Battery technology has vastly changed in the last few years. Although Lithium Ion power has been with us for a while, huge improvements in longevity, size, weight, display and recharge time make these new units nothing like the behemoths of the past. Core SWX has numerous batteries to suit your needs; I will be focusing on the HC7R V-Mount battery utilizing VoltBridge software for our university’s RED Scarlet Epic camera.
The Core SWX HC7R battery uses its Hypercore cell technology to create an extremely thin unit that mounts on your camera’s back. Available in Gold and V-mount, this 82-watt hour, 5.5-amp hour, 14.8v SLIM series battery weighs less than one and a half pounds and is merely 1.5 inches thin.
The four LED gauge display on the battery reveals the remaining charge capacity (and sends it to the viewfinder); it meets safety requirements for air travel (unlike some batteries) and is durably housed in a rubberized shell. The main concern with camera batteries is can they handle the punishment batteries must endure and sit for extended periods of time not being used and still hold somewhat of a charge?
According to Core SWX, every battery they offer contains an accelerometer to detect motion that determines how long the battery has not been used—a device that is also used in cellphones and other mobile devices. This Hypercore technology allows the battery to go into a hibernation mode when it has not been used after a two-day period. While other batteries slowly lose their charge over an extended time, Core SWX battery’s clock essentially stops until the unit is needed again. When the slightest movement or use is determined, the battery resumes where it left off; pretty amazing.
Application: The future in camera battery technology. Like AC power, these batteries are there when you need them—without the long extension cord.
Key Features: Lightweight, thin, reasonably priced battery that waits to be used before losing its charge.
Price: Core SWX HC7R V-Mount Battery - $265.00
Contact: Core SWX
91 Commercial Street
Plainview, NY 11803
Lastly, the technology that went into the construction process means that there is under/over current, temperature and voltage protection that mean a cooler battery temperature and a 1000 charge/discharge service life. The battery is now intelligent enough to dictate its charge routine—lithium ion technology to the max.
The VoltBridge software was included in our V-Mount plate with a four pin XLR and two power taps. This powers the LED panel lights as well as using Bluetooth technology to transmit the data.
One of the biggest drawbacks with our RED camera system at DeSales is DC power. The internal RED batteries are fine just for remembering your settings between battery changes but not much more. Because the camera is consistently on location with our students’ shoots, three of our external batteries are constantly on the charger and one is mounted on the camera.
As with any rental facility, the batteries lie dormant when not in use. When a student comes to collect the equipment, all batteries must be charged before he or she can even think about shooting. I was very anxious to try our V-mounted Core SWX units designed specifically for our model RED.
Our senior class shot a 15-minute project with a RED powered by Core SWX HC7R batteries. Relying on all of the equipment from our cage, including our vest mounted Glidecam, meant that we would be using DC power for the next eight weeks. During our down time, we were confident in the knowledge that the battery would “rest” when we weren’t using it and that the drain would cease. Students, on the other hand, did not want to rest, they wanted to stay awake and watch the battery to see it in its dormant mode.
The battery charge is most important when doing stabilizer work, where weight is a critical factor. One battery gave us an entire day of Glidecam work. After doing numerous takes with our Glidecam, our young operators were glad to have some down time. The VoltBridge software did its job allowing an accurate battery level to appear on the students mobile devices via the VoltBridge app. This allowed them to conveniently check when to change the battery pack instead of continually checking the actual battery itself while on the camera.
The Core SWX V-Mount HC7R Battery with VoltBridge is the smartest battery we’ve used. Although nearly all batteries display the current state of change, the real difference is the ability for the battery to go to sleep when it is not in use for an extended period of time. The sleep mode means less time charging batteries that have been drained from sitting, ultimately allowing for more productive time on location.
Chuck Gloman is an associate professor and chair of the TV/Film Department at DeSales University. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.