Welcome to Making a Railroad Video! In this video, Iím going
to show you the tools that I use to make quality youtube videos.
With youtube, you can post videos of almost any quality, but when I first
started posting railroad videos a couple years ago, I was immediately attracted
to the high quality videos made by such users and CSX6900 and Delay in Block
Productions and Distant Signal.
The most obvious tool needed is a camcorder. Todayís cameras are of such high
quality that almost any camcorder will produce high definition video. Even smart
phones now shoot 4K video! I currently use two Panasonic 4K camcorders.
Another essential tool for shooting quality work is a tripod. I know a lot of
people hand hold their cameras or phones when they shoot railroad video, but it
always looks amateurish. If you want to produce a high quality product, a tripod
Another very useful tool, depending on where you are working, is a handheld
scanner. I live in Bernalillo, NM which is on the line that goes from
Albuquerque to Raton, New Mexico. There is very little freight traffic on this
line and most of what passes through here are New Mexico Railrunner trains that
serve the route from Belen to Santa Fe. Amtrak runs two trains through here
everyday. The area isnít covered by ATCS Monitor, which I will discuss shortly,
so a scanner will often let me know when a train has received track warrants
giving me an idea when it will pass by. The NMRX dispatcher is on a repeater so
that I can hear it clearly from my house even though I can often hear only once
side of the conversation. Scanners can also hear defect detectors. Defect
detectors are placed along the tracks to analyze the train as it passes over or
through it. After the train passes, an automated broadcast is made informing the
crew of any defects it may have detected. Depending on the detector, it will
broadcast the train speed, number of axles, or other useful information.
Signals can be very useful.
Another useful tool is a website called asm.transitdocs.com. This is a
nationwide Amtrak tracker that gives location, speed, and timeliness of Amtrak
and Canadian Via trains. It is fairly reliable, but like all things Amtrak, it
has moments when it is down. It also lags realtime so you have to take into
account that these trains are often ten miles further along than is displayed on
Another tool that I use is the Amtrak App on my iphone which will tell you when
a specific Amtrak train is due to arrive at a station, or if it has departed.
Again, itís not 100% reliable, but combined with other tools, you can get a good
idea where an Amtrak train is.
ATCS Monitor is a program offered through Yahoo Groups where you can download
software for a specific division and it will provide you with a dispatcher
display. Once you learn how to use it, you watch the progress of trains along
the line. I have used this extensively in Washington State, especially on the
Bellingham and Scenic subdivisions to let me know where trains are.
There are several useful webcams that I use to help me decide if an Amtrak train
is worth going trackside to video. Private cars, heritage locomotives, or
unusual consists are things that Iím particularly interested in shooting.
Virtual Railfan has a live feed at La Plata Missouri where I can see Amtrak 3
the day before it passes through New Mexico. Early in the morning, around
5:30AM, Amtrak 4 passes through Flagstaff, AZ and can be seen on the Flagstaff
webcam. This webcam is mounted on the train station roof. It is notoriously
unreliable, times out after a short time, and can be controlled by other users.
Virtual Railfan has a Flagstaff cam installed and expected to become active
soon. This requires a paid membership.
In this video, weíre going to track the Lamy Local which goes from Albuquerque,
New Mexico to Rosario, New Mexico where they will set out full asphalt tank cars
and pick up empties, returning them to Albuquerque.
Editing a video is my attempt to show you the process that I
go through to take my raw camera files and edit them into an interesting and
I will provide three examples beginning with the simplest video which is a
single camera video. Next, I edit a two camera video with one camera providing a
zoomed in shot of the approaching train, and the second camera set further from
the tracks and giving us a wide angle view of the passing train.
Finally I put together a two camera video with one camera pointing toward an
approaching train and the second camera giving us a receding view of the train.
I will integrate these two perspectives into a single video.
Here is my take on how CSX numbers its trains. A basic list of
what the different letters mean.
This is the story of a group of friends united by a common
hobby: railroad photography. This documentary explores why these people take
interest in trains and how they express themselves through photography,
cinematography, and scale models, and highlights the strengths and problems
within the hobby of railfanning.