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iL Dottore

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iL Dottore last won the day on January 9 2010

iL Dottore had the most liked content!

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    Model Railways (GWR!, ER 1960s), cooking, travelling, playing guitar (badly) and reading (anything except romances [Ugh!])

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  1. A belated reply, I know... I greatly enjoyed the modelling and thought that all the teams were very much on top of their game (not so much the production, but I've commented upon that elsewhere...) But what did puzzle me was why didn't The Railmen of Kent use any of the excellent Harry Potter models from Hornby (or did they? I don't recall seeing them...). Is my impression correct that only a small percentage of their products were available from the sponsors?
  2. I definitely get the impression that in this series of GMRC the modelling is getting better and better and the layout builders' imaginations and ingenuity getting sharper, whilst the judging and (especially) the production is getting poorer. I perceive a lack of "joined up TV making" with the producers pulling in one direction, the judges in another and the presenters in another (and am I the only one that feels that the editing and selection of shots of Kathy Millat and Steve Flint is creating a "good cop, bad cop" personae/dynamic for the judges?) To be very cynical I often get the impression that the directors and producers of this type of series (reality TV) have a very low opinion of the audience - leading to dumbing down of content and contrived "drama" (one of the most egregious examples of contrived drama is when one of the presenters says "and the winner is..." cue appalling long interval for reaction shots [which I wouldn't be surprised to learn had been filmed later and spliced in]) as the production company, consciously or not, doesn't believe the audience capable of watching anything more challenging. OK, I am being rather cynical here, but I do remember a time when entertaining and informativeTV shows didn't "talk down" to the audience. The very enjoyable Model World with Bob Symes or Connections with James Burke being two good examples of programmes treating the audience with respect. I seriously wonder what the viewing figures would be like for the show if the production team challenged the audience a little bit more. Or am I crediting the viewing audience with too much and the so called/apparently "dumbed down" approach is indeed the only approach guaranteed to get the all important viewing figures?
  3. Very good point, Phil. To clarify, I wasn't thinking of something along the lines of (say) "learn how to do static grass in one minute or less", but rather along the lines of "when railway modellers want to create grass they can use many things, from dyed teddy bear fur to dyed sawdust scatter.. currently very popular is Static Grass which......" So, not an explanation or mini (nano?) tutorial but rather an exposure to something most viewers would not have encountered.
  4. Some utterly superb modelling going on in Episode 3. But do the presenters have to be so dismissive of anything that lacks an all singing, all dancing, all exploding "animation"? I wonder how Steve Flint and/or Kathy Millat (both superb modellers in their own right) would react if their work was rated as "OK but lacks excitement..." as they so cavalierly describe some very good modelling efforts (assuming that what we see on screen is not edited down from a more nuanced assessment). Now I understand the need to make the show appealing to a wide audience, but the BBC2 show "The Repair Shop" manages to attract audiences without dumbing down and resorting to reality TV parlour tricks. And, as I am in "Mr Grumble" mood, can forthcoming episodes (or failing that, the next series) minimise or do away with the interminable filler shots? Too many are repetitious (how many times do we need to see a diesel shunter???). And as the programme is (ostensibly) about Railway Modelling, why not have a short (1 minute?) segment about a modelling technique - such as static grass laying (infinitely more interesting than yet another shot of a Peacock).
  5. Thanks for clarifying why a volcano appeared in the British Isles.... But your comment about constant layout and rule changes intrigues me. Layout and rule changes on the instigation of whom? To my mind it has a whiff of some producer or director type - with no knowledge of (interest in?) railway modelling - "needing" to inject "more drama" or "more excitement" into the programme (but I could be wrong...). Could this be a "jumping the shark" moment for GMRC?
  6. Finally caught up with my recorded TV backlog (thanks to Mrs iD having filled up the HD with crime series ) and watched GMRC Season 2, Episode 1 and my overall impression - like for series 1 - is that it is very much the proverbial curate's egg. Well done to the participating teams, some exemplary modelling done under what must be immense pressure. This year a distinct improvement (at least - so far - in Episode 1) was the selection of items given out for the scratch built challenge: there was nothing that I would regard as "you're havin' a laff, aren't you" although I think that there was far too much tutu tulle doled out (1 tutu could probably meet the needs of a dozen or more layouts). I wonder how much feedback there was, last year, about the suitability of the items given out for the scratch built challenge. For me, the major negative of the competition is the expectation of multiple "animations" on each layout and rather "over the top" ones at that (a volcano in the British Isles? Be serious). My personal perspective is that animations on a layout should be like salt&pepper, CGI and swearing - used sparingly to help showcase everything else and not used just for the sake of it, But aside from my personal preference, I think that emphasising the animations is doing the non-railway modeller viewer a diservice: how many non-railway modellers will - after watching this programme - go to a model railway exhibition and be disappointed by the dearth of flying saucers, erupting volcanos, animated Daleks and the like? Surely the programme should highlight the middle ground between the finescale 4mm replica run to a prototypical timetable and the all singing, all dancing, exploding toy train set? I know that C5 needs viewing figures (and - to paraphrase PT Barnum - Nobody ever lost a pound by underestimating the taste of the British public), but surely - with the success of things like the Slow TV movement - GMRC could be a little more challenging and informative in its presentation? Still, it is compulsive viewing and thanks to the miracle of digital audiovisual technology I can fast foreward through the filler shots and talking heads to the modelling (and there is some great modelling being done). Again, well done teams: you are far braver than I would ever be! iD
  7. I know, but I was greatly simplifying to keep my post short. I think that to really understand how Japanese Railways work you have to be Japanese. But we Gaijin can enjoy their railways nonetheless
  8. I too have become an avid JRJ viewer and I do agree that the presentation is more than a little stilted, with no obvious chemistry between the presenters (I think Russell Totten came across as a railway enthusiast, the current presenter - Nathan Berry - doesn't seem to have [or project] that enthusiasm). The episode on the Tokyo Metro should become obligatory watching for ALL London Underground staff (and at all levels...) I loved the various episodes they have done on the various Japanese Luxury Trains (such as the Seven Stars in Kyushu, the Twilight Express Mizukaze [love the Art Deco look], the Royal Express or the Shiki-Shima Sleeper Train). They make some of the other luxury trains (no names, no pack drill) look rather shabby. Interestingly, Japanese Railways are privatised - yet manage to be light years ahead of what we've been able to do in the UK. An ASLEF acquaintance of mine said "Japan privatised the right way, Britain the wrong..." I've been fortunate enough to ride the Shinkansen, the Tokyo Subway and a local line in Japan - all exemplary! iD p.s. NHK World is also good for no-nonsense cooking programmes (where the emphasis is on the food, not the presenters) and their Sumo highlights (Mrs iD and I are fans of both Tochinoshin and Enhō, whilst Hakuhō is an amazing wrestler)
  9. Hi Phil Well, that's what I assumed (although isn't Betamax [and the cameras?] still used a lot at the professional level?), However, the point is that digital camera closeups are not very kind to modelling (scratch building a lot myself, I often take close-up digital photographs of what I am working on to show me what I can't see is wrong with the model..) and there must be ways - lenses? filters? digital de-enhancement? - to better present a model in close-up? Of course, as you have rightly pointed out, even the long and medium-shots of the layouts - taken by team members - are taken on digital cameras. I think that that is the paradox of digital photography: in medium and long shot - things look better than they are "in real life"; whilst in close up - things can look worse than they are "in real life"
  10. Firstly, well done to all: production company, participating teams, judges and presenters. It's also good news that a second series has been commissioned, given the drivel that has lower viewing figures and still gets re-commissioned, I am pleased that the viewing figures were more than robust enough to support a second season. Given these robust viewing figures, and knowing that the production team, presenters and judges have all "popped in" to RMWeb, I'd like to suggest some changes (improvements? refinements? make of it what you will) that could be taken on board: Perhaps less emphasis on the gimmicky. Having been to numerous model railway shows - from local affairs, to finescale society meetings to Warley - I have the very distinct impression that - on the whole - railway modellers are fairly conservative (whether modelling the Big 4, BR 70s or the railways today). This may come as a big surprise to a neophyte railway modeller when he/she turns up at his/her local model railway club expecting to see lots of the sort of animations featured on the programme. Yes to a scratch-build challenge - but make it based on those things that are frequently sourced for scratch building: teddy bears (for fur); hard, clear, plastic wrapping (for windows and the like), offcuts of plastic, metal and wood, knackered toys (for motors, wheels, wiring, etc.). Don't underestimate the intelligence of the viewers. It wasn't quite "Jackanory - The Railway Version", but at times I felt that it was far too simplified, fortunately without tipping over into condescending (but having said that, it does seem that much of current programming today- of all types - does, too often, veer into what could be called "CBBC Territory" ["can you say ecosystem?" "Good! That's a big word, isn't it?"]). I don't envy the production team one bit in trying to walk the fine line between being incomprehensible to "outsiders" and simplifying to the point of "dumbing down". But I think that perhaps for season the producers could "up the complexity". Revisit the cinematography, I don't think that it does the modelling justice. I would assume that digital cameras are being used and digital camera closeups are incredibly cruel to models. Things that look good "in the flesh" or at normal viewing distances, look horrible in extreme digital closeup. I noted, on more than one occasion, the judges were saying things along the lines of "that's great modelling" whilst what they were admiring looked incredibly crude on close up (as viewed on a home cinema screen), yet when presented at normal viewing distances (as posted on RMWeb by some of the participating teams) looked very, very good indeed. With such robust viewing figures, perhaps the production company will now be able to jettison the numerous "filler" shots and exclusively focus on the modelling. Finally, I do hope that the RMWebber's comments and contributions (whether critical and curmudgeonly or upbeat and pollyannish - and everything in between) will be source of knowledge, inspiration and support for the production team in making the next series of GMRC even better than the first. iD
  11. I continue to watch the series because, like the proverbial Curate's egg, parts of it are excellent. I really admire the courage, modelling skills and tenacity of the contestants, as well as their diplomatic skills (alas, I suspect, when confronted by some of [admittedly few] inanities said on or required by the show, my responses would easily make me the "villain" of the episode...) I think that one can possibly argue that one contribution to some of the less "real modelling" aspects of the series (if one could put it that way) is the insistence on including "animations" on the layout. Regardless of whether or not one is for or against "animations" on a layout (I have mixed feelings, but lean slightly more towards being against), it does look like it takes valuable modelling time and resources away from completing the layout in the allotted time. And, to be generous and diplomatic, some of the animations do appear to have a very tenuous link with the railway being created (I also get the impression - correct me if I am wrong - that for some the animations are included because they have to, not because they want to). I have commented before on how "sneer-free" the series is (and kudos to the whole production team for that), but the one place I really do think that they are "extracting the Michael" is the scratchbuild challenge: a lady's shoe?, a washing up sponge? a sink plunger? "Puh-lease" as our American friends would say. Why not a proper scratchbuild challenge? a few sheets of plain and embossed plastic, some clear plastic and assorted wires and plastic strip - that would be a true test of scratchbuilding. And, to do the scratchbuilders justice, start the challenge on the very first day. Finally, to emphasize the (generally) positive view of railway modelling this programme is promoting, it would be nice - in a future series - to spend a few minutes in each programme highlighting pinnacle modelling built by some of the hobby's top practitioners; from a single building from Pendon to a whole layout such as Copenhagen Fields (a bit like motoring shows doing a puff piece on the latest Rolls Royce or Ferrari: something inaccessible for most but nonetheless interesting to learn about).
  12. Thanks for that clarification. It was mentioned so fast in the introduction that all I got was that he is the editor of a "railway magazine" Apologies to Steve for missing this (and my critique will be suitable amended). But I'd love to see him "strut his stuff" and show off his modelling knowledge (not much sign of that, yesterday).
  13. To be frank, I had low expectations of this show and was not disappointed... First the positives: there was more than a few, tantalising, glimpses of superb modelling - especially given the time constraints nearly everyone involved seemed to be having great fun creativity was very much on display, although I wonder how many constraints were imposed on the teams by the production company? (rather than trying to cram too much into 3 days, why didn't the team inspired by the Ealing comedies just concentrate on recreating the atmosphere of one film - such as The Ladykillers) It looks like it would appeal to non railway modellers and that can only be a good thing. There was a total absence of sneer (ironic or otherwise). Despite the relative inanity of the format, railway modelling was treated as top notch hobby worthy of getting involved in. Now the negatives (from my perspective) I was unimpressed by the judges and prersenters. Now I am not a regular watcher of UK TV, so the presenters may be the "bee knees" at the moment in Britain, but they lacked the sparkle and electricity seen in the GBBO presenters, Furthermore, notwithstanding the credentials of the judges, why weren't any of the editors of the British Railway Modelling Magazines luminaries of the modelling world asked to take part (or did they refuse?) and what about some of the luminaries of the modelling world?* The production company seem not have a clue about model railways and the format they have devised is - to be brutally honest - unsuitable for producing quality output (notwithstanding the excellence of the individual parts [ingredients] - the whole was less than the sum of the parts). Extending the build time to 7 days (6 days of modelling limited to ONLY 8 hours/day plus 1/2 day for set up and for demonstration) would have kept the time pressure but allowed for the teams to really show what they can do. There is reality TV and there is reality TV (does anyone remember the Slow TV reality TV the Beeb broadcast in 2015? just focusing on the skills and with no superfluous gimmicks, commentary or music) and Knickerbockerglory - the production company - seems to, at least in the first episode, revel in those clichés (selective editing to either enhance or diminish the subject, pointless jump cuts, cut aways when things get interesting, etc....). GBBO (at least from what little I have seen) seems to be the yardstick for good reality TV competitions: suitable editing, a lack of "bigging up" or "dissing" the contestants, a sense of fun and a lot of knowledge, clearly on display (I'm afraid that, in the first episode, neither of the specialised judges came across as knowledgeable - maybe in later episodes they will have a chance to display their knowledge????) As my old house master once said (well, actually, said many times) "5/10, the boy has potential but poorly applies it" iD * amended to reflect the fact that Steve Flint IS indeed a model railway magazine editor (see my comment in post 122 below)
  14. Well, I've been a busy boy: construction of the Lap Steel has been completed and now I have to finish sanding it down. Then comes the fun stuff: sealing the wood, painting it (I'll be using gloss red for the body, gloss black for the front of the headstock and scratch plate) apply homemade transfers (the logo, guitar name and fretboard markers) and then wire it up. If all goes well, I'll have a usable lap steel in about two to three weeks. So here are photos of progress to date: The guitar will be finished in red (possibly "candy apple red" or Ferrari red or similar) Now I'd like to draw upon the collected RMWeb wisdom: The game plan is to use some sort of undercoat (thoughts? suggestions?) followed by the paint (gloss red for the body, gloss black for the front of the headstock and the scratch plate), apply the transfers (logo, guitar name, fretboard markers) then finish with a few coats of clear acrylic (lacquer? varnish). Do any RMWebbers who have worked in wood/with wood have any thoughts, suggestions or comments about finishing? The centre piece of the guitar is oak, whilst the wings and the trim is softwood of some kind (no idea what, it was scrap - possibly pine or ash) Many Thanks, folks iD
  15. Well "yes and no" is the answer. As it is a lap steel, the strings don't need to be fretted against the fingerboard - which means I don't have to cut an install fret wire. Having said that, the frets do have to be marked on the guitar for visual reference. Accordingly I took my Gibson Les Paul, measured up the fretboard and created a fret marker image which will be transformed into a transfer (decal) which will then be applied to the painted lap steel guitar and then sealed with a few coats of gloss varnish. In terms of precision, the tedious things was tweaking the fret marker image to take into account the slight changes in dimensions when printed out by my laser printer (it provides a 99% scale reproduction of the on-screen image, so unless "tweaked" everything is slightly off).
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