What is a Cameo?

Discussion in 'Rules and admin notices' started by Simon, 22 April 2017.

  1. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    To help people who haven't read the book decide whether they'd like to get involved or not, here is a quick guide to the key points that Iain believes "makes" a Cameo layout, all taken from the book.

    A Cameo Layout is one where:
    • The 3D modelled scene is combined with a 2D backdrop.
    • Complementary fascias, wings and other display aids set off the modelled scene.
    • Carefully considered and built in lighting provides natural illumination for the modelled scene.
    • Necessary offstage areas or staging tracks are built in to the layout.
    • Support structures display the model at a "natural" viewing height.
    • Necessary electrical and mechanical "gubbins" are built in to the layout.
    In summary, the underlying criteria are that it should be easy on the eye, easy to move, and require only a single plug to power it.

    The book is readily available from all decent railway booksellers, here is a link to its description and details on my own website:

    Specialist Railway Railway Bookshop in Bath

    Simon Castens
  2. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    Hi Simon, is there any reference to what the dimensions should be for the/a cameo?

    I'm thinking there's a fine line between cameo and layout.

  3. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad


    There is no absolute definition of size, although the book gives more idea in as much as it references different actual layouts and comments on them.

    However, bearing in mind that the whole concept is for something that is self contained, easy to put up and take down and capable of being "lived with" then it doesn't want to be too big. So the actual question is a bit like how long is a piece of string - as long as you want it to be...

    Certainly, larger scales will be harder to fit into the concept, I'm still wrestling with my own G1 Cameo thoughts:confused:

  4. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    On cameo size, I think Iain recommends a length of between one and two metres in his book.

  5. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    Thanks chaps!

    I'll have a think..

  6. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Clarification of the "rules", particularly with regard to size, which has become a little bit of an issue.

    Herewith the update published in mRJ 256:

    We have been delighted – nay, o’erwhelmed – by the number and variety of the models proposed and the originality of many of the concepts, which cover scales from 2mmFS to Gauge 3! We’re also impressed by the enthusiasm shown in the responses and the number of people who have already put saw to wood and made a start. There are also a number of projects which are well-advanced, pre-dating the idea of the contest but nonetheless conforming to the parameters set.

    On which point, we have been asked to be a little more prescriptive and provide more guidance as to acceptability of entries, particularly with regard to size and footprint. So going through each original definition of a Cameo Layout as set out in the announcement in MRJ 254:

    1) It is small and concise, typically in the range of 1 - 2 metres length for the modelled scene with an integrated or add-on fiddleyard

    The figure of 1 - 2 metres length quoted is for the modelled scene and does not have to include the fiddle-yard(s), which can be additional to this. We are however looking for such addenda to be in proportion to the size of the modelled scene and are looking for the total ‘offstage’ portions to not exceed the length of the modelled scene. A ‘through’ cameo could thus have a fiddleyard of half the scene length at each end, as on ‘Longwood Edge’. For single-ended layouts, we would suggest the offstage addenda should be in the order of a half to two-thirds of the scene length. These figures are not mandatory; the overall objective is to keep a pleasing visual and practical/operational balance between the elements of the layout as a whole and the judges will be looking for good proportions rather than mere conformity to some arbitrary number.

    2) It seeks to present its subject in as realistic and natural a manner as possible, using ‘staged’ presentation and eye-level viewpoints

    A ‘realistic viewing height’ should seek to put the ‘horizon line’ incorporated in the model as close as possible to the eye level of the viewer – typically, to a tolerance of +/- 2 inches. So the height at which the layout needs to be displayed for this to be achieved has to take account of how it is intended that it should be viewed, e.g., standing/seated on a high stool or seated at normal chair height. For persons of average stature, those alternatives typically equate to eye levels of about 63ins standing/high seat and 45 ins normally seated.

    In the context of the competion, either approach is perfectly acceptable. As the viewing height is determined by the stance of the viewer, there is no effective difference in the model itself or its presentation; so long as the display height relates correctly to the audience eye level, the required natural viewpoint will be achieved. Hope that makes sense!

    3) The model is integrated with a display and support structure – including lighting and electrics – that seeks to set it off to best advantage.

    Nothing to add here, except perhaps to point out that the display design needs to take account of factors like concealing light sources to avoid glare and also to eliminate anomalies (such as visible exits through backscenes) that impair realism.

    4) The modelling is executed to a high standard: ‘small but exquisite’, favouring fine-scale wheel and track standards and a high level of detail

    The opportunity for good modelling, high levels of detail and finer standards are one of the virtues of the cameo format (or any other form of small model railway). But that is not to say that the use of fine scale standards in the context of this competition is mandatory or that layouts using more mainstream standards will be ‘marked down’. Rather, marks will be awarded for the success of the model as an integrated whole rather than merely for numerical adherance to a particular set of scale dimensions.

    5) The layout is engineered and specified for realistic, reliable and refined running and prototypical operation

    The operational success of a layout in the context of this competition will be judged on the ability of the model to replicate convincingly the working of the prototype depicted.

    6) The whole thing should be as self-contained as possible and easy to transport, set up and store

    This means just what it says. We’re looking for thought and practicality in the design of the layout infrastructure and the ease with which it can be moved and set-up. As a guide point, we’re looking for models that can be handled by 1 - 2 people and the use of a car, car-trailer or small van for transport. Experience with Longwood Edge at 2.1m x 0.75m, 30 Kg in weight suggests this is about the upper limit for a an integrated cameo. Hence our suggestion that this order of bulk (think a generous casket…) is about the practicable limit of cameo-dom.

    And following further thought and deliberation, Iain contacted me yesterday to say that after long consideration he has decided that 2.0 metres really has to be the upper limit of the size of the scenic frontage of cameo competition entries.

    Beyond this size it really isn't a cameo but a larger layout with cameo presentation, such as Frecclesham in the book.

    I do believe that if you read the book and follow Iain's thoughts then you really wouldn't be led to building anything big, and over 2 metres is big. I accept that in the larger scales this is a bigger constraint but the same sense of being physically manageable applies.

    I will nonetheless ask Iain about your entry Geoff, I know, its bigger that 2 metres...


  7. Obblygobbly

    Obblygobbly Active Member

    I feel really sorry for anyone who has put a lot of effort into designing a layout that is suddenly just outside the rules, but was not a few days ago.

    It's just not cricket ;)
  8. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Rest assured Obblygobbly old chap, there is nobody who is in that situation.

    All of the "offending" layouts were projects that were well under way before there was even a whiff of a competition.

    And at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old bookseller, I honestly do not think that anyone who has actually read Iain's book would be leaping off and designing a 2 metres plus whopper.

    I'm guessing you haven't read the book either;)

  9. geoff_nicholls

    geoff_nicholls Western Thunderer

    Simon is correct about my layout, it was started a couple of years ago, and is that size because I prefer micro or cameo layouts, not specifically for the competition. And I bought the book, because I wanted it, months before the competition was announced. I entered the competition to spread the word about the possibility of modelling gauge 3 in small spaces.
    jonte, jamiepage and lankytank like this.
  10. Obblygobbly

    Obblygobbly Active Member

    I have read the book pretty thoroughly to be honest, Simon.
  11. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Good man!