In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 22


22

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Broadcast Batteries, Today and Tomorrow
by Kieron Seth
“I was recently shooting a film for Al-Jazeera TV in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” relates producer Fiona Lloyd-Davies of Studio 9 films. “I was literally thousands of miles from the equipment hire company and with no technical support whatsoever, I was totally reliant on what I had in my kit bags. All the equipment got a thorough workout but it was the batteries I was most worried about. Being in a remote part of the world, I was travelling light, with few spare packs. Yet I was asking a lot of the batteries - drawing power to drive the camera itself and also to feed an external recording device. So the powerpacks had to endure a heavy workload, an arduous journey, hugely variable temperatures and the full range of weather conditions. Plus, the village enjoyed only 3 to 4 hours mains power a day so it was always a case of partial re-charging, if and not when, possible.” Modern professional batteries are built to withstand the toughest conditions and perform no matter what. “When shooting on location, the last thing you need is a power failure because of a bad battery connection,” says Martyn Sly-Jex of Anton/Bauer. A recent development from the American manufacturer shows how seriously they are taking the reliability issue: the manufacturer’s Gold Mount is engineered from durable highimpact polymer, and employs selfcleaning gold-plated pins rated for hicurrent allowing them to withstand the power required for today’s cameras. Anton/Bauer has also developed adapters enabling batteries to power hard drives, laptops, monitors and other on-location devices. Clearly versatility and durability are top of the agenda. But what about sheer Wattage? According to Rob Waters, Sales Director at IDX Europe, the migration of the production industry to HD video and tapeless acquisition has ramped up the camera operator’s requirements. The newer, highend cameras need more power to operate, from setup to actual recording; average battery loads are increasing to 60-80W in today’s HD environments. “Today’s emerging camera technology, higher current applications and new ways of shooting requires more dynamic battery solutions for handling sustained power.” said Waters. “The latest hard drives and removable card technology make it possible for cinematographers and directors to say ‘shooting long’ is good.”
Fiona Lloyd-Davies, Studio 9 Films in Democratic Republic of Congo

And what about battery management? If you’re in a remote location, getting every last minute of charge from a cell is critical. Being able to track accurately the power consumption and time remaining on a pack has been a huge challenge for manufacturers. The leading battery manufacturers have maintained their core value of giving users confidence in the performance of their units. Power monitoring is a great example. Accurate reporting of the charge remaining has been a holy grail for the industry and one that many developers are still struggling with. It took companies such as Sony and PAG years to develop their systems to give meaningful feedback to the camera crew. Today it is possible to achieve accuracy down to one minute. “Knowing the exact status gives the camera team confidence in their equipment and helps them make correct decisions. It tells them when they don’t need to take an additional pack or charger so directly saves time and money. Solutions with vague power indicators are cheaper but they may not make economic sense.” Explained David Hardy Quality & Technical Director at PAG. So our intrepid producer venturing deep into the Democratic Republic of Congo seems well served by today’s battery manufacturers. Their products are made of very tough and durable materials ready to take a hammering in the field. Employing the latest electronic circuitry means getting every last Watt available from a unit. Usage of heavy metals means a high wattage capacity and longer shooting times. Knowing the precise status of a battery at all times means being able to plan shoots with confidence. Massive research and development, quality manufacturing, and continuing investment means that nowadays there should rarely be any fault or shortcoming in the pack which could, after all, instantly end a production. How have broadcast battery manufacturers been able to continue to meet the sophisticated and everchanging power needs of production crews? How have powerpacks

been able to progress so far in the last 20 years? What is the state of the professional market? And what developments are round the corner?

The Global Battery Industry Today
Batteries have come a long way in the last 20 years in terms of their capacity, features and versatility. But it was only in the mid-nineties, as the personal computing revolution began, that major advances in lithium cells started to happen. The new chemistry boasted no discharge requirement (i.e. recharge in any condition), almost 40% more power and 50% lighter than standard NiCd cells, no memory effect and better environmental credentials. Li-ion has had a major impact in the broadcast world. The global battery industry is today worth $71 billion and is estimated to be growing at nearly 5% a year. This is a competitive global business. It is vibrant, research-driven and at the vanguard of the electronics industry. Increasingly fervent calls for energy efficiency and green technology are matched only by consumers’ demand for their gadgets to last longer and longer between charges. The industry cannot stand still.

The Trickle Down Effect
Specialist broadcast batteries clearly make up a tiny fraction of the global cell market which is where the cutting edge research takes place. But the manufacturers that serve the video market are nevertheless highly innovative in their own right. As broadcasters are power hungry early adopters, battery manufacturers have always been quick to latch onto the
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Anton Bauer HCX Dionic


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - May/June 2011

In Broadcast - May/June 2011
NAB Emerging From Behind the Cloud
Contents
Communicating With Your Market
Autoscript’s Rapid Reaction Force
Bringing It and Broadcast Together
Broadcast Batteries Today and Tomorrow
New Developments in Broadcast Subtitling and Captioning
New Developments in Fibre
Multi-Format Encoding
Live Production
Gekko Leds in Film and Broadcast
Marketplace
The Fibre Alternative
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - NAB Emerging From Behind the Cloud
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Cover2
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Contents
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 4
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 5
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 6
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 7
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 8
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 9
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 10
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 11
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 12
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Communicating With Your Market
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Autoscript’s Rapid Reaction Force
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 15
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Bringing It and Broadcast Together
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 17
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 18
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 19
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 20
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 21
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Broadcast Batteries Today and Tomorrow
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 23
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 24
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 25
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 26
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 27
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 28
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 29
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - New Developments in Broadcast Subtitling and Captioning
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 31
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 32
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 33
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - New Developments in Fibre
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 35
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 36
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 37
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Multi-Format Encoding
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 39
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Live Production
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 41
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Gekko Leds in Film and Broadcast
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 43
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Marketplace
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 45
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - The Fibre Alternative
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 47
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - 48
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Cover3
In Broadcast - May/June 2011 - Cover4
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