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Old November 6th, 2006, 10:07 PM   #1
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Explosion Proof???

I have a shoot in a chemical plant next week. They do not normally allow any electronics into the plant (such as cell phones) and have asked me to make sure my camera (Canon XL-1) is "Explosion Proof".

I guess this means the make sure it doesn't omit any static electricity or sparks...so no monitors or lights, but what about the camera??? Kind of hard to shoot without it. Has anyone ever had any similar experiences and is my XL-1 "Explosion Proof"?

Thanks
~mike
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Old November 6th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #2
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On the one hand, I understand extra vigilance while operating a chemical plant.

On the other hand, any place that is so paranoid to disallow cell phones may not see clearly when dealing with a camera. Cell phones present less explosion hazard than people. It is people, and the static electricity that can build up in/on the body and clothing, that causes the seemingly spontaneous fires at gas stations that have been erroneously attributed to cell phones.

Have you ever had a static shock when touching your camera? Probably not, but it is possible. Have you ever been shocked by your cell phone? I have not been shocked when touching either of these devices, but I have been shocked when touching cars and doorknobs. Does the factory ban door knobs and vehicles?

What they need to worry about is static buildup, and that is something only they can cure by putting in anti-static equipment. Ask about their anti-static equipment and what you can do to prevent buildup yourself. Static charge is caused by the interaction of conducters and insulators. If they have anti-static clothing, ask for a set. Follow the same safety procedures as the plant employees to make them more comfortable with your presence.

The one thing you can do is not change the battery on your camera while in the plant. A small spark could be caused when the contacts engage. Make sure your battery can stay locked in place. Perhaps you could not power cycle the camera to ensure the power contact can't have a spark. These contacts are in an enclosed area and should not propogate a flame, but you can at least do everything conceivable to help.

The LCD monitor of a camera shouldn't cause the static buildup that happens on CRT monitors.

The metal that causes sparks when striking the ground is primarily iron. This is why natural gas and propane workers use brass tools. Cameras shouldn't contain any significant source of iron.

Ask them to provide the light sources like flashlights. They must use some sort of flashlights.

Honestly, any environment that could have a detonation hazard is unlikely to be habitable by human beings. Unless they have a serious leak, you are probably not going to cause a problem. If they have a leak, proceed immediately to the nearest exit and RUN! Don't forget to record any fireballs, etc...
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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:13 AM   #3
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Mike,

I know very little about this, but I'm pretty sure there is some sort of specific rating/status they're speaking of, one that's certified by an official body such as Underwriter's Laboratories.

I know I've heard of/seen such equipment in hospitals, where they have to be careful with the sometimes oxygen rich environments there. Same goes for certain mining operations with buildups of dangerous gasses.

So I'd assume what they're talking about is very serious business, but at the same time, in my years of productions, I've never seen any (production) cameras with such a rating. This includes all manner and level of video cameras to 35mm motion pic cameras.

So in the end, if they want video of the facility from ANY camera, they're either going to have to play ball with you or help you make the camera safe for their plant (bag the camera?)
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Old November 7th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #4
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you can easily make your equipment "explosion proof" by enclosing it into an underwater box or bag.
for the lights, a led system would be ok, as long as connectors are encased in plastic (something you can find into car accessory shop).
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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:19 PM   #5
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OK...thanks for the info.

I don't think we really need lights anyway, it's all very well lit.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:44 PM   #6
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I really like Giroud's idea. Just remember that plastic is an insulator and can build up a static charge. Anti-static procedures should still be observed, especially since humidity is usually very low in winter.
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Old November 7th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #7
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By "Explosion Proof", I believe they might mean "Intrinsically Safe".

This, in my opinion, means that the voltages used in the device are so low that it can not possibly create a spark. So, if one threw the camera on the ground, or shorted a battery, no sparks could fly.

In the 1980's I had a pager than used a 1.2 volt battery and it was "Intrinsically Safe".

I do not believe that a camera with a Lithium-Ion battery could obtain an "Intrinsically Safe" designation.

However, you may be able to convince them your equipment is safe. I would discuss it with them and ask what would be acceptable before I used an underwater case.

I recommend that you consider your liability.
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Old November 8th, 2006, 04:13 PM   #8
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static

Hi
I worked for a company once where people handled electronic parts as they assembled circuit boards. There was a floor that was polished with speical anti-static wax. They work special anti-static lab coats and shoes. They also had a wrist strap that grounded them as they were sitting at a table. The strap was attached to the bench by a coiled wire (like old telephones) that would allow a certain amount of movement around the bench. The longer the cord, the further you could go. They could also detach the strap and move to another bench. Maybe this company you're shooting have some way to ground carts or equipment that's being moved around. You might be able to ground your camera the same way. My company had a department of people to advise on the technical aspects of anti-static. Your company must have similar people to ask about your camera.
Tim
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Old November 8th, 2006, 05:11 PM   #9
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I heard back from them about the issue. They are going to have some sort of meter that will travel with us around the plant that will let us know if there's any areas that contain any fumes or anything that would explode. If there is, than we don't shoot in that part of the facility.

Thanks for the input guys.
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