RE Camera Relay of on-layout action
Totally logical idea, with the following caveats
1 - Use a CCD videocamera, NOT a CMOS camera.
(CMOS cameras, esp the newer "HDV"cams by Sony and suchlike,
are functionally incapable of handling "low light" conditions,
and grain up horribly!
Adjust your camera's whitebalance, so it actually works correctly with the layout lighting.
(You work damn hard to make your model's color and weathering work under the specfic layout lighting system,
but then hapily accept a poorly-configured camera,
which reacts to the layout lighting "color temperature",
and renders the models as a gaudy sideshow presentation?
webcams are totally ineffective under such conditions,
due to resolution limitations, and focus/depth-of-field limitations.
(They also don't handle low light well)
we're looking at the trains, we don't want to see the edges or taskbar of a Windows install or webcam app...
turn off "auto-focus" and "autoexposure",
and set these values correctly, manually,
lest the passing of each train in front of lense cause visual havoc while the camera "hunts" the moving image...
(Ever had "seasickness" when standing totally still?)
4 - Consider: How to mount the camera in a "suitable position" that gives the monitor viewer a "decent viewpoint", without sticking it in the sightline of a person actually trying to view the layout directly
4a - RE adaptable/positionable camera mountings: I use and Reccomend looking at something like the Manfrotto MagicArm + SuperClamp. Cheap, and bulletproof
http://www.manfrotto.com.au/LightingPro ... _Number=37
5 - even (especially) with small layouts, forcing the viewer to move around to catch all the myriad incuded details is inherrently part of the presentation. A fixed camera can never hope to capture this...
(leave aside the inability for the average "handicam" to achieve the required "macro focus" over the above-mentioned depth-of-field)
6 - I have seen "remote monitors" used to broadcast the view from a "nose-mounted onboard camera" with some success, (and a huge appreciation from the kids BTW!
- it doesn't automatically "fade to black" when heading "offstage",
(thus shooting most of the theatrical presentation in the foot),
- It can suffer from radio or wheel-track interferrence
(making watching it a headache-inducing task)
- and funnily enough actually forces one to look at the layout "as a scale human would", thus occasionally making for "cringe-worthy" footage as the trains runs past the <insert "would look very odd in 12"/1' scale model or scenery effect" HERE> ...
Modelling is a Compromise, I think most modellers would agree with that.
However, sometimes you gotta make your compromises, and stick with them. Compromise everything, and you'll likely end up with M.O.R. Beige...