Into The Unknown

August 20, 2008

Shure UHF-R® Wireless Gives Voice to Miss Universe 2008 NHA TRANG, VIETNAM, August 20, 2008 — Eighty contestants competed this year at the Diamond Bay Resort's Crown Convention Center in the 57th Miss Universe beauty pageant. Broadcast globally on NBC, the event was the first major U.S.-based television production originating in Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. Bringing audio to the event proved to be a logistical challenge managed adroitly by Red Hook, NY-based Firehouse Productions Inc., which assembled the components needed for an entire PA in the U.S. and then shipped them to Vietnam with the aid of Rock-it Cargo USA. Purchased outright for permanent installation by the convention center, the system included a microphone package delivered directly from Shure Incorporated's world headquarters in Niles, Illinois. Transcending his role as the production mixer for the event, Thomas Holmes pulled additional duty as an audio consultant to the Miss Universe host committee. "There was certainly more than one challenge on this project, but I'd have to say that the unknown radio frequencies in the area were definitely a primary one," he relates. "We didn't have the equivalent of an FCC to tell us what frequencies we could or couldn't use, or what was even out there to begin with. What was known was that there was a large police and military presence, so the chance of being stepped upon by their transmissions was very real. Bottom line, going into the unknown like this, I wanted to make sure the wireless microphone systems we chose were very flexible, easy to use and set up. They had to do everything, and do it well." Shure UHF-R wireless systems with a variety of lavalier, headset, and handheld microphones were chosen to meet Holmes' design criteria. "I picked lavs and headsets that would be able to handle the widest range of uses," Holmes says, explaining his choices in more detail. "We used the lavs to capture the backstage feel of the show, so that viewers at home would feel like they were more of a part of the production, not just watching from the seats. The challenge there was transmitting through the sheer amount of bodies backstage, something the UHF-R systems had no problem managing." Host microphones working in the UHF-R platform were handheld Shure Beta 87C models, picked in part because of their polar patterns to combat high ambient crowd noise. "They also provide a nice balance between rejection and response," Holmes adds, "which is why I love them as a host mic in these types of applications." "Nothing even came close to giving us an interference problem," Holmes happily notes now that he's back stateside. "This may have been because of due diligence on Shure's part, but we did have a very clean environment. Beyond interference issues, UHF-R was invaluable in terms of setup. It is very frequency agile, and programming is a breeze: Fast and easy. We used Shure's Wireless Workbench® System Control Software as well, which makes the entire process a pleasant thing rather than drudgery." With tabloid talk show host Jerry Springer and the UK's Melanie Brown of the Spice Girls serving as presenters, Miss Venezuela, Dayana Mendoza, was ultimately crowned Miss Universe 2008 by outgoing titleholder Riyo Mori of Japan.