Talk about making memories! My younger son is in the middle of the adventure of his life. As a Coast Guard diver, he is onboard the Polar Star which has made its way to McMurdo Station in the Antarctic. He recently shared this picture of his ship and a denizen of the region that has come out to greet it.

Reminds me of another picture.


This is the shot of Tank Man, a brave citizen who, in 1989 stood in front of the military force sent to crack down on Chinese students who were protesting in Tiananmen Square. The image of a sole unarmed individual putting himself in the way of a massive motorized weapon was seared in my brain, so when I saw this little Emperor penguin framed against the huge Coast Guard cutter, my mind pulled up from its vast recesses the earlier reference. Not that the Coast Guard’s efforts are in any way comparable to the Chinese shut down of its citizens’ protests. It is just that the one image sparked my memory to recall the other.

No one has ever publicly identified the Tank Man nor do we know what became of him. But I did learn something that I did not realize back then. My knowledge of Tank Man was solely based upon the picture illustrated above. What I didn’t remember is the fact that the photo was a screen shot of the video which captured his actions.


Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is being able to act in spite of it. Watching this video gave me new respect for whoever this individual is/was.

Our memories can be easily activated by the simple action of seeing a photo, watching a video, listening to a piece of music… May the memories that are sparked in your mind always be happy ones.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit


The Final Frontier


At the risk of sounding macabre, I have to say that some of my best work can be seen at funerals. I consider it a privilege and an honor to produce a memorial video to commemorate the life of a loved one who has passed.  When handled with care, compassion, and respect, a memorial video can help the grieving process by reminding us that even though a life has ended, our memories of that life don’t have to.

The first memorial video I produced was for my older sister Allison (pictured above) who died far too young after a long battle with cancer. This occurred before I opened my studio so the resources I had available to me at that time were limited and yet the rudimentary video I produced was still able to capture her essence and remind us all of the wonderful life that was hers.

Since then, I’ve been able to perfect my techniques and streamline the workflow so the process can be done quickly and cost-effectively without affecting the quality of the work produced. A few things to remember if you find yourself in a position to need this service:

  • You’re grieving so there is no need to feel pressure or undue stress to deliver to me a polished, scripted video idea. I will work with you at your comfort level. And I will do the work needed to give you a video that you will treasure.
  • All I need is whatever photos you are able to collect and some songs that have a connection to the one being honored.
  • You can figure that 100 photos will result in a 10 minute video but many memorial videos that I do are “looped” so they play continuously as people come and go during the service. There is no right or wrong as to the number of photos to be included.
  • I keep the “bells and whistles” to a minimum. The video is not intended to showcase my abilities, but to give tribute to the life of the loved one. I try to keep the editor’s hand out of sight.
  • There is no limit to what is available. I have included audio tape, video tape, film footage, slides, photos, negatives and more to build the proper tribute.

Because I know first hand the healing properties contained within a memorial video, I always assign priority to these projects. I  am not usually given a lot of time to produce the finished product, so when an order is placed it goes immediately to the top of my queue. I have never missed a deadline and to my knowledge, have never disappointed my clients.

And recently, a new phenomenon has begun; more and more clients are coming to me with the request that I work on their own memorial video so their family isn’t burdened to handle that task when the time comes. I am happy to work with you so that when the time comes, you can be remembered the way you wish to be remembered.

Whatever your need or request, know that we are able and willing to deliver to you something that will not only give a proper sendoff to the one we’ve lost, but also deliver a timeless keepsake to the ones left behind. 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

It’s a Lock

This is an article that recently appeared in the Orlando Magazine and was written about a friend of mine, Rob Kowal of Liberty Locksmiths. Some professions seem easy until you hear about the history they go through. In Rob’s case, he’s got a lot of history in this business. It is well worth the time to listen to some of it:

Meet the smiths. His last name “is short for Kowalski,” Kowal explains. “In Polish, ‘-ski’ means ‘son of.’ For us, it was ‘son of blacksmith.’ His father liked the idea of being a smith, so “he started a locksmith’s shop in Carson City, Nevada. He taught my oldest brother, who taught me, and then I taught my younger brother.”

Born around the Fourth of July. That’s when Kowal founded Liberty Locksmith of Apopka in 1999, three years after he arrived in Central Florida. As for the name, “My grandfather came to Ellis Island from Poland in the early 1900s, and settled in Jersey City, which is how we got the name Liberty, because the Statue of Liberty is in Jersey City. It was in my backyard.”

Buyer beware. “Most states don’t require locksmiths to have a criminal background check,” including Florida, says Kowal, whose website prominently advertises his criminal background check policy. “You’ve got criminals coming out of jail for breaking and entering.” When they can’t get a job, they consider becoming a locksmith. No one is going to ask any questions. “You just go downtown and get a business license, and that’s all you need.”

Locksmith beware. “So I went to this one house in downtown Orlando. The woman wasn’t acting right.” Kowal requires a valid ID to open a house for someone, but the woman said her license was locked inside the home. It turned out the house belonged to her brother, who had recently died; she had driven from Tampa to get at his possessions before her sister did. Kowal called police.

A lot of experience and a little luck. Unlike TV representations of lockpicking, “it takes two tools: a turning wrench and then the pick.” And some locks won’t give no matter what. “You can’t always pick a lock. There are more and more locks that are not pickable, and you have to drill them out.”

Safety is key. “People should rekey their locks, but they don’t. It’s silly. They buy a new house, and they don’t rekey the lock. It’s cheap insurance.”

He’s left cars in the dust. Cars are too cost-prohibitive to justify Kowal’s time. “You have to put so much money into the electronic programming equipment and the electronic key fobs, and then every six months you have to buy an update because they change. People say, ‘I had to pay $250 for this key.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I had to pay $10,000 to make it.’ ”

Working evictions is the worst. “I’ve done a couple where they had the sheriff there, and they had a moving company there. People were literally getting dragged out of the house, and their furniture was getting dragged to the street.”

Late-night sting. Kowal has done undercover work for the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. One middle-of-the-night operation required Kowal to enter the house, storage unit and office  belonging to a suspect. After opening the building, “I’m sitting in my car and these guys are all covered with helmets and machine guns, and I thought, “What am I getting myself into here?”

If you have need of a locksmith, I can wholeheartedly recommend Rob. Give him a call or visit his website at Liberty Locksmiths.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit


Time Flies

It has been almost 4 years since Home Video Studio of Mount Dora has opened. Time has flown by – for you maybe… But since we spend so much of our days looking at your past, time is a relative thing for us.

I thought I’d post the video we recorded during our grand opening back in 2014. We love doing what we do. And we hope you like the fact that we are here.


Give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you and find out how we can help you preserve your family memories.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in preserving family memories. For information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

What’s Cooking?



It is with all modesty I can say that, today, I am a bit of a gourmet cook. It just wasn’t something I (or anyone else) expected. My culinary tastes have admittedly changed quite a bit over the years.

As a young child, I was a picky eater. I knew just by looking at something that it wasn’t going to taste good. One day, my mother drew the line in the sand. I was not going to be excused from the dinner table until I at least tasted a brussels spout. I fell asleep in my chair without a spout ever passing by my lips. My mom never tried that tactic again.

As a grade schooler, my go-to favorite food was Chef Boyardee’s Spaghetti-Os.  I’m not sure that even qualifies as food but I sure loved it back in the day.

As a college student on a budget I learned how to cook with limited funds. Some of my inventions were successful. Most were not.  Public service announcement: Making a grilled cheese sandwich on a clothes iron is not recommended.

As a bachelor after college, I entered my one pot casserole days. I would make something that would feed six and then live on the leftovers for a week. Spaghetti was popular then… sometimes I could even afford sauce.

Then I got married and discovered a brand new world of gastronomical delights. But one day my wife caught me watching Giada De Laurentis (pictured above) on the Food Network. I told her it was because of her recipes. And that’s how I became a gourmet cook.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Money Can’t Buy Me Love


I love music. But I’ve never been much of a concert-goer. In fact, I’ve never been to an iconic rock and roll concert in my life. But I have seen what they are like from some of the videos I have transferred for my customers.

I recently transferred some footage for a client that was taken at one of the Beatles’ US tour locations in the 60s. It brought me back to the time when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. As a young boy (I would have been nine years old then), I didn’t understand why all the women were screaming. To be honest, I still don’t. Don’t get me wrong… I like the Beatles’ music. I just like it better when the person next to me isn’t screaming or fainting.

The footage I transferred was taken from the stands of a baseball field where the English mop top quartet was playing. It was a bit on the shaky side – probably from all the jumping and jostling taking place in the bleachers. And there was no zoom. The Beatles actually looked the size of beetles.

But the oddest thing was the fact that there was no soundtrack to the film. It was silent. You couldn’t hear them. All you could see was some diminutive figures dressed in suits on a stage in the middle of a baseball field shot from hundreds of yards away. But as my client explained, she couldn’t really hear them live either. The sound systems in the baseball fields back then weren’t designed for a musical performance. They tried to use the field speakers that were present but they just couldn’t do the job. The screams from the female fans drowned out any of the vocals that were being broadcast.

And that didn’t make a difference to the die hard fans that populated the stands… my client among them… They cheered and screamed for all they were worth. I know, because at the very end of the footage, the camera turned to catch her face and her tear streaked cheeks, her glistening eyes and her glowing expression summed up the experience perfectly. What a memory to be captured and preserved forever.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Opportunity Lost


I hate being the bearer of bad news but it sometimes falls upon me. I received an inquiry from a client who said he had cartridges of film he wanted to transfer to DVD.  Recognizing that some people use different (and sometimes incorrect) terms to describe what they have, I requested more information.

Film is stored on reels and is priced out by the amount of footage tendered. On the other hand, videotape is stored on cassettes or cartridges and is priced by the number of cassettes tendered. I could not give him a quote until I was sure what he had.  He sent me a photo of his project which can be seen above.

He was right with his initial description. This is a film cartridge. Unfortunately, it was never developed. This is what we used to put into our Super 8 cameras to take our home movies. We would then have to send them to a lab for processing and we would receive back small 3” reels of developed film for each cartridge we sent. Those reels could be loaded onto a projector and viewed.

These labs no longer exist. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one company left in the US that can process undeveloped film (Film Rescue International)  and even they cannot process in Kodak color. The formulas and inks simply no longer exist. They can only process in black and white.

It is a harsh reality. Time waits for no one. We no longer have the ability to develop color movies from old undeveloped film. And, as time continues to march forward, we may lose the ability to do other things to preserve our old memories. Procrastination is a common ailment among people. We are all guilty of it from time to time. We need to recognize that by not acting to preserve our past we may be threatening our ability to revisit it. If we wish to once again see the images of our youth, we should act now before time catches up to us.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

What’s Your Passion?


I’ve learned a few things about people as I meet them every day and they share their stories with me. Probably the biggest revelation is that we all share passion. We may direct it in different areas but we all have events, experiences, or activities that we prefer above all others and we spend a great deal of time, money and energy while pursuing them. I love it when my clients share with me their passions.

Just recently, I’ve learned from two different customers a little about the sport/art of dressage. A French term that can be translated to mean “training,” dressage is a highly skilled form of riding where horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements. It is not unusual for the relationship between a dressage horse and rider to span decades. My clients had me transfer videos of them working with their respective horses.

Here, from the United States Dressage Federation is a spectator’s guide to watching a dressage performance or competition.

1. Less is More

In dressage, the less you see the rider do, the better, because that means he is communicating with his horse quietly and his horse is attentive — they are working as a team.

2. Good Figures

Circles are round and lines are straight, a precept true in geometry and dressage. A 20-meter circle should go from one side of the arena to the other, a 10-meter circle only half way across. A horse should not weave on a straight-line movement.

3. Tempo and Rhythm

Rhythm is the repetition of footfalls. A sound dressage horse has only three correct rhythms – a four-beat walk, two-beat trot, three-beat canter. Tempo is the speed of repetition of strides. Every horse should have a consistent tempo throughout the test that is controlled by the rider, a tempo so obvious you could sing a song to it.

4. Naughtiness

Horses, like people, have good days and bad days and days when they are just feeling a little too good. Naughtiness in horses can be exhibited in bucking, rearing, tossing of the head, or even jumping out of the dressage ring.

5. Tension

During a test, the horse needs to remain calm, attentive and supple. If the horse gets tense, he gets rigid through his neck and back, which can exhibit itself in stiff movement, ears that are pinned back and a tail that swishes constantly and doesn’t hang arched and quietly swinging.

6. Rider Seat and Position

The rider should sit upright quietly and not be depend on his whip, spurs or voice to have a nice test. Riders who use their voice have points deducted off their test score for that movement.

7. Whipped Cream Lips

When a horse is relaxed in his jaw and poll (the area just behind his ears), he releases saliva, you might see white foam around his lips and mouth. That is a good sign as it means he is attentively chewing on his bit and comfortable in his work. The amount of white foam varies from horse to horse.

8. Horses and Flight

Horses have two main mechanisms for protection from danger: they run and they kick. Remember to always allow plenty of room for the horses at a show and never approach any horse without first alerting the rider that you are doing so.

9. Scary Stuff

Horses have the strangest aversions: plastic grocery bags can remind them of Satan’s minions and an opened umbrella can cause bolting to three states over. Again, use caution at horse shows and think before you toss away noisy garbage, open an umbrella or put on and take off plastic rain ponchos or blankets in the stands.


Focus is important during any test, from Training Level to Grand Prix, so remember to be courteous and follow the rules by staying about 15 meters (45 feet) feet back from the competition ring and remaining as quiet as possible during rides. If you have any questions about where you may stand or sit, check with the ring steward.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Would You Believe…?


I was brainstorming with a client who wanted to develop an infomercial for his commercial door company and in discussing potential concepts we remembered an old TV series that featured a number of doors during its opening credits.

Who remembers this show:

Here are some facts about Get Smart:

  • The main character was conceived as a cross between James Bond and Inspector Clousseau, two of the most popular movie characters of the 1960s.
  • The series was co-created by comedy legends Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.
  • The pilot episode featured a bumbling but effective secret agent, Maxwell Smart, played by Tom Poston. It was offered to ABC who allegedly dismissed it as being un-American.
  • NBC picked it up with the stipulation that Maxwell Smart would be played by a star they had under contract, Don Adams.
  • Max was Agent 86. His partner, played by Barbara Feldon was Agent 99 and was never given a real name.
  • The series spawned a number of catch phrases and running gags, many of which came from Don Adams’ comedy sketches
    • Would you believe…
    • Missed it by that much…
    • Sorry about that chief…
    • …and loving it…. among others.
  • Don Adams developed Max’s unique vocal delivery from the clipped stylings of William Powell in The Thin Man series of films.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Honoring Thy Parents


The Bible says it is the first commandment with a promise:

“Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12

That’s a great promise, but, even with putting that aside, it is a great way to live one’s life… by bestowing honor on those who had the care of you during your formative years.

One way to honor our parents and grandparents is to let their life stories live on after they have passed. There are cultures who get this. They embrace their ancestral histories. They have oral traditions; stories that continue to be told generation after generation, educating their young of the heritage that is theirs.

We happen to live at a time when what has been called “the greatest generation” will come to an end. Sometime during our lifetime, we will hear that the last WWII soldier is no longer with us. At that time, how many stories will we realize have been lost to us? How many lessons will go unlearned?

Our elders, who have already lived through so much of life, have a great deal to impart if we just take the time to give them the platform. And with today’s technology, their personal history can be recorded and stored for all time.

If you want to honor your parents (and it is still available to do so), do yourself a favor and record them as they talk about their life growing up. Their challenges; their experiences; their observations… Future generations will be thankful.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and offer a LifeStories service which is a video recording of a family member’s personal history. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit