There is no such thing as a small job

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Yesterday was one for the books. We broke a record. Smallest order ever written. Total: 95 cents.

Why is this something to celebrate? Because I learned a long time ago not to focus on the size of the sale. My focus will always be on the depth of the relationship I can build with those who choose to trust me with their most precious possessions – their memories – be it one or a thousand.

People who come to my studio can be assured that regardless of what you’re bringing in, you will receive the very best I have to offer. My goal is not to sell you more than you want but rather to be flexible enough to meet your expectations.

We have a wide range of service levels. If you want the most cost-effective pricing possible, I can provide that by stripping away some of the special additives that we can provide. But if you want all the bells and whistles, we are happy to comply. It is always going to be your choice.

The job yesterday entailed a single slide that a customer found in a drawer. And he wanted it digitalized so he could see more clearly what the image was.  I could tell it had import for him. That one image is going to be much more valuable to him than the 95 cents I’m charging. And that’s what I keep in mind and why I’ll make sure I generate the best possible image I can. Who knows… he may have other items at home that I can help him with. And even if he doesn’t, he probably knows someone who does. 

Bottom line – it is never about the size of the job. It is about the connection I can form between my studio and my customers. There will always be larger jobs coming… hopefully many of them from the people who started out giving me small jobs.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

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When the lights go out

It is frustrating to own a business in a place known for its elaborate Christmas decorations and not be able to participate. This past Saturday, Light Up Mount Dora electrified the downtown area with over 2 million lights in dazzling display. Our studio… not so much.

Here’s the problem. We lease the space we occupy and absolutely love it. But… it has no exterior electrical outlets. And so we cannot hang the elaborate lights that so enamor the visitors that come to our town. The exterior of our building is not what one would call sparkling with Christmas joy. But we will not be deterred.

We have an indomitable Christmas spirit. Since we could not hang sparkling lights outside to show our love for the season, we upped the ante… we offered the interior of our building to someone who was looking for a more southerly location to use as a satellite office. We hope he doesn’t mind – we thought we’d share a quick glimpse that we caught of him the other night in front of our window.

Feel free to stop by to say hello. No guarantees. He seems to disappear from view in a twinkle of an eye.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. We have been on Santa’s nice list as long as we’ve been open. We’d love to be on yours. Contact us at 352-735-8550 or visit us at www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

 

 

Deadlines

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Deadlines. Don’t you just hate them?

I know I did. Ever since the day I was assigned homework in school that HAD to be turned in by such and such o’clock. I hated looking at my watch knowing that I was running out of time. I hated the pressure of performing under a time limit. I always have. I can’t tell you how many library cards I let expire because I was embarrassed to go back there knowing that I had missed the deadline to return my book(s) and they were now overdue.  I knew there would be a penalty and I didn’t want to face it. I made my sister return them.

But I have since grown to learn that working under deadlines teaches us discipline. It encourages planning and deliberate execution. It helps to perfect us, in spite of our imperfections. A deadline is the reining in of a goal. It helps to clarify a vision and enables us to achieve what we want to achieve. Deadlines, as I have discovered, are our friend. They help us to keep structured and keep our expectations realistic.  This is a good thing because they are now very much a part of my life – and they have been for a long time.

Speaking of deadlines, if you have any expectation of having film (8mm, Super 8, or 16mm) converted to a digital format (DVD, mp4, or DVA) before Christmas, the deadline to get them to me is today. Any film order presented to me after 5pm Tuesday Nov 28,  cannot be guaranteed a pre-Christmas delivery. I still have room in my videotape, audiotape, photo and slide transfer schedule so if you bring them in anytime this week I can turn it around in time for the holidays. But time is closing in on us fast. And those deadlines will be here before you know it.

 Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Light it Up!

In case you missed it, here’s a little glimpse of the tree lighting that took place in Mount Dora Saturday night. This handheld iPhone video doesn’t do justice… you’d have to have been there.  Good news – the display is up all season and you can always make plans to catch the grand reveal next year. #HappyHolidays!

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. They are still taking orders to be completed before Christmas but the clock is ticking. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Small Town Boy

 

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My wife has a tendency to call me Opie, after the little boy from Mayberry. I’ve never been much interested in living in a sprawling urban area. I never had a wanderlust to travel the globe without having roots planted somewhere to call home. I guess I’m happy with the Midwestern values I was taught as a young man. So Opie it is. Could have been worse – at least she didn’t take to calling me Goober.

It is the small town values I possess that make me appreciate a place like Mount Dora. Charming, quaint, old-fashioned… these are all descriptions we hear bandied about – and they are certainly fitting. Mount Dora is all of this and more. It has an air or atmosphere about it that can remind us of an earlier age or a more innocent time.

Tonight is Light Up Mount Dora where our downtown will become electrifyingly spectacular with over 2 million Christmas lights strung up and down our streets and into our parks. Even the marina gets into the act. When the lights come on it is hard to tell what’s glowing more – the bulbs or the pride in the hearts of the people who live in this magical town.

All day long, the mom and pop stores that make up the majority of the shops in our downtown area are participating in Small Business Saturday. If you plan on taking in the lights this evening, why not make a day of it and frequent some of the merchants that help to make and keep Mount Dora “Someplace Special?”

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. Mount Dora is where we choose to work, live, and play and we proudly show it off to all who come visit. We hope to be able to count you among that number. You can reach us at www.homevideostudio.com or by calling 352-735-8550.

Christmas Memories

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It is the day after Thanksgiving. Which means it is time to put away the fall decorations and get ready for Christmas. We’ll be spending the next few days putting up trees, lights, and various decorative items to make our home and our business more festive. It got me wondering about how people celebrated this holiday back in the day.

Then it hit me… I’m now old enough to have actually been there “back in the day”.  Here’s what I remember:

  1. Writing out a Christmas list to Santa using as my sole reference the toy catalogues that magically appeared in our house in early December.
  2. Watching my dad hang a single string of multi-colored lights (each about the size of a cigar butt) in a straight line across the front of our ranch style home.
  3. Watching the same movies every year: White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Not necessarily in that order.
  4. Stringing popcorn to be part of the tree decorations.
  5. Deciding that popcorn should never be part of tree decorations.
  6. Carefully laying one strand of tinsel at a time upon the tree until boredom took hold. Then flinging commenced.
  7. Piling into the family car with my parents and sisters to drive around the neighborhood at night just to look at all the Christmas lights.
  8. Decorating Christmas cookies with sprinkles.
  9. Answering a knock at the door to find 20 people on our lawn to sing us Christmas carols.
  10. My mother having hot chocolate ready to hand out to any carolers that came by.
  11. Gathering together on Christmas Eve to hear my mom or dad read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
  12. Deciding to go to bed at 7pm on Christmas Eve thinking that the morning would come more quickly. It didn’t.
  13. Waking up Christmas morning to find a sheet hanging ceiling to floor just outside our bedrooms with a note attached forbidding us kids to go beyond it until our parents woke up.
  14. Once allowed, we pulled the bedsheets aside ready to dash to our stockings only to be blinded by the force of a hundred suns as my father powered up the light bar attached to his 8mm camera.
  15. After opening the last of umpteen presents while sitting amidst a pile of torn wrappings taller than I was, I actually uttered the words: “Is that all?”

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. When they are done, those memories will have been digitalized, packaged in a gift bag and ready to be placed under the tree. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Photo courtesy of Esandra Hollman

Giving Thanks

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As a preserver of family memories, I find myself in a unique position to observe what people truly value. Despite all the differences between us: race, gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, social status or any of the other elements that all too often are used as bait to divide us; when it comes down to what we treasure… we’re pretty much all the same.

People record the moments they want to remember. Moments that touch their heart or speak to their soul and identity. Having transferred thousands of videotapes, films, and slides, I can tell you that people generally capture images of the same things.

Holidays. Vacations. Moments of celebration or accomplishment. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. Weddings. And, of course, a child’s development as they grow through the stages of life. Most can be boiled down to one simple essence: Love of family and friends.

This is the great unifier. It is the common denominator that has the ability to draw us together as a singular community. Perhaps this is why I love what I do so much. Because of all the love I feel coming from the tapes and films that I’m transferring. This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful to you, my clients, for giving me the greatest gift of all – the opportunity to work with the love you have recorded and wish to preserve.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

#ShopSmall

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Small Business Saturday is taking place this week. November 25! Sponsored by American Express, this #shopsmall event is designed to bring attention to the vital importance that small, locally-owned businesses have in their community.

If you’re wondering why it is important to support small businesses in your town or city, here’s a list that has been put together to educate the consumer:

1. Supporting small businesses keeps money within the community and enhances the local economy.

2. Small businesses add charm and character. They may be at the very heart and identity of the community, making them favorites at farmers’ markets and fairs.

3. They create vibrant, local shopping areas that are attractive to home buyers and can raise property values.

4. Must-see small businesses can draw tourism, also boosting the local economy.

5. They offer unique gift items not found anywhere else.

6. Small businesses tend to buy from other small businesses. When they purchase locally-sourced ingredients or products, they also contribute to their neighbor business’ success and the economic well-being of the community entire.

7. Customer service at small businesses can be a more personal experience. Customers may easily build relationships with owners and staff, and perhaps even feel like they’ve become part of a family.

8. Small businesses create jobs and are often better work-places than large chains.

9. They dictate their own prices to remain competitive, which means you can often find better quality items at good costs.

10. Small business owners are generally experts in their field and are better equipped to answer complex questions or provide innovative solutions for their customers.

Whether it is this Saturday or any other time, we hope that you will see your way clear to browse the locally owned shops in your community. You may find something you absolutely love while, at the same time, help your neighbors and boost your local economy.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and are proud to count themselves as one of the millions of locally owned businesses that provide services or products to their friends and neighbors.

They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Why Super 8 was super

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My very first venture into filmmaking was a high school project I shot and edited on Super 8 film. I’m in good company. Steven Spielberg did the same thing. 
Super 8 was a vast improvement over the regular 8mm film that was being used at the time. 8mm was nothing more than 16mm film cut in half… literally.  Camera operators would need to feed a 25 foot, 16mm sized film cartridge into their cameras, shoot their footage which would record on one side of the strip, then remove the cartridge, flip it over and shoot again so the images would record on the other half. When the the film reached the lab for processing, it was then split down the middle and spliced together to form the 50 foot 8mm film reel that has become so iconic. It was, in a word, a pain.
Super 8 simplified the matter and, by doing so, ushered in a new age of amateur filmmaking. Spielberg and I were not the only ones who cut their auteur’s teeth on Super 8 film. Directors J.J. Abrams, Tim Burton, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan and Michael Bay have all reflected fondly on their cinematic beginnings that started with a Super 8 camera. 
Here, copied from a Live Science blog of 2011 are some random facts about Super 8:
• Although Kodak no longer produces Super 8 cameras, the company still makes four different kinds of Super 8 film. (You can find used Super 8 cameras on eBay.)
• The last manufacturer to produce Super 8 cameras was the French company Beaulieu, which continued making the cameras well into the ’90s.
• Super 8 continues to be used in the film community as an inexpensive alternative to high-definition video. “It tends to be more for small films, commercials and music videos rather than the big blockbuster movies found in theaters,” Johnson said.
• Super 8 film was made using Kodachrome, a type of color reversal film that was manufactured by Kodak from 1935 to 2006. The color was used in motion picture cameras as well as still cameras, especially for images intended for publication in print media. Steve McCurry used Kodachrome for his well-known 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula, the “Afghan Girl”, for National Geographic magazine.
• The new “Super 8” app recreates the experience of having an old-school Super 8 camera by letting you adjust different lens and filter effects while recording a video on your iPhone, iPad or iTouch. The app also contains embedded information about Steven Spielberg’s new “Super 8” movie as part of its marketing.
And in case you were wondering why I didn’t go on to direct films like Jaws, E.T., or Shindler’s List like Mr. Spielberg… here, for your viewing pleasure, is my Super 8 high school effort.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories, including films shot in 8mm, Super 8, and 16mm format. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Brand Wars

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There have been many brand wars throughout consumer history:

Pepsi vs Coke.

iPhone vs Android.

Burger King vs McDonalds.

Mac vs PC.

The first time I remember having to pick a side as a consumer had to do with a home entertainment system.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I had left my school days behind and, needing to establish myself as a certified grownup, began to furnish my own place.  Naturally, my first purchase was not going to be a bed, couch, table or chair – it would have to be a TV and home theater system. That was a no-brainer.

The head-scratching decision for me was: “Should I invest in the Sony Betamax or in the newer and less expensive Video Home System which became known simply as VHS?”

There were advocates on either side. Both did basically the same thing.  They worked with cassette tapes which could fit into a camera, record footage, and instantly play it back. They also both made videotape players that were attached to the television and capable of not only playing their tapes but recording your favorite TV programs onto blank tapes. They both came with programmable timers so you never had to miss your favorite shows. But neither would play the other format’s tapes. The consumer had to choose between them.

Most acknowledge that the picture quality was superior on the Betamax. And Sony was the first to the market with their product which should have given them the advantage. However, VHS was not too far behind them and because, unlike Sony, who held close reins on their technology, the VHS developers shared their technology with multiple manufacturers. This spurred competition in the marketplace and kept the VHS prices lower as a result.

Also, some people think another reason Betamax did not grow to dominate the field was its limited recording time ability. Beta tapes were initially held to a maximum of one hour. It didn’t take long for consumers to demand more. After all, most movies lasted longer than 60 minutes. Likewise, who wanted to record just the first half (or quarter) of a televised football game?  VHS was the first to respond to this perceived need with an SP/EP/LP recording option that eventually gave users the ability to record up to eight hours of programs on a single tape.  While the extended play option did reduce the picture quality significantly, that didn’t slow the sales juggernaut as the vast majority of buyers lined up for the VHS products. Sony finally capitulated in the late 1980s by offering its own VHS line thus signaling what would prove to be the end of Betamax.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and can successfully transfer both VHS and Betamax videotapes to a digital form for continued enjoyment. They can be reached at 352-735-8550 or by visiting www.homevideostudio.com/mtd