Scaleforum 2020

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billbedford
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby billbedford » Sat Apr 18, 2020 12:44 pm

Joe Newman wrote:I know that there is a health problem caused by the covid-19 virus.
Perhaps Bill can explain.


I despair of people who don't recognise spillchucker corrections.
Bill Bedford
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David Thorpe
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby David Thorpe » Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:52 pm

If we're talking not only about exhibition layouts, but also perhaps about people showing off their home layouts, many of which may never feature in an exhibition, then surely YouTube is our friend? It would need someone who knows about YouTube to co-ordinate it, but presumably if everyone involved had a video made of their layout they could then send it to the co-ordinator who would then put all the videos he received together and load the whole lot up to YouTube. It would need enough people to volunteer their layouts and/or any useful demonstrations they might like to give (these could form a separate video) and of course and most importantly an expert Volunteer to be co-ordinator who puts it all together (and no, that won't be me, I've no idea how to work videos). Actually, having given it some further thought, if Scaleforum 2020 doesn't take place the Society won't suffer the financial loss that Scaleforum usually entails and so if there is no suitable volunteer it would presumably be affordable to pay someone who knows what they're doing to co-ordinate and edit a virtual Scaleforum 2020.

As far as the physical Scaleforum is concerned, I think it must be a nightmare for Andrew and Neil endeavouring to organise an exhibition that probably won't take place this year.

DT

John Duffy
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby John Duffy » Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:23 pm

David Thorpe wrote:If we're talking not only about exhibition layouts, but also perhaps about people showing off their home layouts, many of which may never feature in an exhibition, then surely YouTube is our friend?

DT


What an excellent idea, I'm surprised that it seems to have killed the thread. Perhaps this is an ideal opportunity to see those layouts that never leave home. Are there any out there?

John

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Le Corbusier » Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:20 am

John Duffy wrote:
David Thorpe wrote:If we're talking not only about exhibition layouts, but also perhaps about people showing off their home layouts, many of which may never feature in an exhibition, then surely YouTube is our friend?

DT


What an excellent idea, I'm surprised that it seems to have killed the thread. Perhaps this is an ideal opportunity to see those layouts that never leave home. Are there any out there?

John


Presumably lack of discussion has more to do with doubt relating to logistics, finance, experience and skillsets? These will be very differrent from those needed for exhibition organisation and Youtubing is currently not something the society does.

It would also need an individual(s) keen on the idea and willing and ready to take it on ....such that realistic proposals could be placed before the committee for assessment.

But it is a nice idea to muse about.
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Paul Townsend
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Paul Townsend » Fri Apr 24, 2020 10:50 am

IMHO, the idea of a Virtual MR Show is attractive. If the Committee decide to promote it I suggest that a guide is published to optimise the "filming" skills of contributors.

A bunch of videos from Hand held Smartphones would be awful.
Bods need advise on minimum equipment requirement, use of camera and lighting and sound to say nowt about editing!

This is a high level ( sorry Chris ! ) challenge that should not be under estimated.
I have a background as a 30 years BBC Broadcasting Engineer, not cameraman or lighting supervisor so am not the guy to advise in depth.
Yonks ago I was asked to train a bunch of 15 yr olds and used a book to help: Video Camera Techniques, Gerald Millerson 1994 ISBN 0 240 51376 2
Second hand copies may be around or a modern equivalent.

I suspect that amongst our members there will be someone who could undertake the essential training online. I suggest a Zoom meeting as I know these work well for tutorials.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby David Thorpe » Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:45 pm

I know that as a Society we are encumbered with the millstone of getting it all right, but I don't think we're seeking perfection in videos for a virtual show. Certainly we don't want rubbishy ones, but I've seen plenty of examples of perfectly good videos taken with nothing more complicted than a smartphone, often handheld. I would like to think that members with layouts, portable or permanent, whatever stage they're at (I've never yet got to the stage in any layout of having any scenery!) could make videos of them without the need for professional involvement. If in doubt, get a teenager in to do it - they tend to be particularly savvy and indeed skilled when it comes to YouTube (although I do appreciate that that might be precluded if we're still in a stage of lockdown). And while videos showing a layout in action would be preferable, stills would also be quite acceptable for those who couldn't get a video made or who perhapos don't have a layout but have an excellent model they think might be of interest (or would just like to show off!).

I think if we try to over-complicate things we'll end up with nothing being done. Anyway, our little NE Scotland group is going to be having a Zoom meeting tomorrow so I'll sound out our members as to how they feel about it and whether they would be prepared to contribute something if this idea was to go ahead - which, of course, will depend on whether Scaleforum goes ahead. Meanwhile, I'd be grateful if the Committee would formally consider this suggestion for assessment in the event of the physical Scalforum having to be cancelled.

DT

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Neil Smith
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Neil Smith » Fri Apr 24, 2020 4:15 pm

I agree that this idea is worth exploring and like David I think it could be possible to produce acceptable videos on a smartphone, with a bit of care.

Like Paul did, I still work for the BBC, in radio (30 years this summer since my first pay cheque) , but I am required to shoot TV pictures from time to time. I now do this on my BBC issue iPhone (and no its not a top of the range latest model, by a long chalk!).

Yes there are some dire videos on YouTube, one I saw the other day of a lovely layout that was very hard to watch because the camera kept trying to find a new focus as the camera panned past a signal box in front of the train it was following. Or they are badly lit, etc. etc.

For what it's worth, the guidance we are given is:

* You need to tell a story, so think about the finished edit, and get the shots you need to achieve that. That means setting the context like the overall track plan early on, following train movements without jumping around, and not just shots of trains but include other scenic features etc.;
* Static shots are far better than zooms or pans (avoids the focus wobble, the white balance wobble, the camera wobble, and makes editing much better because you don't go from one zoom or pan to another, inducing motion sickness in the viewer);
* Get a range of shots showing the same thing, close up as well as middle distance and far away, so you can more easily "storyboard" the shots into a logical sequence. Generally start from wide shots (distant) then get closer, but you can mix it up for effect;
* Avoid "crossing the line" so shoot from the same side of a given movement so the train keeps going say left to right when edited, not suddenly right to left mid sequence;
* Use a tripod or other support to minimise camera wobble;
* Give the camera the best chance, so get the best lighting, camera positions etc.;
* Always shoot landscape format and best if the phone is always the "same" landscape (so rotated anticlockwise from vertical each time not sometimes clockwise);
* Make sure the sounds/background noise are optimal.. Wait till the washing machine had finished, etc!
* If it's not right for some reason, do it again. At least here we are talking about filming something where rerunning a movement is easy (unlike getting A VIP to re-cut a ribbon!).

That's about it. I use the iMovie app which is free and does basic editing of needed. Check it back on a large screen and redo if needed because as has been said many times on this Forum, large close ups show all sorts of warts and issues!

This approach may not produce Hollywood standard cinematography, but equally while it may be somewhat unambitious camerawork it should ensure that viewers can concentrate on the subject matter rather than being distracted by the way it has been filmed.

I hope this is helpful.

All the best

Neil

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Paul Townsend » Fri Apr 24, 2020 5:04 pm

David Thorpe wrote:I know that as a Society we are encumbered with the millstone of getting it all right, but I don't think we're seeking perfection in videos for a virtual show.

DT

You are over-rating what I was suggesting.
I certainly didn't mean to imply it had to be done with professional equipment or at a pro skill level.

Many of us will have a digital stills camera that has video recording capability. Others will have real domestic video cameras.
The point I was trying to make is that a First Class Modeller does not necessarily know anything at all about making a movie or even composing a decent still shot.

Advice from bods with know how will benefit even someone doing it on a smartphone.

Neil has kick started that process. I now suggest that rather than lots of bods chipping in here with their twopennorth of expertise, those with the skills get together and compose an advisory paper which the Committee could adopt. Win Win ?

I have a hatred of YouTube because too often, when I Google a problem, dozens of Youtube entries are listed. Most of these are Americans taking 15 mins of crap video to explain something that only needs two sentences and a still piccy. Rant over!

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Le Corbusier » Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:00 pm

Purely for the sake of balance ... I learnt how to build a VW aircooled engine from seperately sourced parts built completely from scratch almost totally from American Youtube tutorials and it currently has 12,000 miles on the clock running sweet as a nut :thumb

A great resource even if annoying at times. :D
Tim Lee

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Horsetan
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Horsetan » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:51 pm

The other thing YouTube is good for is stumbling over Japanese schoolchildren whose prowess with a drum kit leaves a good few adult professional drummers in the shade.

This type of thing
That would be an ecumenical matter.

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Rod Cameron
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Rod Cameron » Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:24 am

She certainly shows promise Ivan - I thought that corner shelving unit was part of the kit at first!
Rod

Winander
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Winander » Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:18 am

There is a danger if we overcomplicate this, people will be discouraged.

I recently visited Barrowmore MRG's web pages (home of Mostyn) and was struck by the excellent presentation. Prior to that I had been looking at the society show retrospectives, 1883 challenge etc. The comparison between them was stark, our retrospectives are lacklustre to say the least, barely a word about the layout, well taken pictures but diminutive and poorly presented - there's no reason these days to restrict image size on websites

I think it would serve the society well and encourage new membership if we had better presentation of our members' work - a showcase, and this opportunity could be used as a trial. I would suggest pictures only but with a background story, and if some wish to be more adventurous, they can present a video. But I do think the story behind the picture is important.
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Le Corbusier
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Le Corbusier » Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:34 am

Winander wrote:There is a danger if we overcomplicate this, people will be discouraged.

I recently visited Barrowmore MRG's web pages (home of Mostyn) and was struck by the excellent presentation. Prior to that I had been looking at the society show retrospectives, 1883 challenge etc. The comparison between them was stark, our retrospectives are lacklustre to say the least, barely a word about the layout, well taken pictures but diminutive and poorly presented - there's no reason these days to restrict image size on websites

I think it would serve the society well and encourage new membership if we had better presentation of our members' work - a showcase, and this opportunity could be used as a trial. I would suggest pictures only but with a background story, and if some wish to be more adventurous, they can present a video. But I do think the story behind the picture is important.

I think that is a very good idea. ... You could have links to video footage as well which could be silent as it wouldn't be the main event but rather added interest.
Tim Lee

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Rod Cameron
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Rod Cameron » Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:43 am

Winander wrote:There is a danger if we overcomplicate this, people will be discouraged.

I recently visited Barrowmore MRG's web pages (home of Mostyn) and was struck by the excellent presentation. Prior to that I had been looking at the society show retrospectives, 1883 challenge etc. The comparison between them was stark, our retrospectives are lacklustre to say the least, barely a word about the layout, well taken pictures but diminutive and poorly presented - there's no reason these days to restrict image size on websites

I think it would serve the society well and encourage new membership if we had better presentation of our members' work - a showcase, and this opportunity could be used as a trial. I would suggest pictures only but with a background story, and if some wish to be more adventurous, they can present a video. But I do think the story behind the picture is important.


I think it's a bit unfair to compare a website dedicated to a specific group/layout to the Society retrospectives. The latter are meant to give a flavour of the overall show (including people), as a reminder to those that went and a taster to those who didn't. The show guide (issued to all members) is there to give more information on the layouts pictured.

On the other hand, I do agree that there is an opportunity here to produce some showcase presentations, especially for layouts off the exhibition circuit.
Rod

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David Thorpe
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby David Thorpe » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:00 pm

Our area group had a Zoom meeting this morning which was very successful - I really would encourage all area groups to do something like that if you're not already doing so. Mind you, we are only six in number - many more than that might be more difficult.

However, we took the opportunity of discussing a virtual Scaleforum and while most of us liked the idea in principle, the difficulties that it would entail were also recognised. Several of us took the view that layouts are not the major attraction of Scaleforum, or indeed any model railway show, lagging behind other aspects such as demonstrations, traders, and general socialisation. It would obviously be difficult to include these in a YouTube Scaleforum. We also concluded that to have one general co-ordinator or moderator would be unrealistic - if anything of this nature was to go ahead, it would perhaps be better dealt with initially on an area group basis, with each group perhaps producing a suitable video selection that could then be amalgamated with the others which would be when the overall co-ordiantor would be come involved. To that of course would have to be added the ability and/or willingness of members to have their layouts suitably videoed - the current lockdown means that if a particular member was not confident about producing a video that showed off his work to best adavantage, he couldn't have someone else come in to do it for him. And of course each area group would have to have someone who is reasonably competent at video editing. Also, such a scheme would leave out members who are not in area groups.

So maybe the virtual Scaleforum idea is at the moment a little ambitious - perhaps something along the lines that Winander suggested would be more realistic.

DT

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Le Corbusier » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:11 pm

David Thorpe wrote: Several of us took the view that layouts are not the major attraction of Scaleforum,


:shock: :? :(

For me the layouts are central. A chance to see things in the flesh and actually understand what is going on ... talk to the operators/ask questions/photograph. They are also a show case of what is possible and very much an inspiration.

I do think there is a danger of taking for granted the excellence of what is showcased just because it is your own (or matched by your own) work. A prophet in there own house etc etc.

That is also the advantage of video over carefully set up and lit photos ... you get more of a feel for the actuality.
Tim Lee

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David B
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby David B » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:17 pm

Winander wrote: . . . our retrospectives are lacklustre to say the least, barely a word about the layout, well taken pictures but diminutive and poorly presented - there's no reason these days to restrict image size on websites


I agree with Rod and feel you are being rather unfair. The retrospectives should be taken together with the show guide which has details and plans of the layouts. Having produced the retrospectives in the past, I am aware of the amount of work involved, so rather than make more work by duplicating the layout details, I did include a link to a Guide that could be downloaded.

Regarding image size, I disagree with you. There are still many of us who do not have good internet connections in terms of both speed and bandwidth. I can not view any videos posted as they keep stopping and the web pages take ages to load; large images also take an eternity to download. There are people who just take pictures, upload them and do not think of the consequences, so I would still encourage them to keep images to 72dpi and no larger than 1500px wide, fewer pixels if portrait, and a file size of well under 500k. I aimed to keep retrospective images to under 200k each.

Presentation on the web does take skill which was a factor in my passing the job of compiling the retrospectives on to John. My skill with web technicals was no longer there and now, I would have no idea where to start. The software and skills have moved on and are way beyond me as I am sure they are for many others. We therefore rely on the few who do have the skills. Any volunteers??

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John McAleely
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby John McAleely » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:22 pm

Speaking as the current retrospective publisher, I would be very open to someone with a new vision for them taking them on getting in touch.

My own goal was to build on David’s excellent work, and focus further on the photography we get of each show. My own vision was to strip back the surrounding infrastructure to the degree I could - hence each being presented largely identically, and yes, very minimally. I envisage most people hitting ‘slideshow’, and enjoying the photography at full screen. The photos are (mostly) now hosted at modern hi-dpi (retina for one manufacturer’s brand) resolution, if the photographer makes that available. Those of you who mostly use your phones and tablets (there are quite a few) may have already found the website gets out of the way when it can (in the retrospective sections themselves - not yet on all pages we publish).

Writing as well as photography would be welcomed by many I imagine. Innovative ways of presenting that, so that the whole publication delivers more, would be awesome. I lack the skills to deliver that myself.

Perhaps if we put some time into virtual presentation now (I think it would likely be additional people, over what we do today), I hope that would benefit the shows themselves when they return.

Maybe this thread will inspire some people to do some experiments, rather than try to do a big-bang ‘virtual show’, and we can then take those at some later date to make a whole show?

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John McAleely
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby John McAleely » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:30 pm

Thank you David - it looks like we both posted at the same time.

David B wrote:I would still encourage them to keep images to 72dpi and no larger than 1500px wide, fewer pixels if portrait, and a file size of well under 500k. I aimed to keep retrospective images to under 200k each.


I think I still hit the upper budget routinely (500K), but do so at twice the resolution (144 dpi). I just looked at one image, and for ~230K, we now get 4 times the resolution. I believe I currently use 800px as my presentation size, but with 1600px available to the users browser, for zooming and presentation on hidpi screens.

Our modern cameras generate much more, so finding good ways of using that, while still providing a responsive site for those on slower connections, is something for someone else to pick up!

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Le Corbusier » Sat Apr 25, 2020 12:38 pm

John McAleely wrote:Thank you David - it looks like we both posted at the same time.

David B wrote:I would still encourage them to keep images to 72dpi and no larger than 1500px wide, fewer pixels if portrait, and a file size of well under 500k. I aimed to keep retrospective images to under 200k each.


I think I still hit the upper budget routinely (500K), but do so at twice the resolution (144 dpi). I just looked at one image, and for ~230K, we now get 4 times the resolution. I believe I currently use 800px as my presentation size, but with 1600px available to the users browser, for zooming and presentation on hidpi screens.

Our modern cameras generate much more, so finding good ways of using that, while still providing a responsive site for those on slower connections, is something for someone else to pick up!

On some websites you get the option to view at differing resolutions ... same with videos (smaller or larger windows). Might that be an option allowing where you have the capability to view at high definition but not ruling out those with less bandwidth. I have to admit that I thought that this was what goes on with the forum pages ... I load quite hi-res photos and you can eiether view as is on the page or click on them to see larger lictures and then zoom in to the detail ... or perhaps I have misunderstood.
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Will L
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Will L » Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:21 pm

Dave's point about the layouts not necessarily being the most important element struck a cord with with me. It made me think about a virtual Scaleforum from a different angle.

Firstly - Layout Videos.

If you consider running a youtube layout show, why restrict it to one weekend a year. Would it not be better, if we are going to ask people to produce a video, for layout owners to aim for the video equivalent of a magazine article. ( I.e. With good views covering the whole layout, plenty of train action and a voice over giving details about the layout, what we are seeing, how it was achieved etc, etc.) and post them, say here, more or less permanently. So people could brose them at any time. I can't see why, when you have such videos, why you would want to limit viewing them to one weekend.

Secondly - A Virtual Scaleform covering every else that happens at the show.

Apart form seeing layout, many people see the real purpose of the show is to be able to see the demos, visit the trades and meet up with friends. A whole series of Video conferences organised over a week end could do all of that , and perhaps produce something more akin to a skills weekend. A team of demonstrators could host individual day long video conference type meetings which "visitors" could join ask a question and leave. Traders could run a similar sessions, answer questions about their products and possibly take orders. There could also be be video chat rooms where people could just meet up, though I'm less clear as to how that might work.

The societies role in all this, would be to select the participants, organise (and possibly pay for although Zoom is free at the moment) the individual video conferences and then to publish a list of meeting ID's and Passwords so people could sign in to individual sessions as they fancied.

What would be useful would be a front door app (which you might want to have a charge for), which would give access to the individual conformance calls without disclosing the ID/Password information, possibly control the numbers participating in any one conference call, and give a list of people who were there and allow one to one conversations to be set up.

Just a thought. Somebody who knows exactly what facilities the various video conferencing tools provide may ben able to suggest ways such a session could be organised? At least equal access to such a show would be available where ever people live.

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John McAleely
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby John McAleely » Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:44 pm

Le Corbusier wrote:I load quite hi-res photos and you can eiether view as is on the page or click on them to see larger lictures and then zoom in to the detail


I don’t believe the forum materially processes uploaded images. It simply aims to offer them back to readers as-is. The surrounding forum thread does ask people’s browser to *display* within the size of the thread. When a click-for-bigger option is available, I think it displays the same image at the new, larger, size.

For people on low-bandwidth connections, that is not ideal at all. More sophisticated systems do resize the underlying image, but ours, sadly, does not.

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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Winander » Sat Apr 25, 2020 2:24 pm

Will L wrote:Secondly - A Virtual Scaleform covering every else that happens at the show.


A few days ago MERG held a video conference that is part of a series aimed at beginners - more in the style of a demo than a presentation. I didn't see it live, but have seen the recording and it went very well. I believe that there were 33 participants at the end of the call. Participants were able to ask the presenter questions and the format had clearly been considered and it was well organised. MERG area groups are meeting via Zoom, in fact, there is a virtual area group.
Richard Hodgson

Winander
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby Winander » Sat Apr 25, 2020 2:42 pm

John McAleely wrote:I envisage most people hitting ‘slideshow’, and enjoying the photography at full screen.


I wasn't aware of the option. I don't like slideshows so avoided it and if I didn't, was never in it long enough to notice the spectre that was the full screen toggle.

John McAleely wrote:Writing as well as photography would be welcomed by many I imagine. Innovative ways of presenting that, so that the whole publication delivers more, would be awesome.


Has/would the Society consider using something like Zenfolio? It doesn't appear to be expensive and I don't know how much text you can put below a picture but the advantage of using a packaged product is the ease of administration and maintenance. I am sure there is software available (in a simialr vein to phpBB) if you wanted a more bespoke application.

It would be publicly available but if done right it could be an excellent tool to promote the Society.
Richard Hodgson

tmcsean
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Re: Scaleforum 2020

Postby tmcsean » Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:43 pm

billbedford wrote:I reckon that the whole covid thing will be over by the end of May. If shows are cancelled into the autumn it will be because of 'civil unrest' caused by the government playing safe and not lifting the lockdown.

Of course, we all have a choice of whether we listen to people who look at the real data, and those who make up stories as they go along.


You're entitled to your opinion, Bill, but until I hear a coherent account of how it can be "over" before a proven vaccine is widely distributed I'll stay in line with the scientific and statistical consensus.

What worries me is what will happen in 3rd-world sums. And, what kept the WHO;s Strategic Health team awake during the 2009 swine flu outbreak - if C19 morphs into something really bad.

However, time will tell - being the great healer, or perhaps not for us older, frailer folk. If I'm wrong and Prof ben Israel is right, then I will apologise with a smile on my face.

Tony


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