive film industry knowledge experience. Skills developed through experience in the food, beverage and service industries are directly transferable to these roles. All Craft Service Providers must possess a current certificate from an accredited Safe Food Handling Program (Food Handler’s certificate).
Unions representing Craft Service positions are IATSE 873 and IATSE 411. The job descriptions are provided by IATS411.
The Key Craft Service Provider is tasked with the scheduling and assigning of duties within the Craft Service department. This role handles daily crew staffing requirements and acts as the contact person for the craft company who provides the craft truck and food. The Key Craft Service Provider coordinates the pickup and return of the craft truck to/from the shooting location and/or craft shop and supervises and directs any daily Craft Service Providers that are on set. They are responsible for the kitchen and/or craft truck and if required; a craft service station on or near set. At the request of the Producer or Production Manager. Drinks and snacks may be provided to base camp or other satellite locations and background holdings.
The duties of the Assistant Craft Service Provider include assisting the Key Craft Service Provider in all duties.
The Background Craft Service Provider works under the direction of the Key Craft Service Provider and the Assistant Craft Service Provider in providing the background performers with snack and drink items and meals as directed and approved by the Producer or Production Manager. They are responsible for maintaining the background performer craft service station(s).
The main function of the Craft Service Provider Compliance Driver is to pick up and return the craft truck. They also assist the Key Craft Service Provider and Assistant Craft Service Provider in packing up equipment and preparing the craft truck for safe travel. This may include such tasks as assisting with breaking down the Craft Service station(s), assisting with cleaning dishes, securing items on the truck for travel, loading coolers and other craft related items onto the craft truck.
The Grip Department is responsible for all the equipment that supports cameras and lighting on a set.
The Electrical Department is responsible for the positioning of lighting, colour, focus and all power sources required for all departments on set. They are responsible for ensuring all lighting and electrical requirements cables and power sources are installed safely.
For the Grip and Electric positions, training in the trades is more important than film training.
Unions representing Grip and Electric Departments positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. The job descriptions are provided in part by IATSE873 and NABET 700-M.
The Key Grip decides, in conjunction with the Director of Photography, on the grip equipment, rentals and purchases necessary for the production requirements. They organize and delegate work within the Grip Department to build and maintain all the equipment that supports cameras and ensure lighting setups with the electrical department including cranes, dollies, and ceiling and wall attachments.
The Best Grip assists the Key Grip and are responsible for having all equipment and personnel required on-set and for the running maintenance of all grip equipment and accessories.
The Dolly Grip moves all camera dollies and cranes and ensures maintenance on-set, as directed by the Key Grip.
The Grip has a good working knowledge of all related equipment and performs their duties as directed by the Key Grip.
Riggers carry out any pre-lighting or placing of lights as directed by the Director of Photography and/or the Key Grip.
The Gaffer is the head of the Electric Department and works in both the pre-production and production stages of production. They help achieve the desired cinematic imaging through lighting and are responsible for setting up the lights and running cables. A Gaffer will also spend a lot of time on a monitor focusing solely on lighting to make sure each shot matches and that there is no flickering from any of the lamps or lights on the set.
The Generator Operator is responsible for maintaining the power supply for a film set when a location’s power availability is insufficient for the requirements of the shoot. They monitor the power source, to ensure that every department has an electricity supply while shooting.
The Best Gaffer is responsible for ensuring all the required lighting equipment is on-set for each shot or sequence. They assist the Gaffer in ordering equipment in preparation for the shoots, coordinate the loading and unloading of equipment and maintain all expense records of the department. The Best Gaffer will work with the Director of Photography to ensure the lighting vision is accomplished and that necessary power is made available.
The Lamp Operator is tasked with installing, focusing and placing all the lighting and electrical equipment on a set as requested by the Best Gaffer and Gaffer to create the desired effect. They run cables and power distribution to the lights and make sure all the equipment is functional, not damaged and ready to go. The Lamp Operator works hand in hand with the Grip Department.
For Hair and Makeup positions, training is a major asset and often more important than formal film training. Experience in fashion, hair and makeup are directly applicable to the needs of the film industry.
Unions representing Hair and Makeup positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. The job descriptions are provided in part by NABET 700-M.
The Hair Stylist breaks down the script to ascertain hair requirements. Then with the producer, Director and Production Designer determines hairstyles, maintenance, wigs and hair pieces, cutting, and styling and colouring of Artists’ hair. This includes, but is not limited to, procuring, maintaining and returning any and all hairdressing equipment required, continuity of hair styling throughout the production by means of sketches, charts, notes and photographs, and the delegation of work to assistant as required.
The Assistant Hairdressers perform duties including those functions listed above as delegated by the Hairstylist/Head of Hair Department. All Hairdressers and their Assistants must hold and maintain a valid Hairdresser’s license and be a practicing Hairdresser.
The Makeup Artist designs all makeup and facial hair (in consultation with the Director and Production Designer), applies or delegates the application of all facial/body makeup and hair, maintains all makeup and the alteration of makeup throughout the shooting period, removes all makeup and hair products, controls and records all continuity with regards to all facial and body makeup, by the use of sketches, notes, photographs and charts, the supervision of all assistant makeup artists and the delegation of their work, the supply, and when required, the purchase of all necessary materials and equipment, etc., and distributes the show’s makeup budget.
The First Assistant Makeup performs functions as described under the Makeup Artist category, as are delegated to them. In the absence of the Head, the First Assistant assumes the full responsibilities, including the care and maintenance of all continuity notes and special makeup.
The Second Assistant Makeup performs duties delegated by the Head or First Assistant (requiring a fully equipped makeup kit), is prepared and qualified to clean, dress, and apply moustaches/beards, etc., is prepared on occasion to apply body makeup, and must be qualified to apply any corrective/glamour makeup for male/female.
Work in the Publicity department entails the creation, preparation and management of publicity materials for a screen project. Experience in public relations, marketing, communications and project management are important skills for this role. A diploma or degree in Public Relations is considered a strong asset.
Union representing the Unit Publicists is IATSE 667. The job description is provided by IATSE 667.
The Unit Publicist is involved in all media and public relations work as well as the promotion and advertising of motion pictures or television movies and series. They work closely with many stakeholders such as the producers, actors, photographers and/or the Electronic Press Kits (EPK) unit. To advertise and promote a film, publicists are responsible for the preparation and distribution of materials which can include media mailing lists, press releases, biographies, production notes, feature stories, story synopses, log lines, photo captions and press kits. They also schedule and supervise media interviews and set visits.
Set Decoration on production is the design of a set or location. The Set Decoration Department works closely with the Art Department to bring the scene to life, based on the storyboards and design requirements for each shot. This department is responsible for dressing the set and works closely with the Props department.
The Props Department is responsible for all objects seen on set and on screen. Anything movable other than the set itself, the Actors, the costumes and the equipment or gear is considered a prop.
For the Set Decoration and Props Departments, experience working on sets for theatre, live shows and general craft experience are considered an asset.
Unions representing Set Decoration and Props Departments positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. The job descriptions are provided by NABET 700-M.
The Set Decorator is responsible to the Production Designer/Art Director for the coordination and realization of the dressing of all studio and location sets, both interior and exterior.
The Assistant Set Decorator is responsible to the Set Decorator and may, in the absence of the Set Decorator, assume all responsibilities.
The Lead Dresser is responsible to the Set Decorator or in the absence of the Decorator, the Assistant Decorator or Buyer.
The On-Set Dresser is responsible to the Set Decorator and Prop Master for on-set continuity of Set Dressing and the placement of all set dressings on-set. The On-Set Dresser must have a clear knowledge of camera lenses so that they can anticipate the shot.
The Set Dec Buyer is responsible to the Set Decorator and under their supervision may purchase, lease or acquire items to be used as décor for all studio and location sets.
The Set Dresser is responsible to the Set Decorator. In the absence of the Set Decorator, the Set Dresser is responsible to the Assistant Set Decorator or Buyer or Lead Dresser.
The Props Master researches the historical period for hand props, and prepares, builds, procures and organizes props to be seen on camera. They also repair and returns props to original condition and source, arranges all necessary permits for restricted weapons, coordinates with the Wardrobe Department for the required accessories. While on-set the Prop Master administers props to artists, strikes and resets hot sets established by the Set Decorators with the aid of Polaroids, photographs or sketches, consults with the Script Supervisor on the continuity of hand props, and is responsible for the disbursement of the assigned budget and delegates the work required for the Department.
The Lead (Assistant) Props Person makes sure that the set and props are as the Prop Master decides. They oversee the supplying and loading of the truck, may oversee the set and prop continuity, and can perform these duties in an unsupervised role. In the Prop Master’s absence, this person can be left in charge of the props on the shooting set.
The Props Buyer buys and secures props as per the Prop Master. This includes purchasing or renting items for a set and keeping inventory of all props. They are responsible for managing the props budget and any returns of materials after the production is completed.
Script Continuity is the function of ensuring narrative cohesion and geographical and temporal linearity and sense throughout the shoot.
In this category, experience with script reading, understanding of the many roles on a film set and strong observational skills are critical.
The unions representing Script Continuity positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. The job descriptions are provided by NABET 700-M.
The Continuity or Script Supervisor prepares the script, verifies artist’s lines, keeps records of timing, and may run lines. This role also assists during blocking of scenes; notes any deviations from the script; keeps detailed notes of all action, positions, camera angles, additional progression times, takes, furnishes camera and sound with slate numbers and prints. The Continuity or Script Supervisor might also note camera lenses, focal length and zoom operations. They make continuity notes and forwards to the Editor after the day’s shooting. The Script Supervisor provides the Production Office with a daily report as to the number of set-ups, picture time, scenes and pages shot and cumulative time to be prepared once daily at the end of the day.
The Sound Department in production is responsible for capturing all sounds (dialogues, environment) as well as mixing and recordings. For the Sound Department, experience with audio recording and audio equipment handling is considered an asset.
Unions representing Sound Mixers, Sound Assistants, Boom Operators positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. Union representing Electronic Sound Recordists is IATSE 667. The job descriptions are provided by IATSE 667 and NABET 700-M.
The Sound Mixer/Recordist records, re-records, dubs, synchronizes and scores the sound for motion pictures on film, videotape, or any other substitute for film.
The Boom Operator places microphones in suitable positions to ensure proper sound quality in recording.
The Sounds Assistant performs duties as assigned by the Sound Mixer/Boom Operator.
The Electronic Sound Recordist works very closely with Electronic Camera people to achieve the desired sound for live-action ‘behind the scenes’ Electronic Press Kits (EPK’s), news magazine shows, television and internet productions.
The Special Effects Department is responsible for all effects made on a set that is not generated digitally. This can be mechanical effects such as car flipping, atmospheric effects like, rain, fog, smoke or high winds and electrical effects that provide the desired illusion on screen. All powder or explosives must be handled and supervised only by a licensed Special Effects Person. Propane courses and Pyrotechnic Certificates are mandatory.
For the Special Effects Department, training is necessary in handling explosives, high voltage, firearms, and other hazardous material and equipment. Skills such as construction, engineering, welding, plumbing, electrical and automotive mechanics are necessary to work in mechanical effects. In addition to some educational training, hands on experience is a must, an apprenticeship with a Special Effects technician is recommended.
Unions representing Special Effects positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M.
The Special Effects Supervisor works closely with the Director to come up with the effects required for each shot. They oversee the Special Effects team to produce any effects that include mechanical props, scale models, pyrotechnics, and special effects makeup. The Special Effects Supervisor is also responsible for the safety of the cast and crew on a live set, they will inspect the area of the effects and equipment before proceeding with the shoot.
The First Assistant and Technician performs duties as delegated by the Special Effects Supervisor to ensure timely and safe delivery of effects.
The Transportation department coordinates and handles all production driving requirements, from base-camp units to single personnel and talent transportation, to equipment moves. For Transportation department jobs, having a G and/or an AZ Driver’s License is required. Experience in the film industry is not required and these positions offer a low-barrier entry-point into film production environments.
Unions representing all Transportation positions are IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M. The job descriptions are provided in part by IATSE 873 and NABET 700-M.
The Transportation Coordinator purchases, leases or rents any vehicles required on the production. They are also responsible for the scheduling, hiring and coordination of drivers and picture cars.
The Transportation Captain works with the Coordinator and supervises and dispatches all drivers.
A Driver picks up key crew, visiting workers and talent. They drive the Honey Wagon, grip and electrics trucks, motorhomes, the camera trucks and all other production vehicles. They maintain as well as operate these vehicles. A big production will employ a large number of drivers on any given day.
Virtual Production is a fast-growing method in filmmaking that has given rise to several new roles. Virtual Production sets rely on large LED screens in front of which actors perform. Filmmakers are now creating scenes simultaneously in the physical and in the digital realms.
Virtual Production is changing the workflow of screen content production, replacing real-life elements by digital environments projected on large LED screens. By using game engines, Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Reality (AR) and graphic cards, fully-fledged sequences are created in real time. In a typical production, the visual effects (VFX) will be added after the physical scene has been shot. With virtual production, the effects are simultaneous. Virtual Production is used for the shooting of scenes but also in pre-visualization, motion-capture and even for location scouting.
Training for Virtual Production roles is limited at this time but growing fast. Experience in film production (all roles), VFX, VR, AR, artificial intelligence, and gaming software are valuable assets. Nearly all roles of traditional physical and post-production are reflected in a virtual production, including producers, directors, editors, performers, grip, and so on. Below are some roles that are more unique to virtual production. For a more in-depth understanding of Virtual Production roles, review the Unreal Engine Virtual Production Field Guide.
The Virtual Production Supervisor oversees the preparation and delivery of all virtual production shoots. From virtual asset preparation (including visual backgrounds, characters) with asset artists, motion targeting, delivery of data shot in or out of studio, and editing of captured content. The Supervisor is also responsible for editing captured content ,visual integration and scene assembly with the Director, Designer and Editor. The Supervisor needs to have experience in Virtual Production and a deep understanding of the roles involved, workflows and technology. Experience in project management, visual effects supervision, production management and software are strong assets.
Virtual Art Department personnel are responsible for the design and development of all shots, the visual layout within each, and for creating all assets for production. The department is a key creative force on a virtual production as it brings the visual landscape to life, digitally. The roles within the department range from entry to senior levels and personnel should have knowledge of software used in virtual production as well as traditional art department experience.
Pre-Visualization (PreVis) is the first step in creating digital renderings from the storyboard and the script. Artists in previsualization work closely with the Storyboard Artist and Director to inform their work with VFX artists and Art Department personnel. Post-Visualization (PostVis) and Tech-Visualization (TechVis) round out what has been developed in PreVis, by adding design elements and presenting solutions about how scenes should be shot and how visual effects will be integrated. Roles in PreVis, PostVis and TechVis involve artists, coordinators and supervisors, depending on team sizes. They all interact with each other and the key creatives to ensure the most thought-through plan for production prior to and during production.
Motion capture (or performance capture) is an actor-driven approach to generate animation of characters, props or visual effects. The technology is used to capture human performance, from body movement and environment interactions to facial expressions and is applied to digital characters to replicate these interactions in virtual settings. All human movements can be captured and integrated with digital assets and made to interact with other elements on the set whether virtual or real. Motion capture roles can include setup, installation and operation of motion capture cameras and equipment, maintenance, and configuration of Mocap suits and systems, day-to-day operation of the Mocap System, setup and integration of physical and virtual props, configuration and calibration of camera tracking systems and other performance capture equipment.
Unreal and Unity are the major softwaresystems in virtual the software to ensure the seamless utilization and integration of the systems throughout the production process. Certifications are often necessary in either Unreal or Unity and experience in gaming, software development or design are key assets, as well as an understanding of the function of all roles in virtual production and their workflows. Experience with programs like Maya and Houdini are also strong assets.
Technical artists have extensive experience working with virtual production systems, as well as have creative flair and a portfolio demonstrating 3D art skills with demonstrated results in texturing, rigging, animating, lighting, shading and effects. Experienced animators and VFX artists are ideal candidates to bring their expertise to this type of role. Experience with programs like Maya and Houdini are strong assets. The creation of a portfolio is required and a demonstrated interest in ever-evolving creative techniques and the collaborative nature of the work is essential.
LED stage operators are responsible for setup, calibration and operation of the LED system, media playback and maintenance of the LED hardware. LED operators can work closely with Motion Capture Technician roles during installation and configuration of the system and can sometimes offer pipeline support as hardware is customized or integrated into the virtual production process.