About American Train Video Reviews: ATVR Ratings

 About American Train Video Reviews

Union Pacific 844 with Grand Canyon State Steam Special at Gilbert, AZ. WJ Hudson photo. 2011

American Train Video Reviews

American Train Video Reviews is the reference standard. Here to provide, high quality, train video product reviews. There are well- over 350 train video programs. All reviewed on this website. Fast growing and read worldwide. American Train Video Reviews, is the best!

Classic:  Diesel, Steam, Electric, Logging Lines and Trolleys.

Specializing in Classic Era with Vintage Film emphasis. Shows that are beyond the specialty focus, may also to be reviewed here. There are my exclusive reviews only. No shows can be purchased on this website. I do not make any money from this site.

The shows are donated from some generous people. Quite a bit of work, but worth the effort. I want to give the readers a great experience on American Train Video Reviews.

Some Recent ATVR Reviews are further down this page, in the showcase.

Make informed buying decisions.

There is a whole range of train video quality. Great ones, good ones and poorly done. It was after wasting some hard-earned money on bad shows, that I had the motivation to create this review site.

Better for the buyers. Better for the producers. Better for retailers. Nothing will drive an interested enthusiast from the market faster, than getting two, or three unsatisfactory shows, in succession.

Could be other issues besides quality. The focus of a given show, the time period, soundtrack, too little color film, or not meeting other expectations.

An informed buyer can make better decisions. A satisfied buyer will want more shows!

Defined review criteria, to help you, with a fair and balanced review.

A general overview of the: train video title, production company, format, program length, locations, time period and film sources,are listed. A description of the content is included. Screenshots from programs are a very popular addition.

Quality is an important factor. Film, sound, and other production items. Content is equally important. Items include: subject matter, narrative, accuracy, and length. Do you get what you have paid for? Is the show a good value? Family friendly railroad viewing?  Enjoyable?… The reviews address these issues.

Long Island RS3 at Olyville.

The Railfan and The Model Railroader connection.

This is great information for: the railfan, model train builder, and collector.

Railfan: DVD’s are great for seeing trains. Modern production enhancements can yield truly enjoyable programs. They are fantastic, for a 24/7 trainwatching fix. Any road, all kinds of locomotives, areas of geography and bygone years, that I couldn’t travel to. Collecting train video programs is an interesting hobby as well.

Model Railroader: The shows are a huge source of information and sometimes inspiration. There are the obvious benefits to see. Weathering, Locomotive lash-ups, Train consists, Stations, Structures, Vehicles. There is also history and insight. Why did that road fail, merge, or become a behemoth? Were 40′ boxcars seen in 1970’s trains?

Maybe you find the reasons for peeling paint. Inspiration can come from viewing a railroad you’re not familiar with, or a new era, a new focus. Maybe narrow gauge steam gets your interest, or modeling in the Rockies after seeing a show. There is always something new to learn, even if your era is 50 years old!

I began this website with my personal collection. Most are DVD, there are some older vhs tapes. This site now operates on 100% donated programs.

The ATVR Ratings

 Ratings are 1 to 5 stars. Content, film quality, sound, rarity, accurate information and presentation are the main rating factors.

Star Standards : 5 Outstanding. 4 Very Good. 3 Good. 2 Below Average. 1 Poor.

You will find two basic levels of train videos, with some major differences.

1. Professionally produced. Highest quality, and ‘the industry standard’. These are the best available programs. Television broadcast ready programs are found here. Larger budgets, pro staff, and more consistent overall. See the ‘Top Producers’, for some of this level.

2. Amateur produced. Also, known as ‘hardcore’. These shows made on: home  equipment, consumer grade cameras, and little extras. May contain: shaky camerawork and assorted production issues . Sometimes, ‘hard to find footage’, can be found here. Quality range is generally; good to poor. The hardcore shows have their place.

Ratings consider the extra expenses involved in the pro shows. Amateur level is a simplified rating. Three stars are: Good. Those are recommended shows. As the hardcore show doesn’t compare to pro level, it is a fair method. Read the review text for more detail.

The overall concept is to level the playing field, to attain fairness and balance.

Adjust the ratings to your tastes. I try to provide a base of information, for you to form your own opinion.

Readers have asked…. Yes, 3 stars are Good shows, and recommended by ATVR.

A rating of 2 does have some major flaws, as noted. However, if it’s rare or your special interest, you may want to purchase it anyway. The rating stars are guidelines only.

Extra Information on Reviews

Sources. This is used to identify original cameramen. Useful for giving credit and for those who want to see more of a certain cinematographer. I obtain these from film credits or in certain instances, directly from the producer.  I strive for accuracy with these listings.

Maps: A standard consideration with today’s computer graphics. Maps are a great extra to have. Viewers can get a sense of a route and trace the journey.

Keep in mind, that older shows were not often produced with maps. It would be unfair to deduct a 1988 produced show, for not including maps. The variety of maps, and map quality, are why this is listed.

The Producers : Consistently high production standards, rate certain producers like: Charles Smiley, Green Frog, BA Productions, Sunday River and Catenary Video, at the top. John Pechulis and Greg Scholl, as well. Plenty of other good shows, are available from the other companies.

You will find that ‘hit or miss’, is a reality at many companies. A ‘hardcore railfan’ show has flaws, and often is amateur filmed. Small houses often have limited resources .Some with various priorities (ex: museum/ tourist shows). They still release some worthwhile shows.

In fact, anyone can issue a great show. Careful research should, alleviate most dissatisfaction with unsuitable titles. Credit must be given to any producer, who submits their programs for independent review.

Additional Material : I’m always interested in additional material to review. Vintage and classic train film is always welcome. Have reviewed other material as offered, to maintain a balance presentation for all readers. That has led to expansion beyond the original focus. Building a complete American Railroad overview.

Review requests for shows, should be directed to that show’s producer. Tell them you would like an ATVR review!

Production companies or individuals…. Contact confidentially via e-mail, if you’d like to donate. This site provides a large base for; popular, worldwide exposure.

American Train Video Reviews is a valuable resource that is: read worldwide, and is always available. Bringing you the best! Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We never close…. 🙂

Fun Stuff…..  Trains of Olyville …and….. Rush Hour at Olyville  (over 100,000 visitors) …. see the Links 🙂

Thanks for your interest!

William

                                                      atvr@rocketmail.com                      

                                             American Train Video Reviews

                                 All reviews and my photographs copyright by William J. Hudson.

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Recent Posts

The Pennsy- and More!

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Producer: Steve Branfields

Timeframe: 1930s- 1960s

Locations: Pennsylvania- Ohio

Length: 47 minutes

Sources: Blackhawk, Bill Radcliff, Andy Schools

A&R Productions with a 30 year span of film. Pennsylvania Railroad. Bessemer and Lake Erie, which constitutes- the more!

Great collection of: Steam, Diesel and Electric locomotives. The all encompassing program, contains many examples of the vast Pennsy roster.

Each locomotive has a historical review, with the visual presented. Effective and compact method, to deal with a huge roster.

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Dubbed audio. I cannot comment on the accuracy of every engine. The presentation works for me.

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Almost a chapter menu. A show selector. Choice of: Pennsy or B&LE.

GG-1 electrics, along with it’s earlier class.

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No maps or any visual references. This one moves around the state of Pennsylvania. Ends up in Ohio. Some maps would have been welcomed. Held this show back from an even higher rating.

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EMD E units in Tucsan Red paint.

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House annoucer Ted Daluku performs his usual, professional narrative. An equally, pro written script, makes this one of those traditional, good shows. A&R does it this time out!

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A variety of film sources, lead to the variable qualities seen. Majority is good  to very good. A few down to fair, in earliest scenes. The 1930s, so it improves along with the timeline.

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Black and white at the beginning. Movement towards color film usage, as time marches on.

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Obvious preponderance of color in the later years. Quality remains variable. Check that GP30, with the Pennsy trainphone antenna!

The one constant is a horizontal distortion bar along the bottom of the screen. Look at the screenshots.

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Pennsylvania was a true innovator. Their duplex steam designs had mixed results. Nobody would argue the aesthics were unique!

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Pennsy steamers looked… The Business!

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High steppin’ T-1 power. Fast, powerful and slippery. Pulled early from service.

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Steam era to later years…

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Horseshoe Curve. The classic hotspot, in any era!

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New fangled diesels, proved worthy over the tough Allegheny grades.

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TrucTrain was the PRR answer to early intermodal service. Yes, you will see some piggyback train consists.

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Passenger trains were often heavy on mail cars. These were often the revenue makers. Before the US Mail contracts were discontinued. Check that Alco PA!

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Cabin cars, as a caboose was termed. Those funny looking Trainphone attenana were essential for mountainous communications. They were singular to Pennsylvania.

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Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad. Now, that is a line that you don’t often see on a train video! A bonus feature that fits perfectly!

Geographically and in chronological fashion. Heavy coal hauler, that had limited passenger service.

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Pennsy – and More! The Standard Railroad of the World.

A daunting task to cover this railroad. Sheer volume of the locomotive roster. Multiply by 30 years. Again three eras. Steam. Steam to Diesel. Diesel. Do not forget Electrics.

A&R really did an excellent job here! Well organized. Decent soundtrack. Fine film collection. Good narration. All in a program that is suitable for the entire family.

As diverse as Pennsylvania Railroad actually was in equipment. Besides the daily challenge of operating over mountainous territory. A microcosm of United States railroad history, is present within this program.

A solid out of the box experience, from the house at A&R Productions. Comprehensive and succinct!

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

 

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