Sean and Hannah - Proposal Video

Concept

About a month ago, a good friend from college, Sean, asked me to help him capture his proposal to his girlfriend, Hannah. Incidentally this is the third proposal in four weeks that I've either filmed or photographed - but what Sean wanted was different. He wanted this to be big and for the final product to capture the full complexity, intentionality, and emotion of the evening. The night was going to involve a lot of steps and a lot of people - so we assembled an excellent team of videographers to capture everything.

Because of the complexity, I felt there was a risk that the viewer of the video wouldn't understand what was happening at each step of the proposal. So I decided to have Sean narrate the audience through what was about to happen - then end his narration with Hannah arriving to the scene overlooking the city where Sean stood waiting. I wanted the audience to discover the proposal unfolding with a little guiding help from Sean, aware of what was happening and trusting, but unsure of what was coming next - in a similar perspective as Hannah.

Jill's first editing blitz - such a trooper!

Jill's first editing blitz - such a trooper!

Production

Myself, Laken Kimsey, and Joshua Jones filmed throughout the evening; Laken was with me following Hannah, and Joshua stayed behind with Sean while he waited for Hannah to arrive. As far as I know, Hannah had no idea Laken and I were there filming when she "ran into Bryce and Shockley" in downtown Knoxville. So here we are, four guys walking a girl blindfolded to a car in a parking garage on a Friday night, and obviously a lot of people noticed. Once I told a few that we were taking her to her surprise proposal, we had a crowd of followers giggling and filming on their smartphones just behind us. It was hilarious.

We actually planned on all of this taking place during sunset, which was good because much of the proposal was going to take place in a forest. But a short delay and it was almost dark by the time we got Hannah to the location. Even with a lens switch for the low light, it was dark. All three of the cameramen were struggling to get anything to show up on camera.

After the proposal, we drove to my parents' house in a nearby town where all of Sean and Hannah's friends and family awaited - again, unknown to her. These are the shots you see in the video following "She said yes!"

Laken and I went to my office immediately after the party to begin editing. Laken was one of the primary guys that I worked with on the Refuge film in 2012 and following graduation we really hadn't gotten to work together very often - so editing a friend's project together was great. Laken and I work well together and have a similar eye for details and the flow of the narrative. There is only one other person that I edit with as well as I do Laken. We actually edited the video until about 4am.

Again, the trouble with a good portion of our footage was the darkness. All of our cameras generated enormous amounts of noise on whatever was seeable - so editing involved a fair deal of color correction in Final Cut. A major tool in that process was a noise reduction plugin from Neat Video. This plugin completely removed the noise without sacrificing any sharpness. Before we had a lot of shots covered in colored noise that was indistinguishable from the action. After we applied the plugin, the footage was totally smooth. Videos like this prove how a little extra work in refining the quality of the picture drastically improves the product. "Hashtag Worth it".

The song in the video is "When I'm with You" by Ben Rector - a song that played in the car while Hannah was blindfolded. In this video, I alternated between the instrumental and the regular version.

All in all - I've never seen an engagement video. But I was really happy with how this turned out.

Equipment

  • Canon EOS 70D
  • Canon EOS T3i (2)
  • Canon EFS 18-135mm
  • Canon EF 50mm
  • Rode VideoMic (2)
  • Mac Pro (late 2013)
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Neat Video Noise Plugin