Memorial Day

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In observance of Memorial Day, we’re taking a few days off to reflect upon those who served and those we’ve lost.  We’ll be back in the studio on Tuesday. Until then, here’s a repost of a blog from last year about some of the military men in my family:

From left to right:

My father, Edward J. Ondrasik, who, with the Eighth Air Force, flew 24 missions over Germany as a bombardier during WWII. We learned afterwards that he flew each of those 24 missions without a parachute as he could not fit into the bombardier compartment with it on. He died in 2009.

My uncle, Charles C. Parish, served as Lt. Commander in the US Navy. Was a pilot of a #2 F-4J (Phantom) during the Vietnam War. He was shot down over North Vietnam and declared Missing in Action in 1968. His status was changed to Killed in Action in 1973. His name is among the tens of thousands engraved on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC.

My maternal grandfather, Herman O. Parish, who, as captain and commanding officer received the Navy Cross and the Legion of Merit for services rendered during WWII. He retired as a US Navy Rear Admiral. He died in 1989.

We honor their memory and thank them for their service and sacrifice. As we do all who have given service to our country.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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What’s in Your Time Capsule?

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We, at Home Video Studio, are kind of in a time capsule business. People bring us items that have been buried for 50, 60, even 70 years or more and ask us to unearth their secrets. And sometimes, after we’re done, they let us keep some of the old capsules themselves.

The camera pictured above was given to us by one of our clients. It belonged to his family, most likely his grandfather.  It is an Agfa Movex 16mm camera circa 1930s, complete with leather case and light-gauge. It was a German camera and what makes it remarkable to me is the film that we transferred for the client that brought it in. There were 4 reels of 16mm silent film and after transferring the footage and watching it back we were mesmerized to find that our client’s grandfather, most likely with this camera, was seated in the stands of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, filming the games.

The final reel was taken much later and showed a jeep ride through the rubble-strewn street of post-war Berlin.

I’m not able to show you the actual footage we preserved for our client but I found a website with some pretty spectacular still photos of that historical event.

https://historycollection.co/a-look-inside-hitlers-1936-nazi-olympics-through-amazing-photographs/

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

The New Normal?

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As the country inexorably moves towards “reopening,” pundits everywhere are offering their opinions on what our new normal will look like. The bottom line… no one really knows.  It will be dependent upon which way the wind blows (and what may be in that wind as it’s blowing.)

At Home Video Studio Mount Dora, we certainly altered our operational protocol to reduce the amount of physical interaction needed to take place while the coronavirus threat was so strong. And in many ways, the changes we developed made us more efficient and allowed us to maximize our time management to a higher degree. So, speaking for ourselves, our new normal will be a continuation of the processes we put in place to keep everyone safe while we continued serving the community during this time.

We are in the studio 6 days a week from 9:30am until 5:00pm but we request that our clients call us to schedule an appointment so we can be sure as to manage the traffic flow in and out of our studio.

Simple drop off and pick up of orders can be conducted curbside. More complex transactions will be handled inside our sanitized studio which will be re-sanitized after every visitor. We will be wearing masks during all face to face interactions and ask all to do the same.

We’ve been doing the above for the past month and have been able to operate without a hiccup. We’re thrilled to be able to continue providing the services that allow our customers to preserve and protect their memories from loss or damage and look forward to the time that we can help you with your next project.

The individual pictured above is famous for saying: “What, me worry?” Like him, we have no reason to be worried. We’re getting through this in fine shape.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY FORTY-TWO

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May 14, 2020

I wonder if people 50 years from now will look back at some of the television spots we produce with the same level of bemusement we experience when we look at some of the stuff that aired back in the 60s?

I have long been a subscriber to The National Archives which has a mission similar to ours – the conservation and preservation of motion picture records. And every so often they let us take as peek into their archives and review some of the gems that are both fascinating and a little giggle-worthy.

Here’s one that I caught today of The Swingin’ Six as they explain the need for a Zip Code system within the US Post Office.

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It kind of reminds me of a radio PSA I wrote for a class project on the dangers of underaged smoking. The entire 60 second spot consisted of me trying to read from a published brochure they gave us while hacking my lungs out. Largely improvised (because I forgot to do the assignment), it was chosen from the class to be recorded and broadcast – pretty sure on AM radio (WINK were the local call letters).  If I only had the Swingin’ Six to help me out back then, it might have gone national.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-EIGHT

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May 10, 2020

One of the benefits to owning a video transfer business is the opportunity we have to see and hear the experiences many of our clients took the time to record. We’ve learned to recognize the many scenes that repeatedly appear in a lot of the video we handle: Chuckee Cheese Birthday parties, trips to Hawaii or the Grand Canyon, visits to Disneyland, Sea World, Marineland, and more. But there’s one scene that keeps popping up in various films or tapes we handle which we could not identify.

I finally learned of its source. In 1957, a theme park in North Carolina was launched, supposedly the first in the state and one of the first in the nation. It’s called Tweetsie Railroad and it is still operating today (although it is currently closed awaiting the end of the Covid-19 pandemic).

It is home to two narrow gauge steam locomotives (No. 12 “Tweetsie”, and No. 190, “Yukon Queen”) which pull visitors along a 3 mile loop around a mountain near Blowing Rock, NC. Other rides, events, and family attractions were added over the years to make Tweetsie Railroad a perennial favorite among tourists and railroad enthusiasts or “foamers” as some call themselves.

The scene which keeps appearing in the videos of my clients is apparently filmed during the train ride. As the 100 year old steam locomotive pulls its cars around a bend, it stops in front of a lovingly recreated wild west town where cast members enact a brazen and entertaining train robbery/shootout. It’s nice to finally know where to go to see it live. It is just one more item to added to the bucket list.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY – SIX

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May 8, 2020

It was a gorgeous day in Florida today – and began that way with this beautiful sunrise. As I sat there in quiet solitude with my cup of coffee, I began to think back on some of the other sunrises I have been privy to during my lifetime.

I’ve always been partial to sunrises; something about the hope of a new day and all the promises and opportunities that may be contained therein. The most amazing sunrise I was ever awake to see occurred a few years back while we were vacationing in Italy. We found a small little cottage/chalet nestled high up in the Umbrian hills that overlooked the massive valley below. It was located just outside of a little village called Campello sul Clittuno where LA Law actor Michael Tucker and his wife Jill Eikenberrry found their Italian home away from home, as they describe in their book, Living in a Foreign Language.

Our temporary abode, nicknamed Roccioviva Atelier, provided spectacular panoramic views of the valley. Kate and I would sit out on the porch as the sun was setting, listening to the peaceful rustling of the wind through the trees as the distant church bells pealed out their melodic tones marking the end of another day.

The next morning, as I awoke, I was greeted with this magnificent sight:

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A blanket of white covered the entire valley, giving me the eerie feeling of being Jack atop the Beanstalk looking down through the clouds. I cherish those moments that catch us by surprise with their sheer beauty and simplicity. I look forward to discovering many more.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-FIVE

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May 7, 2020

We are living during some rather unbelievable times… but nothing that is unique to mankind. I’m not sure who wrote the following, but these words certainly provide a perspective that should give us all pause…

“We probably all think that it’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.  Many would think that that was a pretty simple time of life. Then on your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war, including many of your friends who volunteered to defend freedom in Europe. 

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million. On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 38. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.   If you were lucky, you had a job that paid $300 a year, a dollar a day. 

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet, but don’t try to catch your breath.  If you lived in London, England or most of continental Europe, bombing of your neighborhood, or invasion of your country by foreign soldiers along with their tank and artillery was a daily event.  Thousands of Canadian young men joined the army to defend liberty with their lives.  Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. 

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. On your 62nd birthday there is the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended.  Sensible leaders prevented that from happening. 

In 2020, we have the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands have died; it feels pretty dangerous; and it is. Now think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you think they survived all of the above?  When you were a kid in 1965, you didn’t think your 65-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was, and how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and very enlightening. So, let’s try and keep things in perspective.”

Keep your chin up, your mind sharp and remember… we’ve gotten through worse times than this.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-TWO

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May 4, 2020

There’s a challenge trending on Facebook where people are asked to post the ten most influential albums they listened to growing up. I’m seeing lots of variety but none of the albums that most influenced me.  See, I was never all that into collecting music or developing a musical style or taste. My vinyl influences were of a different genre but they nevertheless greatly helped to shape my personality.  So without further ado…

Number 10: That Was The Year That Was – Tom Lehrer.

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It was a live album recorded at the hungry i in San Francisco, containing performances by Tom Lehrer of satiric topical songs he originally wrote for the NBC television series That Was The Week That Was. I can still remember all the words to “New Math.”

Number 9: An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.

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A Grammy award winning album that features selected pieces from their Broadway show of the same name. Nichols went on to become an acclaimed Hollywood director (The Graduate, Catch-22. The Birdcage). I performed one of their skits in high school.

Number 8: The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters.

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Wildly inventive, utilizing improvisational humor, Winters was the Robin Williams of his day. Williams may have been better, but Winters was first.

Number 7: The First Family.

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A good-natured parody of then-President John F. Kennedy. Issued by Cadence Records, The First Family became the “largest and fastest selling record in the history of the record industry. This and Tom Lehrer’s album were my introduction into political humor.

Number 6: My Son, the Nut – Alan Sherman.

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 My Son, the Nut was the last comedy album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 for over half a century, until “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun in 2014. The classic “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah: A Letter From Camp” was cut one on side two.

Number 5: Class Clown – George Carlin.

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 With the Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television, Carlin brilliantly demonstrated how humor can be used to deliver a powerful social message.

Number 4: Pardon my Blooper! – Kermit Shafer.

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 A collection of live radio and television mistakes, usually of an embarrassing nature. A guilty pleasure, it never failed to have me doubled up in laughter, no matter how many times I heard it.

Number 3: To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With – Bill Cosby.

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Regardless of the reprehensible choices he made in his personal life, there is no denying that as a comedic storyteller, there were few in his league.  Spin Magazine once chose this 1968 recording as the greatest comedy album of all time.

Number 2: Mom Always Liked You Best – The Smothers Brothers.

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 The personalities, the banter, the musical talent, they were one of my favorite comedic acts. I loved their TV show as well.

Number 1: The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart.

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This recording won Album of the Year at the 1961 Grammy Awards, where Newhart was named Best New Artist; it was the first comedy album to win Album of the Year and the only time a comedian had won Best New Artist. His delivery probably did more to shape my humor than any other influence. 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-ONE

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May 3, 2020

I try not to obsess over possessions… after all they are just things and all things can be replaced. But even I recognize the comfort that comes from being surrounded by the familiar items one has collected over a lifetime.

The above picture is the view from my reading chair, something which I have gotten quite a bit of use from over the past month. And I am struck at how much the various objects I can see from this vantage point brings me pleasure because I can recall where and how they were acquired.

My wife and I have pieced our furnishings together over many years, surprising even ourselves sometimes at how well they seem to fit, as if they were purchased at the same time.

The two buffets which are placed on opposite walls were bought at separate antique stores 3 or 4 years apart but give the impression that they are a matched set because of the intricate carving of the doors.

The settee in the foreground took us a long time to find as we were careful not to buy something that would overwhelm the space. We found it by chance one day while visiting the shops of Winter Park. We made the shop owner break up a 3 piece set because we did not want to part with the wingback chairs we use for our reading area and surprisingly, as unusual as the settee’s fabric is, the colors blend perfectly with the wingbacks we find so comfortable.

The table and chairs (partially hidden by the settee) was an auction find that still causes some controversy in our house. I overruled Kate’s uncertainty and bid $100 for the antique set (dining table and six chairs). No one else bid against us so we brought it home. It still garners the most compliments from guests and visitors (much to Kate’s chagrin.)

Even the knick knacks and decorative items on surfaces or shelves can make me smile as each one has its own story as to how it arrived to find a place in our home. That has been the secret key to our decorative style. We never buy anything for the sake of buying it. We look for things that will have meaning – something that can represent an event or time in our lives. So I guess that makes them more than mere possessions. They are memories… and memories are precious.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY

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May 2, 2020

Thirty days.  You’d think I’d be climbing the walls by now. And who knows…some of you may be…

In all honesty, this distancing we’ve been asked to do has been manageable for us. What does that meme say: you realize how anti-social you are when the world goes on lock down and you hardly notice.

Believe me, we’ve noticed. But we’ve also found ways to accommodate whatever it is we’ve had to do without.

Eating out:  We used to frequent local restaurants once or twice a week; for date nights or just to avoid having to cook. So for the past thirty days, we’ve had our date nights at home and we’ve still managed to support our local eateries by ordering takeout and plating it ourselves at our dining room table.

Live entertainment: No theater, no concerts, no movie house experiences, that’s true… but there has been more network and streaming entertainment made available than could ever be consumed in a thousand pandemics.

Family gatherings: This has been the toughest part. My mom (91) lives in an assisted living facility which has blocked visitation for over a month now. My mother-in-law (92) has been sheltering in place in her home with a full-time caregiver.  We get by with daily calls, care packages. In some ways, we’re more connected now than before and we take comfort in knowing that the lockdown, in a large part, was designed to protect them from this virus.

On the plus side, our house has received a thorough cleaning, we’ve been able to catch up on some reading, we’re healthy and in a position to bounce back quickly once we receive the go-ahead from our health officials.  I hope all of you have found your way of enduring this unusual time. Just remember, this too shall pass. Keep yourselves safe and know that while it may seem like you’re going through this alone, we’re all in this together.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.