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  • Brady Gilliam

Chronic Wasting Disease: A Visionaery And Michigan State University Video Production Case Study Pt.2

Updated: Apr 9

Michigan State University - Visionaery Productions Video Production

Back On Board: A Unique Follow-Up Project With MSU

As the dust settled on our initial venture with Michigan State University (catch up on Part 1 here), a new opportunity quietly knocked on our door, heralding our return to the MSU campus for a sequel that promised to add another layer to our collaborative story.

This time, MSU approached us with a distinct challenge: to capture a series of interviews with their leading researchers, presenting their expert insights through explainer videos.

However, there was a twist in the plot—our visual storytelling would have to stand without the support of B-roll footage, relying solely on the power of the spoken word.

The venue for this gathering was the Kellogg Conference Center, chosen to host a specialized convention in the chilly backdrop of late January 2022. Here, MSU had planned to bring together a diverse group of experts from across the nation, each with their unique contributions to the world of research. This was more than just another event; it was a confluence of ideas and innovations, setting the stage for us to capture and share these insights in a new format.

Faced with the challenge of forgoing the visual dynamism of B-roll, we enthusiastically embraced the task. Our mission was clear: to delve into the essence of each researcher's work and present it in an engaging and enlightening way, ensuring the absence of visual aids would not diminish the impact of their groundbreaking ideas.

Check out the Michigan State University website to see our finished work.

Project Challenge

Our mission was set within the walls of the Kellogg Conference Center, where we aimed to establish an interview setup. This space was intended for researchers to share their latest insights and progress in the moments between conference sessions.

Our goal was twofold: to introduce the wider public to new research initiatives and to provide updates on the projects we had previously highlighted.

Undeterred by the scale of the task, we at Visionaery Productions eagerly accepted the challenge. With everything in place, we got to work, determined to shed new light on MSU's ongoing efforts to combat Chronic Wasting Disease through engaging video content.

Project Solution

These videos would be similar to training videos or corporate videos, with researchers speaking directly to the camera. Upon further contemplation of the project's needs, we decided that a three-camera setup would be the most effective way to approach the interviews. Given that no B-roll would supplement the researcher's dialogue, we wanted to introduce a motion dynamic to add interest and depth to the interviews.

The additional challenge led us to include a Dana Dolly slider in our setup, allowing us to capture smooth, lateral movements alongside our two fixed camera angles. MSU already had its marketing strategy in place, directly showcasing these videos to other researchers, legislators, and decision-makers.

While offering an enhanced viewing experience, this solution necessitated a larger crew and additional resources. Even so, we were confident that this was the optimal approach to ensure that our videos remained engaging and visually dynamic, despite the absence of B-roll footage.

Interested in working with Visionaery Productions? Talk to a video expert today!

Video Production Process


As we geared up for production, our small crew—comprising a Dana Dolly camera operator, a grip/gaffer, and a sound engineer—began gathering and renting the necessary equipment.

However, our plans hit a snag as the pandemic surged, forcing the researcher convention to pivot to a virtual format, jeopardizing our project. This shift meant losing out on interviewing out-of-state researchers, forfeiting our filming location, and facing the Herculean task of coordinating a new schedule.

Despite these hurdles, discussions with MSU sparked a turnaround. We moved the shoot to a local production studio and focused on local researchers for the interviews. This pivot not only kept the project alive but also reinvigorated our team.

Our immediate next steps involved locking in a new shoot date and meticulously planning the production schedule with MSU, tailoring interview questions to each researcher's expertise.

Location Scout Images

The aesthetic choice of a "Michigan State" green backdrop, showcasing the setup rather than a plain background, aimed to inject vibrancy and capture the essence of MSU's innovative research.

A pre-shoot location scout at the studio was crucial for logistical planning and visualizing the three-camera setup, ensuring we had a comprehensive grasp of the environment before filming day. This preparation allowed us to align our lighting plan and other technical aspects perfectly, setting the stage for a smooth transition into the production phase.


The day of principal photography dawned, bringing excitement and determination to handle any unforeseen challenges bolstered by our thorough prep with MSU and the crew. Early in the morning, our team was on-site, setting the stage for the day's interviews; each member dialed in, ready to spotlight MSU's pioneering research.

Our initial task was to establish where the interviewees would sit. We aimed for a setup that utilized the room's depth and visual appeal. We positioned our backdrop about 15 feet from the corner and prepared for the first shot.

Dennis Nagelkirk, our dolly camera operator, alongside Chad Miller, our grip/gaffer, setting up the Dana Dolly, and Sasa Slogar, our sound mixer, filled the room with light-hearted banter, keeping spirits high as they each tackled their setup duties.

Our gear for the day included a Canon C300 Mk III and two Canon C70s, paired with DZO Pictor Cine Zooms, prepared to capture every angle from wide to close-up shots with dynamic movements.

Lighting played a crucial role; we balanced the natural light with strategic artificial lighting to achieve the perfect ambiance. Our main light, an Aputure 600D, was softened with a diffusion panel, creating a flattering light on our subjects, while a Titan Tube added a backlight glow to both our subjects and the green backdrop. We balanced the lighting with a simple fill to soften shadows, ensuring our visuals had depth without dramatic contrast.

Greenery placed beside the backdrop and lit by an Aputure 300D added a final touch of vibrancy, completing our setup. With everything in place, we were poised to capture the compelling stories of MSU's research endeavors.

Behind The Scenes

After the two-hour initial setup phase, the craft services table was promptly arranged, recognizing the need to keep the crew and talent nourished throughout the lengthy day ahead. An assortment of snacks, including crackers, nuts, fruit snacks, and Clif bars, was prepared to suit various tastes. Ample supplies of water and coffee ensured hydration and provided a necessary caffeine boost.

Researchers arrived as planned, each directed first to Sasa, the sound engineer, for meticulous microphone setup and sound level adjustments. This step also briefly introduced the day's proceedings, setting a comfortable tone for the interviews. Despite the occasional disruption from passing trains, the combination of lavalier and boom microphones ensured high-quality audio capture.

Katie Ockert from MSU conducted the interviews, leveraging her established rapport with the researchers. The process was smooth, cycling through eight sessions with a well-timed lunch break from Jimmy Johns. Each researcher conveyed their insights clearly and confidently, making the content accessible and engaging.

The day concluded on a high note, with the team efficiently dismantling the setup and packing equipment within the allocated time, marking the wrap of a notably successful and content-rich shoot day.

Interview Stills


Back in the tranquility of our editing suite, the footage was securely transferred to our hard-drive array and backed up to the cloud, safeguarding against any potential data mishaps. Ensuring the security of our footage is a critical step, given the risks of corruption or loss.

Each interview was allocated its own timeline for editing, where files from the three cameras and audio sources were synchronized and trimmed to under ten minutes, a slight increase in duration to allow researchers more time to elaborate on their work, as requested by MSU.

The editing phase involved not just cutting but also selecting suitable royalty-free music. We chose subtle acoustic tracks that matched the interviews' tone and subject matter without distracting from the spoken content.

Following this, color correction and grading enhanced the footage's visual appeal, focusing on achieving vibrant colors and lifelike skin tones that helped the researchers visually pop against the backdrop. With the audio already expertly mixed, the task remained to fine-tune music levels to complement the narrative gently.

Titles and lower thirds were added to provide essential context and enhance viewer understanding. After completing this comprehensive edit, the drafts were sent to MSU for feedback and any further adjustments.

Final Deliverables

The revisions from MSU were minimal, leading us to the next phase: creating a variety of file types in different sizes and resolutions suitable for diverse distribution platforms.

Full Interviews

Impact and Conclusion

MSU expressed great satisfaction with the final outputs and promptly introduced the idea of embarking on another video venture, this time focusing on public education.

The new project on the horizon? A Public Service Announcement dedicated to raising awareness about Chronic Wasting Disease. Keep an eye out for our third installment, where we'll unfold the production journey of this impactful PSA for Michigan State University.

Partner With Visionaery Productions Today

As one of Michigan's top video production agencies, Visionaery Productions stands ready to elevate your next video project. Nestled in the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan, our comprehensive video production company boasts a seasoned team poised to craft high-caliber, compelling videos.

These creations are not just visually stunning; they're designed to engage your audience profoundly and catalyze results through strategic video marketing. No project is too grand or modest for us; Visionaery Productions navigates budgets and projects of every scale and scope.

Our expertise spans commercial, corporate, and drone video services. We collaborate with dynamic brands to transform their vision and values into creative video narratives. These narratives do more than tell a story; they connect, resonate with viewers, and echo the brand's mission.

Embark on your video marketing journey with Visionaery Productions. Schedule your discovery call today, and let us propel your vision to unparalleled heights!



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