Anton/Bauer Powers Productions for Fletcher Cameras & Lenses
When starting a business, it’s always good to have a firm grasp of the industry you are entering. So when Tom Fletcher founded Fletcher Camera & Lenses with his father 26 years ago, he studied up on cameras, lenses, and, of course, batteries. For his research, Fletcher turned to a battery manual published by Anton/Bauer, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company and a premier global provider of batteries, chargers, lighting, and other mobile power systems for the professional broadcast, video, and film industries. Ever since then, the two companies have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship, with Fletcher relying on Anton/Bauer to power countless productions, providing the battery manufacturer with valuable feedback on a variety of the innovative solutions it has developed over the years.
The Chicago-based rental house is divided into two production divisions—sports and cinema. It works on high-profile sporting events such as the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA finals, X Games, and Stanley Cup, as well as national commercials and television series, the latter of which include Boss, Underemployed, Chicago Code, The Dilemma, and Shameless. While it sold cameras and equipment when it first opened, in the last five years the company has focused strictly on rentals. Thanks to its heavy production focus, Fletcher Camera & Lenses currently stocks nearly 100 of Anton/Bauer’s CINE VCLX line (known for providing extended run times for some of the most popular film and digital cinema cameras, including ARRI, RED and Sony as well as the DIONIC HC and HCX and HyTRON lines of batteries.
“The fact that Anton/Bauer offers different battery chemistries among its VCLX, HyTRON, and DIONIC lines is an important factor for us, especially with today’s flight restrictions,” say Tom Fletcher, owner, Fletcher Camera & Lenses. “My sports division uses the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries exclusively because we ship them every day, whereas my motion picture division doesn’t do nearly as much shipping. In addition, our motion picture users require lightweight solutions with long run times, so the lithium ion (Li-Ion) DIONIC HCs have worked out really well for them. Plus, we like that you can use the same chargers for any of those batteries.”
In addition to carrying Anton/Bauer products, Fletcher Camera & Lenses has also served as a sounding board, offering counsel to the battery manufacturer as it developed new products and solutions such as the HD-friendly DIONIC HCX 124 watt-hour capacity and DIONIC HC 91 watt-hour capacity batteries.
“At the time HD cameras were first being used, we saw too many operators loading so many accessories on their cameras that the batteries just couldn’t withstand the demanding workloads,” says Fletcher. “We helped explain to Anton/Bauer why it would be necessary to offer battery solutions that had a higher current draw in order to support HD content. That is one of the things I appreciate most about Anton/Bauer—how it reacts to the needs of our industry in a timely way.”
Another case in point was the development of Anton/Bauer’s acclaimed Gold MountSystem, which creates the most secure battery connection in the industry, providing seamless power and future compatibility. Anton/Bauer’s team of engineers relied on Fletcher for field input, valuable information from the trenches that would help them solve problems and create an innovative solution for in-demand cameras such as the RED EPIC. “The Gold Mount is a much more flexible solution,” says Fletcher. “Once we started using it with the EPIC, the camera became that much more reliable.”
Fletcher also cites the trusted reliability Anton/Bauer brings to all of its products as another reason the two companies have enjoyed such a longtime relationship. “When we were selling equipment, we sold exclusively in the ENG market and Anton/Bauer batteries were always reliable,” recalls Fletcher. “They are always worth the investment because whether you are a news crew trying to cover a presidential address or a film crew working on a $100,000-a-day production, you need to have your batteries work.”