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Become a TV Graphic Operator

A Graphic Operator will either work in the studio control room, for an in-studio Sportscast, or in a mobile truck, for live event production. In both roles the Graphic Operator adds the ‘lower third’ or fullscreen graphics to the Broadcast.

lower third graphic sports broadcastingPicture the TV screen in 3 sections, divided horizontally, the upper and lower thirds are the areas most often manipulated by a Graphic Operator. Graphic Operators insert final scores, anchor names, interview subject lines and other information pieces into that lower third. In the picture to your left, the basketball players name and statistics are an example of a lower third graphic. (Photo Courtesy: Leonard Clay)

Graphic Operators will also create fullscreen graphics, which take up all three of the TV ‘zones’. Fulllscreens usually contain deeper research or larger scoreboards. It is the operators job to input the information and to make it available when the Director calls for it.

Graphic Operators that work on live event production will have a hand in more research and statistics. Visualize a live game broadcast, there is a constant flow of graphic information in the lower third of the screen. That’s the job of the Graphic Operator.mobile truck mariners game

Those that choose to work live event production will have a great deal of travel as part of their career. The picture to your right is the area behind Safeco Field in Seattle where the mobile production trucks are parked. If you work on the road in event production, this is your office. A Graphic Operator can become part of a local crew and stay closer to home, but if they are hired full-time it would mean travelling with their team on the road.

Job Skills of Top Graphic Operators

  • Typing skills – Much of the work gets done before a Sportscast, but shows don’t always go as planned. Graphic operators have to be able to move fast.
  • Visual acuity – Graphic Operators must organize information in an easy to understand format.
  • Think Ahead– in live event production a Graphic Operator must see trends developing and create a corresponding graphic. How many times have you seen: “Celtics on a 15-2 run”?. Credit the Graphic Operator for diagnosing and creating the lower third.
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Being a Graphic Operator May Be For You If:

You are interested in computer design but also enjoy the fast pace of a Sportscast or live sporting event.

You are comfortable with research and statistics, but don’t want to sit in a corner all day pouring through almanacs.


Minimum Requirements: Graphic Operator

  • Associate degree in Broadcasting or Television, Video Production
  • Relevant work experience, including internships or college television stations
  • Prior experience in other Control Room Jobs
  • Basic understanding of Graphic Technology (i.e. Chyron, Deko)
  • Continuing education and classwork to keep up with rapidly changing technology

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