Saturday, September 11, 2010

Miss Universe 2010 - Las Vegas

The pictures and videos all got cropped weird. See the post in full at

Before we left for Las Vegas we were warned that we would barely have free time, may only be able to eat while on the run, and may be working more than 12 hours a day. The warnings were definitely true.

The first week was spent producing 83 web interview videos. This meant setting up an interview room, interviewing 83 girls, some of which speak english, some speak broken english, and some don't speak a word of english. We asked every girl a set of four questions, the final one being to make several sound effects. Breaking that language barrier is extremely difficult, but we managed to do it. You can check out all the web interviews on I thoroughly recommend checking out Sri-Lanka's sound effects.

[caption id="attachment_1097" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Cast and crew of the Chi Ninja! Matt, Miss Russia Irina Antonenko, Chi Ninja, and myself"][/caption]

Aside from these 83 videos, our team worked to produce a handful more videos about the events, and commercials for sponsors. We teamed up for a couple of them, including the Chi Ninja, and a commercial for the new MUO Magazine. I edited both of these pieces, and they both turned out extremely well. Watch for the MUO Magazine Commercial during the live preliminary competition webcast!

[caption id="attachment_1098" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="A still from the MUO Mag commercial"][/caption]

One of the other pieces that I produced was a video on the "controversial" Fadil Berisha photo shoot. I spent parts of four days by the private pool filming girls in bikinis (and not in bikinis) being bodypainted and photographed. There were several girls who decided to shoot topless, and so it was then my job to film topless women. Then getting into editing, it was again my job to go frame by frame and cover the topless women with blur spots. So about a week of my life was spent looking at topless women.

It has really been an interesting experience. The majority of the girls are very nice, and enjoy chatting. It's pretty interesting that a good portion of the girls only recently got involved in beauty pageants, many of them within the last year or so. Some of the girls seem like they would be a lot of fun to hang out with. Ireland for example, is a riot, and she seems like someone who knows how to have a good time. Doing the web interviews and little events with the girls, you can really see the girl's personalities.

And here is a still from the National Costume parade. These things are awesome.

[caption id="attachment_1099" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Venezuela, Marelisa Gibson and her "wing of death""][/caption]


Last night was the Miss Universe 2010 preliminary show. The 83 ladies strutted across the stage a few times in a gown and a bathing suit, and the nerves were high. Because NBC is running the cameras and everything, we were shooting the BTS (behind the scenes). So as soon as the girls left the stage my camera was in their face getting their reactions, their nervousness, and their dancing. I can tell the girls who are confident, and those who are scared. Luckily the girls understood that they could let loose and say whatever they wanted, because I'm not shooting for TV.

The webcast also featured a whole bunch of videos that I had a hand in making. The MUO Magazine Promo was really well received. It's always cool to see thousands of people reacting to your videos. The "ooh"s and "aah"s and cheering was great. The CHI Ninja ad also played.

And here is the first week of my time in Las Vegas in a four-minute video. I was at the "controversial" bikini/bathing suit/topless photo shoot. I was filming everything from hair and makeup, body painting, photographing, photoshopping, etc. And yes, there were topless girls everywhere. They all had pasties or tape covering their nipples, and most of them were completely painted over. The body paint was pretty cool, and I was bummed when some of my favorite body-paint work didn't make the final photos.


Congratulations to Ximena Navarrete on taking the title of Miss Universe 2010! Ximena (she prefers to spell her name with an X rather than a J) is absolutely beautiful, naturally too.

Ximena is the last MUO lineup change that I will be a part of during my internship, and it's been a lot of fun welcoming two new girls to the organization with Kamie and now Ximena.

So the tail end of Las Vegas was chaos. As soon as the pageant ended we produced our webcast, and then I was assigned the duty of following Ximena for the next few days, capturing her first days as Miss Universe 2010. The night after she won we went to the after party at LAX at Luxor, where after some ID/security scuffles, we got in. There were hundreds of people packing the club and we shuffled into the VIP area. It was shoulder-to-shoulder, and in these situations the guy with the camera usually gets shoved back away. And so was the case. But being pushed back away from Ximena's section of the VIP area meant I was standing three feet in front of The Roots, who has performed at the show earlier in the night with John Legend. After a crack on how security and media never can get along, I chatted with them for a bit, and snapped a couple pictures before we left the club. I really hate that I never get my picture taken with celebrities, but then again the only camera I'm always lugging around is a big professional camera that very few people actually know how to use and I would never hand off in a club...

[caption id="attachment_1110" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Captain Kirk Douglas, Owen Biddle, and Quest Love of The Legendary Roots Crew"][/caption]

It was then an early call for a photo shoot around Las Vegas. We shot around Mandalay Bay, and then wandered down to Bellagio, where they had set up three fountain shows just for us. The fountains usually would not be running at the time, and usually runs one show every 15 minutes, but with one phone call Miss Universe had three shows back-to-back. It was very cool.

And now I'm back in New York, and we've dragged Jimena with us. It's raining. I'm happy to see water again. It's been quite a journey living out of a Las Vegas hotel room for the past three weeks, but it's an experience I will never forget. I met some great people, both production staff and beauty queens who I plan to stay in touch with, and who made my experience even more memorable.

So to end this post, here are a handful of my favorite pictures from the Vegas trip.

[caption id="attachment_1111" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Yendi Phillipps (Jamaica) brought an autographed pair of Usain Bolt's running shoes to the National Gift Auction"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1117" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Australia 2010, Jesinta Campbell"][/caption]

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Try walking in my shoes"

"Try walking a mile in my shoes," she says.
"Sorry, high heels aren't really my thing."

It's been a bit since I've posted up about my adventures in the pageant world. Since Shanghai, I visited Michigan with Rima Fakih, miss USA, for her official homecoming since winning the USA pageant. It was a crazy experience, but it was a lot of fun. I got to meet her family and friends, her dog, get a tour of her hometown of dearborn, and attend several large events held in her honor. She also received the key to the city of Dearborn. The last day of the trip was spent at the ballpark, where Rima threw the first pitch at a Tigers game. I got to be out on the field and shoot some images. Fun little trip for sure.

The next major event was spent in Nassau, Bahamas for the 2010 Miss Teen USA pageant. Both Matt and I attended this week-long extravaganza of shooting, editing, and producing a live webcast that ended up being viewed by over a quarter of a million people. During this we also each produced a package for the web and a package for the webcast. I got the experience of being kicked by a dolphin tail several times while shooting with both the former Miss Teen USA Stormi Henley, as well as several of the contestants at the Atlantis resort. I was also yelled at by a sea lion.
Our first production on-location was by far the most complicated, and was the introduction to the entire webcast. Matt, as well as Colin and Tom from MUO ran three-cameras and I ran sound as Stormi ran around the Atlantis resort. It was a lot of fun, and ended up being quite a bit of work for me as it was very windy and audio was often pushed to the side during production. Lots of audio foley and post-editing.
In the end production went well, and we managed to get an hour here and there to relax in the lazy river and hot bahamas sun. Lots of work for sure.
Kamie Crawford (Miss Teen Maryland) was crowned the new Miss Teen USA, and we've been running around all over the place working with her and all her publicity events. She's a really fun girl, and you will start seeing many videos that we produced showing up on
Next up we go to Las Vegas, Nevada for most of the month of August. Doubtful that we'll have time to post up on the blog as we are scheduled to produce over 100 web videos in the course of 2 weeks, and then produce three live webcasts. Yeah.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Matt Goes To India

Hello Readers,

We have been swamped here at MUO the past few weeks with Jeff going to Shanghai and Detroit and myself going to India. I just returned from India this past Monday, and I must say that it was an incredible experience. This internship is better than anything I could have dreamed of. The purpose of the trip was for Miss Universe to travel around India with Sanjana Jon in order to raise HIV/AIDS awareness. We went to several locations and met a ton of new people. At many of the places we went there were countless members of the press and media. I had to fight tooth and nail against swarms of Indian press to get the shots that I needed. We did several interesting things including: interviews in which Miss Universe (Stefania) cooked and tried Indian cuisine, a trip to the India Gate, a few photo shoots, and even two fashion shows held in honor of Stefania's tour for HIV/AIDS awareness.

Stefania and her travel manager (Roston) were awesome in assisting me on my first trip. I have learned SO much. Working with a “Universal” icon, if you will, has truly opened my eyes into what is certainly the life as a member of the professional media and/or press. I’ve learned that it is not easy to balance professionalism and courtesy while still getting the shots you need to put together an interesting, informative piece on your subject matter. In addition to these things I have learned first hand, the stresses and pressures of working in this type of a time constrained environment. An environment in which the action never stops, and in which you always need to be on your toes and on top of your game. There is no possibility of pick up shots later, because, well, you'll be on the other side of the world. This trip has also granted me experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life. It would take pages to express all the moments that touched my life on this trip. Not necessarily moments that changed my life, but moments that I got to experience. In the places we were staying there was no real “culture shock,” or noticeable extreme poverty. In fact, I truly believe from what I have heard and the people that I have talked to on my adventure, that within the next 10-20 years, India will be one of the worlds most dominant super powers, possibly even stronger than the United States. They have the knowledge, the will, and most importantly, the numbers to turn themselves into one of the most economically profitable countries in the world. This is my humble opinion, but time will tell.

Next on the to do list will be the Bahamas for the Miss Teen USA Pageant, then off to Los Angeles for a few days, and then the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas for the better part of August.

Here are a few photos of me doing my thing in India:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jeff Goes To Shanghai, China

I'm going to do this the easy way, and follow a chunk of text with a chunk of pictures.
Week three of this internship I was shipped out. I spent the last week in Shanghai, China with Miss USA Rima Fakih. The 2010 World Expo is being held in Shanghai, and Rima was invited by the USA Pavilion to host the USA National Day celebration and make several appearances around Shanghai and the Expo.
Due to some flight complications I was flown out a day early, and got to hang out in Shanghai an extra night. I took the time to wander around some places near our hotel. There was a massive mall across the street, and when I say massive, I mean 12 stories tall and hundreds and hundreds of stores. Then when the sun set I noticed the real Shanghai. I knew china was technologically advanced, but the lights blew my mind. LED lights lined every building, road, and tree. I snapped a few pictures, and went back to the hotel. We are bunked up at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong. The hotel had been open nine days before we showed up. I think I'm the first person to sleep in that bed. It was awesome, huge, and nice. Probably the nicest hotel i've ever stayed at.
Some history of Shanghai I learned over the trip, is that Shanghai has been more or less built in the last 20 years. And they are constantly building. Looking out the window of the hotel, I can see five buildings in construction. It's nonstop, and they keep getting taller and taller.
In the morning I went to the airport with a few USA Student Ambassadors to pick up Rima and Esther, MUO staff. We shot a bit of footage at the airport, and checked in at the hotel for the night.
Official day 1 was spent touring Shanghai with Allison, our USAP coordinator, and Joy (USAP staff). We visited the highest observation deck in the world, located on the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center. The whole place was like a spaceship, and then the view was incredible (picture below). We then toured around the old side of the river, which was still fairly urban.
Day 2 we headed to the World Expo. We stopped by the USA pavilion for Rima's introduction to the media, a couple news interviews, and then a photo op with all the USA pavilion staff. We then went to a few country pavilions. Our tour consisted of France, Germany, Lebanon, and China. My favorite was Germany, followed closely by China. The german pavilion showed Germany very well, and you could get a good sense of what life in Germany is like. Landscapes, gardens, arts, and then technology and industry. Everything was covered. Plus the germans took us to the VIP room after the tour where we relaxed in the air conditioning. The chinese pavilion was technology heaven, with a massive projection wall with a large animation of an ancient chinese village. There were fake trees filled with LED lights, and then real plants with soil-less nutrition covering the ceiling. There was also a really cool film depicting three generations of Chinese life, projected on four massive screens. Three on the wall, one on the ceiling. Crazy stuff. The Chinese also took us back to the VIP area of their pavilion, and explained some of the behind-the-scenes of the making of the video, and the pavilion itself.
That night we attended a dinner party at the home of TV personality and businesswoman Yue-Sai Kan. She is very well known in Shanghai, and does a lot of business in America as well. Let's just say that this party was well-attended. Harry Conick Jr. was in attendance, as well as the former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and several other White House staff members. I can check "get stopped from filming by the secret service" of my list of things to do before I die.
The next day we visited a couple more pavilions, including the official USA Pavilion tour, and the Saudi-Arabia pavilion. This day also was USA National Day at the Expo. Every country gets a "national day" where they can parade, and hold special activities and shows to display the country. Rima started the day by riding a float in the parade, led by the University of Southern California Trojan marching band. It was hot, and I was running back and forth around the parade getting the shots I needed. By the end of the parade I was a sweaty mess. But so was everyone else. I felt real bad for the marching band. I know how hot those uniforms get, and the weather was miserably hot. Despite the heat, Rima had a lot of fun. She danced around and waved to the crowd. There was an American dance troop on the float behind her blasting pop music, and at one point they wandered up to her float and starting dancing with her. It was a good time and made for good video.
Post-parade, it was time for rehearsal for the nights performance. When we showed up the marching band was on-stage, and Rima was asked to guest-direct one song. Without hesitation she obliged, and ended up doing it in the actual show as well. Rima and the translator didn't get a chance to rehearse their opening dialogue on-stage, and went backstage quickly to get as much practice in as possible. After a quick wardrobe change and some makeup, Rima was ready to go. A couple more run-throughs with the translator, the lights went down and they went on stage. Everything went smooth as butter. The event was well-received and Harry Conick Jr.'s performance was really entertaining.
The last day was made up of visiting a hospital and discussing breast cancer and treatment with several doctors, and then attending a 4th of July event for American EXPATs (Expatriates) in China. Again it was miserably hot, but Rima had a good time hosting a watermelon eating contest, and taking pictures with everyone.
In closing, the trip was an amazing experience, and considering it was part of an internship it was unbelievable. I have so many people to thank and I can't name them all, but I really want to thank Miss Universe president Paula Shugart for allowing me to be a part of the program and visit China.
So.... photos?

The blue dude is named "Haibo" and is the mascot for the 2010 Expo. He was everywhere.

Rima purchasing some tea.

(For more of all of this, visit my personal blog at Sorry OU people,
but this software is kinda difficult to use. I use wordpress, and am able to do alot more, so I
post more there.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

See you in Shanghai!

The second week at the Miss Universe Organization was very similar to the first. Lots of editing, organizing, graphic design, etc. I've designed a bunch of "promos" for the Miss USA website (the graphics that run on the top of the screen, linking to videos), as well as edited a few. I also have done a bit of shooting, going out to a disclosed globally-known feather-craftsman's shop and filming Miss USA have a makeup lesson with a world renowned makeup artist.
I'm starting to get used to everything, but still working through some kinks. I'm really going to have to work through them fast, as I leave on sunday for Shanghai, China for a week with Miss USA. We will be at the Shanghai World Expo until July 3rd. I'm going to keep this post short, but expect an extended one during/after the trip. My cameras will be in hand at all times, so I'll have some pictures.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Week 1 at MUO

The first week of work at the Miss Universe Organization has been really fun, and I can tell I am going to enjoy the next 6 months. Everyone at MUO is really great, and the office atmosphere is very relaxed. Everyone seems to enjoy what they are doing. Day 1 both Miss Universe Stefania Fernandez and Miss USA Rima Fakih wandered into the New Media department to chat with Colin our boss, and we (Matt and I, the new interns) were introduced. Teen USA Stormi Henley was hanging around for most of wednesday, and after saying hi to us, threw on a remarkably realistic wig and wandered around the office.

All of the work we’ve done so far has been in front of a computer. Installing software, rendering video, converting video, organizing video. We’ve each had our hand at a bit of video editing as well. I cut together a web video for Miss USA, about her photoshoot with photographer Fadil Berisha (viewable here). Matt cut together a video blog with Miss Universe that we shot before she and USA went off to Rwanda for a week or so. That should be online monday. We also had some time to play a mini round-robin tournament of connect four.

Outside of work, we’ve been doing some wandering around NYC. On Sunday before we started we made the venture out to the corner of 9th and 34th, home of the infamous B&H Photo/Video. This megastore is the mecca of video and photography nerds, with every product imaginable sitting out on shelves for you to play with, and eventually purchase. There are salespeople in every isle, and every person is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. On this trip I managed to hold myself back from impulse buys, and purchased the things I was planning to buy.

Mariana from work organizes random outings to do every couple weeks, and on tuesday she wandered into our office and asked “Does anyone want to go fencing on thursday?”. Not to pass up on an opportunity like this, we agreed, and last night we wandered down to a fencing studio off of times square. We got an hour-and a half lesson on fencing techniques, and got to fence each other for the last half hour. It was actually really fun, and I learned a lot about the techniques and rules of sabre fencing.

So at the end of week 1 I am thoroughly enjoying my experience in NYC, and I can’t wait to start traveling and shooting with the girls

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chapter 1: Lost in New York

Hello Friends and Family,

Many of you may be wondering how this whole Miss Universe Internship started for me, and how I got on board. I couldn't believe the opportunity myself when I first heard about it. I suppose it all started with a few short conversations with my friend (and co-intern) Jeff Kolada, and Nicole Little. That is all it took for me to become interested in the Miss Universe Organization, and the internship they offer to Ohio University students biannually. Before I knew it (with a lot of help from Tina Stewart and Beth Novak) I was sending in my application, and receiving emails about my starting date.

Jeff and I arrived here the morning of June the 12th with bins full of personal belongings, hearts full of excitement, and not to mention, no real place to live. We are currently staying with Jeff's Aunt and Uncle, and his two cousins David and Jacob, all of which have been overly accommodating and extremely friendly. Their house is in Flushing, Queens, which is about a 45 minute commute from where we work on the corner of 56th st. and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. After a weekend of readying ourselves and becoming familiar with the city, Jeff and I started work on Monday. We were introduced around our humble little office, high up in this beautiful skyscraper, and were put to work almost immediately. My task: piece together an intro for the Miss Teen USA pageant. A pageant that airs to hundreds of thousands of people, mind you. I set to work ripping DVDs of past pageants and slowly but surely compiling all of the "crowning moments" from 27 years worth of Miss Teen USA pageants. This piece will eventually be part of the opening of the actual Miss Teen USA show. We also did a video blog for Miss Universe on the first day which should be published to the Miss Universe youtube channel within the next couple of days. Everyone here at MUO has been very friendly and helpful getting me started. I can't wait to get to know everyone better.

There is quite a bit of travel on the horizon for Jeff and I. Jeff leaves for Shanghai, China on June 28th, and theres possible trips to India, Detroit, and the Bahamas (among a few other possibilities) for me before the actual Teen USA pageant in the Bahamas near the middle of July. Following the Teen pageant, Jeff and I will be sent off to Las Vegas for just about the entire month of August. Needless to say, having never traveled abroad, I am ecstatic.

This city is nothing short of awesome, and this internship is nothing short of an amazing gift. Being able to get up and come to a place like this every morning to do what I love, is honestly a wonderful dream come true. A dream I will enthusiastically continue to blog about for those interested.

Kevin McCallister survived a few days alone by himself in New York. So this next six months should be a breeze for me, right? Fortunately for me, I'm a few years older, and hopefully, a few years wiser than my childhood idol, and I can not wait to embark on the journey that has been laid out in front of me.