Finishing off a Speedway film I made 26 years ago

Categories: Miscellaneous 4 Comments

26 Years ago I made a documentary called Steve Lawson the Story so Far and brought it out on VHS video tape.

Back then 26 years ago we were filming with Panasonic F10 camcorders with a 15x zoom lens, one of the first commercially available CCD cameras on the market. The cameras were attached via an umbilical cord to a portable S-VHS recorder that hung at the side on your left shoulder.

This was Steve Lawson and his family 26 years ago down at Maryport in Cumbria.

Simon, Steve, Kath and Richard

Since this picture was taken Simon Lawson has become a major paralympic competitor after paralysing himself in a motocross bike accident.

Simon Lawson

Richard Lawson 3rd from left © Ian Adam (Glasgow Speedway)

Wee Richard has also become a speedway rider, like his father before him riding for the Glasgow Tigers last season.

This brings me onto the reason why my Speedway footage has now been resurrected from the archives, stored on Super VHS (S-VHS) video tape my ultimate criteria for all my work is quality.

S-VHS had a resolution of 460 lines almost 100 lines more than VHS at that time. S-VHS was the best you could edit and master onto 23 years ago if you were not using Hi band Umatic.

Colin Mackie from a frame from the original 4:3 SD footage

One of my interviewers back then was my speedway friend Colin Mackie who recently as last year 2017 lost his son Greg, in tragic circumstances.

Colin son Greg was also a speedway rider and Colin wants Gregs name to be carried on in the Greg Mackie Speedway Academy.

When I discovered Greg had died (Not speedway related) I jumped at the chance to help my old friend Colin. I immediately decided to finally re-introduce the Steve Lawson Story on DVD and film an updated interview with Steve.

I had been keeping my end of season tapes aside always meaning to bring them out on DVD but as usual sat on them.

We now film in 4K 50p with Panasonic GH5 cameras, possibly not the best for a fast moving sport like speedway but as we are not filming the sport every second week I don’t have to worry about it.

At the end of the 1992 speedway season I was given an ultimatum from the people running Glasgow speedway at that time, it went from a nominal sum to almost 5 times or they get someone else. Glasgow speedway were not aware that this sport was taking a heavy toll on my brand new cameras, Panasonic F10s especially the lenses, they were being slowly destroyed by the red shale dust. Also that was the year Steve Lawson decided to retire and that would mean a big loss in sales during the 1993 season so I gracefully retired from filming speedway, never to return till about 3 years ago when I decided to produce a review of the JVC GY-LS300.

I was asked if I would like to come back but politely refused as I new the damage it would have on my video equipment.

Ken and Chris Malcolm at the under 21s recently

Don’t get me wrong speedway is a fantastic spectator sport full of great friendly fans and a brilliant family day out in fact my interviewer Chris still goes to speedway with his own children and his father.

To this day I don’t think Glasgow Speedway realised what they had let slip from their hands, we were the best at what we produced far ahead of the competition and still are from what I gather. Sadly I am a lot older and no longer have the energy or the drive to start producing speedway again. I loved popping into the 2018 version of the sport finding the promotion very friendly and a great bunch of people to deal with.

The DVD, Steve Lawson the Story is being distributed by Colin Mackie for £15, collected, probably at the Glasgow track shop but thats still to be finalised.

Below is a taster from todays DVD though on the whole its 4:3 SD footage upscaled to 1280 x 760 to accommodate todays 4K downscaled footage.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

4 comments on this post

  1. Svein Rune Skilnand says:

    Hi Philip. I am glad to see you are up and running again and that your health is improving. I enjoyed reading this story. I was wondering how you find working with the GH5 or GH5s? It certainly produces nice images for such a small camera. I have been considering a GH5s along with a DVX200. What would you say is your go to lens with the GH5?

    HDW : Olympus 12-100 f4 IS lens.

  2. Lea Hall says:

    Can it be purchased via mail order

    HDW : I am producing a page on my corporate web site to order all my speedway DVDs.

  3. Luke HighLife says:

    I like the look/design of that Panny F10 – never seen that camera before. How was it to shoot with?

    HDW : It was a great camera, remembering 30 years ago there was little else on offer.

  4. Gwynne Williams says:

    I remember the Panasonic F10 well Philip. It always seemed to produce slightly ‘blue tinged” pictures in my opinion. I replaced it eventually with a JVC KY series camera docked with a full sized SVHS recorder- what a beast !! I still carry the groove it made on my shoulder to his day!

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