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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Famed documentarian Ken Burns, who's directed detailed films about the history of subjects like baseball and the Civil War, has released a new app under his name that houses scenes, extras, and behind-the-scenes footage from all 25 of his films.

In his announcement (via The Hollywood Reporter), Burns noted it was exciting for him to be using an Apple platform for his app as the company has long used the "Ken Burns Effect", where a camera slowly pans over a still image, in its video editing apps.
"Apple has long used an element of my filmmaking in its programs, which they call the Ken Burns Effect. I'm so excited to now be using Apple's platforms to create a radically new way to present my work and reach new viewers. Our films are made in a small town in New Hampshire over many years, with images and stories woven together in a way that we hope brings experiences of the past into the present."
While the app doesn't include the full Ken Burns' documentaries, it does house hand-selected scenes by Burns in playlists inspired by six themes: Race, War, Art, Hard Times, Innovation, and Politics. One theme, Innovation, is included free with download but the remaining five themes, which include over three hours of content, must be unlocked via a $9.99 in-app purchase.

Alternatively, users can view the content in a Timeline view, which presents a chronological history of America, and a Film view, which arranges the clips by which Burns' film they're from.

Ken Burns for iPad is available in the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Article Link: Famed Documentarian Ken Burns Launches iPad App


macrumors 603
Aug 14, 2009
Last time i checked, I could (and did) watch the documentaries streamed on Netflix. For me, at least, it's not worth a ten dollar in-app purchase to view some extras. They'll probably end up on PBS anyway...

That depends on how you might use it. My wife teaches and that app would be good add to her classroom iPad since she could easily access content for a lesson plan. In addition, Ken Burn's documentaries are high quality and appropriate for use in a classroom setting.

As a side note, it is a very interesting way to combine existing content with new media capabilities to generate revenue. If I were KB I'd get all my films on iTunes and also add them as in-app purchases.


macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2013
Chicago, IL
Ken Burns has to be one of the most boring people to have ever existed on the face of the earth. With such riveting subjects as "The West" and "Mark Twain" and lets not forget everyone's favorite 4 hour documentary "The Dust Bowl".


macrumors member
Sep 15, 2010
I think we can all thank [fill in your deity of choice] that Apple didn't come up with the Ken Burns effect.

Otherwise, there'd be Apple lawsuits all over the place, just like with the bounce back effect.

(The whole idea that you can patent a visual effect is ridiculous to begin with.)

Last I read, Apple pays a licensing fee to use the name, which KB donates to a foundation connected with documentary film. Can't look it up right now. Perhaps you could make a constructive comment.
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