PLATTSBURGH - It's taken Calvin Castine and Brian McBride two years of converting VHS tapes to DVD and then posting them on-line. And they're not even halfway done their project.
Castine, who began Hometown Cable in 1983, knew it was time to convert his old tapes, to something that would last.
"I did have [a tape] ... from 1984, when I put it in, this big part on the bottom was just gone," said Castine. "I pulled the tape out and looked at it. Probably about a fifth of it was just dried right out and falling off. I manually fast forwarded to the end and it cleared up a little bit later."
"I can't wait another decade or a lot of it won't be there," he added.
Castine began working with McBride, of McBride Chevrolet and McBride Subaru, who had been dabbling with the Internet for more than a decade.
"I registered the plattsburgh.com domain in 1995," said McBride. "I put a one-page Web site, just some local businesses, the chamber and stuff. I left it alone for probably 13, 14 years. I just got the itch to do something with it and I've got some Internet background."
Eventually, McBride began posting videos of the Airborne Speedway races, through an employee of his, Rick Knowles.
"As soon as word got around at the track that you could watch the show on Monday after the race, we had hundreds of people every day on the site," said McBride.
Soon McBride asked Knowles, who is an acquaintance of Castine's, if he could ask Castine about posting his videos on the Web site.
"He's probably single-handedly producing the most accurate [historical] record of the area," said McBride. "Right now the interest level, it's interesting stuff, but 20 years from now it's going to be a really important reference library to go back to."
Eventually, McBride decided to create a separate Web site for Castine, hometowncablenetwork.com, which McBride said almost mirrors plattsburgh.com's site in terms of content, with both having Castine's videos.
Now the two are working together to convert 15,000 videos to DVD and then posting them on the sites. So far, they have completed around 6,000 videos.
Castine, who is known for filming mostly in the Northern Tier, said the site will also be of internet to be people throughout the region.
"I concentrate on Northeastern, Chazy and Northern Adirondack and Beekmantown ... but they're playing Plattsburgh High School, they are playing Peru, Chazy is playing Elizabethtown and Schroon Lake," explained Castine. "It's definitely regional."
"It can be a nostalgic trip for some people," added McBride.
And the videos are being seen.
McBride explained they are keeping track of how many hits the sites are receiving, with an average of 200 views a day on plattsburgh.com alone.
To benefit from this, McBride explained they have added an advertising mechanism so local advertisers can have their television commercials posted on the site and viewed before each video.
They are also looking to the community to help out financially.
"I do it out of hobby. Calvin as a career," said McBride. "He puts an enormous amount of time into this. Anything that anybody can do to support Calvin financially, please have it at. He's really documenting the history of the area."
Castine is also dabbling in live video streaming, where the video can be seen on-line as he records it, instead of 12 to 24 hours later.
"When we did the St. Patrick's Day breakfast, we had over 200 people watching," said McBride.
With more and more videos being posted daily, both McBride and Castine agreed the site shows strong historical documentation.
"As a community, this is how we lived and how we played and how we worshiped and everything else," said Castine. "It's not fabricated; this is how it really happened."
"Twenty, 50 years from now, there's not going to be any communities that are going to have anywhere near the quality of historical record of what happened," added McBride.
For more information on how to donate, visit www.plattsburgh.com or www.hometowncablenetwork.com.