Cracking up

cracked disk.jpg

There are pros and cons to every digital format. DVDs and CDs, although they are digital, they do have their drawbacks. First, there are clear signs that the industry is moving on and it will only be a matter of time that the disk technology will go the way of the 8-track and VHS tape. That may not happen for a few more years but it sure looks like it is an eventuality.

The other problem with disks is pictured above. They are not indestructible.  They can crack if handled improperly and once cracked, they are pretty much unplayable and the data may not be able to be recovered.

We are happy to provide DVDs and CDs to our customers. We still have that capability and a lot of our customers prefer them to any other option. But we always recommend that they also consider getting their memories stored on a computer file or open a DVA streaming account with us so when the DVDs stop working, the memories that were preserved don’t have to be converted for a second (or sometimes third) time. Food for thought. Whichever format you choose, having your memories digitally preserved is infinitely better that keeping them locked away on inaccessible analog media that will eventually corrode.

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.


The Final Format


Throughout the years, our families have been given the opportunity to record special moments of our lives. But protecting those memories from loss and maintaining access to them so they might be revisited has been nothing but problematic.

Technology continues to evolve and as new technologies are introduced, older technologies are abandoned and become obsolete. In the 1930s, 8mm film was used to capture family events. This format gave way to the Super 8 films of the 1960s. In the 70s, with the development of the personal videotape camcorder, film projectors became rarer and rarer and families, wanting to preserve their memories, had little choice but to have those recorded films transferred over to the VHS format.

Enter the 1990s and the digital age. DVD technology forced families to once again “re-format” their precious memories lest they become forgotten, trapped inside unplayable plastic cases. But time refused to stand still and as it continued to march forward, new technologies continued to be invented.

Once again, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new age. Today, computers do not come equipped with a built in DVD tray. The days of renting Hollywood movies on a DVD seem to be coming to an end as streaming services become more popular. And families are faced once again with the decision of how to protect the memories they’ve made throughout their lives.

There is a solution. Digital Video Archive combines the best elements of the technologies that have come before it, along with a versatility and adaptability that will carry our memories far into the future. Think of it as a “a personal Netflix for your home movies.” It will be the last media transfer we’ll ever have to make.

Finally, our memories can be protected, played, and shared… now and forever.

Click here for more info.

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.


The Future Is Here

DVAgal1 (1).jpg

We finally did it. We cut the cord… to cable tv. And I wish we had done it years earlier. There is a bit of a learning curve because it does alter the way one watches televised entertainment but I’m slowly adapting.

I have been a lifelong channel surfer. Back before we had remotes, I used to wear out the TV dial by turning it to change channels constantly. That habit, honed over the last 50 years, has been deeply ingrained in me. I’m finding that it doesn’t serve me well with this new technology but the cost savings are so high that I’m making the effort to retrain my TV watching habits.

We’ve cancelled our cable service. To replace it, we bought an HD antenna which picks up some 60 channels of which maybe 5 has programming that we might watch (mostly local news shows). We also bought an Amazon Fire TV kit that connects to our Smart TV. I am an Amazon Prime subscriber and we’ve signed up for Netflix. The HD antenna and Fire TV were a one time fixed cost and the combined Netflix and Prime monthly subscription rate are substantially less than the monthly cable bill we were incurring.

But no more channel surfing. Streaming technology is more suited to binge watching. Pick a show and watch a season at a time. My wife just finished The Crown and is working her way through The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I just finished the last two seasons of Stranger Things and have yet to decide where to go from there. There is just so much to choose from.

It is a new world with new rules…but it seems to be where the future is heading.  That is one reason why we offer Digital Video Archive as a part of our Home Video Studio services. Digital Video Archive (DVA) is the streaming alternative for your home movies. We even have an app that works with the Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick. Just bring your home movies to us, we will encode it to the DVA format while you download the DVA app to your Fire TV or Fire Stick. And in no time you’ll be watching your home movies on your smart TV, your smart phone, or your computer. And you can share them with all of your friends and family no matter where they live.

The future is here.  And you can find it at Home Video Studio.

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.

Digital Video Archive

dva kid poster.jpg

It was a relatively slow day in the studio today. So I spent the time catching up on the video transfers in my queue. I find that more and more people are requesting transfers of videotapes to computer files on usb drives instead of getting DVD disks. And we are happy to do that for them. And we still process a large number of DVD disks. And we are happy to do that as well. But we do have a third option – developed specifically for us. We call it DVA, Digital Video Archive.

Last year, during our corporate getaway, a few of us teamed together to do a western tribute to our DVA product.  I have it posted below. DVA brings the best of the DVD features (chapter markers, authoring capabilities) to a streaming technology. It allows you the ultimate flexibility to watch and share your home movies – wherever you are, whenever you want.  Call us for more information.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s the award winning short film: The DVA Kid.

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.

Pondering on the Ponderosa


The opening of Bonanza, which premiered in 1959 and ran for 14 seasons, was one of the most iconic images on TV. So much so that when we were filming our western (The DVA Kid) last year in Tucson, I had wanted to imitate the effect. 

If you recall, the screen filled with a old-timey map of the Ponderosa which then burst into a ring of fire, revealing the main cast riding towards the camera. After spending much of the night unsuccessfully trying to replicate the effect digitally, I finally decided to do a little research on how they actually accomplished the feat way back in the late 1950s. Turns out the answer was both simple and obvious.  They just lit their map on fire and let a hole burn in it while the cameras were rolling. Wish I had thought of that.

Here are some other factoids about my favorite TV western:

  • Producer David Dortort originally imagined Bonanza as an Old West reinvention of the King Arthur legend… with Ben Cartwright as Arthur and his sons as the knights of his round table.
  • Bonanza was the first series to have all its episodes broadcast in living color and as such carried the biggest price tag of any other show of its time.
  • Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright) must have loved the set. He built a replica of the Ponderosa home on a half-acre of land in Mesa, AZ. It went on the market in 2016 valued at $849,000.
  • During the first season, the actors brought on to play guest roles on the show were paid more than the regular cast members. The producers didn’t think Green, Roberts, Blocker, and Landon were well known enough to draw in an audience on their own.
  • The show was almost cancelled early in its first season but as it was one of the few shows being broadcast in color and NBC was owned by RCA which was selling color tv sets to consumers, the decision was made to keep it on the air in the hopes it would spark sales. A move from Saturday night to Sunday night catapulted the show to #1 status.
  • The Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses were inspired by the show and started by Dan Blocker who played Hoss.
  • The main characters wore the same outfits from episode to episode. This was a deliberate choice by producers so it would be easier to reuse stock footage when necessary, thereby lowering production costs.

In case you’ve forgotten, here are the opening titles and theme song to Bonanza:


And if you’ve missed it in the past, here’s the western we put together last summer with our opening credits:

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora 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.

What’s Coming Next?

DVAgal1 (2).jpg

Many of the videotape transfers that I do are actually 2nd generation transfers. They contain footage of family memories that were previously on 8 mm, Super 8, or 16 mm film. As videotapes became more popular, families would move their memories onto them so as not to lose them.

Now, as the videotape market has given way to the digital age, more and more people are realizing that to keep those same memories safe, they have to be transferred once more… this time to a digital format.

What people may not know is that there are choices as to what kind of format to use.

In my area, people still seem to be most comfortable receiving DVDs and we produce quite a bit of them. We use archival quality disks, complete with menus, chapter markers, and titling on the face of the disk. They look and sound great as we only use professional encoding equipment. But there’s no guarantee that the DVD market will not go the same way as the videotape market did. In fact there are signs that the transition is already underway.

It is our business to provide memory loss prevention for families and we are prepared to offer our clients an alternative to the DVD. We call it DVA – Digital Video Archive. We can convert your memories (whether they are on film or videotape) to a digital format to be stored in your account on a server. This enables you to stream your memories directly into whatever device you have… wherever you are. It works across all platforms: you can watch on your computer, your smartphone, your tablet, or your smart tv. And, because it was designed to be a sharing platform, it is the best and easiest way to share those memories with anyone on the planet.

We still produce DVDs for anyone who desires them, but we also offer DVAs for people who might want to avoid the need to save their memories once more should the DVD technology ever become obsolete. Here’s a little explainer video we put together to introduce our newest service.

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

Away From Home Still Feels Like Home


Michael Ondrasik is attending an annual training seminar and will return to the studio on March 5th. While away, he will continue to post blogs from the field. Subscribe to the blog to have them delivered directly to your email.

One of the best things about conventions are the people who attend them with you. Sure, there are guest speakers, and educational tracts to take but the real learning and benefit in attending is in the associations you form with people who are doing the same thing you are doing.

Home Video Studio is a quarter century old and has studio locations scattered across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Each studio is independently owned and operated by a studio owner and twice a year we gather to learn more about our industry, share insights and observations about what we do and the problems we encounter with the aim of helping each other solve those problems to make ourselves better suited to serve the needs of our customers.

Tonight, I dined with studio owners from the states of Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and California. The food was good; the company was better. I remember my first year as being a studio owner (a year culminated by being named “Rookie of the Year”). I said it then and I will repeat it now, the people drawn to this business are so passionate about what they do that they decide to make the financial commitment required to open a studio. They are among the most likable, genuine and personable people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

If you ever have the need for the services offered by this franchise, (videotape transfers, film transfers, photo/video keepsakes, 35mm slide transfers, audio transfers, memorial videos, sports scholarship videos, life stories, and more) you can rest assured that you are in good hands. You need not look any further for you won’t find any better.  That, of course, is only my opinion – but it is an informed opinion that caused me to want to join their ranks. You see, preserving your family’s memories is not just a job to us… it is a calling – and an honor.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

The DVA Kid

I always like to know where my customers heard about me or what brought them to my studio. A lot of time people mention a Facebook post or my link from a Google search. Sometimes they were just driving by and noticed my sign on Donnelly St or they clipped out my ad from the Daily Commercial. But yesterday was the first time that a new client simply said, “I saw that western you did.”

Last summer at a convention for Home Video Studio owners, we were challenged to craft, shoot and edit a small movie under 3 minutes using techniques and skills we had developed. The only other limitation was that it needed to be centered around a western theme as the convention was being held in Tucson Arizona.

I teamed up with John Montgomery of Home Video Studio in Newark OH and Peter Galluzzo of Home Video Studio in Apex NC and we decided to make a western commercial for DVA, our cloud-based streaming solution for home videos. Armed with our love of spaghetti westerns and using a western ghost town belonging to the El Conquistador Hilton Hotel, we set out to do just that.

Here are some trivia facts:

  • Shooting this little two and a half minute mini-movie required a day and a half of production (shooting in front of the camera) and more than two days editing the footage we shot.
  • We used a Canon EOS C-100 DSLR as our primary camera and edited on a laptop using Adobe Premiere Pro software.
  • The actress playing the saloon keeper, Stella, is my wife, Kate.
  • The actor playing The DVA Kid is Vernon Walker, a local actor and horse trainer who made himself available for our project as well as other projects that were in development that week. He’s included The DVA Kid as part of his demo reel on IMDb. 
  • The uncredited voiceover at the end of the film belongs to Jay Carneal of Memory Box Archives, Richmond VA.
  • The DVA Kid won for Best Backlot Video at the 2017 Hanley Awards. The trophy is on display at our studio.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

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

Countdown to Christmas VIII

#It’s just five days till Christmas… I hope my true love gives to me…


The home movie world continues to evolve… and we would be remiss if we did not evolve with it. Which is why we developed Digital Video Archive (DVA). It delivers cutting edge technology to consumers looking to preserve and share their family memories for the next generation.

Think of it as a Netflix for your home movies.  Here are some of the benefits:

  • Instantly accessible. All you need is a wifi connection and the device of your choice. DVAs can be viewed on all popular platforms: smart phones, tablets, computers, smart tvs.
  • Has the best features of a DVD. DVAs are fully authored and come with chapter markers pre-installed.
  • Easy to share. DVA was created primarily as a platform to share videos with anyone, anywhere. And it is a private network – the only people who can see your videos are the ones you invite.
  • Versatile. Not only can you watch your videos and share your videos, DVA comes with a built in video editor so you can shape your videos to your liking.
  • Once you establish your DVA account, you can continue to add to it with videos taken on your phone by directly uploading them to your account.

It’s a new world and there’s a new kid in town. Take control of your memories with DVA.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and are committed to staying current and relevant in today’s technologically advanced world. For more information, contact 352-735-8550 or visit

The Future is Now

DVAgal1 (1).jpg

The following has been floating around the Internet for a year or so.  I’ve heard it attributed to a Singularity University Summit that took place in 2016. While it certainly doesn’t claim to accurately predict what’s going to happen, it does present a few logical assumptions based on informed observations:

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they got bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming.  Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law.

So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years.

It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.

Welcome to the Exponential Age! Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.………

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years…  Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.  Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.

In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans.  In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous automobiles: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public.  Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You won’t want to own a car anymore.  You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking spaces into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. Engineers from Volkswagen and Audi should be completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear. Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars: Electric cars will become mainstream by 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year.  There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and your breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease.  It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster.  All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past. At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities.  You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.

Technology continues to advance at a next to unbelievable exponential rate. In my lifetime, family home movies have gone from being stored on 8mm/Super 8 film to videotape cassettes, to DVD, to SD cards and memory chips. And there is no indication that we’ve reached the end of innovation. This is why we are so pleased to be able to offer our DVA service. Streaming technology has been around for commercial movies and music for a while now. We are pleased to offer this same cutting edge technology tailored especially for the private individual as a way to preserve, play and share their recorded memories.   The future is already here and it is DVA.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and is committed to expending every effort to protect our pasts from being technologically obsoleted. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit