More Behind the Scenes of Magic Railroad

Additional glimpses into the making of Thomas and the Magic Railroad!

The Filming of Thomas and the Magic Railroad Featurette!

D uring the summer of 2007, SiF UK member Perryton was vacationing in Munich, Germany. Whilst browsing in the city's multi-media giant "Saturn" store, he purchased the German DVD edition of Thomas and the Magic Railroad : Thomas Die Fantastishe Lokomotive.
German DVD Edition of Thomas and the Magic Railroa
German DVD Edition of Thomas and the Magic Railroad (click image to see larger version)
The special features section of the German edition contains what the United States, Canadian, United Kingdom and Japanese versions do not - a short featurette of the behind the scenes making of the movie. If that in itself didn't make us now feel deprived for all of these years!  The Making of Thomas and the Magic Railroad is just over 8 minutes long in duration, and although it is not narrated , you can clearly hear the english dialogue in the background.
We've put together a little slideshow of the highlights from the DVD featurette itself, supplemented with captions based on our research and a little help from our contacts  (thanks again, Dave A.).

The DVD is still available for purchase on Amazon's German site. Though the purchasing and checkout process is laid out almost identically as the US, Canadian and UK sites, we recommend that you get help from a friend or relative who can sprechen ze deutch!
Our thanks again go to Perryton for making this lovely find, with kudos also to SiF's ben for passing the word along.
We can only  hope that any special 10th anniversary edition of the movie on DVD, blu-ray etc. will include this featurette, along with additional behind-the-scenes footage. As we've come to realize with this movie, a lot of magic was taking place behind the camera as well as in front of it!

Exclusive Behind the Scenes Footage from the Isle of Man!

During his stay on the Isle of Man in August, 1999, TATMR Propmaster and Storyboard Artist Greg Chown had the opportunity to take some personal footage of the production crew at work.  When you see the cavalcade of equipment, vehicles and personnel that support the filming of a movie's scene, on location a better appreciation of the crew's work and organization is much deserved!
Although the quality of this footage cannot be compared to the one found on the German DVD fearurette, you'll undoubtedly recognize the crossroads scene, where you can make out Stacy's red Mustang, PT Boomer's motorcyle, and Burnett Stone's vintage pickup truck. The film crew later moves on to prepare a 'Muffle Mountain' hilltop scene with Patch's horse, where you can see the Irish Sea  and the town of Glen Maye* from the crew's vantage point facing westward in the vicinity of Dalby Mountain. Greg also gives us brief glimpses of a few other area attractions such as an abandoned homestead and colourful shrubbery.
SiF would like to thank Greg once again for sharing this memento of the Isle of Man film shoot with us :)
* With thanks to SiF's Rhys Davies for identifying the village

Concept Art and Set Design by Oleg Savytski

Production Designer and Artist Oleg Savytski created these brilliant watercolour concept paintings for the movie which were rescued (purchased) before being sold off in an estate auction. The originals measure approximately 24 x 18 inches. Of interest is the beautiful painting of  "Lady and the Magic Railroad", representing what might have been an early concept visualization of the Magic Railroad. Fans should also be familiar with another of Oleg's artwork featured in the movie - the portrait of Lady seen in Burnett Stone's Muffle Mountain workshop.  (click image below to view them)

Oleg had also delved into some conceptual art design and had taken some behind the scenes photos of his creations, which are pictured below with his kind permission and our many thanks.

Oleg Savytski's early concept sketch for Lady
One of Oleg's early conceptual sketches for "Lady" - note the extra set of wheels.
Oleg Savytski's later concept sketch for Lady
Another conceptual sketch for "Lady"
Set construction with Lady in Grampa's workshop
Inside Grampa Stone's Muffle Mountain workshop set - constructed inside the Port St. Mary Station goods shed on the Isle of Man.
Mountain Workshop set with Lady
The crew setting up Grampa Stone's Muffle Mountain workshop set.
Beautiful Lady in the ourdoors!
Lady's full-sized prop beautifully displayed outside in full daylight where we can appreciate the aesthetics of the workmanship that went into its design and construction.
Rear view of Lady's full-sized prop
Rear view of Lady's full-sized prop.
Oleg Savytski's conceptual artwork for Diesel 10
Oleg's conceptual sketch for Diesel-10 with his claw detail.
Oleg Savytski's early concept artwork for Splatter
An early conceptual sketch for "Spaltter"...
Oleg Savytski's early concept artwork for Dodge
...and his sidekick "Dodge".
Shining Time Station under construction
Construction underway for "Shining Time Station" at the Castletown Railway Station.
Oleg's  concept art for Shining Time Station (int)
Oleg's conceptual artwork of Shining Time Station's interior...
Shining Time Station interior set
...and the constructed Shining Time Station interior set built in a studio in Ballasalla.
St. John's Shining Time town setting
Road A1 in St. John transformed into the town of Shining Time.
St John Shining Time street setting - see Boomer?
St. John as Shining Time - note Britt Allcroft and Doug Lennox (PT Boomer) on the far right.
St, John Shining Time "sign" setting
Distant view of the Shining Time sign scene locale - next to the Tynwald Hill Inn in St. John's.
Grampa Stone's cottage in Port Cornaa
A view of Grampa Stone's cottage - Port Cornaa, Isle of Man.

A Sample of Robbi Hinds' Green Green Work

Director of Photography Robbi Hinds was in charge of the movie's principal and green screen visual effects.  We've been unsuccessful so far with trying to contact Robbi for his recollections, but below is a selection of his green screen work for the movie from his showreel on his YouTube channel. 

Magic Railroad Digital Matte Paintings by Richard Kriegler

Richard Kriegler faithfully captured Britt's vision of a living Magic Railroad portal in his digital matte paintings that are easily recognizable in the movie. The magic depleted portal is depicted in a state of decay, whereas the luxuriant green is the direct result of Lady reinvigorating the Magic Railroad portal with gold dust energy. The scenery seen between the Portal and Sodor is very reminicient of C. Reginald Dalby's artwork for the Railway Series books. We've been unable to contact Richard directly, but you can view examples of his other brilliant movie artwork on his website.    

TATMR Watercolour Matte Artist Oleh Valenyuk
Artist Oleh Valenyuk

Footnote:  We've recently discovered that a Ukrainian artist émigré to Canada had a hand in creating a few of these masterpieces.  Oleh Valenyuk is credited as a Watercolour Matte Artist (Digital Visual Effects) for Thomas and the Magic Railroad.  Oleg sadly passed away of suspected heart failure on Friday, August 10, 2012 at the age of 48. Thomas and the Magic Railroad was Oleg's first major project since arriving in Canada (Toronto). His artistic contribution to the movie was a source of pride for his family as daughter Nadiya recalls, "When it came, we were so proud of it, we just watched the movie over and over." 

SiF's Magic Railroad Technical Behind-the-Scenes Articles

In-depth technical articles that we have compiled about how the crew and contracted agencies built some of the features seen in the movie. We begin with how Production hired 4-D Modelshop of London to construct specialized trees made of brass for Thomas and the Magic Railroad.  (Click the banner to view the article).

Click to view article