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 over 450 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.

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. Market availability, is a show easily purchased?

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 operates on donated programs, or my own collection.

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, Pentrex, BA Productions, Sunday River and Catenary Video. Plenty of other good shows, are available from the other companies.

Where can you purchase shows?

I recommend; Railfan Depot, or Train Video Depot. Excellent service!

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 via e-mail, if you’d like to donate. This site provides a huge 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 … 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.

Recent Posts

Rio Grande Rememberances

 

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Producer: Charles Smiley

Timeframe: 1954- 1969

Locations: Durango, Arboles, Salida, Antonito, Gunnison, Farmington…

Length: 1 hour 36 minutes + previews

Sources: Andy Payne, Fred Hust, Harvey Laner

A fascinating, time travel visit, into vintage Rio Grande Narrow Gauge steam. Andy Payne was a Rio Grande Engineer. He was also an independent Railfan / Cinematographer. Early on, he acquired a Bolex 16mm movie camera. Filmed mostly in 16mm. All films are full color. Only some highlights here.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-17h42m45s238Harvey S. Laner digitized Payne’s film collection in 2008. Three narrators on this show. Harvey, Andy and Charles Smiley.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-17h58m04s178The earliest films are in 8 mm. Those are very good, for their age. Durango is above. The gems are the 16mm films. Excellent quality! Nearly all freight trains.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-18h54m11s365The custom Charles Smiley maps are extremely helpful. Also, explains other lines.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-18h54m40s564Alamosa to Antonito dual guage trackage. This on the San Juan Extension. This line continues towards Laboto Trestle.

 

The old freight cars are bursting with character! Railfans and Model Railroaders will have a grand time, with the varied equipment.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-18h24m54s770Various class Mikado’s are reviewed. 480-489. K-36 seen here.These 2-8-2 are seen with close-ups. Maintenance functions.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-19h20m08s102Andy has detailed Hostler duties and discussion of steam locomotive fire. This is unique amount many steam shows!

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h12m42s404Soundtrack is mixed. Authentic steam sounds, background music and narrative. All interwoven in that Charles Smiley style.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-19h44m32s005Old Arboles area is shown, before a water dam project buried this area. A highline is being installed. Navajo River.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-19h55m54s838Gunnison in 1955.  The 268 was Baldwin built in 1882. Leased here for a scrap train.

Salida in 1955. Dual gauged.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h03m38s252The Durango Loop was Railroad built around 1967.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h09m15s939Andy rode freight trains on off days. Filmed from assorted viewpoints. Here, on a revenue stock train.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h22m14s966

See how to get a Mike rerailed, without a crane.

A number of Hollywood feature films were filmed, in part at or near Durango.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h06m27s780

Oil and the Freight business. Farmington Branchline in 1955. South of Durango. Carbon Jct. had a small switch yard.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-18h55m02s160Model Railroaders will get a kick out of seeing GRAMPS oil tank cars!

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h27m57s907Declining traffic spelled the end of the San Juan Extension.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h29m15s953Andy filmed Springtime snow and slide clearing of the Silverton line. An old Caterpillar bulldozer does the job!

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-17h51m12s828

This is a wonderful collection of vintage Rio Grande Narrow Gauge action! Inclusion of rare locations and singular viewpoints, set it apart from the competition. Not too mention Andy Payne’s first person accounts of the action. Harvey Laner provides the bulk of a clear narrative. Many are interview style, with his friend Andy.

Starting as a Los Angeles Transit Motorman. Andy hired on as Fireman with DRGW in 1957. He loved his work and filming the trains. He passed away in 2012.

vlcsnap-2020-08-16-20h14m54s921Charles Smiley organized everything, into a highly enjoyable viewing experience! As usual, it shall take multiple viewings to get it all in. The 90 minutes literally fly-by. Always the mark of a fun program.

This is a must see, for Rio Grande and Narrow Gauge steam fans.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

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