City of Gold is a 1957 Canadian documentary film by Colin Low and Wolf Koenig, chronicling Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. It made innovative use of archival photos and camera movements to animate still images, while also combining narration and music to bring drama to the whole. Its innovative use of still photography in this manner has been cited by Ken Burns as the source of inspiration for his so-called Ken Burns effect, a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production to animate still images.
The film is narrated by Pierre Berton and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
The film grew out of an earlier 1952 idea to promote tourism and sport in Yukon. In researching the film, Low and Koenig found some still photos in an Ottawa archive and tried to improve the panning method Low had employed on his 1955 visual arts documentary, Jolifou Inn. Low then discovered a much larger set of archival images of the Yukon Gold Rush, from photographer Eric A. Hegg's collection at the University of Washington in Seattle. The problem of how to animate the images via camera movement prior to the invention of computer-assisted animation cameras was resolved by Kroitor, who enlisted British mathematician Brian Salt to devise mathematical tables, and developed a device dubbed the 'Kroitorer' that allowed one to take single photos of the archival images as if photographing real-life scenes with a hand-held camera.
The film won the Palme d'or for best short film at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival, was named film of the year at the 10th Canadian Film Awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award.