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Release Your Inner Ken Burns

Release Your Inner Ken Burns

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Published by Moultrie Creek
This instruction sheet offers ideas for building your own photo documentary using techniques similar to those used by Ken Burns.
This instruction sheet offers ideas for building your own photo documentary using techniques similar to those used by Ken Burns.

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Published by: Moultrie Creek on Oct 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Release Your Inner Ken Burns
Denise Barrett Olson
Like many others, I am a huge fan of Ken Burns. He has turned the
historical documentary into an art form. The Civil War was one of the
most compelling programs I ever watched on television - followed by
Baseball, JAZZ and The National Parks. Not only am I mesmerized by the
story being told, I'm impressed that he used some very simple techniques
to tell it. With Civil War, most of the visuals were drawn from historical
photos documenting that war. He made those photos come alive with a
simple technique that moved across and into each photo, giving both
movement and focus to a specific point or person. That technique is now
named for him - the Ken Burns effect.
Mr. Burns' Civil War is an excellent example of how to create a
compelling family documentary from basic components. In addition to
historical photos, he included recent photos of historic sites, adding to the
sense of place. The narrative included excerpts from personal letters and
journals read by actors who made you feel the original authors were
speaking. He used these simple, but elegant techniques to create an
impressive history.
We family historians can use these same elements to create our own
family documentaries. We may not want to tackle a project as large as
Mr. Burns' epics, but we do have many compelling stories of our own and
this is a great way to bring them to life.
You probably already have the tools you need to create your
documentary right on your computer. Windows users have Movie Maker,
Photo Gallery and Sound Recorder. Mac users have iPhoto, iMovie and
Garage Band. Add either Microsoft Office, iWork or OpenOffice.org and
you have your own production studio ready and waiting for you.
Let’s get started.
The Storyboard
A storyboard is a collection of sketches and notes used to visualize
what you want your documentary to look like. This not only helps you
build your story's timeline, but is a good way to choose which graphical
elements will be used and where. You can use note cards for your
storyboard, shuffling them around until you're happy with the timeline.
Even sticky notes could serve the purpose. I've found that my
presentation software - iWork’s Keynote - works best for me.
Release Your Inner Ken Burns
I start by using Keynote's Outline view to build my story points. It's easy
to move a topic around in the outline - just drag the slide to the new
location. Here, I've decided that the Scenic Ranch slide should come
right after the Wild West & Old Florida Collide slide, so all I need to do is
drag the slide in the Outline pane until I have it where I want it.
Release Your Inner Ken Burns

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