April 7, 20200

Trying to look ahead to the unknown things that may await us in our future can be, especially in times of crisis, somewhat unsettling. For that reason, we often take comfort at looking back at memorable times in our past that make us smile. At least I do.

When I think of my past, I invariably return to the summers of my “teenhood.” My family belonged to our community pool. The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day was spent, more often than not, at that concrete oasis where I first learned to swim, later to match myself against others in swimming competitions.

Being part of a summer swim team was the first time I completely immersed myself in a communal society of sorts. Being part of that team; wearing their colors (usually in the form of a rather ugly speedo racing suit) was my sole identifier during those formative summers.

And I have just recently discovered that I was not alone in that assessment. I recently found an Super 8 reel of film that contained footage of my old swim team during one of their away meets. I decided to post it on a closed Facebook group comprised of people who went to the same high school as I. I was shocked to see the reaction to that footage. People I haven’t seen in over 45 years started posting and sharing their stories and memories. They helped to identify people who appeared in their younger forms in that footage and ‘tagging’ other people who they thought would be blessed to see the past come to life again. It felt kind of good to get the whole gang together again.

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.



Day Four – April 6, 2020

We all know this is a scary time we’re living through… But that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of what we’re being asked to do. It turns out that there just might be a silver lining in all this.

One of the most common excuses we make for why we haven’t accomplished all the things we would like is that there’s never enough time. We might as well fess up because these days that excuse just isn’t going to fly. If there is one thing we now have in abundance, it’s time. So what are we going to do with this surplus of hours that we always complained was lacking in our life? It will be a missed opportunity if we let the month(s) pass without having something to show for it.


Write that book, short story or screenplay that you’ve been thinking about.

Start learning a new language.

Experiment with different recipes.

Start painting or sketching.

Skype or FaceTime a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in over a year. Reconnect.

Go through your closets, attics, or garage with the aim to declutter.

Go through your family photo albums and add captions identifying people, places and times.

Keep a journal – faithfully. Develop the habit of writing your thoughts and experiences down on paper daily.

Learn a new skill. Juggling comes to mind.

Watch a different Ted Talk daily and think how you might put into practice those ideas worth sharing.

The point is, while we are keeping ourselves and each other safe by confining ourselves to our homes, we should concentrate not on what we’re missing but rather on what we can gain.

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. 

Stay at Home Journal – Day Three


April 5, 2020 – Day Three

It is dawning on me that our approach to life has begun to change – slowly but surely.  My behavior is undeniably altering to the new reality which surrounds us. Today, I found myself, still in my bathrobe, drinking coffee and watching the news shows and before I knew it…the clock read 11:30.  I am going to have to be careful going forward that I don’t fall into slovenly habits during our locked in status.

Today was Palm Sunday and we did attend afternoon services… from the privacy of our living room via a telephone hookup. While it is the best we can do under the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is a poor substitute for a genuine church family’s full sharing fellowship. But we still give thanks for what we have.

We are finding entertainment interests to help pass the time:

My wife, fond of historical dramas, has found what is for her a new binge-worthy series. It is Outlander – a time-bending show that transports a 20th century English woman back to 1740s Scotland. A bit too violent and graphic for her sensibilities but she’s taken with the characters and is using the show as impetus to do a little research on the Jacobean rebellion of 1745 which is a pivotal event in the narrative of the story.

As for me, I’m much more drawn to pure fiction so I decided to start rereading the Harry Potter series of books, figuring that tomes that large would eat up a substantial portion of the month long stay at home order.  I started three days ago. I’m halfway through book five as of this writing. At this rate, I’ll be done with book eight by Tuesday. I’ll have to find something else to do during the remaining twenty-five days. I’ll keep you posted.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

Safer At Home Journal

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April 4, 2020 – Day Two

I’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook or Internet challenges online. I guess it is a way for people to pass some time as they grow increasingly bored with the self-imposed confinement.

So I decided to come up with a challenge of my own.  The following was posted on my personal facebook page earlier today.

As we continue to obey our stay at home orders, one thing that is sure to increase (other than our waistline) is the amount of TV we will be watching. This leads me to issue a little Internet challenge.

People may not know this but I spent 10 years (1998 – 2008) as “the Christian Critic”. Under the name Michael Elliott, I published reviews of the films of Hollywood and embedded in each review was a biblical parable. I used some element of the film to explain or illustrate a biblical principle. I get that we all want a little entertainment escape from what is happening in the world around us. But, in my view, we always need to embrace the spiritual truths of God that can comfort and embolden us in times of trouble. One doesn’t necessarily preclude the other.

While I was writing these reviews, I often explained the purpose of them by saying, “Art reflects life; but God created life.” Any art form, by this definition, has to include elements of God’s truths – whether inserted intentionally or unintentionally. It just requires us to look a little deeper and reflect a little more while watching them.

It all started one day as I was watching The Man in the Iron Mask with Leonardo Dicaprio back in 1998. While watching, I suddenly became acutely aware of some parallels between the movie and a teaching I recently gave in our home Bible fellowship. I wrote down my thoughts and vowed that going forward, I would try to find a biblical illustration in every film I watched. As it turns out I was always able to find them – over 1,000 films in a 10 year period. Perhaps it was because I started to actively look for them. So I challenge you to do the same. Enjoy the films you watch… but then also use that time to reflect on God’s Word. Trust me, it’s a win-win.

Here’s the first review I ever wrote back in 1998:

The Man in the Iron Mask – review by Michael Elliott. Dec 6, 1998

Good vs. evil is the classic formula for conflict in movies as well as in life. This time, in The Man in the Iron Mask by writer/director Randall Wallace, those fighting on the side of good are the famous harbingers of justice, heroism, and duty: The Three Musketeers. Albeit they are a bit older, larger around the middle, and more disillusioned with life. Fighting against them, on the side of evil, is the son of the man they once served so faithfullly, Louis XIV, king of France, played by Leonardo Dicaprio.

Caught in the middle of this moral struggle is D’Artagnan played by Gabriel Bryne. D’Artagnan is the one-time “fourth musketeer,” now serving as captain of the guard. For reasons of his own, he has continued to serve king and country despite the less than worthy character of the one occupying the throne.

As France starves under the iron hand of King Louis, our retired Musketeers find themselves inexplicably drawn into the center of the fray. Banding together once more to save France, and perhaps their own souls, they concoct a plan, the success of which hinges upon the rescue and cooperation of the title character, a man imprisoned by Louis and forced to wear a mask welded about his head to ensure his anonymity.

DiCaprio is afforded an opportunity to flex his acting muscles in the dual role of the king and title character. Exploring the polar regions of man’s regions, he succeeds in that he keeps each of his characterizations somewhat one-dimensional. The king is truly evil. The man in the iron mask is truly good. And thus the internal struggle facing all humans can be clearly seen as it is manifested between these two characters.

The internal struggle of man is also embodied in the much more complex personas of The Three Musketeers: Aramis (Jeremy Irons) is seen struggling with the knowledge of past wrongs as he seeks redemption and forgiveness. Athos (John Malkovich) is seen struggling with grief as he seeks revenge. Porthos (Gerard Depardieu) is seen struggling with the pains of growing older while seeking a revitalization of his passion for life.

These struggles, because they are of the personal, internal kind, are perhaps the most intriguing to watch. Depardieu is especially brilliant in his humorous portrayal of a man, once larger then life, now coping with the reality of being merely life-sized.

The main story line which drives the movie is quite reminiscent of the record of Joseph which can be read in Genesis (chapters 39 – 41). Life the man in the iron mask, Joseph was unjustly imprisoned for an extended period of time. He maintained his integrity and decency throughout his wrongful imprisonment. Following his deliverance from prison, he rose to a position of great influence whereby he was able to save an entire nation from certain ruin.

In addition to the story line itself, the characterization of The Three Musketeers is also fodder for a discussion of spiritual truths. At one point, as they attempt to convince D’Artagnan to join their rebellion, Athos makes the point that, ideally, they should have a king worthy of their service.

As Christians, we live that ideal. We serve the one who will be the king of kings (Revelation 17:14). We may not be his “musketeers” but we are his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and he is well worthy of the service we render him.

Later in the movie, the musketeers, facing insurmountable odds, are forced to make a decision that many great men of the Bible have had to make. Is it better to live and betray what is right, or should one be willing to risk everything from one’s beliefs? Their decision will surprise no one. What happens as a result of their decision is quite thrilling and speaks to the benefit of always conducting one’s life by the standard of honor, integrity, valor, and courage. The standard of truth.

We may never be called to test our commitment to the truth in such a life or death manner. But the internal struggle of good vs. evil still rages within each of us. Who will be the ones who have the conviction and strength of will to resist that which runs contrary to what is right? Who are the musketeers among us? And who will be the musketeers of tomorrow? Believe it or not, these are questions which one day will be answered. And in that day, we shall learn and live the true meaning of “All for One and One for All.”

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

Safer at Home – Day One

April 3, 2020

Well, that happened sooner than expected.  It is just the first official day of the Safer at Home – Florida initiative and I’ve already lost track of days and dates.  It unfortunately came to my attention as I was leaving the house (with mask on) to walk down to my 92 year old mother-in-law’s house where she is riding this thing out with her caregiver. I was just checking on some workers who are painting the exterior of her home. As I was almost out the door I hear my wife’s voice behind me, “Happy Anniversary.”


That’s the look of a man who just got busted.  It’s the first time in 28 years that I’ve forgotten. What makes it worse is that I’m the one who usually has to remind Kate. The one year I forget – she remembers. And I have nothing for her. It’s not like I can sneak out now and pick up some last minute gift that she’d see right through anyway… So what’s a guy to do? It has to be big. Something she will appreciate despite the memory lapse.

There’s only one thing.  It’s time for a promissory note. And as much as it pains me… or will pain me… I know what she wants.  I finally have to bite the bullet and commit to losing those extra 10 pounds I’ve been carrying around the middle for so long. I tell you this much. Lesson learned. I’ll never forget an anniversary again.

So, I was looking on the Internet for a piece of exercise equipment that could be easily used during this time of self-isolation and I immediately turned to my go-to trusted source… the As Seen On TV website. The bottom line: this year, I’ll be wrapping up the Simply Fit Board and Mat purchase receipt as an anniversary gift.

Maybe if I’m lucky, when it arrives, she’ll love it so much, I won’t get a chance to use it.

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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.

Safer at Home

April 2, 2020 – the eve
Our statewide initiative of “safer at home” because of the COVID-19 virus begins at midnight tonight and ends April 30 so I thought I would document our activities for the next 30 days.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up without getting a little buggy. 
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This morning, I “met” with my BNI (Business Networking International) chapter using a Zoom account. It feels good to still be connected to others even while we are preparing to disconnect and operate from home during this time. I have a feeling we will all become teleconferencing experts before this is all over. But meeting with them did give me some ideas as they all began to explain how they were adapting their varied business models during this pandemic.
Kate and I took what might be our last trip (for a while) to the studio today to determine what we might bring back with us that would be helpful.  Other than cleaning supplies, some coffee pods, and an extra roll of toilet paper, we figured that our two stand-alone devices would be the easiest to relocate.  Moving forward, we will have the ability to scan, crop and color correct 35mm slides and be able to capture and transfer 8mm and Super 8 film all from the safety of our home. Those captured files can be converted to a digital format (mp4) that can be stored on a usb drive. So we will obviously be marketing those services during the next month.
We can accept new orders by mail or overnight carrier to our home address. We will process those jobs at our home and ship them directly back to our clients. Call for more information.
Our videotape and audio tape transfer service requires multiple machines that are interconnected therefore we did not opt to bring those home with us. However, if I read the governor’s instructions properly, there is nothing to prevent me from leaving my home, traveling alone in my car to my empty studio that is five minutes away to process videotape/audiotape orders as long as I do not come into contact with anyone else. We are working up a no-contact dropoff/pickup protocol. Call us at 352-735-8550 for more information.
On a personal note, while we are in self-isolation, we’ll be looking for TV watching opportunities. We’ve already blown through Picard season one; discovered and finished the third season of Designated Survivor; finished all episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and there’s no more Downton Abbey on the horizon. I’ll let you know what our next TV guilty pleasure is going to be.
Stay safe. I’ll touch in tomorrow.

Mule Train


As you might imagine, we here at Home Video Studio are blessed to witness a great deal of historical footage. People bring us their films, videos, audio recordings, photos, etc… and we convert them to a digital form to protect and preserve them against future loss.  And every so often, in between the birthday parties and vacation footage, we sometimes get to be witness to some incredible historical events.

This week, we’ve been transferring some 8mm film for a client. The earliest date on one of the reels was 1942. It turns out that a large portion of the film was taken from the battlefield of the European campaign of WWII. There was one particular section that captured my attention.

It was apparently shot in Italy. The footage was of a caravan of mules carrying supplies along a city street. I had never thought about it before but I’ve since learned that the mule train was a popular mode of transport during the war. The Mule Corp in Italy had the manpower of more than five divisions, and more than 30,000 mules, and was a vital part of the supply chain.

Without the mules, needed supplies, like ammunition, medical kits, food supplies… would not have reached the fighting men who needed them. There were roads or pathways in the mountainous regions of Europe that vehicles simply could not reach. And so the mules were put into service. The need for them was so great, infantry divisions would often commandeer every mule they came across, giving its owner a voucher that he could later redeem from the US Army. Near the end of the war, the Americans were paying up to $250 for each animal. Upon the war’s conclusion, all available mules were distributed to Italians who had fought alongside the US as well as local farmers.

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.

Small World


The lady pictured above is a customer who just stopped by to say hi during our recent open house. We were chit-chatting about this and that when our lobby monitor started playing one of the award winning movies we put together for another client, “The Lucy Evelyn: From Ship to Store.” Suddenly, she stopped mid-sentence and exclaimed, “OMG! That’s my grand-uncle!”

Turns out she is related to Captain Everett C. Lindsey, the man who commissioned the building of the Lucy Evelyn in 1917. She was a 166 foot, three masted schooner and one of the last of her kind built, as the steam engine was just beginning to take over the commercial nautical world. She was named after Capt. Lindsey’s two daughters.

Sailing from her harbor in Machias Maine, the Lucy Evelyn was primarily used as a cargo vessel, transporting lumber, tobacco, coal and other products to all parts of the world. Using a 5 person crew, she proved difficult to captain, as the only power she had on board was for a small winch that was used to help raise her sails. She was often blown off course or otherwise delayed during her journeys. She was once shelled by the Germans during WWII.

In 1947, she was bought at auction by entrepreneur Nat Ewer for the sum of $1,550.00. Nat had her towed to the shores of New Jersey and beached her in the town of Beach Haven where he had her converted to a high end gift shop. He and his family ran “The Sea Chest” out of the Lucy Evelyn for 22 years before she was lost in a devastating fire in 1972.

The grand-niece of Capt. Lindsey had never seen the ship, having visited the area after the fire. But of course she had heard all the stories. We’re so pleased that she came into our studio and got the opportunity to see a movie where her ancestor had played such a major role.

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

The Prophets



In 2019 this lovely lady came into my studio and asked for my help in putting together a tribute video for her late husband’s memorial service. Her name is Glory Anne Prophet. Her husband was Ronnie Prophet, Canadian hall-of-fame country singer and entertainer who passed away the previous year. In assembling this video I came to greatly admire his talent, his humor and his generosity of spirit. Hopefully, some of that was captured in the work that we did.

Glory Anne is an impressive performer in her own right. As Glory Anne Carriere, she started out as a soloist on the Canadian country music scene and won the Juno award as Most Promising Female vocalist in 1978. In 1980 she was chosen as Best Country Music Female vocalist.

She joined Ronnie as his singing partner and together they were named CCMA’s Duo of the Year in 1984. They married two years later.

At the Home Video Studio annual awards event in 2019, Ronnie’s video was nominated for a Hanley Award which it won. In my acceptance speech I said that “Ronnie Prophet had an illustrious career; gold records, Juno awards, Entertainer of the Year, Hall of Fame inductee… it is therefore fitting that now, even after he has left us, he’s still raking in the awards.”

Thank you Glory Anne for giving us the honor of commemorating your husband’s life and legacy.

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.

Bombs Away!


I enjoy where I live. It’s a modest but inviting home situated atop an elevated plain overlooking the rolling hills of a conservation area (unusual to find in the normally flat landscape of Florida). The rolling hills are to my east which give me some spectacular sunrises. There’s a wooded area to the north so it gives the illusion of solitude within the confines of a middle class community. It could be darn near perfect… if it wasn’t for the howitzers and machine gun fire.

I should explain. On the other side of that wooded area is a large plot of land owned by an antique center. On their property, along with the antiques and flea markets they operate, they feature various events of interest to a select crowd. This weekend it was the WWII arms and ammunition show. At eight this morning we were greeting by a barrage of incoming fire that would put Patton to shame.

And that isn’t the only event that features assault weapons. They hold an annual Civil War reenactment of the fictitious battle of Townsend’s Plantation. And I learned something… 19th century cannon fire is every bit as loud as the 20th century guns of WWII.

But just when I have gotten used to the firepower, from those rolling hills comes the unmistakable war chants of an Indian tribe. That would mean it’s time for the Thundering Spirit Family Pow Wow. Those chants last all day for three days. Or so it would seem.

Most of the other events that are scattered throughout the years aren’t as audibly invasive – The Steampunk Show, the Cars and Guitars Swap meet, the RV and Antique Cars Show. There’s a certain charm to these events and it is nice to see people share their interests. I only wish they could do it a few dozen decibels lower.

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, visit our website, or stop by our studio now located at 930 N Donnelly St Mount Dora FL 32757.