LIVERPOOL, U.K.—As the 10-second warning siren sounded that the power station cooling towers were about to be imploded, the battery warning light on my Betacam started flashing. Within the next few seconds, the battery died, the towers had fallen and the moment was missed. As the dust settled and I was trying to explain to the producer why there was no footage, it dawned on me that I really should probably invest in some decent camera batteries. That’s when my 30-year relationship with Anton/Bauer began.
I’m a lighting cameraman based in the northwest of England and I have shot many hours of television for some of the world’s biggest broadcasters. Being trained by the BBC meant that I was able to learn from some of the greatest operators in the industry and gain valuable experience using many different types of equipment and programs. One of my favorite genres was always news and current affairs, as you never actually knew what the day would throw at you. This is still the case today, whether I’m shooting a police raid for “BBC North West Tonight,” A-level results for “Granada Reports” or wildfires for “Channel Four News.”
TEST OF TIME
As camera technology has developed over the last three decades, (the first camera I used had plumbicon tubes), so has the number of peripherals we attach that our batteries need to power: toplights, monitors, radio mics, vision links, etc. The choice of battery is just as important as the choice of codec.
I’ve recently upgraded my trusty, bullet-proof Anton/Bauer Hytron 140 NiMh system to the new Anton/Bauer Titon range. There was never any doubt that I wouldn’t stick with Anton/ Bauer as they have never let me down and I already knew the Gold-Mount system was more secure than anything else on the market. I liked the timer display on the Hytron, so to have an even more accurate display on the Titon was fantastic.
I wondered just how accurate it was, so I decided to test it in the real world. With all my gear attached and powered up, the real-time display showed that there was three hours and 20 minutes of power. The show I was providing live location camera for, “BBC Breakfast,” was on air for just over three hours— that one battery saw me through the whole program with time to spare. That’s how accurate it is. And that’s how much confidence I have in Anton/Bauer.
KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON
I use Titons to power my camera, but I also use them to power my Litepanels Astra 6X lighting fixtures. I can run the Astra 6X fixtures at full power using the Titons for prolonged periods without flicker, color shift or reduction of intensity—something that is a great asset now with the current COVID restrictions, as you can keep socially distanced from your subject without compromising lighting power.
The Titons are built with the usual Anton/Bauer solidness—something you need for run-and-gun news when you’re constantly throwing gear in and out of your van. As a freelancer, you can’t afford to have batteries taken out of service because of damage and breakages—the build quality needs to be just as solid as the internal chemistry that powers the cells. That build quality is what makes buying cheaper batteries a false economy—at the very least you lose a news moment and annoy a producer. The very worst, you cause a devastating Li-ion fire.
For the three-minute news report on flooding for the BBC “Six O’clock News” or the access to a COVID ITU ward for ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” my batteries have probably been powering cameras and lights for many hours. I might be away from or unable to get to the kit van for hours at a time. I need to have a power system I can totally depend on, that’s lightweight but powerful enough to capture every moment I point the camera at. That’s exactly what the Anton/Bauer Titon series delivers, all the time, every time.
Keith Jacobsen is a freelance lighting camera operator with more than 30 years of experience in the broadcast industry working with national and international networks including BBC, ITV and Al Jazeera. He can be contacted through his website, www.limegrovestudios.co.uk.
For more information, visit www.antonbauer.com
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