Memory Town

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It turns out that reflecting on memories can have a therapeutic effect on a person. It’s something that I think we all recognize intuitively at some level.  I was fascinated to read the attached article about the development of “Memory Towns” that cater specifically to dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Quoting from the article by Amanda Kolson Hurley, “Studies have shown that reminiscence therapy has positive effects on the mood, cognition, and communication level of dementia patients.” Borrowing from an experiment that took place in the Netherlands, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center designed and built a fake city they call Town Square. Built to resemble a typical small town circa 1953-1960, it is fashioned to evoke the memories that tend to be the strongest within us.

Built inside a 9,000 square foot industrial warehouse, the first Town Square opened in San Diego, California and a second is scheduled to open in White Marsh, Maryland near Baltimore. Organizers are optimistic that more and more locations will be rolling out in the near future.

It’s what I have always said… “Memories Matter.” Take the step to preserve yours today.

For the full article about Memory Town, click here.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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

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Go Tell It On The Mountain

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Good night John-Boy.

That phrase still brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it… and I’ve been hearing it quite a bit of late.

In our household, we’ve had a bit of a shift in television habits over the last couple of weeks since we cut the cable cord. The most recent development comes from my 90 year old mother-in-law who has decided that she wants to binge watch The Waltons. Every season… every episode…every night… and dang if she hasn’t drawn the rest of us in.

I can remember watching The Waltons back when it first aired. I was in high school when it first began and enjoyed it, but back then I don’t think I fully recognized or appreciated the purity of the family values it espoused. Watching it now, while I’m living in the current cultural climate that we are in… it has brought such a breath of fresh air to what has become a continually poisoned atmosphere.

I actually look forward to our Walton time. Watching a show where family love trumps all?  Seeing that while problems may exist, they can be handled within the context of a loving atmosphere has been so much more edifying than hearing or seeing the problems of this divisive world repeated ad infinitum across multiple TV channels every night with no hope in sight.

Give me some Waltons. Any day. And hand me a Kleenex.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

Film or Videotape?

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I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client the other day. He came into my office with a videotape and some reels of film and told me that some fifty years ago his father had already had the film transferred and put on the VHS videotape he was holding. He then asked what would be better – transferring the VHS to a digital form or using the original reels of film to do the transfer?

As I thought about my response it made me realize that it is a complex question with multiple issues to consider:

Cost: The cost to transfer a VHS tape up to two hours is considerably less than the cost to transfer 1700 feet of film (which would equate to approximately two hours of footage.)

Condition: Both videotape and film will degrade over time. But what degrades faster? A lot would depend on how they were stored and how often they were played or viewed. Most condition issues that I see in the studio comes from neglect or from faulty equipment that caused damage during playback.

Quality: Here’s the kicker – our technology has advanced exponentially over the last five decades. The methods used to transfer film to video back in the day now seem rather primitive by today’s standards. Even though his film has aged an additional fifty years since his father had it converted to VHS, converting those same film reels again using current technologies may produce a far superior result whereas converting from the VHS tape can only capture the quality of the tape as it exists today… it cannot improve upon it.

Our film transfer process is top of the line. We use a frame-by-frame image capture device which enables us to control or correct color issues, as well as film “noise” issues which can cause a movie to look “grainy.”  For more information, visit this link.

Bottom line, my prospective client has choices. And we’re happy to present him with all the available options and help him to reach the decision that best suits his purposes. And we can do the same for you.

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.

 

I Work In a Time Machine

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One of the best things about my business is the environment in which I work. It is kind of like stepping into a time capsule every day. Our studio may not be as snappy as a modified DeLorean fitted with a working  flux capacitor, but it often provides the same effect… we constantly find ourselves going “back to the future.”

This past week we spent a lot of time converting old audio recordings to CDs and mp3s. It was a blast from the past hearing a high school graduation ceremony – class of ’63. The students who graduated that year will be celebrating at their 55th reunion this year. I’m sure they would be mesmerized to hear their thoughts and dreams for the future (now the past) expressed on audiotape so many years ago. Thanks to our work, they’ll be able to.

I also had the pleasure of listening to one of my client’s parents encouraging her to talk while she was just a babe. She now has children of her own and will be going through that process again, this time taking the role of the parent teaching the child.

Time is a treasured commodity at Home Video Studio and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t recognize the importance of the many moments that have been recorded for posterity. There’s a reason we, as a people, do it. And there’s a reason we all keep schlepping boxes of these treasured memories around with us from house to house… even when we no longer have the equipment that can play them.

As the title of my blog says… Memories Matter. And because they do, we stand ready to help you ensure that your recorded memories can stand against the test of time. So instead of keeping all those memories locked away on archaic media that can no longer be accessed, bring them to us and give us the opportunity to deliver your past back to the future.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of 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.

Natural Enemies

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Oil vs Water.

Captain Kirk vs Khan.

Your videotapes or film vs a flood or hurricane.

Some things will never go together.

With hurricane season upon us, we should ask ourselves what, among our possessions, do we want to prioritize should evacuation become necessary? We accumulate a lot of things over a lifetime. What among them could not be replaced should they be damaged by natural forces?

We can build or buy another house, We can buy or lease another car. We can replace most things. We cannot replace two things: The lives of the ones we love; and the memories we have recorded over time. Those two things, which for most of us represent all that is of primary importance in our lives, are irreplaceable.

Most will put the preservation of life as paramount on the “what to save” list. Most of us will also put photo albums, videotape collections, home movies, etc. as a close second. But the reality is… when disaster strikes, there won’t be time to drag 200 pounds of photos, slides, videos, film, etc out of the house. We’d be risking our primary goal (the saving of life) to try to save our secondary goal (the saving of our recorded memories.) As I told my wife, who pointed to a 6 foot cedar chest filled to the brim with slides and photos when I asked her what I should save in case of a fire, “You do realize that this means I’ll be going up with the house…”

There is a better way. We have been blessed to have grown up in an age that allowed us to capture key moments on film or video and to be able to play them back in years to come in order to bring those memories into focus. But the media that was used when we were growing up had limitations – among them the amount of space they took up.

A 1 terabyte hard drive can hold a family’s entire picture history, film history, AND videotape history. And it can fit into someone’s back pocket, allowing the family to save other items in an emergency, like Aunt Sally’s tri-colored comforter or Grandma Betty’s collection of handmade tea cozies.

The reality is this. We don’t know when or if a disaster will strike. But the time to take action is before it arrives. Home Video Studio has a Savers of the Family Archives service that will scan or transfer your precious memories and deliver them back to you on a digital device that can be stored in a safe deposit box or up in the cloud. Should anything ever happen to your original memories, you can rest assured that your digital backup can replicate those memories – sometimes in a better condition than when we first got them.

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.

Mnemonic Me This

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“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

If you attended school around the same time I did, no doubt you recited that little poem more than once to help your memory during history quizzes.  It’s an example of a mnemonic which is an aide to help bring something to mind. I call them memory pegs or memory triggers. And it is a little embarrassing how many I still use.

Except for February, I simply can’t bring myself to remember how many days are in a particular month unless I first count them down on my knuckles. With your two fists extended in front of you, side by side, start reciting the months. When a month falls on a knuckle, it has 31 days. if it falls between knuckles, it has 30 (or 28).

We probably all use the old “Spring Forward; Fall Back Trick” when it comes time to reset our clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  At least I still do and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

I could never remember which was which – stalagmite or stalactite until I learned this little trick: Stalagmite has a “g” in it because it comes out of the ground. Stalactite has a “c” in it because it hangs from the ceiling.

And finally, I would be incapable of setting a proper table without knowing that utensils with four letters (like fork) are placed to the left (four letters) of the plate while utensils with five letters (spoon, knife) are placed on the right (five letters.)

Our minds being what they are, we would have a hard time remembering anything if it weren’t for these little tricks or memory triggers.  And really, isn’t that why we keep photos, slides, videos and film?  Because they contain the images of memories we don’t want to forget.

Thanks to Home Video Studio, we don’t have to. The obsolete media once used to store memorable images can be transferred to a more current format, bringing your memories into the digital age. 

What mnemonic do you use? Share them here. Something tells me I’ll need all the memory pegs I can find as the years go by.

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.

History Erased… Just Like That

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We had a charming couple from Brazil in the studio yesterday and, as we were chatting, discussion eventually turned to the current events from their homeland. I don’t know if you heard but recently Brazil’s National Museum had a fire and the potential loss of historical artifacts is heartbreaking.

Among the artifacts thought to have been lost include Eygptian mummies, frescoes from Pompeii, and an 11,500 year old skeleton of “Luzia” which was said to have been the oldest human remains in existence from the Americas.

It is hard to capsulate the enormity of the loss of such history except to personalize it. What if it was your house that was on fire? What if there were no time to recover your photo albums, your videotapes or your home movies? What if they were lost in that fire? How much emotional pain would that cause you and your family?

Unfortunately, such things do happen. Which is why we offer the services we do. We make digital copies of the family archives – photos, negatives, slides, videos, film, audio recordings, etc… all can be scanned or transferred to a digital form and stored on a flash drive, a hard drive, a disk, or even a cloud server. So no matter what happens to the original source, there remains a digital back up that can replicate what was lost so future generations can continue to look at, study, and enjoy the images of the past.

What happened to Brazil’s historical past does not have to happen to you or your family. I urge you to consider taking steps that will help you preserve the memories you worked so hard to build.

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.

Real Men Make Quiche

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For dinner last night I made a quiche.  Real men do more than just eat quiche you know… we also know how to make them.  But this was no ordinary quiche. It was a spinach and feta cheese quiche with a sweet potato crust… And just to make sure I didn’t lose my man card in the process, I added bacon to the recipe. Because as everyone knows… everything is more manly when you add bacon. (I do have to say that it was an organically produced bacon with no nitrates or artificial additives…but nonetheless manly.)

The recipe, which I will copy below, was born of a decision my wife and I made a few years ago. I will share it with you now but if you’re happy with the way you are currently eating and don’t want to change, I suggest you read no further. Sometimes, to be completely honest, I wish I had been given that option.

Years ago, we were encouraged to read the book Wheat Belly by William Davis. That inspired us towards further investigation and we were once again led to Grain Brain  by David Purlmutter with Kristin Loberg.

But I can spare you these reads if you like. The bottom line is… wheat, as we know it, is bad. I mean, really bad in a GMO sense. So my wife and I avoid it. We don’t have gluten allergies but we try to stay gluten free. And we really do feel better as a result. We stay away from breads, wheats, and grains of all kinds. We eat protein (mostly fish and chicken) and fresh vegetables – mainly green. And on those rare occasions when we are tempted to cheat, the repercussions come swift and are digestively unpleasant.

My wife and I have found that it is possible to eat and eat well while avoiding gluten. It just takes a little effort. And that is why I am able to make make quiche out of sweet potatoes. Here’s the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Thinly slice a sweet potato to make rounds.
Coat sweet potato slices with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Layer sweet potato slices in overlapping manner in quiche pan.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
While baking, saute in pan: oil, 1/2 diced onion, a minced garlic clove, 5 oz of fresh spinach, and diced bacon (3 slices).
In bowl, add 1/2 cup of almond milk, salt, pepper, red pepper, 4 large eggs and 2 egg whites.
Mix.
Layer spinach mixture to sweet potato crust.
Pour egg mixture over spinach.
Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Bake for 35 minutes or until egg mixture is set.
Let stand for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

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.

Bum Rap

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Throughout my adult life I’ve carried with me an air of what I thought was self-confidence… self-reliance… self-assurance…  All of which I believed to be positive and desirable qualities. I come to find out that what I thought was self-confidence, others perceived as arrogance.

Go figure.

The realization came over a dinner conversation I had with my 90 year old mother-in-law, God bless her. We were talking about how difficult it can be to trust people that you don’t really know and I made the tongue-in-cheek remark of: “Yeah, you didn’t really like me at first, did you?” And to my great surprise, she agreed.

My wife was aghast. “What do you mean, you didn’t like him?  What was wrong with him?” She deadpanned, “He was arrogant.” And then she turned to me, stone-faced. I immediately went defensive.

“I have heard that before,” I admitted, “but it isn’t true…” I’m just comfortable with who I am. I don’t find that I have to put on a polite facade when I meet people.”

“Like I said,” she quickly replied, “Arrogant.”

I had no response. And my wife was too busy laughing to come to my defense.

It’s hard to be arrogant when you are bested by a 90 year old in a battle of wits.

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.

Inspector Gadget

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New gadgets always excite me. When I first got married, my wife asked me what I might want for my upcoming birthday, I replied, “I don’t care… just as long as it is black and plugs in.” Since then, she has never disappointed me.

I’ve received just about every electronic device you can think of – from karaoke machines to kindles and everything in between. Maybe it’s the guy in me but I love me some gadgetry… even if I haven’t a clue how it works or what it does.

So I guess I found myself in the perfect business. Not only do I get to play around with old gadgets (like VHS machines and reel to reel audio tape players) but I also get to experiment with new technologies.  Take for example, my newest gadget: my Ronin-M 3-axis handheld gimbal stabilizer for DSLR cameras.

Try to hold your enthusiasm down to a low roar. It may not look like anything special but this is a much ballyhooed piece of equipment. And from what I can tell from just a few moments of working with it, it delivers everything it promises.

What it promises is a smooth and jostle-free video output without the limitations of having a camera tied to a tripod. I’ll be playing around with it some this week before I take it out this weekend for its first commercial run. I’ve been contracted to make a documentary style film for a client and will need a number of specialty shots that this device will enable me to make.

So if you see me around town and it looks like I’m grappling with a giant spider… don’t be concerned. It’s just me and my latest gadget figuring each other out.

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.