A set of 5 DVDs produced by Trackside Model Railroading digital magazine, each touring a model train layout. In HO, Sn3 and N scale.
About this project
Hi, we are Ross and Jenny Waters, the publishers of Trackside Model Railroading digital magazine. We want to create a set of 5 DVDs showcasing some of the layouts we have featured in the magazine.
We travel and photograph various model railroad layouts to share each month with our readers. Each issue of the magazine features two model railroads with photographs and video of the layouts. The layouts we feature are in various scales and some are modeled after prototypical railroads while others are completely freelanced. We have been producing the digital magazine since mid-2013, and have photographed and featured close to 75 layouts.
We want to start producing DVD videos of some of these layouts. Each DVD will include still photographs and video of one layout with a narrated story line that talks about the layout’s features and how it operates. Some of the photos and video have already been seen in the magazine, but some of the material is new. Anyone who is interested in trains and modeling should enjoy these DVDs. At this point, the magazine has subscribers in 30 countries. However, the overall subscriber numbers are still low enough that the initial production cost to replicate a DVD is a bit of a hurdle. That is why we have created this Kickstarter. We hope that enough of you are interested in seeing these layouts that you can help us start this new venture. We have chosen five different layouts to feature in our first set of five DVDs.
We have already started working on the first DVD, a tour of JJ Johnston’s HO scale freelanced Puget Sound Iron Goat Railway based in western Washington State. We chose to produce the DVD of the PSIG first because JJ has moved and the layout has been dismantled. No one will be able to visit the PSIG again in person, but you can still enjoy it on video. Since we travel to the layouts ourselves, we are able to share some layouts that many people would not be able to see otherwise.
We have already photographed and filmed all of the material for the first DVD and done the editing, which is an extensive process. It is essentially ready to go to production. We felt this was necessary before starting the Kickstarter, so we aren’t starting something that has a lot of unknown challenges. We want to minimize the risks for our backers. After we complete the DVD of the PSIG, we have four more already planned and in process. These are also already photographed and filmed, though we might add a small amount of footage to one of them. When you back this DVD project, you are not paying for our travel to the layouts, our photographic equipment, or the computers and software needed to produce the DVDs. We have already handled all of that. You are only helping with the manufacturing costs of the DVDs, the music licensing fees, and the packaging and shipping costs. All video footage was shot in Canon High Definition 1080, and the still images are shot with professional Canon cameras.
Our hope is to raise enough money to have the DVDs professionally replicated. Replication of DVDs involves making a glass master of each DVD and then using injection molding to stamp the discs. It is the preferred method to create professional DVDs. The other option is to have the DVDs produced by duplication. The process of duplication is a bit more expensive per DVD, but is suitable and keeps upfront costs low. It used to be less reliable than replication, but at this point both are good options. We have set our goal so that if it is reached at the lowest level, we will produce the DVDs using the duplication method. If a higher level of interest is shown, then we will use the replication method to produce the DVDs. Depending on the popularity per title and total amount raised, we may end up producing some of the titles using duplication and some using replication.
Since there are only a few minor changes that we plan to make to the first DVD, we don’t expect to need a long time to produce it. Given the fact that we are new to the process of producing DVDs, we are allowing ourselves one year to produce and ship all five DVDs. That is about 2 ½ months per title, and it takes into consideration the fact that we are producing the magazine every month and we will still be responsible to meet those deadlines.
The five layouts we have selected for the DVD set are as follows, and the DVDs will be produced in the following order:
1. JJ Johnston’s HO scale Puget Sound Iron Goat Railway
The PSIG is a freelanced railroad based in western Washington State in 1938. The railroad is a mythical branch of the Great Northern Railway and serves the towns of Snoqualmie, Bellevue, and Issaquah.
2. Bob Christopherson’s Pioche and Western Railroad in Sn3
The P&W is an expertly modeled layout set in eastern Nevada in 1925 in Sn3. It is modeled after the Pioche Pacific Railroad. The Pioche & Western, like the PSIG, no longer exists as Bob has moved and dismantled the layout. We are the only publication to ever feature the Pioche & Western.
3. Bill Messecar’s Santa Fe Los Angeles Division 3rd District in HO scale
This 1950s era layout is based in Southern California and represents the actual operations of the ATSF at that time. The DVD will include a special bonus video of the layout during an operating session (which we already filmed).
4. Tyler Whitcomb’s freelanced N scale Tenino Western Railroad
The TNWRR is based in western Washington State from Olympia to the Pacific Coast in the late 1980s to early 1990s and is a beautiful example of what can be done in N scale. We may add a short amount of additional footage to this DVD, though we already have most of the photographs and video that we need.
5. Bill Barker’s Milwaukee Road Rocky Mountain Division in HO scale
Bill models the electric portion of the line from western Montana to north Idaho from 1950 to 1974. Milwaukee Road fans will enjoy seeing the railroad operating in Bill’s version of the scenic railroad route through the Lolo National Forest from Deer Lodge, Montana to Avery, Idaho.
We chose these layouts to be produced on DVD first because we feel they are a good mix of railroads, eras, and scales, and are based in different areas. If you do not wish to back all five DVDs, you can back whichever ones interest you. We will send out a survey after the Kickstarter is finished, and at that time you will be able to indicate which titles you would like to receive. Depending on which titles you choose, your DVD(s) may be shipped out early. They will be produced in the order indicated above.
Preview Some of the DVD Titles
Santa Fe Los Angeles Division 3rd District
Tenino Western Railroad
Milwaukee Road Rocky Mountain Division
Breakdown of Expenses
Below are three pie charts showing how our costs break down. We have shown them in three levels, as the percentages change a bit based on whether we produce the DVDs in-house, duplicate with a DVD production company, or replicate with a production company. It becomes a little complicated, since we may duplicate some titles and replicate others, but you should be able to get the idea from the pie charts. If we go over the basic funding level, we will be able to produce a higher-quality end product.
While the majority of our audience is made up of adult modelers, all of the content in the magazine and the DVDs is appropriate for children. We encourage you to introduce our material to children who have an interest in trains and hope to share our love of model railroading with the next generation. Modeling can be a great creative outlet for kids and learning to model teaches a variety of skillsets.
Thank you for checking out our Kickstarter project. Even if you can’t help with funding, you can help us by sharing this project with your friends and family.
Risks and challenges
We have tried to minimize the risks for our backers, which is why we have already completed the photography and videography and have researched and contacted the DVD production companies. We have our data backed up in case of hard drive failures, etc. We certainly will have to figure out a few things in the process, but that is why we have given ourselves a few months to complete each title.