Days of Steam
Film Night
Now In Production Days of Steam 2
Pioneers of Film
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Prior to the 1980s, when video recorders became an essential item in every household, the only way to view a movie at home was by setting up a projector and showing a film.  While quite a few people owned 8mm cameras to record family events, there were not many using more sophisticated equipment.

Phil Belbin had retained a passionate interest in railways for as long as he could remember and, in 1949, he decided to capture, on movie film, a record of the changing rail scene. Throughout the 1950s, this gradually became something of a family mission. Phil was fortunate to have an understanding wife, Cecily, who not only accepted but supported his hobby.

From the early 1960s, the Belbin family could frequently be seen by the line, Phil with his 16mm Bell and Howell movie camera, Bruce taking slides with his 35mm Minolta and a very young Graeme trying to cope with the 'Box-Brownie'. A tape recorder was soon added to the equipment list.

Movie film was, by today's standards, astronomically expensive so it was necessary to be very careful choosing subjects. Regardless, however, by the time steam bowed out of service, in 1972, Phil had taken nearly 20,000 feet of film, most of it 16mm.

In about 1985, with video technology improving, Graeme thought that it was time to try and preserve as much of the movie film as possible and investigated the idea of transferring some of it to tape. It was an idea that would snowball and, with his father's blessing, he decided to put together a story of the decline of steam for public release. The original film was, of course, silent but there was also a vast sound library to draw upon. The dubbing process, all done in 'pay by the hour' labs was long and tedious so production took several years and was, by no means, cheap.

 Belbin Video
 12 Berowra Rd
 Mt Colah  NSW  2079

Phil Belbin's flourishing career as an illustrator allowed him to stay closely in touch with the rail scene.

He had received many commissions, from all over the world, including a number from David P. Morgan to produce covers and posters for the American Trains magazine.

He was, therefore, the logical candidate to design a new colour scheme for NSW State Rail Authority when, in the early '80s, the organisation decided to revamp their locomotive and rolling stock fleet. This was the birth of the Candy scheme.

However, a chance conversation with a Manager from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation led to considerable funding assistance and finally, in 1990, Days of Steam was released. The first time Phil saw the finished product there were tears in his eyes when he said, "It's like having a 40-year-old child speak for the first time". Sales were spectacular, the video going 'Gold' several times over, and Phil was thrilled to see so many people enjoying the results of his work.

Sadly, in early 1993, Phil lost his battle with Motor Neurone Disease and, as a tribute, Graeme began working on Days of Steam - Volume 2, telling the story of the last few years of chasing steam on the 'Short North'. This was released in early 1998 and received many kind reviews.

By the late '90s the rapid increase in speed and versatility of personal computers had made the production process much easier and Pioneers of Film, released in 2002, was the first video produced entirely 'in house'.

All productions have been remastered, digitally, and are now available on DVD. The latest offering from the Belbin collection is Film Night. The steam era was a major part of Graeme's life and it's important to him that all Belbin Video productions are a fitting tribute to his father and the great days they spent together by the lineside.

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