by Kaitlyn Mitchell
This week, Stringr chatted with Stringr Pro Anthony Peltier, who has 10 years of professional freelance broadcast news filming experience, including with CBS shows from CBS Evening News to CBS This Morning. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Peltier has also done freelance videography work for NBC. The majority of his work has been weather* stories, but he has also worked on political events and on movies and television shows, like E.R., Joan of Arcadia, Spanglish, and Judging Amy.
Stringr: How did you hear about Stringr?
Peltier: I was connected to Stringr by CBS’ midwest bureau. At first, I was shocked that Stringr took iPhone footage, I saw it as a step down from professionally shot footage. But then I realized that you can’t always be somewhere where you can take your $10,000 camera with you.
Stringr: What methods have you employed to successfully sell your footage with Stringr?
Peltier: The weather channel sent me a notification on my iPhone – a big storm was headed for Minneapolis. It was just raining lightly, but was a really cool shot: people with umbrellas walking in the road, with the light rail in the background. Stringr wasn’t even asking for Midwest rain footage, I just whipped out my phone and started shooting, cut a little sequence together, uploaded it, and about 10-15 minutes later, somebody downloaded it.
Peltier: I worked with a camera crew here in Minneapolis. One of the guys was a dateline cameraman. He was based here in Minneapolis, and I got to tail along with him for a little bit. I didn’t realize at the time that I could be that kind of professional here in the Midwest. I thought that I had to move out.
Stringr: Do you have tips for Stringrs who have never shot footage for broadcast news?
Peltier: During my formal journalism broadcast training at Brown College, they taught us what it means to white balance a camera, how to check your back-focus, set your levels on your audio. Audio is super important. Even if you can’t get the shot, keep rolling. You might get audio, you never know. The microphone picks up everything. Put the camera down by your side, and keep rolling, and you might get a golden sound bite. News organizations won’t take footage if there is no sound to it.
The best advice I’ve ever been given is: Think like an editor when you’re getting your shots. Hold your shot for 10-20 seconds, then cut to another shot. To create a successful sequence, vary your shot. Wide-close-wide-close, extreme close. Make sure they match. Try to make the shots match, so it doesn’t look like the perspectives are all over the place. Get your wide and go close, maybe cut to another shot. Don’t let your audience get claustrophobic.
Stringr: What type of gear do you prefer to use when shooting for Stringr?
Peltier: I use my Panasonic HPX-170 often when shooting for Stringr. It shoots 1080p, if I need to.
Stringr: Last week, you successfully captured footage of Cecil the Lion’s killer, Dr. Walter Palmer returning to work. Walk us through your day.
Peltier: I got to the Dentist’s office just after 5am, and left just after lunch, when people were starting to wrap. I got a close-up of Dr. Walter Palmer, walking in in a white shirt. When he came back to work, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to walk right up to the front door. He’s that kind of man, who shoots a lion and claims “I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m going to walk in the front door.”
There were protesters, all the networks had their tents set up, cops had blocked off the street. People were there at five’o clock in the morning. Dr. Palmer had three of his secretaries or hygienists walk up to the office as well. Everyone was trying to ask questions, and they said, “No, we don’t want to talk about it.” Dr. Palmer had his own private security – one guy that looked like a secret service agent. The cops were there to keep everyone off of the private property – they shooed everyone back to the side walk. We had a chance to get a close-up three times: when Dr. Palmer arrived, when he left for lunch, when he came back from lunch, and when he left to go home.
I put up the raw footage – it’s like a 12-minute sequence, it took me a long time to upload. I uploaded from my computer in my car driving back from the dental office. I used my laptop and iPhone personal hotspot.
Stringr: How do you edit your video footage for Stringr?
Peltier: I was self-taught on Final Cut Pro. In 2005, I bought a $300 version of Final Cut – I bought it, loaded the program onto my computer, and I swore I was gonna learn it.
I’m not an editor, so I never got into Adobe Premier. I use it sometimes to edit footage if I’m working with a camera that final cut doesn’t recognize. Final Cut works for cutting little sequences together, and Panasonic cameras really do well with it. I keep the footage native on the timeline, cut my sequence together, compress it down, send it off.
Stringr: What’s the most extreme situation you’ve had while shooting weather footage?
Peltier: Two years ago, in March 2013, there was a big snowstorm all through Minneapolis. The Weather Channel hired me the entire day to do live shots in downtown Minneapolis, working with a sound guy. We had one of the weather channel anchors, every hour, every 20 minutes, we’d be doing updates for the local stations all over the country. That’s a challenge, because you’re outside, you’ve got an umbrella holding over your camera, you’ve also got a tent set up, and even if you’ve got gloves on, you’ve got to take them off to work the camera controls. You can’t exactly work a Zoom with your heavy gloves on. And not only that, you’ve got snowplows running alongside you, you’ve got a talent you’re looking out for, who’s also standing out there freezing – if you feel safe and comfortable, they’re gonna feel safe and comfortable. The biggest challenge is just making sure I had composure for that. It was six hours, and the storm was heavy, snow was just pouring down. There was just three of us – the talent, and the sound guy, and me.
Stringr: As a freelance videographer, how do you network?
Peltier: I was in New York just last year, and the FX show The Americans was shooting a couple of scenes on the street. I stood on the side of the street and was watching them shoot the entire scene for about four hours. I stayed out there, and got a chance to talk to the Director of Photography.
*Pro Weather Tip: If you go cover a hurricane, your camera’s going to get wet, unless you’ve got really good insurance. Make sure the camera’s covered with a Cotta waterproof bag, or if you can’t afford cotta gear, just put your rain slicker over it.