For more than 30 years, Russ Weston, president and owner of Anchorage-based Weston Productions, has been relying on Anton/Bauer to power hundreds of projects that have taken him to the far reaches of the frozen Alaskan wilderness and beyond, weathering every challenging environment faced. In fact, Anton/Bauer, a brand of The Vitec Group, and a leading provider of batteries, chargers, lighting and other mobile power systems for the professional broadcast, video and film industries, has accompanied Weston on his many illustrious assignments across the globe—from Japan and Australia, to Korea and Russia. With dozens of productions to his credit, many of which can be seen on The Discovery Channel, The History Channel and National Geographic, Weston reports that the company’s batteries have consistently delivered reliable performance.
Today, Weston relies on Anton/Bauer’s DIONIC 90 batteries and several other batteries to power his Sony and Panasonic cameras for clients that include CNN, The Travel Channel, NBC News and NASA. “They are great batteries. I just can’t say enough about them,” he says. After trying other brands, Weston quickly realized his allegiance lied with Anton/Bauer. “Many years ago we tried off-brand batteries that we thought were similar to the DIONIC 90, just a little less expensive. They started out fine, but very quickly they began having problems. They wouldn’t take full charges, or they would go strong for about 20 minutes and then die. They also had trouble holding up in the frigid temperatures here in the winter,” he says.
Anton/Bauer designed the DIONIC 90 to deliver consistently reliable performance even in some of the most extreme shooting locations on Earth. The DIONIC 90 offers a RealTime display that continually updates the operator on how much run-time remains and on the state of the current charge. It weighs only 1.7 lb. and can be transported without restriction under the IATA and DOT safety regulations. The battery can handle a maximum load of 90 watts, offering run-times ranging from six hours at 15 watts to 1.75 hours at 50 watts. Run-time was a key factor in Weston’s battery of choice, considering the extreme temperatures he works in. “On one specific day when we did a test run, we turned on the cameras and let them sit out in the cold. It was about -15°F, which is an average temperature here in the winter, and the DIONIC 90 lasted far longer than the off-brand battery,” he points out.
Further underscoring his commitment, Weston says the evolution of Anton/Bauer’s products is a key factor. “I remember back when we shot film we used Anton/Bauer. But I don’t shoot film any more. Now, everything is HD, and that’s another reason why I like the company—because they keep their products up to date with the current technology.” He also cites the battery’s lightweight and portability as important features. “I’m usually shooting in very remote locations,” he adds. “Sometimes we’re on snowmobiles and sometimes we’re in small airplanes with just two or three seats. So the less gear I have to transport, the better. We usually take eight of the DIONIC 90 batteries with us, but I don’t recall a time when I’ve ever used all eight batteries. If I use three batteries in one day, I consider that a lot.”
A veteran photojournalist and videographer, Weston has been shooting news, documentaries and television shows in Alaska since 1971. He has covered some of the state’s most noteworthy events such as the famous gray whales rescue in Point Barrow in 1988 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound in 1989. And he was instrumental in arranging Alaska’s first ever live broadcast in 1992 with Good Morning America.
“My career behind the camera began with the Air Force as a photojournalist, and then I went to work as a civilian with the Department of Defense (DOD). I was in charge of all the photographic material (both film and stills) for this region of Alaska, which back then was considered the Pacific Northwest,” Weston says.
A self-described freelancer, Weston admits much career uncertainty after departing from the DOD. “I wasn’t really sure being a videographer was going to work in Alaska, then in 1992 ABC’s Good Morning America came here to cover the Distance Early Warning (DEW) Line, which is a live system of satellites in the Arctic Circle designed to warn the U.S. of an attack by Russia during the Cold War,” he explains “They asked me to be part of the show because of my military background, so naturally I said yes. It was a two-year project; I worked as a field producer, cameraman and editor. The show aired in 1994 and the ratings were through the roof. It turned people’s attention to Alaska and certainly opened a lot of doors for me.”