Unit of competency details

CUFCAM601A - Direct cinematography for screen productions (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to CUACAM601 - Direct cinematography for screen productionsUpdated to meet Standards for Training Packages. Minor edits to elements and performance criteria. 14/Jan/2016
Supersedes and is equivalent to CUFCAM02A - Develop and implement a camera planUnit has been updated and is equivalent to CUFCAM02A. 10/Nov/2010

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 11/Nov/2010


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 100701 Audio Visual Studies 

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 100701 Audio Visual Studies 11/Nov/2010 
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Modification History

Not applicable.

Unit Descriptor

Unit descriptor 

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to devise and manage camera shoots across a wide range of screen, media and entertainment productions.

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.

Application of the Unit

Application of the unit 

Directors of photography (DOPs), cinematographers and senior camera operators apply the skills and knowledge outlined in this unit. The term DOP is usually associated with major feature film and documentary productions.

DOPs or cinematographers are responsible for providing screen productions with their unique visual look, which involves composing shots and lighting scenes. In this key creative role, they work closely with directors and camera and lighting crews to achieve the required creative outcomes. Shoots may be either single-camera or multi-camera, using digital or film formats.

Even though DOPs operate with a high level of autonomy, the final call on the composition of shots and the look of productions rests with directors.

Most DOPs work as freelancers, though some may find permanent employment with major studios or production houses. A typical pathway to DOP is experience as a camera operator but others emerge from lighting departments.

Skills associated with devising camera coverage in the role of director are covered in:

  • CUFDRT604A Devise camera coverage.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not applicable.


Prerequisite units 

Employability Skills Information

Employability skills 

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



Prepare for shoots

1. Participate in pre-production conferences with relevant production personnel  to establish overall production requirements  for shoots 

2. Undertake comprehensive review of scripts or screenplays to understand fully the required artistic and visual outcomes

3. Conduct appropriate research  relevant to needs of productions  and contribute creative and technical solutions and ideas as required

4. Develop or refine existing camera plans  according to production requirements

5. Negotiate amendments to camera plans and circulate final camera specifications to relevant production personnel

6. Prepare lists of required equipment and accessories , including supplies of stock , and arrange for acquisition in collaboration with relevant production personnel

7. Block shots  for use during rehearsals and actual productions in collaboration with relevant production personnel, taking into account impact on overall production requirements

8. Assemble and brief relevant production personnel on production requirements, including equipment and accessories required for shoots

9. Follow OHS requirements as they apply to the preparation and implementation of shoots

Set up for shoots

10. Manage selection and set-up of equipment and accessories to meet planned shots, ensuring safety of relevant production personnel and other participants 

11. Ensure cameras are matched correctly and check lighting is appropriate for intended shots and scenes

12. View proposed shots and set-ups through viewfinder or on monitors and make creative and technical adjustments as required

13. Participate in rehearsals, noting required changes and instruct camera and lighting crews accordingly

14. Ensure shots and lighting requirements  are marked up and established to reflect artistic and style needs  of the shoot

15. Maintain ongoing supervision and collaboration with relevant production personnel to maximise creative outcomes

Shoot content

16. Supervise technical and creative operations of camera shoots during productions consistent with actions devised during rehearsals

17. Monitor output of camera operations to ensure cuts and dissolves between shots produce required technical and creative outcomes

18. Operate camera where applicable while maintaining overview of creative and technical criteria

19. Ensure camera movements  are planned to avoid interference with other camera operators, technical personnel or performers

20. Respond to cues received from relevant production personnel in a timely manner

21. Communicate clearly to relevant production personnel unavoidable variations from predetermined plans

22. Attend daily viewings of rushes to assess quality and relevance of recorded material and schedule reshoots where necessary

Wrap up shoot

23. Supervise dismantling, packing and storing of equipment and accessories and complete necessary documentation 

24. Ensure locations are left in original or improved state

25. Participate in post-production editing activities  as required, including providing additional materials, such as pick-ups

26. Participate in post-production debriefings and reflect on own performance and that of production crews, noting areas for future improvement

Required Skills and Knowledge


This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • communication and teamwork skills sufficient to:
  • interpret creative information, scripts and images
  • provide creative input to production planning
  • work collaboratively with a wide range of production staff and others during shoots, including demonstrating leadership qualities
  • work effectively and cooperatively under direction, e.g. of director or producer
  • deliver clear briefings to production staff
  • respond appropriately to feedback about shoots from others
  • negotiate solutions to problems and conflicts that arise during the process of directing camera operations
  • high levels of initiative, enterprise and creativity in the context of:
  • demonstrating originality and innovative approaches to realising the desired visual style and atmosphere of productions
  • experimenting with cinematographic and narrative conventions and styles to achieve creative outcomes
  • being able to balance creative and technical requirements
  • being flexible enough to make last-minute adjustments to planned shots if unforeseen circumstances arise during shoots
  • planning, organising and literacy skills in the context of:
  • analysing complex outlines/scripts to inform decision making and planning
  • undertaking background research to enhance understanding and appreciation of production contexts
  • achieving required outcomes in the most efficient way, including taking account of budgetary and resource constraints
  • planning and organising shooting lists and activities
  • documenting camera plans and other work requirements
  • technical skills sufficient to:
  • operate a range of professional camera and lighting equipment in a single-camera or multi-camera environment
  • shoot program materials at a high level using a range of film or video equipment
  • shoot and supervise shooting for a range of program styles
  • ensure correct exposures and colour balances of recorded content
  • use the internet for research
  • use standard word processing and spreadsheet applications in the context of preparing documentation in relation to devising camera coverage
  • self-management and problem solving skills sufficient to:
  • evaluate own contribution to creative solutions
  • work under pressure to tight deadlines
  • self-management and learning skills sufficient to:
  • locate and use resources to broaden own creative experience
  • work under pressure to tight deadlines
  • solve problems and challenges during shoots in a timely and collaborative manner
  • evaluate own contribution to creative solutions

Required knowledge 

  • industry knowledge, including:
  • roles and responsibilities of personnel in the screen production industry
  • sound understanding of artistic and technical elements associated with productions, e.g. staging, lighting, sound
  • issues and challenges that arise in the context of directing cinematography
  • features of a range of cameras and accessories
  • attributes of a range of film and video formats and stock
  • cinematographic language
  • preparation of shot cards and shot descriptions
  • production scheduling process
  • ways of documenting camera plans
  • techniques for handling cables, including compatibility with other equipment
  • well-developed understanding of photographic principles, such as:
  • exposure
  • tonal relationships
  • focus
  • light sources
  • sensitivity and balancing
  • camera's interpretation of colour
  • characteristics of lenses
  • colour correction techniques
  • colour temperature and compensation
  • camera to subject practice/framing and composition, including:
  • lens to eyeline
  • jump cuts
  • crossing the line
  • matching shots
  • thorough understanding of:
  • lighting techniques and equipment
  • editing and post-production procedures and requirements
  • duty of care to colleagues and general public, especially on location
  • occupational and public health and safety procedures, particularly as they relate to lifting, climbing rigs and using electrical equipment
  • detailed knowledge of the Recommended Safety Code for Film and Television

Evidence Guide


The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the following is essential:

  • effective direction of cinematography for productions that demonstrates an ability to:
  • realise the desired visual style and atmosphere of productions
  • plan and organise shot lists for multi-camera shoots
  • collaborate with and direct camera and lighting crews
  • work under direction
  • meet production deadlines
  • take account of production and resource constraints
  • sound knowledge of:
  • properties of different cameras
  • lighting techniques
  • photographic principles.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure:

  • practical demonstration of skills through planning and directing cinematography for at least two different types of productions
  • access to a range of professional equipment currently used in the film and television industry based on items listed in the range statement
  • opportunities to work on single-camera and multi-camera shoots
  • access to appropriate learning and assessment support when required
  • use of culturally appropriate processes and techniques appropriate to the language and literacy capacity of learners and the work being performed.

Method of assessment 

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • direct questioning combined with review of portfolios of evidence and third-party workplace reports of on-the-job performance
  • observation of the candidate directing cinematography to assess candidate's ability to achieve desired effects and to work effectively with production crews and/or directors
  • evaluation of sequences filmed by the candidate to determine candidate's ability to meet creative production requirements
  • written or verbal questioning to test knowledge as listed in the required skills and knowledge section of this unit.

Guidance information for assessment 

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • CUFDRT604A Devise camera coverage.

Range Statement


The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Production personnel  may include:

  • camera operators, e.g. first assistant camera, second unit
  • costume designer
  • director/producer
  • floor manager
  • floor manager
  • gaffer
  • grip
  • heads of department
  • lighting director
  • location manager
  • other specialist staff
  • other technical staff
  • production manager
  • set designer
  • technical director.

Production requirements  may include:

  • budgets
  • film or digital production
  • locations
  • period, e.g. historical
  • post-production requirements, e.g. editing style
  • production genre
  • style
  • timelines/deadlines.

Shoots  may include:

  • combined video and audio function
  • daytime
  • external
  • fixed/supported
  • hand-held operation
  • interior
  • location
  • night time
  • separate video and audio record functions
  • single-camera
  • studio.

Research  may include:

  • actual events
  • audience analysis in location for production
  • characters
  • cultural/historical context
  • environment
  • imagination/inspiration
  • life experience
  • locations
  • newspapers/magazines
  • notes
  • paintings/photographs/sketches
  • period
  • review of enterprise objectives
  • review of other productions, e.g. movies
  • settings
  • social analysis (current or historical).

Productions  may include:

  • advertisements/commercials
  • animations
  • documentaries
  • features
  • interactive media
  • live on-stage performances
  • promotions/presentations
  • short films
  • television series/serials, e.g. drama
  • training videos.

Camera plans  may include discussion of:

  • budget implications
  • camera movements
  • camera set-up
  • how creative production requirements will be met
  • lighting requirements
  • number of cameras required
  • OHS considerations.
  • personnel required
  • positioning of sets or other physical elements
  • shooting material under special conditions, e.g.:
  • underwater
  • from moving vehicles
  • studio and/or location constraints
  • timelines.

Equipment and accessories  may include:

  • autocue monitor
  • batteries
  • cables
  • cameras, e.g.:
  • digital - digital Betacam, DVC Pro
  • film - Arriflex
  • camera supports, e.g.:
  • pedestal
  • mounts
  • cranes
  • dollies
  • track
  • tripods
  • spreaders
  • fluid heads
  • hotheads
  • microphones - fixed, pole, lapel
  • change bags
  • cue card holders
  • headphones
  • filters, e.g.:
  • colour correction
  • colour
  • graduated: hard-edge, soft-edge, attenuated coloured, neutral density
  • correction filters
  • ultraviolet
  • polarising
  • chromatic
  • non-specific colour
  • enhancers
  • lens hood
  • lenses, e.g.:
  • fixed
  • zoom
  • wide-angle
  • macro
  • micro
  • magazines
  • mobile phones
  • special effects equipment
  • talkback facility
  • tape recorder
  • two-way intercom.

Stock  may include:

  • analogue format, e.g. Beta SP
  • digital tape, e.g.:
  • Beta
  • DVC Pro
  • mini-DV
  • film, e.g.:
  • 16 mm
  • 35 mm
  • HDTV
  • SDTV
  • video disks.

Shots  may include:

  • close-up
  • cutaway shot
  • establishing or master shot
  • extreme close-up
  • eye-level shot
  • high-angle
  • long shot
  • low-angle
  • mid shot
  • overhead shot
  • point-of-view shot
  • wide shot
  • zoom.

Other participants  may include:

  • actors
  • ambulance and medical staff
  • council staff
  • fire brigade
  • general public, e.g. studio audiences, spectators
  • interviewees
  • interviewers
  • journalists/reporters
  • performers
  • police
  • presenters.

Lighting requirements  may include:

  • types of luminaires
  • architectural fixtures
  • digital moving (intelligent) lights
  • key light
  • fill light
  • back light
  • bounced light
  • effect light, e.g. on backgrounds
  • HMI (hydrargyrum medium arc-length iodide)
  • light meters.
  • lights and accessories, e.g.:
  • luminaires
  • floods
  • moving lights
  • gobos
  • interior lights
  • spot light
  • flood light
  • special effects units, e.g.:
  • electrical/electronic props
  • strobes, mirror balls and motors, smoke machines, fog machines,
  • ultraviolet light, oil and water crackers, effects projectors
  • theatre-based units
  • studio and location units
  • tungsten

Artistic and style needs  may include:

  • aesthetics
  • camera height and distance from subject
  • camera position
  • composition
  • continuity
  • duration
  • framing
  • movement
  • shot type
  • timing.

Camera movements  may include:

  • crab
  • crane rigs
  • dolly
  • pan
  • physical relocations/movement
  • tilt
  • track in/out
  • zoom in/zoom out.

Documentation  may include:

  • camera plans
  • computer generated/manually written
  • emails/SMS
  • equipment and accessories lists
  • lighting plans
  • production schedules
  • running sheets
  • screenplay
  • scripts
  • shot lists.

Editing activities  may include:

  • aspect ratios
  • camera videotapes
  • colour grading
  • computer disks
  • frame ratio and rates
  • retakes
  • rushes
  • script and script changes
  • sound effects libraries
  • sound tracks
  • tempo - duration of shots and segments
  • uncut film footage, e.g.:
  • work prints
  • negative prints
  • A and B rolls.

Unit Sector(s)

Unit sector 

Competency field

Competency field 

Media and entertainment production - Camera/cinematography

Co-requisite units

Co-requisite units