On every major photoshoot, the photographic team tends to be comprised of a photographer, one or more lighting assistants, and a digital operator (digi op or digi tech). Sometimes, depending on the digi’s experience and the photoshoot’s budget, he or she must also perform the tasks usually allocated to the light technician. For this reason, good knowledge of lighting equipment is useful and desirable.
The main role of a digital operator is to support the photographer on the digital side of the photoshoot while being in charge of the cameras, computers and monitors. Making sure the camera is correctly tethered to the computer, the monitors calibrated correctly and that all the images arriving inside the capturing software (i.e. Capture One Pro) are well balanced in regard to exposure, focus, white balance plus other important adjustments are just some of the digi’s tasks.
Other assignments, equally important, involve the organisation of the files and folders to the specifications given by the photographer, the art director, or as stated in the shoot’s brief. This usually involves the accurate naming of the files and folders and the correct folder structure hierarchy. Once the photoshoot is complete, the files are processed and backed up (and sometimes uploaded into the cloud).
At times, when required, the digi will need to prepare mood boards for either the full shoot or for each individual “look”, or folder. Occasionally a certain image may need to be quickly retouched or placed within a “plate” to create an image composite as a reference for an advertisement campaign. This makes it desirable for a digi to have good knowledge of Adobe Photoshop software as well as Capture One Pro. It is also quite important to have a good understanding of the Mac operating system in case something goes wrong, for example, a crash, so that certain OS issues can be fixed immediately.
Certain photographers prefer that the digi op supply their own equipment, like a laptop (with all necessary software installed), monitor, cables, hubs etc., and this is typically provided at an extra fee.
A good digital operator should have up-to-date knowledge of all relevant software (such as Capture One Pro, Adobe Photoshop etc.), good retouching skills, and a robust understanding of the operating system, and he or she needs to be well organised.
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