Power Up For HD ENG

High definition video is rapidly becoming the de facto standard for shooting all broadcast television, whether it is news, sports or other production forms. With that transition has come a new generation of powerful lightweight video equipment designed and engineered for the needs of this technology-intensive video standard.

Batteries are not exempt from this transition. In fact, the need for batteries that provide the power, stability and usability required for HD shooting has virtually launched a revolution in the design and manufacture of what has previously been considered merely a “commodity” item.

The stakes are too high for battery manufacturers to simply re-jigger an existing SD battery and paste on an HD label. Broadcasters and production companies are demanding batteries that offer long life, swift replacement in the field and easy access to battery life status during a shoot. They also want batteries that will not run afoul of tight airport security regulations—a significant issue since 9/11.

Above all, they want batteries that lower the cost of ownership. Conventional wisdom has been to throw a battery away once it is no longer chargeable. In some circles, that’s the equivalent of tossing a flashlight when the batteries are drained. The need for more innovative answers has been an ongoing demand by broadcasters.

With its newest battery system, the ENDURA ELITE, IDX continues in the tradition of innovation. Weighing less than 2.75 pounds and designed for HD ENG/EFP shooting, the Li Ion-powered ELITE battery is rated at 142 Wh, for continuous operation of up to 3.5 hours for a 40W HD ENG/EFP camcorder.

Its most noticeable innovation is its dual Power Cartridge design—two small battery cartridges that easily snap in and out of the ELITE battery through a side door on the battery housing. Should the cells wear out after long usage, even in the field, users can replace the cartridges without having to replace the entire battery.

Both cartridges are replaced at the same time; the battery pack consists of units bearing identical serial numbers, which must be installed in tandem. For cost-conscious video operations, the replaceable-cartridge approach saves significantly over the more traditional “solid battery” approach.

By using the Power Cartridges in the ENDURA ELITE battery, users receive cartridges that are tested and matched to each other. Balance is achieved—and users benefit by a longer usage time.

Today’s batteries must also comply with the realities of today’s society. IDX engineers designed ELITE batteries to comply with virtually all aircraft security rules, including both IATA and UN A45 regulations. The company also designed the ELITE battery to meet the world’s most stringent environmental standards: the European RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) regulations that set maximum concentration limits on environmentally unfriendly materials used in electrical and electronic equipment (e.g., lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.).

For the videographer shooting in the field, the ELITE battery features a number of monitoring devices. For example, to determine the charge level during a shoot, it can be seen in the viewfinder of popular HD cameras from Panasonic and Sony. The battery also features an LED display on the side of its housing that shows charge levels in 10 percent increments.

To avoid the consequences of a battery that inexplicably fails during production, ELITE batteries have an error-monitoring feature that indicates a variety of problems with the Battery Cartridge system. It spots voltage differences between the two cartridges, improperly initialized batteries and excessive temperature differences. For bench testing, ELITE batteries conform to IDX’s iTrax Battery Management System.

Today’s technology-intensive HD production offers tremendous opportunities to capture video images with a photo-realistic fidelity, whether on a glossy magazine shoot or a hot-pursuit crime story. Every piece of equipment in the video chain must perform at maximum efficiency, and at a cost level enabling production companies to both meet their production goals and save on the bottom line. IDX’s ENDURA ELITE batteries have been built to achieve both goals.

George Elsaesser is the business development manager for IDX System Technology.