Railways and tramways on cine film and video

Alongside the tracks since 1983...

In 1983 I took my first cine shot. It was the first tram I ever saw run on the line from Utrecht to Nieuwegein, on a rather bleak day, on the bridge over the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. I had been involved in photography for some time, but the fingers had been itching for a while to start taking moving pictures. It was a hobby that demanded a lot of time, but returned unlimited fun - and still does.

At that time video was not so far developed that images could be made with a quality as high as I wanted. Cine film was admittedly hugely more expensive, but the result was a much sharper and clearer image. Those wanting sound as well needed to lug a separate tape recorder around, and had to get to grips with synchronisation equipment, or buy sound films and use an attachable on-camera microphone. Because of the portability I chose the latter.

For the Utrecht tram I always retained a soft spot. Important events, but also the ordinary everyday things - I always tried to be there with the camera. The result is that the first DVD I made covered the rather complete story of the creation of the tram.

It was not all about Utrecht. Over the years much footage from Switzerland was added (my railway country number 1!) which is now almost all historic (old stock on Aigle-les Diablerets and Nyon St. Cergue to name but a few - connoisseurs will know just how old that makes it). In the Netherlands I filmed some museum lines, but also the line Almelo-Mariënberg with (yellow!) 'Blue Angel' Diesels. The Isle of Man is also well represented, and Austria and Italy crop up a few times in the catalogue. Another area I was partial to was the SNCV tram network of Hainaut, Belgium. The now released second DVD is devoted to that area.

In the mid 90s it stopped. Sound movies were no longer available, and no matter how hard the manufacturers of video equipment kept shouting that video was now much better than cine film - it simply was not true. Until the advent of modern HD video cameras video could not compete against Super-8.

It was only in 2008 that I started again. And although the pace is not as high as before, I have returned to filming! Again, the Utrecht Tram was the immediate cause. The old trams were heavily restored, there was an extension, and last but not least: used Düwag/Lohner-trams were brought in from Vienna as extra rush-hour capacity. I could not sit still any longer!

Since then there I have been active at the tram on Tenerife, the Ferrovia del Renon (Rittnerbahn) in Italy, and the Edinburgh tramway (which is quite close to home these days). It's good to be at it again!

Even better is that today's technology allows me, almost entirely with free software, to dramatically improve old footage, and make it suitable for publication on DVD. The first DVDs, as mentioned about (of course) the Utrecht Trams and the SNCV, are now available. There will definitely be more to follow, because all my cine films (together accounting for some ten hours of footage) have been scanned, and thus secured for the future. But it won't happen quickly, because there is so much work involved that it takes about a man-year to do one DVD. Fantastic fun to do - but it will take its time...


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The Heritage of the SNCV

The Advent of the TEC

The Final Years of the SNCV

Over 25 Years by Tram to Nieuwegein