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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

How do you film photos / drawings like Ken Burns style?

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It does not have to be like Burns exactly, but in that style of moving parallelly around a photo or drawing, zooming in / out, etc. Can that be done easily in post or is it in-camera?

I have a copy stand, but can't move the camera. And really I don't use the copy stand to film photos, I just inject the still photos into the video software. But I'd like to move around the photos or drawings, zooming in and out. If I need certain equipment for camera movements what do you recommend?

Thanks

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Today one can do it the digital editing stage.

 

Hi David,

Ken Burns used to use a motion control camera, like they used to film the effects scenes for Star Wars. Sounds crazy, but true. This was done around Boston, I think the name of the company was the Frame Shop.

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https://books.google.com/books?id=XLX7WKMfzcIC&pg=PA1926&lpg=PA1926&dq=ken+burns+interview+using+magnets+to+hold+photos&source=bl&ots=E5pIX2qdst&sig=ACfU3U273yqdGyVrIi3G6CX8xY5DvUXn0w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiErtzzrcrkAhUwIjQIHRD5ArcQ6AEwFnoECA0QAQ#v=onepage&q=ken burns interview using magnets to hold photos&f=false

This link has a page from an interview with Burns where he said that only 1 to 2 percent of the photos in "The Civil War" were rephotographed on an animation stand, most were done low-tech using magnets holding photos down to sheet metal.

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Another link:

https://www.pilotonline.com/blogs/article_798c174d-2f9b-52dd-9b9a-e0405722a521.html

"Burns and Squires set up a small studio in a corner of the Library of Congress with an easel and a metal board, affixing magnets to hold the photographs. They used only two lights with two umbrellas to illuminate the photographs."

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Hi David,

I may have been mistaken about the motion control rig, as that is what we used for commercials at that facility. How much work was done at the frame Shop I don't know, just that I was told that is where Ken Burns did the work. They have been long closed now, and the owner is not with us anymore, so I can't confirm anything at this point. If I ever run into the guy who ran the camera. I will be sure to ask him about it.

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For moves on flat art using old traditional animation stands, the stand only moves the camera toward or away-from the art. The rest of the axis were achieved by moving the art. In the old days there was often a pantograph off to the side of the platen which was used to plot out the move.

If anyone wants a full-size Oxberry, in two weeks I have to dismantle one in Seattle and take it to the scrapyard. I have asked around extensively and no one has room for it - it's huge! We will, of course, salvage the camera.

If you have After Effects you can do everything the Oxberry could do and more, on your laptop.

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Tim- you're  right. I got a gig shooting subtitles on the old Oxberry motion control rig at The Frame Shop right out of college- at least 10 years ago now. At that point it had downsized to just a small room at the back of some office building in Watertown. I forget the owner's name, but he told me that he used that camera to shoot the still moves in Ken Burns documentaries. Maybe it wasn't feasible to shoot all of the moves that way, but he did make it sound like he'd done a lot of them. 

I've worked on dozens of documentaries since then doing the "ken burns effect" and today it's all done in After Effects, pretty much across the board. There are two ways of doing it in AE- you can adjust the "scale" and "position" of an image, or you can set up a virtual camera and plot moves out that way. It does make a difference- the virtual camera will allow you to shape your moves in a way that is closer to how an optical camera would do it. 

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& Webster- I would love to have Bruce Bickford's old animation stand, but the physical reality of the Oxberry Master series is daunting, and so incredibly obsolete. I think I saw somewhere that he had to cut a hole in the ceiling to get that one into his space...

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4 hours ago, Andy Cahill said:

& Webster- I would love to have Bruce Bickford's old animation stand, but the physical reality of the Oxberry Master series is daunting, and so incredibly obsolete. I think I saw somewhere that he had to cut a hole in the ceiling to get that one into his space...

You are exactly correct! He had to cut a hole in the ceiling of his garage and build about a 4ft. extension "box" for the columns! The thing is huge.

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On 9/13/2019 at 1:24 PM, Webster C said:

 

If anyone wants a full-size Oxberry, in two weeks I have to dismantle one in Seattle and take it to the scrapyard. I have asked around extensively and no one has room for it - it's huge! We will, of course, salvage the camera.

 

that is a shame to throw it away

 

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I couldn't find anyone to commit to it in time.

I am told that after WWII, manufactures were looking for other things to build with aluminum and the photo and film business benefited from that. The attachments to the columns were giant pieces of cast aluminum. In my opinion, it was overbuilt and I don't feel too bad about scrapping it, because it just would have become someone else' burden down the road. If I'm not mistaken,  animation stands by other manufacturers, like the Acme and Forox, were more streamlined than the Oxberry.

We saved the camera, the focus cams, the platen, the electronic control system and other items, and those are going to a group in Vancouver BC who are missing some pieces for their Oxberry.  The columns, base, camera arm, and platen x/y mover went to the scrapyard.

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Daniel, these days, the easiest method would be to scan the photographs on a flat bed scanner and animate the zooms and repositions in software.  In the case where the photograph is too big for your scanner, you could go to a professional scanning service with a large scanner, or, re-photograph the print with a high(ish) resolution still camera and then animate that photo in post production software.

And, your flatbed scanner need not be very expensive for scanning prints.  I have an "all in one" office type Epson printer/scanner that can produce very good scans from prints up to 8.5 x 11 inches (letter sized). This printer/scanner is very inexpensive, but the printer ink can cost more than the printer w/inks!

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On 9/11/2019 at 8:42 AM, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

OK, will study my software for options. I have Movavi, hopefully it does it. I wanted to inject some movement into my movies. 

Movavi does have a pan and zoom feature you can use on jpg images. On youtube there are a bunch of tutorials on using pan and zoom in movavi.

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Posted (edited)

Photokinestatis far predates Ken Burns and was typically performed on a rostrum camera.  NFB title "City of Gold" is a good example of a film that pre-dates Burn's popular Civil War series. 

I am not implying Burns takes credit for this type of animation; I think he actually states that he did not invent the process in a few interviews, but his name has become associated with this type of filmmaking.

Edited by Frank Wylie

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