From our ongoing exploration of 10 Things You Should Know Before Shooting with RED Epic:
2. REDVOLT Batteries Trade Power for Portability
No camera that requires AC power has ever rooted itself firmly in the film industry. Batteries are crucial to camera crews in terms of efficiency, mobility, and ease of use.
The RED Epic will accept many different battery types with the right adapter to jack into the power port, but the introduction of Epic also saw the introduction of REDVOLT batteries.
And that’s what I want to talk about today.
These little rectangles are a lot more portable and well-designed than their RED Brick brethren, but that comes with a caveat — less juice.
Depending slightly on your setup, a single REDVOLT will power the camera for about 30 minutes.
That may seem fairly reasonable at face value (and it is for the size of the battery), but 30 minutes is sometimes the duration of just setting frame. And you can potentially spend another 30 minutes rehearsing and shooting takes. Or 30 minutes waiting for a complicated lighting rig to go up.
(This is where the shorter boot time of the Epic is great. When you see approaching downtime, power down the camera knowing that it takes only a few seconds to boot back up.)
And the frequency with which you have to swap the batteries really sneaks up on you — I was constantly caught off-guard on an Epic shoot a few weeks ago having to make battery runs.
Of course, this is because we only had the side-handle module for the EPIC which accepts one REDVOLT. There is a quad-power module that will allow you to use four REDVOLTS at the same time and shoot for a much longer duration before having to power down and swap out. The catch on that is it about doubles the size of the camera.
Regardless of which module you use, however, each REDVOLT takes about 90 minutes to charge to 100% and 60 minutes to charge to 80%. So having multiple chargers and certainly multiple REDVOLTS is crucial to lasting an entire 12 hours shooting with RED Epic.
But even with the power module, one thing that has bothered me ever since the RED One is the camera displays battery power as a percentage — I really wish it would display an estimated time figure. Most camera setups run at a constant voltage and so I don’t see this as unreasonable.
Because, frankly, it’s hard to gauge the amount of time 10% will give you without a stopwatch and a mindful eye.
With that said, I recommend you swap REDVOLTS out as close to 5% as possible. This gives you enough leeway to wait a few moments to swap out — say to finish a take or frame a shot — while also sucking the battery for as much juice as it can provide.
I also urge you to use the three-bar indicator on the REDVOLTS to your advantage. This will quickly let you know if a battery has low power (one-bar) or is at least 80% charged (three-bars).
I usually place one-bar REDVOLTS on the charger first. As soon as they hit three-bars, I swap them out for one-bar batteries.
While that usually means my REDVOLTS are working at an 80% charge, the time it takes the battery to charge from 80% to 100% isn’t worth the time it would take the one-bar battery to go from 0% to 80%. I talk more about this theory here.
Finally, no matter if you decide to use REDVOLTS, RED Bricks, or another power solution, you should brush up on battery technology with these resources:
- It’s Alive! Keeping Your Batteries from Dying
- RED Charger and RED Brick Manuals (Towards bottom of page)
- Anton Bauer Video Battery Handbook (PDF Link)
How many REDVOLT batteries do you make sure to have before a long day with Epic? Have you ever run the risk of running out of power? Share your thoughts in the comments!