2015-11.2: Upgrade blue box handrails-2

12 Nov 2015

Average: 4.7 (14 votes)
34:57 - Nov 2015 Act II - Blue box handrail upgrade, pt 2 (2015)

Efram Ellenbogen continues work on his Athearn "blue box" SD40-2 with the installation of Smokey Valley stanchions and brass handrails.

Watch for more Notch 8 segments featuring Efram  and other guest modellers in 2016.

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Watching this on my Retina iPad I found it near impossible to see the handrails in most shots where they are being applied to the loco which is the most important part. For these detailing how to guides the filming of close ups needs to be better. Efrarm actually comments at one point "I hope they can see this" well I couldn't unfortunately.

Interesting video series marred by poor close ups. 


Keep in mind this is LIVE video, which is how we need to do it to avoid long, complex, and costly editing.

To do this live video, we have THREE video cameras running and two camera guys trying hard to keep the action in frame. Try as we might, we sometimes don't catch it all. If the director jumps in and yells "hold it, we need you to move it over here so we can get a better close up", then that breaks the flow of the action big time.

Long story short, we know it's not perfect, but compare it to other professional model railroading video productions like Dream Plan Build. You will find our closeups are way better by comparison.

The other option is to pre-script it all, but then we need a script writer and the guest needs to learn the lines. And to shoot it, we need a shot plan to make sure we get every bit of the action from multiple angles including ultra-close ups. The guest may have to do the same action 3 or 4 times so we can get all the shots we need from long shots to the tight close-ups. Then the editing becomes far more complex, since the piece needs to be assembled from dozens of shots and it all needs to follow the script. If we were a Hollywood show with a $500,000 budget and highly paid talent who were willing to learn lines for pay, then maybe we could pull it off.

As it is, live action is WAY easier to shoot and edit, plus it's far easier to not force the guests to learn lines. The result is we shoot it live with three cameras and two camera crew, and they scramble to keep up and not lose the action or to get in tight if possible. Sometimes we miss the perfect closeup, yes. But this kind of production makes it possible to shoot these segments. To do much more becomes cost prohibitive and few guests will want to work to a script with lines to learn, etc.

TMTV Station Agent's picture

Yes, those wires are very fine, and Efram worked hard to keep all the action visible form two different angles while still being able to see it himself.  We are trying out some new toys soon that will help make it easier to see things super-close-up.  Watch for some improvements in new Notch 8 segments in 2016.

In the meantime, everyone should be sure to enlarge their video players to fit the entire screen for the best results.


TrainMasters TV producer

Great videos as usual. Ephram, try cutting the actual sprues into smaller sections so that only one stanchion at a time is attached. You will have individual stanchions with only tips of sprues left. Then snip off the sprue from the stanchion, instead of the stanchion from the sprue.  Hope this makes sense.


The Notch 8 videos are great!  The interplay between Trevor and Effram makes for good chemistry--informative, but not "chatty."  This series is helping nudge me back to my own modeling work bench after a layout construction hiatus.


Bill Decker

ok I'll keep in mind it's LIVE to and not edited to keep your costs down and guests happy in not following scripts and there for not much good for detail and just accept its not what I want. Genuinely surprised you think I should just accept it the way it is.I'll just cancel my subscription shall I and get out your hair? Why not enhance with enlarged well lit stills that would be easier to light technically, wouldn't cost much in additional production costs. You could even just add a gallery to the video page rather than editing the video. 

Barry's reply was at least understanding of the issues for us customers trying to follow the fine detail which is surely the point, and suggested there might be improvements coming. 

Steve, just trying to explain why it's not always perfect. Sure, we want to do better and we do keep trying to improve, and we keep looking for ways to get better shots. To do the stills you describe also involves stopping the action long enough to take a good still without hands in the way, etc - and to add a still photographer to the camera crew.

One simple way to improve the shots could involve the host remembering there's an audience trying to see what's happening, and to deliberately stop ON CAMERA and hold up the work for a moment and allowing the camera to zoom in tight for an ultra-closeup. Sort of a "here, guys, LOOK at THIS!" moment toward the audience. But the host needs to be thinking in these terms, so it's all a matter of LEARNING to do this on the part of our hosts. Maybe this feedback can remind our hosts how important this is for the viewers?

We appreciate feedback, especially critical feedback that keeps goading us on toward greater excellence. We may explain why it's so tough, but remember we're not trying to give excuses, just trying to help you understand the challenges and maybe TOGETHER we can find more clever solutions.