2011 convention DVD

A tour of the railways open at the 2011 National Garden Railway Convention in Kansas City
DVD review
Backyard Garden Railroads—2011 National Garden Railway Convention DVD
Lang Group Photographic Services
Price: $24.95 + s&h
Website: www.langgroupphoto.com

Two-disk DVD set covering the railroads at the 2011 National Garden Railway Convention in Kansas City
Videos of the garden railways at the National Garden Railway Conventions have always been great souvenirs of the events, offering those who attended a chance to remember the railways they saw, and to watch on TV the ones they couldn’t get to. For those who could not attend the convention, they’re often a great collection of different styles of garden railways from which the viewer can draw inspiration.

This year’s convention was held in Kansas City. The convention video that highlights the railroads on tour does an admirable job of giving the viewer a sense of what was there. The program is a two-disk set, covering not quite two dozen of the garden railroads on the convention tour, as well as two ride-on-scale railroads and two display railroads; one large-scale, one 0-scale (Lionel).

The video opens with a “welcome” introduction segment that has a little fun with some special effects, shrinking Britney, the host, down to the scale of the trains. From there, the program launches into individual segments on each of the railroads. Each of these begins with a brief interview of the railroad’s owners, followed by a montage of shots of the trains running around the railroad.

The production values are high. There is a good mix of shots, giving the viewer a fair sense of what each railroad looks like. The ground-level shots really made the trains look larger than life, though I found the speeds at which some of them ran through the frame to be too fast for my eyes. There were some nice shots edited in, showcasing some of the detail the railroad builders worked into their lines, though I always tend to want even more of that, especially on the scratchbuilt or kitbashed models.

The thing I liked best about this video was that the sound of the trains themselves was very clear. The segments also have some background music but it’s at a comfortable level in the background—something I wish more video producers would take to heart. I was aware of it, but the trains still took center stage. I could hear the clickety-clack of the wheels over the rails, and whatever sound systems the railroads’ owners had installed (if any).

Overall, this was an enjoyable video. I don’t think there was any single railroad that really grabbed my attention but there were tidbits that I found interesting on pretty much all of them (and the ride-on stuff at the end of Disk 2 is just cool). And the program’s certainly entertaining for the five-and-under crowd, if you’re looking for something to keep them occupied for a time.


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