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Movie Crew

Crane Operator

Crane operators in the film industry are specially trained film crew. They are normally grips.

Sometimes, in film making, to achieve a desired shot the camera needs to be moved. This can be done several ways but one way is to use a camera crane. There are many types of camera cranes with most being a counter balanced arm on a pivot whilst some are hydraulic. They can be used to lift the camera, and often the camera operator and assistant, quickly into the air. The Crane operator needs to set up and operate the camera crane so that the camera hits the right spot. As the camera can be a long way from the operator, this can be difficult.

Crane operators work on cranes or draglines to lift, move position and place machinery, equipment or other large objects at construction sites, industrial facilities, ship-loading docks, railway yards and similar locations. They work for construction firms, manufacturers, shipbuilders, cargo-handlers and railways.

There is a wide variety of cranes in use today. You could work on a tower crane, constructing buildings, on a bridge crane, or on a mobile crane. You could operate a crane on or near the water, working on equipment that dredges waterways or loads and unloads ships. There are also cranes on off-shore oil rigs and barges that you operate to load supply vessels and move equipment.

Crane operators work on pile-driving cranes that force pilings into the ground as foundations for buildings, bridges or piers. You can also work at railway yards, shipyards, in factories and wherever there are large, heavy objects to be moved or lifted.

You job as a crane operator is to guide the machine in the lifting or moving of heavy objects and materials. You operate a crane using pedals and levers to turn, raise and lower the boom, being guided by hand signals from a supervisor or co-worker. You must be aware of power lines and other obstacles that may cause danger to yourself, your co-workers and your equipment.

You will often be required to drive the crane to a worksite and to assist in erecting, adding sections and dismantling it.

An important part of the job is to perform routine maintenance on your crane. This involves cleaning and lubricating the equipment, checking fluid levels and hydraulic lines, changing the oil and filters and making minor repairs.

A crane operator needs good eyesight and excellent eye-hand coordination to the job well. When you work on a tower crane, the cab from which you operate may be a long way from the objects being moved. The job also requires a certain amount of stamina and physical fitness. You often sit in the cab of your crane for long hours, working controls and repeating the same operation many times. You usually help assemble and dismantle your crane. This requires physical strength to handle heavy parts and equipment as well as a certain amount of agility to climb up to your cab or do repairs and adjustments, often at a hundred feet in the air.

You are required to move from job site to job site, as you are needed. This can be disruptive for your social and family lives since you may have to live away from home for long periods of time.

Cranes have become more technologically advanced in the past decade. Modern cranes often have computers in the cab to assist the operator and they can lift greater weights than their predecessors. This sophistication in the machinery means that you must continually upgrade your skills in order to keep up with changing technology.

To be a successful crane operator, you must have self-control and be able to keep a cool head in critical situations. You also have to get along with people and be able to work with other members of your crew and follow instructions. The safety of the crew and success of the job depend upon it.

You should have above average mechanical ability, and you must understand the workings of your equipment since you are required to perform maintenance and repair work on your crane.

Since a lot of crane work requires that you move from site to site, you have to be flexible and willing to move wherever you are needed.

Crane operators take pride in their work. Sometimes the job may be difficult and challenging, but there is enjoyment in doing it well. There is the feeling of accomplishment when a building that you're working on takes shape and becomes a reality.

What you need:
Some secondary school education is required
Some provinces require completion of crane operator training and of an apprenticeship program
Some provinces demand provincial certification after a demonstration of skills

To find out more, talk to:
Your high school guidance counselor
A company employing crane operators
A local office of The International Union of Operating Engineers
The International Union of Operating Engineers


About crane operators, camera crane operator, movie set crane operator