Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Ken Burns Effect In NE Ohio

Ken Burns at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park All Images © Stuart Pearl 2009

The Ken Burns Effect describes a popular video pan and scan technique that filmmakers use with still photographs. It focuses the viewer's attention on key elements of a picture and creates heightened interest by zooming and moving across the scene.

Blue Hen Falls - CVNP (Click image to enlarge)

Burns had a similar effect on his audience as he spoke to a crowd of 200+ picnickers at the Happy Days Visitor Center on August 2, 2009. He was in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park promoting his new documentary "The National Parks - America's Best Idea .

It was directed by Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan. WVIZ/PBS coordinated his visit to the Happy Days Visitor Center , giving supporters a chance to preview excerpts from Burns' new film.

This six episode series is scheduled to broadcast on PBS stations September 27 - October 2. You can a see a short segment of this film by going to the following video link.

Brandywine Falls - CVNP

Prior to his talk, Burns worked with the WVIZ television staff to produce several videos promoting the film. The Happy Days Visitor Center provided the backdrop.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 it is actually within the Virginia Kendall State Park .

The bronze statue commemorates the work of all the CCC workers from that era to those who maintain current park facilities. The CCC provided jobs and education for men between the ages of 18-25.

Videographer Rich Geyser and Director Jane Temple

WVIZ/PBS production crew filming promotional commercials.

Burns arrived about 3:30 P.M at Happy Days in his rental car. CVNP was on his route to Chautauqua and then Acadia National Park in Maine. I was immediately impressed with the 56 year old filmmaker. His hair was thicker than any I've seen in my own mirror in years.

CVNP CEO Deb Yandala with Ken Burns and Ranger

Ken Burns is an excellent public speaker. He is passionate about his documentary projects and his words carry the conviction of his beliefs. He's also very approachable and a pleasure to chat with.

Teddy Roosevelt was a major proponent of the National Parks. Through legislation, lobbying and personal exploration his efforts insured the creation and preservation of these natural resources.

Carriage Trail Path - CVNP

Cuyahoga River at Rt. 82 Bridge last winter (Click on Image to Englarge).

T.R. figures prominently in Burns series. He once said "it is the preservation of the scenery, the forest, and the wilderness game for the people as a whole, instead of leaving the enjoyment thereof to be confined to the very rich. It is noteworthy in its essential democracy, one of the best bits of national achievement which our people have to their credit".

Beaver Marsh, early Spring (Click image to enlarge)

This documentary took approximately 10 years to produce with an investment of $15 million dollars. And like all of his projects, it keeps Burns travelling. He spends about 150 days on the road each year filming, at speaking engagements, and promoting his projects.

July 29 was Burns' birthday - which was spent in his automobile. In small consolation the Happy Days picnickers sang happy birthday to the film maker.

Burns says that he is making the same film over and over again. "Who are we as Americans?" This is the question addressed in "The Civil War," "Jazz," "Brooklyn Bridge," and "World War II." Now he examines the question from the perspective of America's National Parks.

Ken Burns and Stuart Pearl - CVNP 8/2/09