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]