Diverging Clear Productions
Length: 1 hour 15 minutes
Time Period: 1985- 1989
Locations: Salem, Mt. Vernon, St. Louis, Kirkwood,
Source: George Redmond
Producer: Mary R. McPherson
Diverging Clear Productions has their latest release in, The Heritage Series of programs. These are interesting titles, with more releases upcoming. MoPac was filmed on video in the 1980’s. This series offers a unique look, at the area’s railroad scene of the time.
This one features Missouri Pacific. It was already merged with Union Pacific. In this train video, MoPac blue is still in place. In this show, you would never know that Missouri Pacific was combined, with UP. There are no Union Pacific diesels, and none of those Missouri Pacific canaries. Exclusively, solid lash-ups of MoPac eagle locomotives.
There is a main menu on this DVD. It has a play selection and previews. There are a few brief glimpses of some more of their titles, after the show’s conclusion. Once the disc is loaded, there are 17 unmarked chapters. These can be accessed with a next button on your player. No maps are provided.
We see scenes from the old videotapes. Some quality issues that originate from the source tapes. Shot over a period of a few years. There is some variance.
There are the usual items, from 1980’s era videotape. The viewing fluctuates somewhat. Color balance is slightly off at times. Some pinkish sky, or maybe the clouds. A slight greenish cast on the edges of the screen. Sometimes, slightly watery, possibly some copy tape. None of these flaws are serious, but they are present. Seems to be a direct tape to DVD format transfer. The show is entirely watchable. Editing is nicely done.
Diverging Clear uses a slimline DVD case. Outer package labeling, does contain an accurate description of the program content. The producer has a nice, directly labeled disc.
After reviewing those items, let’s see the show!
Missouri Pacific in this time period, is not commonly found. As with some similar shows on the market, this creates a niche market. If a company has footage and it is watchable, the demand is in that marketplace. Many railfan types would much rather have train videos be available, even those which are in an original, aged condition. Those buyers will take some lesser quality, in order to see the desired trains. Hence, the hardcore railfan show.
The videographer does a good job of capturing MoPac here. It is an amateur style. The camera shakes at times, the zoom adjustments can be a little abrupt. The shots vary, this was done over a period of 4 years. Overall, most of it is good, vintage footage.
Audio is natural, environmental live sound. Whatever the microphone pick-up, is what we hear. Train sounds are excellent. Sometimes we get wind noise beating on the microphone, not often though. In fact, the audio is very interesting to hear. Check the slow diesels versus the faster ones on road units working hard to pull a mainline freight. Switching duties create different demands for the locomotives. EMD and GE engine sounds are recognizable. Light engines sound unique. Hear some SD40’s wind up, and get a heavy freight on the move! Listening to all of this, is a feature in itself!
The show is narrated throughout. The narration is a laidback and informs sparingly. Narrative gives callouts for locomotive models and locations. Some trains are identified in a basic manner, ex: local, hotshot. Trackage used in the scene may also be identified. This is consistent, sufficient, and works out fine.
Action is plentiful, in southern Illinois and Missouri. Numerous MoPac moves are viewed. Many of the trains are seen in multiple shots. Some detailed repeat views of locomotives performing switching are included.
Keep a sharp eye on the Mt. Vernon scenes. You will see locomotives that are parked outside, at the Precision National shops for rebuilding. Burlington Northern, Amtrak and Southern Pacific gray, are seen, in the background.
Diesel engines are mostly second generation EMD’s. Specific models such as : GP38-2, GP15, SD40-2 and an MP15 are the main units. Some General Electric as: B30-7 as well.
An occasional Missouri Pacific buzzsaw emblem can be found on at least one locomotive and a caboose. MoPac eagle units have the cab emblems and a wide array of weathering.
You can still see a caboose on some of these trains. FRED has made serious inroads. They still had in active service: wide vision, and those one of a kind MoPac models, that resemble a transfer caboose.
If you just want to try one of their new Heritage releases. The Illinois Central Gulf has better image quality overall. Missouri Pacific does have a very lively set of locomotive sounds, at work. Both have good basic, amateur shot video coverage of the subject railroads.
Missouri Pacific: Last Days of the Eagle is definitely for hardcore railfans. Model railroaders would also find this a good addition. The many slow train moves give some great looks at the diesels. The program is in a basic, no frills approach. Diverging Clear promised and delivered, all MoPac Eagle blue locomotives. It is a bit of a mixed bag on quality. Yet, it is still a solid blue Missouri Pacific.
For those who can appreciate it: this is a good, uncommon show.
Rating: 3 Stars