How to shoot a short documentary and only charge your camera battery twice.

by Lan Bui on April 5, 2011

You basically have two options… one: shoot a very very very short film… two: use a magical battery…

What did we do?

This post is a little bit about how Vu and I shot a short documentary, tons of b-roll and eighteen 20 minute interviews over the course of one entire week. All on a Canon 5D mark II (Primary… A cam) and a pair of Canon 60Ds (secondary and third… B cam C cam) and all on two battery charges for our primary camera.

If this were a word problem you would say obviously A cam was not used much, broke or that we don’t know what A cam really is… nope… we did use A cam as our primary camera and it was used the most.

How did we do it?

Well… obviously we didn’t opt for option one… we used a magical battery for the 5D mark II.

Before Vu and I left for Austin, TX, Jared Abrams put us in touch with Jason at Switronix to get a demo unit of their Powerbase-70. It is a battery unit just a bit larger than the battery grip for the Canon 5D mark II. It connects with a cable attached to a ‘fake’ battery that goes into the camera’s battery compartment. This unit actually works with a ton of cameras… not just the 5D mark II… it works with the T2i, T3i, 60D, 7D… well pretty much any camera.

I’m sure I should have charged the Switronix more than just twice, but when you are shooting day in day out and managing all of your media yourself you do end up forgetting some small things.

What did we do in the past?

Normally we use our set of 5 Canon batteries on a two camera shoot. Two batteries are always on the chargers and two in the cameras and one is just charged and ready just in case. We often run into situations where one camera will run out of batteries and it takes a little while to change it in the middle of shooting. This is always a massive inconvenience because it takes time away from shooting.

A few weeks before the shoot I was talking to Jared about how crazy our schedule would be and he knew exactly the solution to my problem… buy a Switronix Powerbase-70. I fought it and said that we would be fine with just our set of batteries and maybe I should just go buy another battery or two and we would be fine.

I’m so glad Jared put me in touch with Jason to get this demo unit… it is just a $350 battery but it saves you so much time and hassle it is well worth that money. I can’t think of how bad it would have been if I had forgotten to charge some of our batteries during this shoot… but I was able to shoot all day for two days before I realized I needed to charge the Switronix Powerbase-70.

What will we do in the future?

We actually have also tested the Powerbase battery with it powering both a Canon 5D mark II and a Teradek Cube… and we know it can also power a ton of other things… like your H4n, a monitor and even a light!

What would you, or do you, use a Switronix Powerbase-70 for? Let us know now in the comments below…

UPDATE Note: Going to NAB?

Going to NAB? Great! Find us at the Teradek booth interviewing industry leaders and streaming it live! You might also see us on the tradeshow floor with the Switronix Powerbase-70 powering our Canon 5D mark II.

Not going to NAB? Great! Find us online LIVE at Teradek.TV throughout the week… we are doing daily live interviews and we are also live at 6pm every day.

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