As You Wish

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Some movies just have a special place in your heart or mind.  I found out that my mother-in-law had never seen The Princess Bride so we took the time last night to watch it. It is, for me, classic storytelling. And I never get tired of watching it. That is the sole criterion for me when looking to put together a top ten list of favorite films. That, no matter how many times I may have seen it, it never fails to draw me into its world when I see it again.

While my Top Ten list is an ever fluctuating and always incomplete thing, here are some of the films that I’ve seen multiple times and have not been bored by them yet.

It’s a Wonderful Life – is always at the top of my list. An average, good, decent man comes to discover how impactful his life has been.

The Shawshank Redemption – a riveting tale of perseverance and hope set in the bleakest of all places.

A Few Good Men – I’ve always been a sucker for courtroom dramas or legal thrillers. This one, about a military court-martial, never fails to entertain.

Pretty Much any Pixar film – Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Monsters Inc, Up, Ratatouille, Toy Story… the fact that they place the story and characters on an equal if not higher plane than their animation is what makes this team so successful.

Hacksaw Ridge – Films that depict actual events, when done well, will always capture my interest. This one particularly so because I learned that the filmmakers chose to leave some events out as they thought the audience would think them too unbelievable – even though they did actually happen. It is a remarkable story of courage and conviction.

Being There – a fanciful tale of a man whose only frame of reference to life has been what he has seen on TV. Peter Sellers is masterful in the role.

The Star Trek reboot – breathing new life into an old series whose audience appeal appeared to be waning is no small feat. That J.J. Abrams successfully did it, not just with Star Trek, but also with Star Wars defies all odds. Brilliantly conceived.

These are just a few of the films I’ve enjoyed watching and rewatching over the years. I’m sure you have your own list of favorites. But nothing Hollywood puts out can ever match the level of joy derived from re-watching your own life played out on the screen via your digitalized home movies.

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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Now, What Did I Come In Here For?

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When you reach a certain age, you have probably have had this experience: You’re sitting in one room of your house when you suddenly get up and walk into another room for a reason… but when you get to that room, you find you can’t remember why you went there.

Memory is sometimes fickle like that. One moment you can recall with absolute clarity the finest details of your past and other times the memory you are searching for seems just out of reach like it is hidden behind a veil. You know it’s there but you are unable to reach out and pull back the curtain to reveal it. It is frustrating.

Having your memories stored on devices that can no longer be played is just as frustrating. All the events, occasions, and family times that were important enough to record for future reference were supposed to be available to us when we reached the future. But technology had other plans.

Fortunately, there is a way to retrieve those memories and bring them with us to our current day and time. If you have a 8mm or Super 8 film but no projector to play them on; or a VHS, hi-8, or mini-dv videotape but no working tape player; if you have boxes of 35mm slides but the irreplaceable bulb in your projector is dead; or you have photos so faded you can’t see the people in them clearly; or if you found an old audiotape that you don’t recognize or a vinyl album you vaguely remember but lack the equipment that can play them… there is a solution.

My company, Home Video Studio specializes in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of old analog media. Bring us a 8mm film, we’ll give you back that footage on a DVD or a computer file that you can play today. We can even offer you the ability to stream that home movie to your smart phone or tablet. Same with all those videotapes you haven’t seen in decades. And as far as the slides, photos and audio recordings go, not only do we give you the access once again to view or listen to those memories, our digital products take up much less space than their bulky analog counterparts.

Your memories deserve to be preserved and protected. More importantly, they ought to be remembered. At Home Video Studio, we make sure they can.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio stand ready to help you protect your memories. And right now, we are in the midst of our Christmas in July sale, offering up to 40% off many of our transfer services. Call 352-735-8550 for more info or visit our website.

You’ve Got Mail!

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Who can forget that iconic greeting or the soothing but irritating dial up tones you heard when accessing your America OnLine account? For those old enough, the odds are that AOL was your first introduction to the wonders of the Internet.

AOL began in 1983 and went through a number of transitions before hitting it big by becoming America’s gateway to the Internet. I first used it with my Commodore 64. The Commodore 64 was an 8 bit system and took its name from the fact that it possessed a whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM. It was far from being blazingly fast but we didn’t care. Back then, we were amazed at the world it introduced us to.

This comes to mind because I had a woman in my studio yesterday with a dilemma. She had a box of old floppy disks that contained a bunch of .art files. These files could not be opened with any program known to her.

.art is a file format that AOL used for graphic images to facilitate transfer speeds. It was a highly compressed file format that is unfortunately no longer used in today’s gigabyte world.

I was unable to help her recover the files that were on those floppy disks because the programs used to read those files are no longer in existence. I asked if perhaps she still had access to the computer which made the files or a backup of the original computer’s hard drive. But she did not. And unfortunately, no other program that I know of can open the files, uncompress them and render a readable image that can then be exported to a different format that can be accessed, stored or printed with today’s equipment.

I truly hate disappointing people. But it served as a rude reminder that technology is continually advancing and as it does, it makes our old technical standards obsolete and unsupported. We can and do work wonders with many of the old formats that were once popular decades ago. But as time continues to advance, our abilities to access older and more obscure formats will grow less and less. It is, unfortunately, the way of the world. If you have memories stored on devices or in files that you currently can’t access, you may want to think about getting them transferred soon before that option is taken away from you forever.

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.

The New Normal Isn’t Normal At All

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I attended our local Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting yesterday. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo above but the guest speaker was the Sheriff of Lake County who introduced us to a leading expert on active killer situations. He spoke to us on our country’s long history regarding mass attacks and school massacres. Surprisingly, it is nothing new.  It just feels like it is. That doesn’t make me feel any better. 

My generation never practiced for terrorist attacks or school shootings.  It simply wasn’t on our radar. We were an in-between generation. Too late for the Cold War and too early for domestic terrorism. In my day, the only defense training we received was a twice a year fire drill which hardly any of us took seriously. We got up, marched down the hallways in a straight single-file line until we were outside and then our nature took over and we became kids at recess.

The generation before me wasn’t as lucky. They were taught the duck and cover maneuver to “protect” themselves during nuclear attacks. 

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Speaking frankly, that always seemed a little silly to me. My school desk was unable to protect me from the spitballs lobbed from David Cook seated a row behind me… I somehow think it would not have been an effective deterrent to an H-bomb lobbed from a Russian sub.

These days, whole classrooms are being taught the Run, Hide, Fight response. Instead of teaching our children to be victims (aka Duck and Cover), they are being taught how to take action to try to avoid being victims. It is great training but in my opinion, it is something that we, as a society, should be ashamed by the fact that it even has to be part of the curriculum. Not that it isn’t needed… it is. And that is why we should be ashamed.

Our culture is what it is and there are so many moving parts to it that it is difficult to effect overall change except in gradual steps. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make the attempt. It took a while for us to get to the sad and unfortunate place that we are… and it will take a while to move us back to where we should be. But every step we take in that direction will be worth the effort. There is nothing normal about this “new normal” in which we find ourselves. 

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

Happy National VCR Day!

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You’ll be forgiven if you let yesterday go by unobserved. Most people do. It wasn’t widely publicized but June 7th was National VCR Day. It was a day to celebrate that wonderful invention, the video cassette recorder.  Don’t have one?  No surprise there. There are few who do these days.

The video cassette recorder was an electro-mechanical device that recorded analog audio and analog video from television on a removable, magnetic tape videocassette.  The images and sound could then be played back at a more convenient time. At the time, the VCR was the main way to watch movies at home, and one could create their own personal movie library.

The first video cassette recorder was introduced in 1956.  The home video cassette format (VCR) was developed in 1970. 

The birth of VCR mass market success boomed in the mid-1970s and continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Today, most VCR tapes contain the precious memories of families who used the technology to record their children and grandchildren as they grew. But those memories are now locked away as few people have the means to play them back.  At Home Video Studio, we can not only play them… we can convert them to a digital format and give the memories back to the families on a format that they can play, save, enjoy and pass on to the next generation.

Or they could choose to keep those memories on an archaic device that will not even be recognized by future generations. Take a look at this video which was shot three years ago showing children of that time trying to understand how a VCR works. What will children ten years from now make of a VCR tape?

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

Wigwam Village

 

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I had a former client come back to the studio today to tell me his story. He had purchased an old reel of 8mm film from an antique dealer. The only marking on it was the year 1959. He bought it as a curiosity and brought it to me to convert to a digital form. He became so animated when he was telling us what he saw on the film.

Most of it was uninteresting footage of random scenery but as the camera panned, suddenly, there on the side of what was S. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, were a few dozen concrete teepees. He couldn’t believe it. “I stayed there as a kid!” he shouted. My wife, who grew up in Orlando, also remembered them.

Wigwam Village, as it was known, was the brainchild of Frank Redford who, in the 1930s began constructing steel and stucco structures in the shape of Indian teepees and renting them out to curious travelers. It began in Horse Cave, Ky but started cropping up in other locations around the country in short order.  A Wigwam village was build in Cave City, KY; followed by a village in New Orleans, LA.

The Wigwam Village in Orlando was the fourth site and by most accounts, the largest. Built in 1948 it consisted of 27 “wigwams” which were advertised as being able to accommodate up to 4 people. It was also billed as “Orlando’s largest motel.”

Subsequent villages were built in Bessemer, AL, Holbrook, AZ, and San Bernardino CA

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In Orlando, the teepee structures were situated in a U shape with a giant teepee located at the open end which housed the registration desk, administrative offices and a restaurant. A pool was constructed later on which was situated in the middle of the lot.

Orlando’s Wigwam Village was demolished in 1973 to make room for the East West Expressway. A Vacation Lodge now operates on that site.

So, in summary, my client bought an unknown random reel of film and after converting it to a viewable format realized that, in so doing, he had captured a memory from his youth. And then when sharing that memory with us, he was able to spark a similar memory within my wife. It just goes to show you that we are more connected than we are divided. People should spend more time sharing memories with each other. It draws us closer together.

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

Ten Minutes

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“Ten minutes. That’s all I need.”

Those were the words my newest client spoke to me when he came to visit me yesterday. Ten minutes.

He handed me an 8mm videotape. “It’s cued up. All I need is ten minutes from where it is. Can you put it on a DVD for me?”

I can’t always satisfy immediate requests but he caught me on a good day. I had an 8mm tape player that was currently unoccupied, so I said “Of course.”

As I set up the equipment and began to capture his footage, he told me the story behind the video. What he captured was a moment during a fashion show of a beautiful young girl who, along with her brother, sang an original song to their mother thanking her for raising them.

Sadly, that brother died not too long after the video was taken and as far as my client knows, no one else recorded this special moment between the two of them. He came across the tape recently (it was in his camera that hadn’t been used in a decade or two) and he decided that the family would like to see it.  You think?

Ten minutes of a captured piece of personal history that was once thought lost or unrecorded is of immeasurable wealth. It is very thoughtful for my client to gift this to the family and I was happy to be able to provide the service that made it happen.

What’s on your video? Maybe you have some footage of a neighbor or friend that they’ve never seen or that they’ve forgotten even existed. It happens far more frequently than you may think.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories via the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio tapes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Away From Home Still Feels Like Home

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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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Opportunity Lost

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I hate being the bearer of bad news but it sometimes falls upon me. I received an inquiry from a client who said he had cartridges of film he wanted to transfer to DVD.  Recognizing that some people use different (and sometimes incorrect) terms to describe what they have, I requested more information.

Film is stored on reels and is priced out by the amount of footage tendered. On the other hand, videotape is stored on cassettes or cartridges and is priced by the number of cassettes tendered. I could not give him a quote until I was sure what he had.  He sent me a photo of his project which can be seen above.

He was right with his initial description. This is a film cartridge. Unfortunately, it was never developed. This is what we used to put into our Super 8 cameras to take our home movies. We would then have to send them to a lab for processing and we would receive back small 3” reels of developed film for each cartridge we sent. Those reels could be loaded onto a projector and viewed.

These labs no longer exist. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one company left in the US that can process undeveloped film (Film Rescue International)  and even they cannot process in Kodak color. The formulas and inks simply no longer exist. They can only process in black and white.

It is a harsh reality. Time waits for no one. We no longer have the ability to develop color movies from old undeveloped film. And, as time continues to march forward, we may lose the ability to do other things to preserve our old memories. Procrastination is a common ailment among people. We are all guilty of it from time to time. We need to recognize that by not acting to preserve our past we may be threatening our ability to revisit it. If we wish to once again see the images of our youth, we should act now before time catches up to us.

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

Countdown to Christmas

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#It’s just twelve days till Christmas, I hope my true love will give to me:

My memories on a brand new DVD.#

Home Video Studio excels at taking recorded memories from the instruments of old and transferring them to updated digital media that can continue to be accessed in our day and time.

If you decide to receive a DVD, you can rest assured that all the discs we produce are archival quality, professionally encoded, and masterfully authored. We will install up to 42 chapter markings and make sure your DVDs are attractively packaged.

They make for great gifts at Christmastime. Just don’t be surprised if, when they are opened, the rest of Christmas is put on hold because people will immediately want to start watching them.

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