After five years, I've put the models to bed. There were such restrictions with the set: I couldn't take the engines away from Copley Hill enough. There has not been enough space, or time, money and talent to produce a way of making the OO scale models compete in an increasingly crowded Youtube scene. I want this series to go above and beyond “what can be done” elsewhere, and if that means moving into CGI – so be it. It is the characters, their story-lines and my direction which makes them what they are, not necessarily the medium.
I mean, in the last three years we saw four episodes in the model format. FOUR. Two episodes a year. It was clearly not good enough. Development became painful. Yes, I had certain things understandably get in the way. The English degree had to come first, as did my health at one point, and now, with a full time and then some, job, the series was taking a back seat.
It has been disheartening. I have had all of these scripts - and yes, there were 30 episodes written, ready, planned, storyboarded, even lines recorded - but none of the last twelve were film-able in the time, space, and energy that I had.
Moving the series to CGI (as is quite likely at this point in time) will offer up a new dimension. Episodes can be made in batches more easily. I have experimented, quietly, in Trainz (but the final software is likely to be a mix of Train Simulator 2012 software and purpose built models to function within that game's basic framework), and the possibilities of CGI are enormous. Imagine Copley Hill, Leeds Central, many of the stations in-between and King's Cross and top shed, recreated in CGI...the possibilities are endless.
Particularly when added into the mix, I can adapt the software to run a specific graphics engine and colour palette, thereby tying in the films much more closely to the artwork of the upcoming first book (and hopefully, future instalments).
Will we see old episodes return? Yes. We will see the original Episodes 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 return in the new format, in various forms. The others are not good enough and will be replaced by the original intended scripts in a few cases, and all new story-lines in others.
New characters are planned, new and specific historical locations which were not possible in the model format, and perhaps the thing which has me jumping for joy, faces which can be much more animated than their white clay alternatives.
Above all, I am making The British Railway Stories for 2012, not 2007, as it was when it first appeared on Youtube. The models have served us well, but the characters and their story-lines will be better served in a new, less restrictive format.
So once again, I say, firmly - “this is not the end. This is the end, of the beginning”.
These are the stories we tell...