Friday, 10 June 2011

"The British Railway Series - June Update"

Portrait of Sir Ralph Wedgwood, by Dean Walker

So, it has now been, officially, nine months since the last The British Railway Series Episode. Where are we now, with the Youtube series?

One thing I regret about the filming of 17X is that I allowed certain pressures to get to me. Firstly, the demand for the next episode - always welcome, and I enjoy reading the comments back on the videos without a doubt.

But I self-imposed a deadline on myself to make the next episode count. 17X had a terrific storyline, three superb new characters (all of which came about as a consequence of 2009's BRWS Competition), and a much more rounded feel to the animation and cinematography.

For the last six months, I've been involved in a new series of videos - the Hornby VS Bachmann videos. These have allowed me to stretch my film making muscles a bit, have some fun, and reflect on the lighter things in life. That, and reliving portions of my childhood through the delight of the Thomas range!

All through making these, new ideas and thoughts as to the next step of The British Railway Series were developing. For example, the Bachmann Thomas & Friends range - and the virtues of 3D Printing - have awakened me to the possibilities of the videos. Moving eyes, working smoke generators, 3D printed faces and bodies for them to fit on.

In essence, the whole look of the series and its episodes could change radically, if I decided at this point I wanted to reinvigorate them.

And I have to say, I do. The models, and their faces, look tired. They have done for nearly a year. They looked fresh in 2007, but in 2011, the models with faces just don't cut it on the screen. It's not the best I know I can do. They're not bright enough, nor professional looking enough, despite the use of the many incredibly detailed models we have here.

So thoughts have turned to making the models from scratch. It wouldn't be easy, or cheap. Would it be worth doing to make the series work better for Youtube? I think so.

In fact, it's not just the character engines. It's the whole look of the videos, the way I film them, and their overall length.

The episodes have traditionally been two parters, of four to five minutes each. Later, when I was able to, they were always uploaded in their intended 11 minute format. That needs to change, for people to enjoy the characters more on Youtube, and certainly for me to enjoy making them. I no longer have the time or inclination to make long episodes, with drawn out plots.

Certainly, I want to continue the plots through the season, and I intend to do exactly that. There are dozens of stories left to tell. But the gut feeling I have is that, if I continue to develop the stories in this way, they won't be worth watching. It'll be more of the same, with the same problems.

Watching the teaser video I did with the Bachmann Spencer model, again and again, made realize that something rather powerful was missing from my videos. Image, a sense of purpose, less talking and more action! People want to see trains running. Episode 15, good and proper, was the last time I had a passenger train on screen, for gawd's sake...!

So with Project Allen progressing extremely well behind the scenes - those in the Facebook group will know what the worst secret on Youtube is at the minute...! The Youtube Series has taken a step back for the moment, and the review videos fill the void while everything gets thought through, researched, and then...by September (at the very latest!) decided on.

There will definitely be a new episode in 2011. Whether it is Episode 18, or something else, I can't yet say.

So, not much of an update this month then. My apologies. I want it to be so much more - but it's got to be right, and done right.

Until next time.

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