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The New Age of Steam on Video

Welcome to the home of Steam Age Pictures. I've been taking video of steam trains around Great Britain (and, occasionally, abroad) since 1990, and in that time I have built up quite an archive of material. In 2003 I decided to put together some programmes of the best shots, and offer them to fellow enthusiasts and the general public, to raise money for the railway societies that I am a member of. Since 2007, I've teamed up with TWR Video and other friends to give them an outlet for their material and in so doing, expand Steam Age's coverage.

I'd like to say "thank you" to the many people who have given donations to the the charities and preservation societies that we support, in return for one of our videos. Your generosity is very much appreciated. Cheers!

I am strictly an amateur, and I do this as my hobby. Having said that, the quality ranges from not bad to remarkably good (even if I say so myself!) I started with Super VHS, progressed to a 3-chip Canon XM1 digital camera in 2000, and to a Canon XH-A1 high-definition camera in 2007. As for my regular collaborators, Laurie Golden uses a Canon like mine while TWR used a Sony FX1 until 2010 when he replaced it with a Sony FX1000, both of which are 3-chip high definition cameras. We (almost) always use tripods (so no sea-sickness pills required) and external microphones (so you can hear what's going on quite clearly). I use a powerful video editing package on my computer (Avid Liquid) to select and compile the programmes, add sub-titles and so on. Basic details of locomotives and locations are given in unobtrusive captions and in sleeve notes. There's no banal commentary, no distracting music (except sometimes for the opening and closing titles), and no ham-fisted attempts to disguise these scenes as other than what they are: dramatic, contemporary records of steam locomotives that continue to defy the scrap yard!

All programmes are offered on DVD-R and some on Blu-ray Disc.


 


Work In Progress

I have to put 2011 aside for the next few months, since I've promised to work on this year's Great Britain and Cathedrals Express tours. I've just finished Vol. 49, The Cathedrals Explorer, which features some footage from a new contributor. Michael Field has been one of TVP's Scottish correspondants for a few years. I met him on a couple of rain-drenched Highland hillsides this spring and we agreed to swap footage. Hopefully, GB V will follow in a month or two.

Already completed from 2011 are the two round-Britain tours and two regional albums:  Vol 45, The Great Britain IV and Vol 46, The Cathedrals Explorer (6th - 13th May); Vol. 47, GWR Locomotives; Vol. 48, Southern Locomotives. We didn't manage quite the same comprehensive coverage of GB IV as for previous Great Britain tours, but even so, we recorded something worth publishing on each day that they used steam haulage.

2010 ended up producing 8 volumes:

GWR 175 is selling well. Part 1 (1 hour 15 minutes) covers February to June, including the record breaking recreation of The Bristolian in April, pannier tank 9600  banking 6201 Princess Elizabeth on the Lickey Incline, and Steam Dreams' 2-day Cornish Riviera Express in June. Part 2 (1 hour 25 minutes) covers July to October, featuring 9600's trip to Princess Risborough and Chinnor, 9466 on the Looe branch and Earl Of Mount Edgcumbe storming over the Settle - Carlisle line.

I've mentioned this before, I know, but The Great Britain III, during April 2010, produced some splendid sequences of which my colleagues and I are particularly proud. If you've not already done so, please have a look at the samples on my YouTube site.

A quick reminder that the most recent productions are now available on Blu-ray Discs. If you have an HD-ready TV (and a Blu-ray player, of course), you will see a big improvement over DVD. The following volumes are now available (£15 each) in unadulterated 1080i High Definition. The images are as sharp as the camera tapes.

(Volume 41, commissioned by the Friends Of The NRM, is only available on DVD.)

Special offer: buy vols 33 & 34 or 35 & 36 together at a special price. See Available Now for details.
 


What's Planned?

There are three series: Main Line Albums, Branch Line Specials and Locomotive Profiles;

Main Line Albums

One volume (or more in a good year!) for each year since 1990, covering some of the best steam hauled trains on British main-line railways during the year. 1997 - 2009 are currently available.

Branch Line Specials

The format of these programmes will vary, but will normally concentrate on a particular line or special event. There will be several programmes from the Watercress Line (where I am a volunteer signalman), the Severn Valley Railway, and the Swanage Railway, since I am a frequent visitor to these lines. You can also expect programmes covering the Bluebell, North York Moors, East Lancs., Gloucestershire Warwickshire, Bodmin & Wenford, and various Welsh narrow gauge railways ... in the fullness of time! Programme lengths will vary from 5 minutes to one hour.

Locomotive Profiles

A whole programme devoted to a single locomotive or class of locos. The following are already available:



How To Order

All programmes are available on DVD, and some on Blu-ray Disc.

The prices I quote are minimum prices. Steam Age retains £3 per DVD or £5 per Blu-ray Disc to cover material costs and P&P. The rest is a donation to the societies and charities we support, so if you send more than the minimum price, the donation increases. You can either make out a cheque for the full amount to "Mark Fry" (indicating which of the groups, if any, you favour) or you can send separate cheques for the costs (payable to Mark Fry) and for the donation (payable to one of the following):

Minimum prices:
    DVD        £10 each
    Blu-ray Disc     £15 each

Ordering Programmes on DVD or Blu-ray Disc:

Please send cheque(s) as described above (in Sterling drawn on a UK bank) with a clear list of the Volumes and the format (DVD or Blu-ray Disc) that you want, to this address:
Steam Age Pictures
40 St Giles
Bletchingdon
KIDLINGTON
Oxon
OX5 3BX
NB: Don't forget to include your name and address, so that I can send you the programmes, and a phone number or e-mail address, so that I can contact you if necessary.
 

Ordering Programmes on Tape:

I can probably still produce tapes, VHS or Super-VHS, by special arrangement, though my VCR is getting a little long in the tooth. More than one volume can be recorded onto a single tape, if you supply a suitable tape. Please get in touch by post or e-mail first so that we can agree the details in advance.
 


A Note About Recordable DVDs

I normally use DVD-R. These discs are compatible with about 85% of DVD players. (It's mostly the older ones that cause problems.) I test all discs that I produce in a Philips DVD player / recorder before despatch. If you find that one of my discs will not play in your DVD player, please return it within 28 days*; I can offer two alternatives:
  1. the same programmes on a DVD+R disc;
  2. a refund of your donation* and the price of the disc;
DVD+R discs are also compatible with about 85% of DVD players, but because the technology is slightly different they will often play in machines that reject DVD-R discs, and vice versa.

* Please note that I will forward all donations 28 days after posting your disc. Donations cannot be returned after that time.

This is not a commercial service and no guarantees express or implicit are offered

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Useful Links

Here are some links to web sites that I find particularly useful. I make no warranties about the contents, but I've not been disappointed so far...

Railways

Video and DVDs Pinnacle Liquid Edition, and its successor Avid Liquid, are very powerful and can be a joy to use, but very demanding of the host PC. It can be difficult to get them working correctly. These discussion boards, run by users for users, are invaluable for getting the best from this mercurial software, especially since Avid themselves are concentrating on their "Next Generation" video editor that will eventually replace Liquid (though who knows when?): If you are not a computer specialist (and even if you are) it's great to have a PC built and supported by people who are both computer experts and video experts. For this reason, I bought my latest machine from these people:


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this page updated 01/08/2012