Video Assist Monitor
- Personality type:
- Setting up and maintaining video playback equipment
- Making sure that all necessary images are captured and previewing any visual effects
- Ensuring that all footage is properly stored
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- have expert knowledge of video, video playback equipment and video and audio cables
- have a basic understanding of film cameras, lighting and film stock
- be computer literate
- have a clean driving licence
- concentrate visually and aurally for long periods
- stay alert on set
- have good communication and interpersonal skills
- show initiative
- work as part of a team
- have extensive knowledge of relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
What does a Video Assist Monitor do?
A Video Assist Operator (VAO) is responsible for making sure that all the required images are captured by video playback. Special video recorders are fitted to film cameras next to the eye piece and record exactly what the Camera Operators see. The Director watches the video monitor during each take.
Before filming begins, VAOs check the compatibility of their equipment (which includes a playback system, recording unit, trolley, batteries and external monitors) with the film camera(s).
On the first day of principal photography, VAOs arrive on set at the same time as the Camera crew and test their equipment. VAOs must be able to concentrate for long periods and be extremely alert, in order to monitor all the action and to maintain the equipment throughout the shoot.
On big films involving many complicated set-ups, the Director, Director of Photography, Camera Operator and other Heads of Department frequently use playback facilities.
If visual effects are employed, VAOs may edit sequences together on set so that Directors can see how they will look on screen.
At the end of each filming day, Directors usually check shoot video footage immediately. VAOs must ensure that all footage is carefully stored on hard disc, and that their equipment is packed and ready for use the next day.
VAOs finish work when the film wraps (is completed).
VAOs are usually employed by Camera Facilities Houses or specialist Video Playback Companies. They are asked for by 1st Assistant Directors, Directors or Script Supervisors. On larger films, VAOs work with Assistants.
Will I need a qualification?
You don’t need any qualifications for this role. VAOs usually enter the industry at junior or trainee levels working for Video Playback or Camera Hire companies and train for several years in order to gain sufficient knowledge and experience to progress to Video Assist Operator.
What’s the best route in?
You can expect to start your career as a Runner or Driver for a Video Playback or Camera Hire company, which involves helping VAOs with video cables on set, changing batteries, and providing general support. You can eventually progress to become a Video Assist Trainee.
Junior positions in these companies are often advertised on their websites.
However, there is no typical career route for this job.
You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:
Interested? Find out more...
- The British Society of Cinematographers
- BECTU trade union represents camera personnel
- The Guild of British Camera Technicians aims to further the professional interests of technicians working with motion picture cameras Guild of British Camera Technicians website
- The Moving Image Society (BKSTS) organises events, courses and demonstrations of new equipment, and publishes Image Technology
- Screen Daily - weekly publication for the film industry