Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Winter Warmer

I'm pleased to release the first Grumpy Git Productions film of 2010, featuring Fowler 4F 44422 hauling the ‘Winter Warmer’ trains early in January. With beautifully clear winter skies and bright, low sunlight the loco and four Mk1 coaches are filmed to advantage along various parts of the Nene Valley Railway. Three return trips along the line were edited together to create a single journey; outward with loco leading and ending with some tender-first running. The small loco has to work much harder than the usual loco on this line, Standard 5 73050, so the smoke effects are much more impressive.

Choosing a soundtrack was quite difficult for this film, but I eventually settled on some Yorkshire brass, as I'm rather partial to traditional brass band music anyway - by ‘eck, lad! The Black Dyke Mills Band hail from Queensbury near Bradford, an area that I’m reasonably sure will have been familiar to the Fowler locos. The band is much older than the train, as it was formed in 1816 by John Foster, owner of the Black Dyke Mill – like so many Yorkshire mills of the day, it dealt with textiles. After a faltering start, the band was fully established in 1855 and all members were outfitted in uniforms made from the mill’s own cloth. The band has remained active ever since, and still rehearses in the original rooms. However, they probably get their uniforms from Primark these days.

The selected piece of music is Cornet Carillon, a piece that brought back many memories as soon as I heard the opening bars. When I was at school (in those days it wasn’t a nice weather option, you just went regardless) we had a fantastic music department that would put on theatrical performances and concerts during the year. The Senior Brass Band would always play this piece, with a battle to be the soloist on the cornet. Nowadays the rest of the pupils would just text in to vote for whoever sold them drugs at playtime, but back then it was all down to ability, and the lucky person would be handpicked by Miss Northorpe, a diminutive teacher of around 5’2, but she could command the respect and obedience of the meanest thug with her withering gaze. Nobody every answered her back twice. Miss Northorpe ran our music department with discipline and determination that wouldn’t be out of place in the SAS, and produced extravagant concerts that were the envy of the other schools in the borough.

Although I personally prefer music in films, it can be highly subjective as to whether it enhances or detracts from the end result. So in this film I decided to have a go at pleasing both sides. The YouTube version has been made with a soundtrack, but I made a slightly different version without any score at all and that can be viewed here. Because the weather conditions were so good, I was able to video the train with barely any intrusive wind noise – the Samsung’s mike isn’t up to much – so unusually, I have an entire film with just the sound of the Fowler working fairly hard. Viewers have a choice of film, depending on personal preference. Perhaps I should run a competition to vote for your favourite version; tune in to see which locos are in the steam-off!

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