Charles Smiley Presents (CSP) has been bringing rail fans and model railroaders videos of railroad subjects since 1994. Since 1997 the emphasis has been on railroads and eras that have either changed dramatically with time, or in many cases, disappeared altogether. CSP uses old movie film and video shot back when the rail scene looked a lot different. The vanished-differences seem far more appealing to us than the things you can easily see today.
It began as an idea in 1994. Charles Smiley is an electronic engineer with a background designing military/aerospace, industrial computer and patented professional and broadcast video and audio equipment. After a number of years designing video equipment, the urge to create entertaining videos on railroad topics became irresistible. A lifelong hobby of model railroading added the spark.
A modeler’s thought
By making these videos, and evaluating many hundreds of hours of rail material, the time spent in that activity improved my modeling. It has also expanded my interest in all North American railroads – not just the few that I have modeled. I hope these videos will expand your interests as well.
Where to Buy
CSP only sells through hobby dealers and museums. That seems to be somewhat unusual in this business. If it wasn’t for the hobby shops and hobby dealers, the hobby would suffer and decline. As a result of our policy we have some shops that carry only one brand of railroad videos – ours. That has worked very well for both us and the shops that carry our products.
If your local dealer doesn’t carry our product line, you might suggest that they do. We rely on satisfying the viewer and creating customers that will purchase additional titles from their hobby dealers. That can only happen if each video has lots of what they call in the video business, “production value”.
Each video takes two to three months to research, edit, script, add narration, create maps, add a bit of licensed music and sound effects. These are not videos that spend 24 hours video-taping at one location and that are slapped together. We don’t ‘fill up time’ showing an entire 120 car coal train crawling by at 10-mph. That is not our idea of a documentary. Each video we make has material shot over several years, to several decades, of time. Most of our videos incorporate material from a number of movie film and video sources to create a balanced program.
Every DVD we offer is a true glass-mastered product made in a full manufacturing facility. These DVDs are made to the same technical standards as a “Hollywood” movie. We do not resort to the use of “burned” DVDs made on somebody’s home computer.
Every video we ship to hobby dealers has a postcard in the video case. These are for the viewer to fill out and return to us with their comments. We consider these to be “report cards”. The viewer’s comments are helpful to consider in future productions. To those of you that have returned the post cards, thank you!