A Tall Ship with a Tall Tale

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I happened to visit the neighborhood where one of my clients from last year lives and, thinking that I would be seeing her, decided to bring along the Hanley Award that her project won.

Muff Ewer Pettinos was the eldest daughter of Nat and Betty Ewer, retailers who owned a shop in Beach Haven, NJ. In 1947, in an attempt to solve the annual problem of flooding that took place on the island where they lived, Nat Ewer bought at auction a 166 foot wooden three masted schooner and had it towed to the shores of New Jersey where it was beached, dragged ashore and converted into the most unusual gift shop anywhere in the United States.

The Lucy Evelyn and its surrounding collection of retail beach shacks or shanties was purely a family affair. Muff, her parents, and her three siblings all had various responsibilities and obligations as it pertained to the family business. They each would have their turns learning various aspects of the business up to and including running their own retail store. At one point some 6,000 people a day would come on board the Lucy Evelyn to shop and sightsee. 

Muff had contacted me and asked me to help them tell their story. It took 9 months, hours of interviews, and many more hours of reviewing archival photos and film footage. But at the end, we were able to craft together a 60 minute documentary that the family now owns as their own personal family history. It won the award for best documentary at the Home Video Studio gala event last July but, more importantly, it is now a family treasure that will be passed down through the generations.

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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It Was a Very Good Year

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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

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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.

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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.

 

Imagine

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You might be thinking that all I did in the recent Getaway in Tucson was win awards.  I have to admit, that was a sweet icing on the cake but the real reason we attend this annual event is to learn, grow, and stretch our abilities in our field. My personal focus this year was to further develop or polish some of the production skills that I don’t always get an opportunity to use during the normal course of our business. I spent much of my time during that week composing and editing a 60 second commercial that I hope to be using for our company in the coming year.

Here’s a first look at the newest commercial spot for Home Video Studio of Mount Dora. It’s called “Imagine.”

 

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.

I Like Mike

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If you’re experiencing what I am, you are now being inundated with electioneering stuff… phone calls, flyers, door to door canvassers… all of which are signs that it’s time to prepare to cast our votes. While I do appreciate the freedom we have to elect our political leaders I must admit that I, along with what I suspect is most of America, really have grown to hate the process. Not the voting… I’m referring to the campaigning. I’ve always hated it… even when I fell into the middle of it.

When I was in ninth grade and my best friend decided to run for student council president, I figured I would toss my hat in the ring and run for vice-president. Unfortunately, my opponent was one of the cool kids – Mr. Popularity. I had to figure out a way to elevate myself above Joe Cool so, after much deliberation, I settled on a variation of a popular campaign slogan. “I Like Ike” worked for Eisenhower… how could “I Like Mike” possibly fail?

I made buttons, printed posters, passed out flyers – all with the clever “I Like Mike” slogan. And how did it go you might ask? Not well. Not well at all. How was I supposed to know that ninth graders in 1970 didn’t know all that much about Eisenhower and to them “I Like Mike” was an inappropriate admission of affection? None of the guys would wear the button and the girls were afraid it would be misunderstood. 

I lost in a landslide. My first humiliating defeat. Turns out few people would publicly confess to liking Mike.

Fortunately, my best friend won and, as president, selected me to be his sergeant-at-arms – a position I was woefully ill-equipped to serve. I was given a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order. Can’t say that I ever bothered to read it. But at least I got to hold and bang the gavel during council meetings. That was cool. So, all in all, everything turned out ok.

Speaking of voting, the Best of Mount Dora survey is currently running and while Home Video Studio is strangely missing from the candidates printed on the ballots, there are some categories where a write-in vote for us would be fitting.  Best place to buy a gift because the memories we bring to life make the best gifts ever. Best vintage find because we constantly discover and resurrect images and sounds of yesteryear that have long been forgotten. And best kept secret because people constantly come in with questions and eventually get around to saying, “I didn’t even know you could do all that.”

If you are so inclined to take a minute to write in a vote or two for our studio, here’s the link: http://www.mountdorabuzz.com/2018bestofmountdora.html

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.

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.

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.

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling A Little Blue, Berry?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

May I Have The Envelope Please?

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I’ve always enjoyed the Oscars – really, any award show for that matter. I think anyone who ever worked on stage or in film had those dreams of one day being recognized by their peers for the work they’ve done. I know I certainly did.

I remember in the 90s I was cast in a four person show called The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney. It was basically a comedy about an upper class, privileged family whose privileges did not prevent family tensions from escalating.

The show was well received by audiences, so much so that it was extended for a couple of weeks. At the end of the season, when the theatre held their annual black tie awards banquet, we were pleased to discover that all four cast members of our show were nominated in their respective categories. And as the banquet progressed, one by one, the actors of our show were awarded trophies. We were on our way to a full sweep of the acting categories. Mine was the last category to be announced. I thought I’d be a shoe-in as my character was the catalyst of the story and was onstage 95% of the time. I lost, (which I didn’t mind so much) but I lost to a guy who played the piano in a musical review and had no lines. That irked me a little.

Then again, I did meet and marry my co-star from that show so I can’t complain too much. I’ve always considered her to be the trophy I brought home.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.