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Internet stars

Area residents share sights with world at YouTube.com

Area residents share sights with world at YouTube.com

October 08, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Two shirtless young men doing their rendition of the Backstreet Boys "I Want It That Way" in the rain to the amusement of unseen gigglers.

A tour of downtown Hagerstown from the view of a windshield.

Trains traveling through the region, local bands in action and re-enactors at Antietam National Battlefield.

These are the topics of several videos posted on YouTube.com that come up when searching for local references such as Hagerstown.

YouTube.com is a Web site that allows people to upload short videos to the Internet so they can share them with the public, or they can restrict the audience. The free service began a public preview in May 2005 and officially launched that December, according to the Web site.

Visitors can post comments about a video or e-mail the person who submitted the video.

YouTube was tops among video-sharing sites in August with more than 34 million unique visitors in August, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The list of sites is not exhaustive but includes vids.myspace.com and Google Video.

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For Hagerstown resident Mannie Gentile, creating and posting online videos is fun and a way to express his creative and artistic side.

No, Gentile isn't one of the Backstreet Boys impersonators.

He's the guy hosting the video shorts from weekend activities at Antietam National Battlefield.

"It's just a nice way to showcase the battlefield and how much I enjoy working there," says Gentile.

Gentile, 54, began volunteering at the park shortly after moving to Hagerstown in January. Then in May he was offered his dream job - interpretive park ranger at Antietam.

Gentile has been making videos for years. He filmed weddings and worked for public television in Grand Rapids, Mich., teaching youths to write, shoot and edit their own short documentaries.

He discovered YouTube after his niece told him a video her fianc had made was posted at the site.

In addition to posting videos from Antietam's living history weekends, Gentile uploaded videos of other historic sites and humorous videos of a camping trip with a buddy and a fake infomercial for a faux product.

Another video shows Gentile and his wife, Virginia Rose Kane, demonstrating how to make a poster for a regional art festival in Michigan.

Kane often helps her husband make the videos, filming the sequences that show Gentile.

"I love teaching people about the Civil War," Gentile says.

Tom Selway of York, Pa., has gotten close to 300 hits on a video he posted in January 2006 of his family sky-diving over Franklin County, Pa., in the summer of 2005.

The film shows Selway climbing outside the plane and letting go as he, his wife, and their two grown children sky-dive for their Christmas card photo.

Jamie Sides, a videographer for Chambersburg Skydiving Center Inc., says wasn't surprised when the Selways asked him to videotape the dive. "They actually came to me because I've been shooting sky diving videos for about six years."

However he hadn't been aware the video, shot with a digital camera attached to Sides' helmet with a sight over his left eye, had been posted on YouTube.

"It's pretty neat," says Sides, 22, who is from Chambersburg and is a senior at Virginia Tech.

Brett Rose, 31, of Martinsburg, W.Va., has posted videos from races at Hagerstown Speedway, west of Hagerstown.

In an e-mail to The Herald-Mail, Rose says he stumbled across YouTube when searching for racing videos and began shooting his own.

Within a few days, his videos had been viewed more than 100 times, Rose says.

"You're playing to a world audience here so it's much more diverse. The only downside to that is you don't have people flagging you down at the grocery store anymore, which was a really nice thing to happen," Gentile says.

Some local posts on YouTube.com:

· Mannie Gentile's YouTube posts can be found at www.youtube.com/profile?user=mannie1952

Other YouTube posts with local connections include:

· Driving through downtown Hagerstown: www.youtube.com/user/dancerhas

· Skydiving over Franklin County: www.youtube.com/user/Ffly4phun

· Backstreet Boys imitation: www.youtube.com/user/dascentra

· Brett Rose's videos, including race at Hagerstown Speedway: www.youtube.com/user/RacerRose

· Videos of trains in the Tri-State area: www.youtube.com/user/TrainFreak409

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