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  #1  
Old 10 May 2007, 09:08 PM
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Default Laying on Train Tracks to Film Train?

http://www.filecabi.net/video/nutcase_train_cam.html

NSFW/NFBSK--not the video itself, but some of the ads on the hosting site might be.



According to the title, a "nutcase" photographer lay down on the train tracks to film a train coming over. I'm skeptical of this. I believe that the camera here was mounted on some sort of arm or platform that was able to raise it and rotate it 180 degrees, and not that some daring photographer actually laid down on the tracks and allowed the train to go over them.

My thoughts--
First of all, I don't know if there is enough clearance underneath a train for someone to be able to safely lay down under it like they supposedly did in this video. However, I will admit that I know next to nothing about trains, and I'm hoping that someone who does know something about them can shed some light on this subject.

Additionally, when the camera turns 180 degrees while the train is passing, I would think that the photographer's body (at least the legs and feet) would become visible once the camera was facing the other way. I guess it is possible that the photographer is laying off to the side of the camera instead of behind it, but I don't think there is enough room between the rails for the photographer to be far enough from the camera that he/she is not visible.

Also, I would think that the engineer of the train would be blowing the horn like crazy if he saw someone standing on the tracks ahead of his train. This did not occur in the video. It seems feasible to me that the engineer would not have been able to see a camera mounted on a platform, which would explain why the train's horn did not go off at all as it approached.

Finally, the whole ordeal is filmed in such a smooth manner that it leads me to believe that it's not done by a person. I would think that it would be shaking like crazy if a person were actually laying underneath a train that was passing over.

Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 10 May 2007, 09:12 PM
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AnglRdr AnglRdr is offline
 
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[Disclaimer: I can't watch the video here at work, so I am not commenting directly on that]

I would imagine it wouldn't be terribly difficult to rig a camera up to some sort of rotating platform that could be operated remotely, and certainly a video camera doesn't need someone to actually hold it while it is in operation.
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  #3  
Old 10 May 2007, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
I would imagine it wouldn't be terribly difficult to rig a camera up to some sort of rotating platform that could be operated remotely, and certainly a video camera doesn't need someone to actually hold it while it is in operation.
For the first few seconds of the video, the camera is a few feet off the ground, and is eventually lowered to ground level. I guess the camera operator could have stood there for a few seconds with the camera at eye level before lowering it onto the rotating rig, if that's what was used. The web-level resolution means we can't see the train until it's almost bearing down on us; maybe the "high" part was filmed with no train and spliced onto the "low" part.
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  #4  
Old 10 May 2007, 11:55 PM
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Electrotiger Electrotiger is offline
 
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I think the camera is mounted on a pole or rod, which is sticking up between ties from under a bridge. Notice the wooden fencing to the sides of the 1st position. It would be easy to pedestal it up and down and pan it around, with the operator safely underneath the bridge. (I still wouldn't want to subject my equipment to that sort of treatment...)

It might also explain why the engineer didn't see anything out of the ordinary, if it's just the camera on a pole.

ETA: Yeah, it's definitely the edge of a bridge, those center rails are support rails (someone with more train knowledge could probably tell us what they're really called), and you can clearly see them terminate when the shot swings around toward the end.
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  #5  
Old 11 May 2007, 10:01 AM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrotiger View Post

ETA: Yeah, it's definitely the edge of a bridge, those center rails are support rails (someone with more train knowledge could probably tell us what they're really called), and you can clearly see them terminate when the shot swings around toward the end.
The inside rails on approaches to bridges and tunnels are the gaurd rails. The wikipedia definition is pretty specific, though I'm almost certain Trains magazine listed an additional use of them in their "ABC's of Railroading" section as being used to stiffen the track on unballasted bridges.

I have to wonder if these people believe only broadcast professionals have access to small, remote controlled video cameras, or that someone wouldn't poke a small camera between the rails (on a monopod, perhaps) to get the shot in the video. Without knowing what the footage was shot for or under what circumstances, I can't really say much more than that.

~Psihala
(*There's actually a really tiny cameraman riding on top of that stock car... how else could they possibly get those shots? Hmmm?)

Last edited by Psihala; 11 May 2007 at 10:11 AM.
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  #6  
Old 11 May 2007, 02:11 PM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Well, I think trains dump the contents of the toilets on the tracks (at least they used to). That alone should be enough reason to don't do this...
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  #7  
Old 11 May 2007, 08:14 PM
TuFurg TuFurg is offline
 
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Also given that the camera simply rises at the end and films the train moving away (for way too long at that) I'd say it's definately rigged up.

Had a person actually have done that IMO he would have had some kind of jubulant reaction at the end instead of supposedly just standing still. Instead there's no movement and just silence.

He also would have had someone film him doing the stunt IMO.
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  #8  
Old 11 May 2007, 09:05 PM
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Andrew of Ware Andrew of Ware is offline
 
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The train looks like a narrow gauge train. If so there would not be enough room to lie on the track and there would not be enough clearance for a person to be on the track. I think Electrotiger seems to have the best explanation so far.
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  #9  
Old 11 May 2007, 09:26 PM
DaGuyWitBluGlasses DaGuyWitBluGlasses is offline
 
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The type of engine in the video:

http://www.michaeltaylor.ca/Ontario/via6427.jpg
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  #10  
Old 12 May 2007, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Class Bravo View Post
First of all, I don't know if there is enough clearance underneath a train for someone to be able to safely lay down under it like they supposedly did in this video.
Mainline rail is between 5.5 and 7 inches high. There are approximately 10 inches between the top of the rail and the locomotive's plow, the lowest point on the train.

I won't say it's unsurvivable, but I'd recommend a crash diet and tight clothes.


Quote:
Additionally, when the camera turns 180 degrees while the train is passing, I would think that the photographer's body (at least the legs and feet) would become visible once the camera was facing the other way.
It certainly would. Not much room between the guardrails.

Quote:
Also, I would think that the engineer of the train would be blowing the horn like crazy if he saw someone standing on the tracks ahead of his train. This did not occur in the video. It seems feasible to me that the engineer would not have been able to see a camera mounted on a platform, which would explain why the train's horn did not go off at all as it approached.
I've known several locomotive engineers, and all have attested to having a "third eye" always focused on the tracks (probably a well-honed peripheral vision). A body lying between the rails would not have been missed on that straightaway. Not only would you have heard the horn, but also an ungodly screech as the engineer put the brakes into emergency.

For what it's worth, what little can be discerned of the consist shows that it's probably Via Rail Canada's Ocean, which runs between Montreal and Halifax. It's the only train in the world that runs with low-slung European cars and a 1950s North American observation car at the end--favorite among train buffs, and a likely one to be the subject of this unusual perspective.
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  #11  
Old 12 May 2007, 01:22 AM
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In college I was friends with a guy that loved trains and I got into train stalking. We did a lot of stupid things with trains, but never laid down on the tracks to get it to go over us. If it was a train stalker laying under the train you would have definitely seen a jubilant response at the end of the video. We once climbed on the top of a train signal tower and the train passed under us and we celebrated for like 5 minutes afterwards.
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  #12  
Old 14 May 2007, 06:23 PM
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Hans Off Hans Off is offline
 
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I think the cameraman has found himself a little hollow inbetween the sleepers to sit in. It looks like he is sat at one end of a bridge where there can conceivably be room to cower down.
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  #13  
Old 14 May 2007, 07:56 PM
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Has anybody read The Fantastic Tale of Henry Sugar? In it there's a short story about a couple of bullies who force their victim to lay between the rails until a train passes above him.

As far as the logistics of this go, I'd say either a complicated mechanical arm, or an uncomplicated stick, given that there's no room for a camera to pull those movements, and not show the camera operator at the same time.

Quote:
For what it's worth, what little can be discerned of the consist shows that it's probably Via Rail Canada's Ocean, which runs between Montreal and Halifax. It's the only train in the world that runs with low-slung European cars and a 1950s North American observation car at the end--favorite among train buffs, and a likely one to be the subject of this unusual perspective.
Alas, that's no more. I've ridden on it a few times, and there are no more lounge cars with the panoramic dome. I wish they still were.
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  #14  
Old 14 May 2007, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muncle View Post
Has anybody read The Fantastic Tale of Henry Sugar? In it there's a short story about a couple of bullies who force their victim to lay between the rails until a train passes above him.
Yes, that was Roald Dahl's story The Swan which was in the Henry Sugar & Six other short story book. I thought about that story as well when I saw this clip.
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  #15  
Old 15 May 2007, 01:39 PM
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Hans Off Hans Off is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muncle View Post
As far as the logistics of this go, I'd say either a complicated mechanical arm, or an uncomplicated stick, given that there's no room for a camera to pull those movements, and not show the camera operator at the same time.

What about a reasonably complicated hand and arm combo?

I think it's handheld by someone sitting below rail level, remember it is shot at one end of a bridge.
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  #16  
Old 15 May 2007, 01:54 PM
Jay Tea Jay Tea is offline
 
 
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I caught this via my usual source of this sort of material and instantly thought there was no human being anywhere near that camera - if there was you'd hear the usual 'here comes the train folks woooo' and see the usual before and after pans to face which would prove whoever shot the film did so in person, even if they were hidden beneath track level.

Besides, given the line and speed of the train, i'm pretty sure the driver would have spotted somebody 'lying on the track' and indeed informed the police, for which there are no doubt severe penalties.
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  #17  
Old 15 May 2007, 02:11 PM
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Hans Off Hans Off is offline
 
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I don't think there was any "lying on the track involved"

I think all the driver might have seen would be a hand holding a small video camera between the sleepers.

The panning movements all look handheld to me. especially the settling of the shot down below railhead level as the train approaches.
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  #18  
Old 15 May 2007, 02:20 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Off View Post
I don't think there was any "lying on the track involved"

I think all the driver might have seen would be a hand holding a small video camera between the sleepers.
A folded tripod or monopod would make more sense (and give more room for manouvre) than holding the camera and sticking your hand through the gap, as Electrotiger said.
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  #19  
Old 15 May 2007, 02:22 PM
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Hans Off Hans Off is offline
 
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How would you achieve the pan?
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  #20  
Old 15 May 2007, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Off View Post
How would you achieve the pan?
If as has been suggested it was a camera mounted on a monopod with the operator underneath a bridge, then the monopod could be rotated to achieve the pan, without risk to the operator.

If it's a tripod, then even the most basic models have a pan lever. Slightly more risky, as the lever is just underneath the camera mount, sou you would have to put your hand in the track well to operate it.
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