Unscripted TV

Digital imaging technician

Also known as: DIT

Digital imaging technician

What does a digital imaging technician do?

Digital imaging technicians (DITs) are digital camera experts who work closely with the camera supervisor (also known as the director of photography) to achieve the right look for the TV production.

The role varies depending on the type of programme being made and the genre. The role of a DIT in unscripted TV is quite different from the role of a DIT in film and TV drama, which often involves assisting a director of photography on shooting in digital as opposed to film.

In an unscripted TV studio show, DITs may be asked to advise on live pictures, looking at exposure and colour and adjusting them as necessary. In large multi-camera shoots, they set up the cameras, making sure they all match in terms of colour, look and exposure, whatever the model or format.

In unscripted TV, the role of a DIT is similar to the role of a data wrangler. Data wranglers take the cards containing the raw files (known as ‘rushes’) from the cameras and sound recordists and back them up on to memory drives. DITs do that, but they might also set up the cameras and advise on live pictures. Whether the role is known as DIT or known as data wrangler depends on the preference of each production and the extent to which the role is adjusting the live picture or backing up the data.

Watch and read

What’s a digital imaging technician good at?

  • Digital photography: understand contrast, focus, lighting, cinematography and colour, have a good eye for grading raw footage
  • Staying calm under pressure: stay alert in a live environment, adjust picture accurately
  • Attention to detail: label files, wrangle the data without loss, notice corruptions
  • Digital cameras and computers: have expert knowledge of cameras, file formats and storage media
  • Problem-solving: be able to fix kit, tech and cable connections

Who does a digital imaging technician work with?

DITs work for the head of the camera department. DITs also work with other members of the camera department, particularly with camera operators. They can work with the series producer in pre-production of certain projects. They also communicate with the team in post-production, transferring the files to them and making sure they have what they need.

How do I become a digital imaging technician?

DIT is a relatively senior role in the camera department in unscripted TV and requires an expert knowledge of digital cameras. As such, you will need to get experience working in other, more junior, roles before becoming a DIT. The role most directly related to DIT is data wrangler, so that is a good route in. Follow the link to look at the data wrangler profile for more details.

At school or college:
If you want to work your way up in the camera department, you can take A-levels or Highers in art, art and design or graphic communication with maths and physics.

If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:

  • BTEC National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • BTEC National Extended Diploma in Creative Digital Media Production
  • NCFE Applied General Certificate in Art and Design
  • UAL Applied General Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Production
  • BTEC National Diploma in Photography OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Moving Image and Audio Production)
  • UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
  • UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology

Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. They’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Some of the major broadcasters offer apprenticeships. Check out the schemes with ITV.

If you can’t get an apprenticeship with a broadcaster, it might be worth trying to find one outside the TV industry, where you can develop your skills and your craft. You can then move into TV at a later point. In England, there’s a Level 3 apprenticeship as a photographic assistant.

Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want. Go to where can I find an apprenticeship? to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.

Work for an equipment company:
Contact an equipment rental company like Panavision, Provision or ARRI Rentals. Ask if you can become a kit room assistant for them. That way you will get to learn more about the kit and build up contacts. See our advice on approaching employers to learn how to do this.

Get a degree:
It’s not essential to have a degree in order to become a DIT. There are, however, degree courses that specialise in television production or in photography that you can consider. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses and select one in unscripted TV or search for “camera” or “edit”. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the unscripted TV industry.

Get work experience:
Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any. Keep an eye out for work experience opportunities at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky and the PACT Indie Diversity Training Scheme.

Take a short course:
Hone your DIT skills by taking a specialist course. Go to the list of training courses recommended by ScreenSkills and see if there is one about camera or camera work.

Network:
Get to know people in the unscripted TV industry by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.

Network online:
Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there are Facebook pages or other social media groups for people making unscripted TV in your area. There might even be groups for runners and trainees. Join them. Create a ScreenSkills profile. There are a lot of crewing agencies that will charge you to be on their books. Sign up to the free ones initially. Wales ScreenNorthern Ireland Screen and other areas offer free crew databases. Find a film office near you and get connected. If you do sign up to paid sites, make sure they specialise in the areas in which you’re interested.

Search for jobs:
Research unscripted TV production companies that you’d like to work for and watch the programmes that they make. Regularly check their websites and job listings websites to see if they are advertising for roles. You can also send in a short speculative letter with your CV to the production manager. Register your CV on websites like The Talent Manager, which is used by most broadcasters and independent production companies when looking for staff. StartinTV offers tips on creating your CV and attending interviews, as well as some advice for your first day working in TV.

You might also be interested in…

Being a camera operator, camera supervisor or an edit producer in the unscripted TV industry. You might also be interested in being a digital imaging technician in the film and TV drama industries.

Further resources