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World Renowned Videographer, Ken Burns, Visits Oxford

Videographer Ken Burns and Bruce Levingston, Honors College artist-in-residence at the Ford Center.

Oxford was excited to welcome Ken Burns back to the area this past Tuesday. Burns was excited to showcase his work to an eager audience and was welcomed with open arms.

Ken Burns has been making films for more than 30 years. His work includes rich history, such as the Vietnam War and other significant events, such as the Prohibition and The Civil War. To view some of his work, click here.

He sat down with Bruce Levingston, the Honors College artist-in-residence in the Ford Center this past Tuesday, allowing for questions from the audience at the end. Burns explained his work as, “Extending the moment from the past and treating [the shot] as a master shot, through the various shots of history. It’s not just a visual process, it’s an oral process. All of the things that can will that visual alive.”

One of the many elements that makes Burns work unique is that he compiles it around the music that he chooses. He also uses a blend of elements to fit his work, such as violins and other sound elements to bring the videos to life.

“Music is normally treated as an after-thought. We record the music ahead of time before we film in a different version,” Burns said, “We found ourselves editing to the music – there is something more authentic, organic to that [method].”

Mississippi and its image issue was brought up by Levingston. Burns replied, “History is complicated and intertwined – we can’t escape our past, our history.”

Burns also mentioned the current political climate and how it has been portrayed. “There has been a circus-like attitude, which is not the way change will happen. We should struggle to hear the other, not make the other wrong, which will work for the collective and individual benefit.”

Burns also mentioned his distinct pleasure and gratitude for working with big names, such as Steve Jobs and Norah Jones. Jobs even named the Ken Burns Effect after him. According to Apple, “This effect, called “the Ken Burns effect,” makes it appear as if the camera is sweeping across (panning) the photo or drawing nearer or farther away (zooming).”

Burns worked on a musical soundtrack with singer and musical artist, Norah Jones, for his historical film of World War II. When asked further about it, he commented that, “I wept, [the soundtrack] was very beautiful and fitting.”

Videographer Ken Burns and Bruce Levingston, Honors College artist-in-residence at the Ford Center.

Samantha Mitchell is a hottytoddy.com staff writer and can be reached at smitche3@go.olemiss.edu.

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