2018-04.3: Steve Priest’s Santa Fe

23 Apr 2018

Average: 4.8 (20 votes)
26:10 - Apr 2018 Act III - Steve Priest’s Santa Fe St. Louis Division (2018)

Over the years, modeller Stephen Priest has invested a lot of time - and a lot of money - to build model railways.  He and his family are working steadily on layout number 16.  For him, the journey is as important as the destination, and each layout has taught him lessons that he has applied to the next one. 

Act IV: Mounting Couplers on Resin Kits ...

Go to Act IV


A very enjoyable video.  I've followed the Priests for years and have always been very interested in their model railroading adventures.  They've never failed to impress us as to what can be done.  I think I dreamed of my future railroad reading the same magazines that Steve did. Cynthia and Steve touched upon many points that make this such a wonderful and sharing hobby. It has definately been a lifetime hobby for me and I'm still loving it!  Congratulations on a beautiful railroad. :-)  Best, Andy K.  

coyoteww's picture

This in not a complaint...just a question. On many of the layout tours, whenever you show a prototypical video, you place these " artsy " blurred side panels on the video. You can still see that the video is HD you are using, but blurred out for some reason. You produce excellent, HD videos, yet you reduced the viewing area back to 4X3 for some reason. I don't understand it when the TV channels do it, and I don't understand  it here. If you have HD, why would you revert back to Standard definition and distort or fog the sides of the screen ?

Thanks for the excellent videos. I am really enjoying all the topics, and the layout tours are perfect !


tpmarshall's picture

Hi Michael:

Barry will have to confirm this, but I suspect that the vintage footage you’re watching - made available by Green Frog - was shot in 4:3 format. After all, when blue and yellow diesels owned the rails on the AT&SF, there was no HD video ...

Happy modeling!


TMTV Station Agent's picture


The panels on the side are more functional than "artsy".  The original scenes were shot  by Emery Gulash on16mm film and transferred to 4:3-ratio video by Green Frog Productions many years ago, as Trevor mentioned.  There are a couple of ways that we can make the image fit the screen, but the results aren't always pleasing.  If we strech the frame horizontally to fit it will distort the image, making everything look wider than it actually was. The other alternative is to zoom in, but that exaggerates things like film grain and digital artifacts, and it would also cut off the top and bottom of the image and leave out valuable information.  As far as the "artsy" blurred image goes, we have to decide what to fill the left and right side of the screen with.  It could be left black, but we find that it's more pleasing to the eye to have some sort of imagery framing the action.  So this background is a defocused version of the stretched image.

In an ideal world, Green Frog would pull the original films out of a vault and re-transfer them to high-definition video.  That's an expensive process, and one that I suppose they might do in the future as TV resolutions move higher.  But since the original footage was shot on 16mm there is only so much detail on the film that can be captured at high resolution.   Also, the 16mm format is more square in shape than current high-def monitors, so the the bars would still be onscreen to some degree, or they would have to zoom in to fill the screen.  Ah, the joys of dealing with multiple formats.

I suppose this is more than you ever wanted to know, but I hope it explains why the videos are cropped the way they are.


Barry, TMTV editor

coyoteww's picture

Thank you Barry and Trevor. No, that is exactly what I wanted to know, not to much information at all. And you are correct, the blurred side panels are much better than blacked out side panels. I understand the complications of new formats and higher definition. I personally prefer 16:10 (WUXGA ) over 16:9, and all my computer monitors and my home theater TV are in that ratio. Looking forward to 4K and 8K that is slowly being adopted, with the price of the 4K video camera's coming down every year, it might be a more common format in a few years ( however, band width and storage is now the problem ). I have seen the new RED Weapon Brain and Canon EOS C300 video cameras and they are breathtakingly beautiful...but they should be at $40,000 !!!!! Video ain't cheap, and I feel that there are very few that actually appreciate such high quality.

You are doing a great job....not only with the video, but with the audio also. Editing is perfect, and you capture all the subject matter perfectly, from layout tours, Notch 8, Backshop Clinic, Crew Call, Back to the Workbench, Weathering, and all the other hands on video's. Thank you !

Hopefully, in the future we can see a Signalling video, using the new Light It, or JMRI, or some of the older techniques ( current sensing relays, etc. ) I am being selfish since I am now contemplating incorporating signals into my operations.

Again...thank you for bringing us great information in a video format !


Great modelrailroad, but one question, who makes the ballast tamper machine seen towards the end of the video , that's a great model!

Thanks for the info in advance!