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The Ken Burns effect: Filmmaker discusses new mobile app

The transition from linear television broadcasts to digital distribution methods appears "right around the bend," acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns told CNBC on Wednesday.

Appearing on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," Burns discussed his new iPad app as one example of the coming change. The app allows users to swipe and scroll through a historical timeline of clips from Burn's films such as "The Civil War," "Baseball" and "Jazz."

"We've found teachers and kids and citizens just playing with little moments in time floating through space," Burns said. "We're thrilled with it."

Burns said filmmakers like himself cannot abandon the large audiences of television channels such as, in his case, PBS.

But apps like his make filmmakers "nimble" in an increasingly mobile and digital media landscape, he added. What's more, the growth of binge-watching from services like Netflix actually benefits his sprawling historical series on the Civil War and baseball, Burns said.

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."

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