November 30, 2010

"Comments on the blog?"

I had an unusual question asked of me today, and it's never come up in two and a bit years of writing this blog. The question was "why don't you allow comments on the blog?"

I recall that my initial thinking when I designed the Copley Hill Blog initially was to block on the number of spam comments which appear on the Youtube Channel and Videos from time to time - you know the ones I mean, they normally have an 18+ rating...!

Overall it just makes looking after the blog quite easy, not having to go through the blog entries and deleting the spam on a daily basis. I accept there's probably a lot of decent comments I miss out on, even helpful ones, but that's why I set up an email account for people to send in comments and suggestions: so the lines of communication are kept open in this way.

I've no intention of changing that any time soon, I hasten to add. It makes looking after this blog somewhat easier on a day to day basis.

Until next time.

"Snow Trouble at All!"

Bit of fun in the snow! :)

Until next time!

November 28, 2010

"Doing a George Lucas"

Okay, so I've got a lot on my plate. Finishing publishing drafts, episode scripts, test shots, new faces for the engines (with a lot of help from Sodor Island 3D geniuses, Sean O'Connor and Richard Jordan), models to prep, and smoke machines to pipe into the layout and test.

BUT - I've had a feeling something's missing. I'm unhappy with Legacy of Gadwall and Day of the Deltic. There's something about the last three episodes I've made that could go some way to making these older episodes more watchable.

So, which one?

Email the Copley Hill account to post your vote.

Until next time!

November 20, 2010

"Favourite Character...?"

A very wise man once said this of his creations: "I don't have favourites. They are like members of the family".

I submit to that view too, because it is a fair and wholly good ideology. All engines are equal, and all engines have their place.

However, when I started The British Railway Series thread on the Sodor Island Forums, I wanted to gauge who were the most popular characters, and perhaps surmise as to why.

So I decided to check up on the results of the "favourite character" poll - which was started well over two years ago - and see where the characters currently stand. The results at time of writing, are as follows:

Allen[*******] (36 votes, 19.3%)
Stephen[***********] (54 votes, 29%)
Sir Ralph[*****] (24 votes, 12.9%)
Herbert[**] (13 votes, 6.9%)
Hawk[**] (11 votes, 5.9%
Nigel[**] (10 votes, 5.3%)
Tavish[**] (10 votes, 5.3%)
Scott[*] (8 votes, 4.3%)
Gronk[***] (14 votes, 7.5%)
Thompson[ ] (1 vote, 0.5%)
Arthur[ ] (2 votes, 1%)
Stewart[ ] (0 votes, 0%)
Geoffrey[ ] (1 vote, 0.5%)
Holden[ ] (2 votes, 1%)

By far and away the most popular character on the Sodor Island Forums Poll, was Stephen. This is to be expected to some degree. He is one of the three main characters, and has had pretty much the most airtime, appearing in every single episode and short to date. He had pretty much a full 1/3rd of the vote, at 29%.

Second was Allen, notable for his relation to the new build Peppercorn A1, 60163 Tornado. Taking home a commendable 1/5th of the total votes cast (19.3%). Allen was the first character introduced in the series, and has remained a firm fan's favourite ever since.

Next came Sir Ralph, with 12.9% of the total votes cast. This surprised me somewhat, as I feel to some extent he's the most developed of the three "main" characters.

Now the next character I expected to appear was Hawk, or Nigel - two characters with a very definite following, and both very humorous characters with a lot of airtime devoted to them, in comparison with other characters in the series.

However, storming into fourth place, with 7.5% of the vote, is Gronk! Given he has only appeared in a few episodes (most notably, Day of the Deltic, and The Parting of Ways), this surprised me a little, but it makes sense given he's probably the second most emailed about character. Everyone keeps asking when he'll return, and the answer is "sooner, rather than later".

In fifth place was Herbert. He's been portrayed as a younger, more naive character, with a good heart, and so I suspect much of his appeal stems from that. He's another character who will be developed more and more as the series develops, culminating in what I feel will be one of the "moments" to remember of the series for years to come.

Hawk came in sixth place. Given I get emails on a daily basis asking for his return, he's not proved so popular on the Sodor Island Forums, it seems. C'est la vie. I think his return to the series will be well worth waiting for. I seem to write him out and bring him back almost as quickly!

In joint seventh came Tavish and Nigel. The grumpy Scottish engine, and the grumpy Leeds tank engine both seem to have had much more airtime than other characters, yet neither in this poll has cracked the top five, despite some brilliant moments in notable episodes (Christmas, 1952, and Suburban Tank! to name but a few).

In ninth place came Scott. HOW?! He's Flying Scotsman, the most famous steam locomotive to come out of the British Isles. Has my portrayal killed the famous engine's popularity, I wonder?

Nah. Not even a little bit. The problem with the character of Scott is that I haven't reached the material which will cement the character once and for all as a BRWS regular.

Arthur came joint tenth with Holden. Arthur has had a full speaking role, but not much else, and Holden has only starred in a non-speaking role. That they've both had a full vote more than the characters which came in joint twelth - Thompson and Geoffrey - despite neither having more screen time than the latter two mystifies me.

Finally, in dead last, poor Clan Stewart. Wait until his first full speaking role - it's coming up, very soon.

Overall, I'm not surprised at the way the voting has gone, in all but the emergence of the plucky little diesel-electric shunter as a firm fan's favourite. I'm glad a diesel has made the top five - it shows the series is not so one dimensional as "diesels are bad, steam engines are good" - it's not that black and white, thankfully.

I'll be leaving the poll open for the foreseeable future, so if you're on the Sodor Island Forums and haven't voted yet, get cracking!

I'm make an update probably in the next year to see if anything's changed.

Until next time!

November 19, 2010

"The Next Step"

Plans are afoot for the eighteenth episode of The British Railway Series. There will be quite a few changes to the overall look of the series - building new sets will commence shortly, and the current set of faces are going to be replaced after four long years of good service.

It's been great fun making the series, but I've always been restricted by what I could do, with the size of the set being as it is. Now, we're going for truly modular sets, which can be set up quickly and look the part. Planned sets are King's Cross (condensed into a small space, including a side set for the shedding area), a mainline section and junction, Leeds Central, Stratford Shed (whose baseboard will double up for Norwich Thorpe), and - perhaps the most ambitious - the turntable area of the National Railway Museum.

There will also be new characters coming and going, old ones returning, and - perhaps most crucially - new faces on old characters.

But, there will also be a new series of sorts in the making. I'd made my mind up on this a very long time ago, and I'm currently planning a series of short videos - five minutes, maximum length, in documentary style, away from the railways of Great Britain, and looking abroad somewhat. There's no due date for this project coming to fruition, but behind the scenes, models are being bought for rebuilding, and a new layout is being built, hopefully to an exhibition-able standard (though by no means exhibition standard - I'm not that good yet!)

Until next time - if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to send them to

November 17, 2010

"The Right to Defend One's Copyright"

The British Railway Series: "The Ghosts of Engines Past" has now been out for a week - and the views have mounted very quickly, as have the comments. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my regular viewers on Youtube for their support, and interest, it's very much appreciated.

Something that was brought to my attention early this week, was a Youtube user who re-uploaded one of my trailers. Now, aside from the point that this is essentially stealing, and that certain unsavoury comments were being posted on said video - the point the user was trying to get across was "...I bet he thinks its".

And he was absolutely right - it IS copyrighted. But unfortunately for him, he missed a slight trick. In fact, many Youtube users miss this very important piece of factual information, so to avoid further mishaps (and to save everyone the trouble of looking it up), I thought I'd explain why my series is copyrighted, and in what way it is.

You see, in the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland), copyright is exactly that - a right. This sentence in particular, from the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office:

"Copyright protection in the UK is automatic, so there is no registration system, there are no forms to fill in, and no fees to pay".

This is exactly the point. As long as you can prove you are the original creator of any said piece of work - you automatically have a copyright on that work. There is no registration process because anything you create can automatically have a © applied to it.

With regards Youtube - which is a global website - bear this statement in mind;

"Copyright material created by UK nationals or residents is protected in each country which is a member of the conventions by the national law of that country. Most countries belong to at least one of the conventions, including all of the Western European countries, the USA and Russia".

Remembering of course, that Youtube (and its parent company, Google) operate out of the United States, so they must comply with British Copyright law when a genuine copyright complaint is made.

So to sum up - if you are a citizen of the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland), and someone re-uploads your work, or a portion of your work, on Youtube, without permission, you can claim using the DMCA form found on Youtube, and quote the above two statements, knowing that anything you create is subject to copyright. It is your right: and it is also your right to enforce the law should it be breached.

But this comes with a word of warning - do not take this lightly. If your work uses anyone else's copyright - such as a re-dub of a favourite program, or music for which you cannot possibly have copyright permissions - then any claim may result in the termination of your own account.

For more information, go to the Intellectual Property office Website, found here.

Until next time!

© Simon A.C. Martin ;)

November 11, 2010

"We will remember them"

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

"The Ghosts of Engines Past"

The British Railway Series: Episode 17X, "The Ghosts of Engines Past"

Ladies and Gentlemen - we are officially back!

Until next time - these are the stories we tell!

November 09, 2010

"Hornby's Thompson L1"

It's arrived...just unpacked it now...

I can see a problem straight away, however...

...I'm going to have to get another one!!

The model is just exquisite. The detail on this model is breathtaking, and regardless of the front frames/front pony truck issue highlighted in Model Rail, I will say that it's the best Hornby Steam Locomotive ever produced.

Mine's the split-footplate version, and judging by the pics of the green ones, it captures its prototype every bit as accurately as they do. The difference in front steps, and overall "look" - all spot on. The model is literally romping away with five bachmann Mk1s as I type, and I have no doubt it could take at least six or seven more. This model oozes power, and really looks like an L1.

With apologies to Model Rail - it really IS one "L of a model"!!!

Hornby, if the new B17s are half as good, I'll be a happy man indeed.

Until next time!

November 07, 2010

"This Thursday...The British Railway Series returns"

We are back, this coming Thursday, around 12pm. That's all I can say for now, there may or may not be one last trailer out in due course.

Until next time!

November 04, 2010

"Crane Crazy"

I dare you to try and say that blog title out loud. It's harder than it looks!

I've wanted to get a crane for the layout and film set for a while now. Adds some form of operational interest in the background for scenes, and if I ever film a crash or similar...good for shots showing the aftermath!

However, at £35 a pop, the standard Hornby crane I favoured was looking too expensive - and I wanted two of them...

So I decided to invest in the bright yellow "Railroad" crane (got for £12, an absolute steal) - and put it in a fictitious livery, that would better suit the overall look of The British Railway Series, and give me something to play around with.

I removed the British Railway double arrows, and a few other bits of printed detail (as I have ordered some generic numbering from Fox Transfers and will give it a fictional identity), using nail varnish remover. Potent stuff, use it sparingly with a cotton bud. I then masked up the wasp stripes - something I wanted to keep - and sprayed the rest of the model "Chaos Black" (from the Gamesworkshops range of Citadel Paints - it's an acrylic paint, and an extremely useful base paint).

I then added the BR cycling lion logo, then varnished it using Ardcoat (a varnish, again from the Citadel Paint range), before turning to my trusty mix of Tamiya weathering powders for a quick going over. The final stage was to add light sprays of "Purity Seal" - a sealant, again from the Citadel range - seal the powders and tone down the black paintwork. What has resulted is, I hope, a well work look that doesn't look destined for the scrapyard.

Overall I am chuffed to bit with how cheap the project was. At £12, I am planning to get another and do the same method all over again. I know it's not accurate in any sense of the word, but when you're strapped for cash, and an alternative presents itself, you go for it. Plus, I happen to think it's a handsome modification that looks tonnes better than the yellow corporate blue alternative!

Until next time.