The War,Ken Burns Film

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    • #37103

      Just saw the first eposide of the "The War" a new PBS series by Ken Burns. Looks like this series will be great. I am interested in the video techniques that Ken Burns uses to do interviews, especially the lighting and backgrounds. It appears that they may be shooting against a greenscreen? Anyone know anything about this?

    • #164466


      Havent read his bio. And havent seen his latest piece. Only did quick research which did not yield an answer on this, so I am guessing in my conclusion down below.

      Ken Burns is fanatically devoted to film vs digital, because film looks better than digital. To paraphrase another of his quotes: They will pry my cold dead fingers off of my movie camera, before I switch to digital.
      He shoots in 16mm film.

      Essentially he achieves his pan and scan effects in real time in a continuous take, using a 16mm motion picture film camera under the control of a motion control device, i.e., a manual process, not a digital one (although computers may control the motion). He does not do these effects with software (e.g., using digital key framing). If my camera is on a tripod in front of a photo on the wall and I zoom in to the picture, that would be a very poor mans version of how Ken Burns does it.

      He is very driven to be authentic. Shooting in film does not rule out transferring to digital to produce green screen sandwiches. However, my guess is that the interviews are shot in surroundings carefully designed and assembled to be shot as they physically exist on the set, replicating/resembling the feel of a real background, rather than relying on green screening to achieve an authentic look. If he is really old school, he would also be editing on film. This would not be surprising although I dont know if it is the case.

      Pile on if you like!


    • #164467

      I saw "The making of The War" on PBS a few weeks ago. In that video, Ken and his team were definitely using a digital NLE editing system. I didn’t see the whole show, so I can’t say if he was still using his trusty film cameras, but I would assume that he probably still does. If I had a nice film camera and the budget to develop the film, I would definitely be using it.

      From what I saw in the making of, he was indeed using a few special effects in the NLE he was using (which was most likely Avid, from the looks of it).

      The guy is an incredible visionary, and I have to admit that I try to clone a lot of his techniques in my own work when I can. We just downgraded to a TV that doesn’t pick up PBS, so I can’t watch the series at this time, but my best advice to anyone who can tune in would be to do it. Pay close attention to what he does and how he does it. As interesting as he makes his subject matter, I almost always find myself watching his production style more than the show itself.

    • #164468

      The man is definity gifted, editors guild magazine just did a story on "The War" Burns and barnes his editor ( heres the link )

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