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.

It Was a Very Good Year


At the close of every Home Video Studio season, we indulge ourselves a bit and take a look back at many of the projects that we and other studio owners around the country feel best represent the work that was done throughout the year. Then, in an Academy Award style gala event, we go head to head for top honors. This year, three of our submissions were chosen as being the best in the nation within their classification.

Best Documentary

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The Lucy Evelyn: From Ship to Store was a delight to work on. We interviewed ten family members and, using their words, told their story of how, from 1948 through 1972, they owned and operated the most unique gift shop in the world. The Lucy Evelyn was a 166-foot, 3-masted wooden schooner built in 1917. When the family was looking for a solution to keep their retail store from continually flooding during the high tide season of Long Beach Island NJ, they bought The Lucy Evelyn at auction, had it towed and beached it on the shores of Beach Haven. It was refitted, filled with high end merchandise, and it remained as a landmark, gift shop, and tourist attraction for many years. It was a great story to tell with a wonderful family who told it well. We were also blessed to have available a lot of archival footage that we were able to insert into this one hour movie. Best of all, the family now has this section of their family history preserved in a narrative and cinematic form that is sure to become a treasured keepsake to be passed down through future generations.

Best Photo Keepsake


We were honored to have been asked to build a memorial tribute for Canadian country music legend Ronnie Prophet. We worked closely with Glory Anne Prophet, Ronnie’s wife, duet partner, and a Juno-award winning singer in her own right, to somehow capsulize the talent and charisma of a man who was once dubbed “the entertainer’s entertainer.” Once the project had been completed, Glory-Anne stopped by to show us a newspaper clipping that she had found among his archives. In it, an interviewer was commenting on how Ronnie had accomplished nearly everything in his industry: Juno Awards, Gold Records, Male Vocalist of the Year, Hall of Fame inductee… and yet he was still performing. When, the reporter asked, was he going to retire? He replied in his inimitable style, “It has always been my plan to sing at my own funeral.” Thanks to Glory-Anne and the work we did for her, he did just that.

Dr. Strangelove Award for unique video

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When the Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina needed a video centerpiece to introduce their Godfather theme for the upcoming Orlando Boat Show, they reached out to us. Their initial concept would have required building a set, hiring actors, and finding period costumes, all of which would have pushed costs beyond their budget. Our solution was to use a little green screen magic and merely insert one actor into a scene from the original Godfather. They played their film on a repeating loop as they manned their booth all dressed as gangsters inviting Boat Show attendees to “Make Us An Offer We Can’t Refuse.” I’m told it was quite a draw.


While winning awards is always fun, our main reward is the satisfaction we receive from helping our clients and members of our community with their video and media needs. Whether it is preserving memories through digital transfers, creating memorable video gifts, or using digital media to promote a service or product, Home Video Studio of Mount Dora stands ready to help you.

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.


Name Droppings

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I am a big fan of talent. And it thrills me when talented people come into our studio to ask for our help in protecting and preserving the artistic creations they’ve made. We have had quite a few stop by our studio over the years.  They usually space themselves out but yesterday in particular it was like celebrity central around Home Video Studio.

It started out to be a relatively uneventful day when into our studio walks Key West artist/muralist/sculptor, Dick Moody, who also happens to blow a mean saxophone. We always enjoy talking with Dick who is never short on stories about his time on and off the stage with familiar names in the music and art world. Dick came in to get a live jam session he was a part of at the Green Parrot in Key West transferred over to a usb drive.

No sooner did he leave than we got a surprise visit from our old friend Colin MacLeod, the Celtic Fiddle Guru, who stopped in on his way to Singapore and Australia to regale audiences there with his unique style and inspirational message. He needed to get a number of his CDs duplicated so he would have something to sell after his appearances.

And to top the day off on a high note, we had an enjoyable visit from Canadian Country Music Juno Award winner, Glory-Anne Prophet who found some “lost” recordings of her late husband Ronnie Prophet who was a world-class, hall of fame entertainer. She presented us with a number of his 45’s and a mixture of his audio recordings to make a compilation CD for future enjoyment.

It was a red-letter day all around for us but, to be quite honest, most days here are. Because whether you are an international star or just a celebrity among your own family, your memories are special and you will always receive special treatment from us. You can rest assured that we’ll always give you the star treatment you deserve.

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.

What’s Important


It is sad to say but sometimes it takes a tragedy to get us to recognize the true value of things.  We often take things for granted until faced with the real possibility that we just might lose them.

I’m working with a woman whose parents own two homes just outside of Paradise, CA which has been devastated by the wildfires that are ravaging that part of the country. Thankfully, their parents heeded the evacuation orders and they are safe but they have not been able to return to check on their properties. They are preparing themselves for the possibility that everything they own may have been lost to the fire.

The one saving grace is that a few years ago, the parents shipped to my client a box filled with Betamax tapes. They are old, unlabeled and nobody seemed to know what’s on them or what to do with them. My client has just been storing the box for her parents all this time. Suddenly, due to the recent events, she has realized exactly what she had been sitting on. That box potentially contains the only evidence that exists of the long life her family has shared together. It has gone from just one more piece of clutter under foot to the most precious possession in her house.

I feel privileged to unlock the memories that may be stored on these tapes and deliver them back to the family. I hope it provides some solace or comfort for the family as they prepare to face whatever they find awaits them.

Here’s a link to a site that describes how people can best help victims of the California wildfires.

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.

Up In Smoke


One of our clients told us the saddest story yesterday. A friend of theirs was taking a family vacation aboard a cruise ship and while gone, they received a message from a neighbor saying that their home had burnt to the ground overnight. There was a problem with the home’s electrical wiring.

I can certainly relate on multiple levels. Bad news seems inevitably to follow me on vacations. I’ve had two companies sold out from under me while I was off sightseeing other lands. I returned home only to find I’d been downsized by the new management. And still my wife wonders why I don’t much care for vacations…

But my experiences can’t compare to hearing the news that everything you once owned is now in ashes. While it was a blessing that everyone, including their pets, were away when the fire broke out, and so no lives were at risk, it is heartbreaking to face the reality that all of one’s possessions – including the recorded memories taken over a lifetime – were now gone… just like that.

It is one reason we are passionate about the business we are in. By updating family memories to a digital form, it is easier to make a back up copy of all your family memories (film, videotape, photos, slides, audio recordings, etc) and store that copy in an off-site safe deposit box in the case that, should a tragedy occur, the memories will not be irretrievably lost.

Our prayer is that no one ever face the devastating loss that fire, flood, hurricanes, etc can bring. But while we continue to believe for the best, it is wise to prepare for the worst. Insurance can help you replace things. Memories cannot be insured – but they can be protected. Call us and ask us how.

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.

Natural Enemies

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.

History Erased… Just Like That


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.