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Ken Burns Effect

In his documentaries, Burns often gives life to still photographs by slowly zooming in on subjects of interest and panning from one subject to another. For example, in a photograph of a baseball team, he might slowly pan across the faces of the players and come to a rest on the player the narrator is discussing. This has been called the Ken Burns effect.

The effect can be used as a transition between clips as well. For example, to segue from one person in the story to another, he might open a clip with a close-up of one person in a photo, then zoom out so that another person in the photo becomes visible. This is especially practicable when covering older subjects where there is little or no available film. The zooming and panning across photographs gives the feeling of motion, and keeps the viewer visually entertained.

This technique has become a staple of documentaries, slide shows, presentations, and even screen savers. In film editing, non-linear editing systems such as iMovie and iPhoto (from Apple Computer, which also uses this effect for most of its screensavers) often include an effect or transition called Ken Burns Effect, with which a still image may be incorporated into a film using this kind of slow pan and zoom. It is also seen in screensavers that slowly pan and zoom through a slide show of digital photographs on a computer's hard disk. It is interesting to note that Ken Burns does not receive monetary compensation for the use of this technique, although he has an agreement with Apple to provide computers for Children.

The effect has also been implemented by Nokia in their N73 smartphone, applied to the slideshows the phone creates from the pictures stored in it. [4] The term has also been used less formally to refer to a person who gains an increased degree of celebrity after appearing in a Burns documentary. Such people include Shelby Foote and Buck O'Neil.

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