I got a nice little package in the mail last week from RI with a DVD in it – Gary of GZB Video Productions sent me a copy of P&W Action – Volume XI to check out. I finally got to watching it on Monday night during the commercial breaks of one of my favorite WWII movies – Tora! Tora! Tora! Obviously, this is the 11th volume of his action series, so he’s done it a few times before. Although, this is the first time I’ve watched the entire feature from start to finish – I’ve seen snippets before at train shows he’s had his booth at.
If you’re a fan of armchair railfanning from your living room, well, let me say this – these videos are for you! Obviously it features the Providence & Worcester Railroad, but does have a couple bonus sections of Amtrak and MBTA footage. A pretty good varitey of action from around CT, MA and RI. This volume had a few passenger extras, as well as a run down the recently reactivated Willimantic Branch in eastern CT, which I played tour guide. And there’s two scenes during the Willi Branch chase where you can see me in “action.” There’s also some coal trains, as well as some night shots of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus train.
Anyways, back to the video – it’s fairly well produced, and the video is clear and steady. Most are static shots, and switches in views are done via cuts, rather than pans. Another good thing is he doesn’t use zooms too much (something I really don’t like – keep it at one focal length, please – but that’s me), keeping the action steady on the TV. The coolest thing about Gary’s videos is that they don’t contain the typical narration you see in other railfan videos. Instead, he records the scanner conversations along with the video, which gives you a true trackside view. You not only get the sounds of the passing train (locomotive, horns, whistles, crossing gate bells, etc.), but you also hear the words of the crew as they work. Pretty neat, if you ask me.
A little constructive criticism for Gary here – the only thing I see missing from this DVD is chapter marks. Ideally, it would be nice to have chapter marks at each scene break (title screen). It would be nice to skip around from one scene to another. Otherwise, it’s well produced and an enjoyable armchair railfanning resource! Just hit the link at the top to Gary’s site for purchase info.
That’s just my opinion…your mileage may vary.