A Night To Remember

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Our “season” came to an end last night at the 18th annual Home Video Studio Getaway. As always, it was a time of learning, camaraderie, and some good-natured competition as studio owners vie for honors during our traditional black-tie Hanley Awards celebration.

Every year, we enter the event with low expectations due to the level of talent that HVS attracts. The competition is always stiff. However, last night our cup runneth over as we ended up with 8 total award nominations and 5 Hanley Awards.

Memories Matter was chosen for the Cut and Paste Award for excellence in editing. This short piece which I put together using stock footage clips from Film Supply, a video clip repository, tells a story without dialogue. The tag at the end is for a fictitious company, as that was one of the rules of the competition for which it was made, but you could easily replace it with the name of my company for it is my story that is being told.

The Life and Times of Ralph and Mary was selected for Best Memorial video. Memorials will always take priority in my studio as I know from personal experience what a trying time it can be for a family to go through the pain of losing someone. The last thing they need is to stress over putting something together to honor the memory. So we take the stress out of the process. The video we submitted for consideration was unique in that it was a dual memorial for a husband and wife who, after a long life together, passed in relatively quick succession to one another. If we have to depart this earth, I can’t think of a better way to do it. 

Testimonials won out for the Best Studio Promo. Using some stock photographs, retro music and actual quotes taken from some of our client’s testimonials that they have been kind enough to leave on various social media sites, we pieced together this short commercial. As my wife often observes, we have the nicest clients. We always appreciate the feedback we get after we deliver the goods and we wanted to pay homage to the people who keep us in business.

The awards continued with our acceptance of the Social Media award which was given to me, I believe, in recognition of my blogging efforts which has proven to be personally rewarding. Thank you for your support and interest in my musings.

Finally, in what came as a surprise to us, we were humbled to receive the Studio Owner of the Year award. You would have to know the caliber of talent and expertise on display in the Home Video Studio family to understand the level of our shock at being selected above others for this high honor.

But, as special as this time spent has been, we can’t wait to get back to the studio and get back to work. We love what we do and love who we do it for. Hope to see you in the studio in the very near future. We’ll have our Hanleys on display. Come on by and have your picture taken with them.

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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.

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White Dove Of The Desert

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When married to a history buff, you kind of get used to making little unexpected side trips.  Yesterday, it was to the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation, located about 40 minutes from our hotel.  There, in the middle of nowhere, appeared an attractive, gleaming white multi-storied structure. Nicknamed “the White Dove of the Desert,” the Mission San Xavier del Bac is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona.

The Catholic mission was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692, and the structure itself was built some 100 years later. It is still in operation, serving the local community, the village of Wa:k.

The history is kind of interesting. When the mission was built in the 1700s, Southern Arizona was actually part of New Spain. Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. And it finally became part of the United States with the Gadsden Purchase of 1854.

Renovation and restoration efforts continue as the mission has survived an earthquake in 1887, a lightning strike in 1937 and years of neglect as changes in territorial rights and authority led to an absence of oversight.

Still, thanks largely to the local population, the mission continues to fulfill its purpose while attracting thousands of visitors to the area. If you happen to find yourself in the Tucson area, it is certainly worth a side trip.

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

Note: Michael & Kate remain in Tucson, Arizona while attending the 18th annual Home Video Studio Getaway. Our gala awards banquet is Saturday night. Our studio has been nominated in seven different categories. We’ll post the results once they are known.

Tucson – Day Two

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I spent most of the day in the editing suite working on a commercial spot for the studio while expanding my working knowledge of Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Audition in Adobe’s Creative Cloud video editing platforms. Hopefully, when I’m done, I’ll have something I can use to help promote my business while, at the same time, continuing to build upon the skills I need to provide superior service to my clients.

Being in Tucson, we had an old fashioned cowboy cookout for dinner and afterwards, Kate and I were tapped to be actors in a film for another studio owner who is putting a web video together.  And then it was time for the 2018 awards nomination announcement.  As in past years, the competition is pretty stiff. We have some very talented people in the Home Video Studio family. But we managed to walk away with a total of seven nods. All the nominations were pulled from work I have performed in the studio between September 2017 and April 2018. Here are the categories for which we have been nominated and a brief description of what they mean:

Best Sports Video:  usually a sports highlight video or a sports scholarship video intended to showcase the strengths of a specific player or team.

Cut and Paste Award for Editing: focuses on the juxtaposition and movement from one scene or clip to another. Editing is a key element when telling a story with video. The judges will look for expertise and efficiency in the editing choices.

Best Memorial Video: a specific type of photo/video keepsake that celebrates the life of a person who has recently passed on. 

Best Company Promo: a video intended to promote a business (other than the studio itself). The judges look for how effective the spot is in creating and communicating a call to action in the minds of the viewer.

Best Studio Promo/Trailer/Tag: a video that promotes Home Video Studio. A promo is a 4 or 5 minute spot that describes the services and value of the studio. A trailer is a condensed promo designed to highlight the studio’s services and benefits in under a minute. A tag is a short 10 second clip used as an identifier, like an animated logo reveal.

The Dr. Strangelove Award:  an open category for videos hard to classify. They are usually humorous, often quirky, and …more times than not… a crowd-pleaser.

Best DVA Authoring: one of the features of our streaming service – Digital Video Archive – is the ability to customize a video’s menu features by inserting chapter markers, choosing thumbnail images and more. The award will go to the most creative and useful custom DVA authored video.

Winners will be announced at a black tie gala event to be held this coming Saturday. 

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

NOTE: Home Video Studio of Mount Dora is closed until Monday, July 30th, while Michael and Kate attend the 18th annual HVS Getaway in Tucson, Arizona.

The Tale Of The Lucy Evelyn

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First day in AZ… It’s hot. Really hot. How hot is it? It is so hot nobody here has body hair… it has all been singed off. We wisely stayed inside the hotel most of the day. After all, we’re not here on vacation.  We’re taking part in the annual Home Video Studio Getaway. It’s a time to recharge our batteries and re-educate ourselves on industry trends and new developments. The morning’s session… Documentary-style filmmaking: from proposal to final product.

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This comes at a great time. One of the jobs waiting for me once I return home is a commissioned project for a family who wants to tell the story of the Lucy Evelyn.

Briefly, the Lucy Evelyn was a three masted schooner which from 1948 to 1972 sat aground as a permanent fixture of the boardwalk in Long Beach Island, NJ where it served as a landmark, tourist attraction and home to a series of unique gift shops. It’s going to be an interesting story to capture on film and I look forward to getting started.

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Normally, I would blog about this project after it was completed however, I have an unusual request. If any of my readers, who are local to the Mount Dora area, can remember visiting the Lucy Evelyn during the time it was beached on Long Beach Island, we’d love to capture you on film sharing those memories for possible inclusion into the film.

If you are willing, contact me at michael.O@homevideostudio.com. We’ll set up an appointment and get the cameras rolling. It’ll be fun. 

In other news, nominations for this year’s Hanley Awards are being announced Wednesday night. We’ll keep you informed of any developments.

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.

(Note: Home Video Studio of Mount Dora will be closed until Monday, July 30th while Michael & Kate attend the 18th annual Getaway Conference in Tucson, Arizona. See you when we get back.)

It’s Too Darn Hot

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Summers in Florida have always been unbearable to the uninitiated. Whenever some visitor comes into the studio and makes the statement that he/she is thinking of moving here, I always tell them not to make a final decision until they come back and spend a little time here in August.  That’s the unofficial state residence test… If you can make it through August, Florida is a fine place to live.

But the weather can admittedly be hard to handle which is why I am glad that I have an excuse to leave the state during the summer every year, even if just for a week. The Home Video Studio corporation holds its annual getaway for all the studios operating under their brand in July and August… which are the two hottest and most uncomfortable months of the year here in Florida. So it is often a relief to get away from the Sunshine State for a brief respite during this time.  This year our destination is… Tucson Arizona.

I checked the forecast today. 117 degrees. D’oh!

Good thing it’s a dry heat. If there were any humidity we’d get a third degree burn just walking through the steam in the atmosphere.

In any case, it is sure to be a grand time (spent primarily indoors in the manufactured cool air of the hotel). This post is intended simply to inform that our studio will be closed for a week while we attend our getaway. We’ll try to post any items of interest that may come to our attention during our week away.  Until then, delight yourself with this blast from the past:  Ann Miller singing and dancing to It’s Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me Kate.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. Please note, we will be closed from July 23 through July 29. We will reopen on Monday July 30.

You Say Po-tay-to, I Say Po-tah-to… Turns Out We Both Like French Fries

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It is sad to say… but we live in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized. And that is a shame. Why must our focus be on the differences that keep us apart when there is so much that we have in common? As Yul Brenner once declared in The King and I, “It is a puzzlement.”

Four years ago, when I started my Home Video Studio business, I can’t say that I expected it to teach me any major life lessons that would affect my perspective of the world and its denizens. So the epiphany came as a bit of a surprise.

People would come to my studio with tapes or films or audio recordings… and they would ask me to digitalize them. And as I accepted their order, they took the time to tell me about the memories they wanted to preserve. As I listened to them, I noticed a familiar anomaly that occurred time and time again. Within their stories, I started recognizing details that were familiar to me. Experiences that I shared. Locations that I have visited. Emotions I have felt.

As more people came into the studio to share their memories with me, I started expecting their memories to somehow intersect with mine. Their ancestors came from Italy… so did my wife’s. They just retired from a career in public education… my father was a public school teacher and my mother once edited the county public school bulletin. They were military… my grandfather was a Navy Rear Admiral, my father was an Army Air Force bombardier, my son is currently serving in the Coast Guard as a diver.

The point I am making is that if we decide to look for the commonalities between us, we will find them… regardless of the socio-political sides that we may take. It is far healthier to draw people to us because we relate to their experiences than to shun or keep them from us because we disagree with some of their beliefs.  Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to… it doesn’t matter how you say it… it still makes a tasty french fry.

Memories matter. They unite us like no other force can. Start sharing yours with others. Who knows? Maybe it will start a trend that will lead to a lessening of the rancor and the bellicose posturing that is accepted as “normal behavior” in today’s world. If you have a better suggestion on how to resume a more civil society… I’m all ears.

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

One Man’s Art Is Another Man’s Graffiti… Or Not…

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As our followers know, we reside in the beautifully tranquil town of Mount Dora, Florida. It is a place so wonderful it has been given the nickname “Someplace Special.” But that is not to say it is without its share of controversy or problems.

For the past year, most Mount Dorians have been following a story that started locally but quickly escalated to make national news. A couple has painted their home in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The city authorities advised them to remove it or face financial penalties. And the escalation began.

The facts of the situation must be explained.  The home is not under any HOA regulations. There is no city ordinance that prohibits them from painting their house in any manner they choose. And the reason they did this in the first place was not from an aesthetic preference but rather as a means to help their autistic son identify where he lived.

Add this to the fact that Mount Dora positions itself as a strong supporter of the arts and markets itself in that way to the tourism industry… well, it doesn’t take much to recognize that the optics on this does not favor the city.

So most of us are relieved to learn that a settlement has finally been reached between the homeowners and the city that will allow them to keep their Van Gogh inspired house. May they build many fond memories there in the years to come.

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

I Talk To The Trees

 

Sometimes, I feel a bit like Rodney Dangerfield… I get no respect.  After I shopped for, prepared and cooked a scrumptious dinner – (Indian Curry with Chicken and Peas – here’s the recipe), we sat around the dinner table to enjoy good food and pleasant conversation.

We talked about our day which, for all of us, seemed to be very busy.  My wife had a full day planned and didn’t get to any of it as chore after chore  prevented her from carrying out her schedule.

I brought my laptop home to catch up on some video editing in between handling some finances and repairing a curtain rod that needed fixing. I worked all day long.

I then turned to my 90 year old mother-in-law who had thus far been silent and said, “What about you Laura? What do you have to complain about?”

“I don’t complain,” she replied, “Nobody listens to me anyway.”

I jokingly broke into song. #I talk to the trees but they don’t listen to me. I talk to the stars but they never hear me. The breeze hasn’t time…#  I stopped as I saw both my wife and mother-in-law staring at me with confused expressions.

“What?” I said, “That’s from Paint Your Wagon. It’s a famous song. Clint Eastwood sang it in the movie.”

Without missing a beat, my mother-in-law turned to my wife and deadpanned, “I hope he sang it better than that.”

No respect.

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

Pardon My Blooper

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I consider myself an intelligent being. I can arrange my thoughts and convey them in a coherent, often poignant manner. I am able to assess a problematic situation and arrive at a workable solution. I am able to present myself to the world as a mature, compassionate, thoughtful adult… but I have a hidden secret.  I possess an immature sense of humor. I laugh at inappropriate times and events. I can’t help myself.

It all started when I bought my first comedy album. It was Kermit Schafer’s collection of radio and TV bloopers. Back when radio and TV shows were broadcast live, all the inadvertent mistakes made by the announcers and performers were broadcast right along with the rest of the show. And I found them uncontrollably hysterical.

The fact that the mistakes were made on live tv or radio and were completely unscripted and unintentional made it all the funnier.  I played that record over and over until my sides hurt so much from laughing that I had to stop.

Thinking back on the some of the malapropisms that I remember from the album, I will admit them to be certainly sophomoric and imbecilic… which I supposed only increased the humor quotient to a young boy.

I remember: The announcer who proudly intoned, “Wonder Bread… for the breast in bed!”  The excited race track announcer who excitedly informed his audience that the favorite was being pulled from the race: “This just in… Harass is not going to run… Harass is not going to run… Remember to scratch Harass.” The formal and distinguished introduction of the 31st US President: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States… Hoobert Heever.”

It slayed me every single time. And even though I grew up, my sense of humor didn’t follow suit. Well intentioned people making mistakes that result in unexpected consequences always make me laugh despite every attempt of mine to stifle it.

I was videotaping a soccer game involving my young son’s team. Our goalie had the ball and decided to clear the zone. He booted the ball in a high arcing trajectory. And as I followed the ball with the camera, I could see it heading to one of the opponent’s mid-fielders. It was a high arcing shot so the young lad had time to plant his feet, bend his knees, and position himself precisely where he wanted to be to block the ball as it descended. Which it did, like a targeted laser, squarely between the unfortunate lad’s legs.

When watching the video footage later, you could clearly hear my chortle as the ball struck. The fact that I was standing next to the father of the poor defender was a bit awkward. What was more awkward was the fact that as I lay in bed, replaying the scene in my head, I started to silently laugh so hard that I shook my wife awake. Her immediate response… “Are you still thinking about that poor boy!?!”

I may have a problem.

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

Trotting Out Old Memories

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One of our customers today presented me with a VHS tape that she wanted to convert to a DVD. It contained footage of a championship horse that she raced back in the day. Harness racing.  My dad always called them “trotters.” And my, how he loved the trotters.

He used to pour over the daily racing form; looking at the past performances of, not only the horses, but also the jockeys. He would calculate the odds, evaluate the cost and the risk, and then decide which race or races he would put his two dollars on. He always kept himself on a firm budget and insisted on the same from us.

As we grew older, an occasional  trip to the track became a family event. And we each got our own two dollars to put on a horse. My sisters couldn’t be bothered with learning my father’s system. They tended to go the route my mother chose. They bet on the horse with the cleverest name. Most of the time, they lost.

Me, I tried to emulate my old man. I studied the racing form, not knowing much about what I was looking at. But I thought that if I looked hard enough, I would see something that no one else did. Following the logic of the racing form gave me inconsistent results so I switched to watching the horses as they were led onto the track. I decided to put my money on the horse that looked like a winner. I bet with my gut.

I soon learned that looks can be deceiving and my gut was often wrong. So I then decided that as long as I was going to throw  two dollars away, I might as well do it with an outside chance that I would hit it big.  I started to search the racing form looking for long shots that had certain stats that showed they might have a chance to win… if the conditions were right.

I certainly lost more than I won. But on those rare occasions when my horse came in the money,  I won big because the odds were long.  Granted, the winnings weren’t big enough to cover all those $2.00 losses but it still made me feel good when it happened.

My fondest memory was the one time, in what was a pure fluke, I hit a trifecta. That’s when you successfully pick the horses that come in first, second and third in a race. A two dollar bet suddenly turned into a hundred dollar payout. I stopped going to the track soon after that. I knew that trying to repeat that success would only lead to greater losses.

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