Well, that was fun!
Last night, I was the guinea pig – the first speaker at an online convention hosted on ZOOM and organized by the Railway Modellers Meet of British Columbia.
I’ve given lots of clinics at conventions – but I’ve never done one virtually, so I was a little anxious about what to expect. But I need not have worried: The organizers did a terrific job of setting up the meet – including managing approximately 160 people from around the world who took part. I hope others had as much fun as I did, and I look forward to more.
My clinic was about many things. I started by explaining how I ended up in the niche that is S scale, and how I ended up modelling the little-known, lightly-trafficked branch line to Port Rowan, Ontario. I then described how I assessed the S scale market to decide whether I could build a prototype-based layout in 1:64. These three sections, taken together, use my own experience to provide a (rail)road-map to others who may be considering a switch of scale, gauge, era, or prototype.
I also talked about why, when I build a layout, blogging has become as important to me as ties and rail. And I wrapped it up with a virtual tour of my layout, as a reward (I guess) for anybody who was still awake.
I felt the clinic was well-received, and I was grateful that there were lots of thought-provoking questions from the audience afterwards. Since neither the organizers nor I had done something like this before, we weren’t sure how well we’d be able to stick-handle 160 online participants, but it went off really smoothly.
Everybody – including those participating in the clinic – should give themselves a big hand! Well done!
The handout from my presentation can be found here. It’s more than a PDF of my slides: I’ve reorganized everything and added some text to give the pictures context. Enjoy it if you download it.
If you took part in last night’s clinic and you have questions or comments, you can comment on this post – or get in touch with me directly via the contact form found on my How To Reach Me page.
After my clinic, Bill Decker from Oregon spoke about his basement-filling empire – an HO scale layout depicting the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Cascade Line. His layout is the polar opposite of mine: designed for a large group of people to enjoy, it fills a 2400 square foot basement. The ceiling height of more than nine feet is perfect for depicting mountain railroading with helper services. While our layouts are very different, we discovered many remarkable similarities in our approaches. We are both fans of lists, of assessing our hobby in terms of skills and resources so that we go into a project with full awareness of the commitment required, and of using blogs to organize and share our work.
One of the interesting choices made by the organizers was to not record the sessions. This is a virtual convention: if you attend, you get to take part. That’s the point. Its ephemeral nature is part of what makes it special.
The good news is, there are more clinics planned in the coming weeks, as well as an online “meet the modeller” event where people will be able to display and discuss their work. Full details – including the schedule of future clinics and information on registering – can be found on the RRMBC website. Perhaps I’ll see you there!