San Francisco based Director and Cinematographer Ruben Contreras and the crew at Sybex Studios were amongst the first to get hands-on with the new slimline, lightweight Titon SL90 battery. Find out how they got on powering Small HD monitors, Gemini lights and the Canon C300 MKII all day with no compromise.
Ruben Contreras has a passion for imagery. A visual artist, Ruben’s interest in cinematography was piqued while studying game design at Hollywood’s Gnomon School of Visual Effects. A teacher suggested that he bought a camera to understand the way the light works. The rest, as they say is history…
Today, Ruben runs Sybex Studio, a successful San Francisco based creative studio working with passionate cinematographers and post-production editors to create stimulating visual content using the latest editing techniques and equipment. Together they make commercials, video marketing presentations, trailers, event coverage and narrative films for clients including some of the biggest names in tech. With his background in graphic design, visual effects and digital sculpting, Ruben brings a unique perspective to Sybex Studio projects.
Ruben uses the new Anton/Bauer Titon SL 90 to power all his equipment on set, including SmallHD Cine monitors, Litepanels’ Gemini 1x1 and 2x1 RGBWW LED panels and his Canon C200mkII camera. This combination proved to perfect when Sybex were called on to create some dynamic visuals for a Mercedes dealership to promote the prestige G-Class SUV.
Mac House Studio in San Francisco’s Fremont district provided the location. “It’s the perfect studio for cars, they have a huge overhead softbox and large curved white cyc wall,” Says Ruben, “With the overhead softbox providing a wide soft white light, we used two Gemini 2x1 lights mounted on dolly stands to create rays of light across the car to give the impression of movement and speed.” He adds, “With the lights moving around the car on the dollys, we could avoid trailing wires - keeping the set nice and clean – by powering them with Anton/Bauer Titon SL batteries. The square shape of the Gemini created dynamic lines of light across the car that looked really cool.”
It’s all in the detail
Ruben used the Litepanels Gemini 1x1 as a smaller light source, creating a focussed beam on the front of the car to pick up detail on the grill and logo.
The Titon SL batteries were perfect on this shoot, we could just move around the car handholding the light, we didn’t need to worry about trailing power cords or people tripping over and they just lasted forever we didn’t have to change one battery at all for the entire shoot. Even running the lights at full intensity.”
The lightweight and compact design of Gemini lights means they well suited to projects where agility and flexibility are necessary. “Gemini is perfect for me because it has the ballast right inside,” says Ruben, “I don’t have to carry any extra parts, to run it on AC or at full power from a battery, its compact, and because it’s not heavy at all, I can hand-hold it to get really creative.” Adding, “Especially for music videos. On battery power, I can just move the lights around to get movement and special effects. I can rotate the light or bounce off the ceiling with no lighting stands. Handheld lighting really pushes our creativity.”
From virtual possibility to actual reality
For creative lighting, Ruben’s unique approach sets his work apart from others. “I’ve never set out to emulate anyone,” he says, “I use my knowledge of designing light inside games to light my sets. Inside of the gaming world you can use any light, practical, directional, spotlights, incandescent, pretty much any light you can think of is inside those 3D platforms so I just use that as a reference to light in the actual world. That’s how I learned to light.” He adds, “I’m very visual. I see if something is right with my eyes rather than looking numbers on a board.”
On set, Ruben keeps track of his artistic vision with a SmallHD Cine7 monitor powered by Anton/Bauer’s slimline Titon SL90 battery.
Running the SmallHD monitor with the SL batteries is the perfect fit, it just feels good in your hand. The form factor looks amazing, it’s like the batteries are made for these monitors.”
It’s good to have lots of connections on the batteries to share power, I use the P-Tap and USB ports to power my accessories. Another great thing about running the SmallHD monitor from the Titon battery is that it sends accurate status information right to the monitor which was amazing, saves time looking at the battery that’s very cool.”
Cameras, monitors, lights and more…
Using one type of battery to power the camera, monitor and lights we as revelation. “The Titon SL V-lock batteries were all we needed.” says Ruben.
"They were slim and light enough to give us agile and flexible movement around the set yet still powerful enough to run not only the camera and monitor all day but also the powerful Gemini lights. He adds, “In the past you needed one type of battery for the camera, another for the lights and another for the monitor and all the different chargers, with Titon I can run everything with one simple battery solution.”