It Seems Like Only Yesterday

 

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Memories truly are the gift that keeps on giving. I am reminded of that every year around this time as I prepare for the Home Video Studio annual “Getaway” convention. Every year during this time of training and team building, the event culminates in a black tie awards ceremony where studios “compete” for best of recognition in 17 different categories.

In preparing for the event, I’ve been going back through the projects I’ve been honored to have worked on this past year, looking for possible entries to represent the work I do in my studio. And, as I do, I am reminded of many of the memories my clients have generously allowed me to preserve for them.

There’s the photo/video keepsake I put together to celebrate a 90th birthday comprised of a collection of photos interspersed with videos of family members telling stories about the birthday girl.

There’s the sports highlight video I edited from a full season’s worth of game films for a high school basketball player who is preparing herself to move on to the next level as she considers her college prospects.

There’s the informational teaching video I prepared for a health and beauty consultant demonstrating a line of skin care products and how to apply them.

There’s the web commercial done for a business based around the testimonial comments their clients have provided that express the quality and value of the work they do.

Each project I go back and review prompts the memory of the memories they contain. And if it is this much fun for me to go back and review, I can only imagine how enjoyable it must be for the clients themselves. It is, after all, their memories being preserved.

Here are the categories for this year’s event scheduled for the end of July: Best PhotoVideo Keepsake; Best Documentary; Cut and Paste Award for Editing; Best Video Production; Best Event Video; Best Short Video; Best Long Form Video; Best TV/Web Video; Best Rookie Video; Best Memorial Video; Best Company Promo; Best Studio Promo/Trailer/Tag; Best Use of Post Production; “Dr Strangelove” Award for Strangest or Weirdest Video; Best DVA Authoring; President’s Award for Best in Show.

Wish me luck. Who knows, maybe one of the projects you had me work on will bring home the trophy this year!

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

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Feeling A Little Blue, Berry?

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I love Mount Dora. Not only is it where I live and work, there is always something fun going on. This weekend, it is the 4th annual Blueberry Festival! Woo Hoo!  I know, I was skeptical at first myself. But this little “festival that could” has burst all expectations throughout the last four years as it has grown exponentially in its popularity.

You’d be surprised at how many products or events can be developed that feature this delicious little berry.  Or maybe you wouldn’t. I was.

I remember picking blueberries with my granddaughters once on one of those “how can we entertain the kids for an hour” moments. It was fun watching their excitement as they filled their buckets. You can have that same experience at the festival as a blueberry picking excursion has been announced at a local farm using the Mount Dora Fun Bus for transportation to and fro.

Within the festival itself, you’ll find booth after booth filled with examples of what you can do with the blueberries after you have picked them. Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Jam, Blueberry Muffins, Blueberry Craft Beer, Blueberry Wine, Blueberry scented soap, and the list goes on.

My problem is that I was born in the 50s and grew up in the 60s and 70s. There is only one blueberry reference that I will ever remember. And it is associated with one of the most obnoxious movie characters of all time.

 

The Blueberry Festival continues through today, April 29th. I urge you to stop by with the family. And take pictures or videos because… #MemoriesMatter.

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

Song and Dance Man

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I have been asked to digitally preserve a number of videotapes containing theatrical performances for a local actress whose career spanned decades and over 60 stage shows at various venues. Most of them musicals. I love getting these jobs.

As an actor, I always envied the triple threat people… you know, the ones who could act, sing, AND dance. Myself, I was more of a threat and a half kind of performer. I could act, and move across the stage without tripping over my feet. Singing was something I reserved primarily for showers and while stopped at red lights.

But the desire was always there. And sometimes desire, if left unchecked, will overrule common sense. And so one day I found myself auditioning for the lead of a musical – a community theatre production of They’re Playing Our Song. The audition song I used was one I had written for myself while in college, something I prepared in the unlikely event I was ever asked to sing in order to be considered for a role. I called it The Audition Song and it began like this:

I can act my way from a paper bag,
Quote Shakespeare til I’m blind.
But there’s one thing that I must confess:
I can’t sing worth a dime.
But I can sell it… any song that I sing.
Gotta sell it… just to make the voice ring.
I will sell it… so that you’ll never know
When I open my mouth, out comes a sound like a crow.

While I may have been crazy to think I would ever be considered, I know with all certainty that the directors were crazy when they decided to cast me. I was now the lead of a musical. It was my Gene Kelly fantasy come true.

Truth be told, I had a blast working the show and my performance of the titular number was, in all modesty, the evening’s showstopper. My singing never did improve but boy did I “sell” the heck out of my numbers. One reviewer put it like this, “Mr. Ondrasik does not let his untrained voice stand in the way of enjoying himself onstage.”  I took that as a compliment. It was, wasn’t it?

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

Frozen In Our Tracks

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Now that spring has arrived, I don’t mind telling you that this has been one heck of a winter. Not that I experienced it first hand mind you… I am in Florida after all. But I do have television and access to the Internet so I know what you Northerners have been going through.

I am no stranger to the cold. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of the DC area, and I have seen my share of winter storms. I think the coldest I have ever been in my life was during a father son trip through Pennsylvania and Ohio. I was a junior in high school and needed to narrow down my college choices. My dad and I decided that during my spring break, we would do a road trip and visit nine of the campuses I had picked out as the leading contenders.

To save money, we were determined to camp along the way. We packed the family tent along with some clothes and looked forward to a great bonding time between us.  In retrospect, we probably should have checked the weather forecast.

Somewhere outside of Lewisburg PA where I visited Bucknell University, we decided to make camp. We set up the tent poles, erected the tent, rolled out our sleeping bags and promptly fell asleep. The next morning we awoke, freezing where we lay. The temperature must have dropped some 40 degrees overnight.

There was frost everywhere. In order to get on the road again and back into the warm confines of our Ford Fairlaine station wagon which was our sole means of transport, we had to break camp… which meant collapsing the tent and it’s metal tent poles.

The problem was that, overnight, the metal poles became solidly encased in ice and, due to our lack of foresight, gloves, heavy coats, and a chisel were not among our provisions. We took turns tag-teaming on the poles and then sitting in our car which was running with the heater on.  I must admit, I spent more time in the car than outside of it. Sorry about that Dad.

We finally got the poles collapsed and threw them into the back of the wagon. The next night, after visiting the campuses scheduled for that day, my dad nosed the Fairlaine into the parking lot of a Motel 6. No words were spoken between us. We both just knew… our camping days were over.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, los and slides. For more information call 352-735-8559 or visit our website.

 

Duck, Duck, Goose

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Did you see that story about the goose who went Rambo on that high school golfer who got too close to her nest?  No joke. There is a reason they are called fowl (foul).

Now, I don’t have any memories involving a goose of the avian type. However, I am mortal enemies with one of their close relatives. Here is my duck story.

Early on in my marriage, my wife did most of the cooking but as we had two small boys, I thought it necessary every so often to grill some meat. Arrrrgh. (my best Tim Allen caveman impression.) So I went and bought a mini grill – a Smoky Joe – table top edition. Having no outdoor table, I set it up on our concrete landing pad in the back yard overseeing a lovely lake view. The grill stood no higher than my calves.

I bought some beautiful sirloins, seasoned them, lit the charcoal, waited for the flames to die down, and then put the meat on the grill fully expecting a wonderfully manly meal. I was so much in the testosterone zone that I decided to go inside and crack a beer to toast our temporary departure from salad and tofu.

When I came back to the grill, and I was gone for only a moment, I saw a duck circling my grill. I froze in my tracks. He looked at me. I warned him, “Oh no you don’t!”

I swear… he smiled. And then he did a snatch and run. He plucked a steak off the grill and took a duck line straight toward the lake.

I grabbed my spatula and gave chase, dropping my beer. As I began to gain on him, he must have recognized the futility of his position. He dropped the steak in the grass and sped up toward the lake.

I picked the steak up, brushed off the dirt and duck saliva and put it back on the grill. I told my family the story and we all had a good laugh. I assured them that I served myself the duck steak but in all honesty, I kind of forgot where it was on the grill when it came time for dinner.

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

I Wanted A Hot Dog, Not A Math Problem

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One of the great imponderables of life has always been: How come hot dogs come in packs of ten and hot dog buns come in packs of eight? The only way to come out even is if you decide to buy 40 of each (4 packs of dogs and 5 packs of buns.) Unless you have a huge family to feed, how much sense does that make?

While there have been logical explanations provided by both meat packers and bread makers defending their respective packaging decisions, it really isn’t what I sat down to write about. You see, the recording industry has its own version of this dilemma.

A CD is designed to hold 74 minutes of audio recording. There’s a bit of an old wives’ tale stating that engineers developing the technology wanted to ensure the entire performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony would fit onto a single CD. I’m not sure if that is entirely true but it is an interesting folk tale. Regardless, the 74 minute length didn’t cause many problems at first when transferring vinyl records or early audio cassettes to a CD format as both analog types were typically under 60 minutes of playing time beginning to end.

But as audio tape manufacturers continued to develop their products, audio cassette lengths increased and 90 minute tapes became commonplace (45 minutes of recordable tape per side.) And try as I might, I have never quite figured out how to squeeze 90 minutes of recording onto a 74 minute disc.

So, when faced with clients who have 90 minute tapes they want digitalized, I have to inform them that what they will receive (and what they will have to pay for) is a two disc set as the full recording is too large to fit on a single CD.

And in case you were wondering, if you wanted to come out even… bringing in enough 90 minutes tapes to fill each and every CD to their fullest 74 minute capacity,  the number of tapes you would need to bring in is … 37  tapes. That will exactly fit onto 45 CDs. And I would be more than happy to handle that job for you.

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

Dating Advice… For What It’s Worth…

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How do you know when you have met The One? It’s a tough question to answer. The easy response is that you’ll just know. But that doesn’t help much when you’ve yet to meet that someone special. I recently responded to another blogger’s post who was opining on how hard it is in today’s society to find a potential life partner. I can relate. I was 36 years old before I met my wife. So I am in a relatively good position to be able to offer some words of advice.

We almost never find the things we’re looking for when we expend all our focused energy looking for them. My glasses seem to know how to hide from me when I’m frantically searching the house for them. The minute I stop looking and just go about normal activities, that’s when they appear. They may be in the refrigerator but if I hadn’t started cooking dinner, instead of turning seat cushions upside down, I never would have found them.

It is the same with relationships. The people we meet when we are so focused on trying to meet someone special will generally turn out to be disappointments. It’s the people we meet when we are pursuing the interests that motivate us… the interests that drive us to be our best selves… they are the ones that have the greatest possibility of being part of something deeper and more substantial.

My wife was older and divorced with two kids (10 and 13) when I met her. According to a Cosmo article she read, the odds they gave for her finding a new partner was somewhere between slim and none. She chose to ignore the magazine’s skewed insight and instead trusted in her faith. She stopped trying to meet someone and just pursued those things that enriched her spirit. Lo and behold, those same things interested me too. And so we met while pursuing joint interests, we clicked, we dated, we married. And here we are some 26 years later still enjoying life together.

My advice to that blogger was not to search for a partner. Search instead for that which fulfills your spirit. Among the people you meet when you do will be that someone special with whom you can build a shared life.

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

 

Dodge This!

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It is rather sad when one peaks in the 5th grade. I mean, so much of life still lies ahead but the glory days remain back in grade school. You see, I was a bit of a prodigy in elementary school. I have already recounted my feats of speed in an earlier blog but apparently I was quite the agile little dickens as well. I was unbeatable in a sport I’m told is rarely played in schools these days. Of course, I’m talking about dodgeball.

Because I grew up in the 60s, we’re not talking about the sanctioned sport of Dodgeball with complex rules and uniformed teams as showcased in the Vince Vaughn movie. The way we played it on the blacktop, one kid stood in the center of a circle around which the entire class was standing. And the sole object was to throw a red rubber kickball, a little larger than a basketball, at that kid until he was hit. Who ever threw the ball that hit the kid became the next one to stand in the middle as the target.

Once I made the center, it was game over. I was like ridiculously hard to hit. I may have lost the limberness I once had but back in the day I was a cross between a circus contortionist and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four (he was the one who could stretch himself like rubber.) On more than one occasion, the recess monitor had to come to break up our game because it was time to resume class. With me in the center, the game would never end.

My superior skill at dodging a ball soon became the stuff of classroom legend. My peers, who once were my friends, became determined to bring me down. They started sneaking extra balls to the lineup thinking I could be blindsided.  They changed the rules by eliminating the circle and just lining me up against the brick wall of the school building. It was like facing a firing squad of rubber balls.

I graduated from elementary school undefeated in dodgeball. I was certain my future was bright. But my career came to a sudden and unexpected end. No one ever told me they didn’t play dodgeball in junior high.

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

Oh, The Things You’ll See

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“You must see some pretty wild stuff.”

I get asked that question a lot. People are generally disappointed by my response.  “Not really,” I say. I see interesting stuff; heartwarming stuff; funny stuff; but not that much that would be called wild.

When I first started transferring people’s home videos to digital form, I quickly began to recognize patterns. I realized that deep down, we are all pretty much the same. We all seem to want to record and preserve the same kind of memories. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, vacations, holidays, and a lot of videos of kids just being kids until they aren’t kids any longer.

Now I don’t mean to say that all videos are alike. All of my clients’ tapes are special because they contain memories specific to them and their lives. Some even have historical significance. I’ve transferred film from a European vacation a client had in 1937 that captured the motorcade during the coronation of King George VI. I once transferred a video of a presidential inauguration. The camera never got close enough for me to see which one but Gov. Ronald Reagan was definitely in attendance. I even received film taken during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

I believe that every video transfer job I do is an opportunity to peek into the past and keep a memory alive. But there is a side effect that happens when your job is to help preserve the memories of others. And I have definitely experienced it.

There are times when an adult will come into the studio to pick up the order their parents had placed with me and I will recognize them as their 10 year old self. It is weird to have a sense of knowing someone you have never met. So you’ll have to forgive me if I act overly familiar. For me, it is like seeing an old friend again after many years.

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

Keeping In Sync

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As many years as I have been transferring home movies for families, I would have thought I had captured every sporting event known to mankind.  I have transferred baseball games, football games, soccer matches, volleyball games, lacrosse matches, field hockey games, martial arts exhibitions, and more. But yesterday was a first. I transferred a videotape that had actually contained a client’s family member performing a synchronized swimming performance.

Now, let me first state how appreciative I am at the discipline needed to effectively pull off a synchronized performance of any kind. It requires great concentration, skill, and practice to move in unison with another person. Just ask the Rockettes. But, in this particular instance, there is a problem… the elephant in the room if you will…

I discovered through the watching of the tape I transferred that I am incapable of seeing a synchronized swimming performance without bringing to mind the Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Martin Short and Harry Shearer. First aired in 1984, it has arguably been declared as the best sketch ever to have appeared on SNL.  That is high praise. There may be a few sketches that I would personally rank higher but I can’t argue with the impact it had upon my brain because this sketch will invariably come to mind whenever when I see a legitimate synchronized performance no matter how good it may be.

In the sketch, Shearer and Short appeared as brothers who pursued their passion for the sport even though, in Short’s own words, he is not that strong at swimming. For your viewing pleasure, here’s a link to this classic SNL routine:

 

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