Mystery Date

mysterydate.jpg

One of the iconic board games of the 60s was Milton Bradley’s Mystery Date. Targeted to girls aged 6-14, the game had players collecting fashion cards on their turns. When they assembled a complete matching ensemble, they could open the door to reveal the date. If he was dressed in similar attire, a winner was declared. The mystery dates included: the formal dance dude, the surfer dude, the skier, the bowler, and the dud.

I barely remember the game (I was much more interested in Battleship at that time.) But my sister had it and may have tricked me into playing Mystery Date once or twice. I seem to have a faint recall of getting the dud date but have managed to block out most of those details from my memory.

However, I do get faced with “mystery tapes” on almost a daily basis. You know the ones I mean. The VHS, VHS-C or 8mm tapes that were tossed in a drawer or shoebox. Quickly forgotten until discovered on a spring cleaning day decades later. But now, with no label on the tape and no way to play it to find out if it is something worth keeping, it goes back into the drawer until someone finds it next time a cleaning day rolls around.

I get asked on a regular basis if I can play a mystery tape in my studio so the prospective client can see what’s on it. Unfortunately, during normal business days, the equipment in my studio is busy performing transfer services and can’t be interrupted to satisfy a curiosity.

Except for one day a year. On Saturday, October 20th in honor of Home Movie Day (yes, that’s a real thing), we will suspend all normal operation and open our equipment up to the community so they can finally see what they’ve been holding onto all these years.

So, from 10 am until 4pm on Saturday October 20th, bring your unlabeled tapes to Home Video Studio and we’ll help you see your mystery tape. Hopefully, it won’t be a dud. If, after seeing what memories the tapes hold, you would like to protect and preserve them, we’ll also be offering our transfer services at discounted rates.

Even if you have no tapes to bring, stop on by anyway. We’ll have a good time reliving old memories with friends and neighbors. We’ll have the popcorn ready. Happy Home Movie Day.

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.

Advertisements

Film or Videotape?

HVS_transfer_better_4.jpg

I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client the other day. He came into my office with a videotape and some reels of film and told me that some fifty years ago his father had already had the film transferred and put on the VHS videotape he was holding. He then asked what would be better – transferring the VHS to a digital form or using the original reels of film to do the transfer?

As I thought about my response it made me realize that it is a complex question with multiple issues to consider:

Cost: The cost to transfer a VHS tape up to two hours is considerably less than the cost to transfer 1700 feet of film (which would equate to approximately two hours of footage.)

Condition: Both videotape and film will degrade over time. But what degrades faster? A lot would depend on how they were stored and how often they were played or viewed. Most condition issues that I see in the studio comes from neglect or from faulty equipment that caused damage during playback.

Quality: Here’s the kicker – our technology has advanced exponentially over the last five decades. The methods used to transfer film to video back in the day now seem rather primitive by today’s standards. Even though his film has aged an additional fifty years since his father had it converted to VHS, converting those same film reels again using current technologies may produce a far superior result whereas converting from the VHS tape can only capture the quality of the tape as it exists today… it cannot improve upon it.

Our film transfer process is top of the line. We use a frame-by-frame image capture device which enables us to control or correct color issues, as well as film “noise” issues which can cause a movie to look “grainy.”  For more information, visit this link.

Bottom line, my prospective client has choices. And we’re happy to present him with all the available options and help him to reach the decision that best suits his purposes. And we can do the same for you.

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

 

Inspector Gadget

IMG_0205.jpg

New gadgets always excite me. When I first got married, my wife asked me what I might want for my upcoming birthday, I replied, “I don’t care… just as long as it is black and plugs in.” Since then, she has never disappointed me.

I’ve received just about every electronic device you can think of – from karaoke machines to kindles and everything in between. Maybe it’s the guy in me but I love me some gadgetry… even if I haven’t a clue how it works or what it does.

So I guess I found myself in the perfect business. Not only do I get to play around with old gadgets (like VHS machines and reel to reel audio tape players) but I also get to experiment with new technologies.  Take for example, my newest gadget: my Ronin-M 3-axis handheld gimbal stabilizer for DSLR cameras.

Try to hold your enthusiasm down to a low roar. It may not look like anything special but this is a much ballyhooed piece of equipment. And from what I can tell from just a few moments of working with it, it delivers everything it promises.

What it promises is a smooth and jostle-free video output without the limitations of having a camera tied to a tripod. I’ll be playing around with it some this week before I take it out this weekend for its first commercial run. I’ve been contracted to make a documentary style film for a client and will need a number of specialty shots that this device will enable me to make.

So if you see me around town and it looks like I’m grappling with a giant spider… don’t be concerned. It’s just me and my latest gadget figuring each other out.

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.

They’re Having A Bowl!

IMG_0197.jpg

A few years back I was asked to sponsor a neighboring community’s bowling league to help it get launched. Why not I figured? I always like to help out my fellow Floridians.

The league was launched in Oxford Fl, just outside of The Villages, the nation’s premiere retirement community and was open to all residents of The Carriage House, which is an independent living facility and the current home of my own mother.

I paid a visit to see how the fledgling league was getting on and to my surprise, it has grown and flourished. Multiple teams, two lanes (plus a practice lane on another floor), some teams even have cheerleaders rooting them on.  Scores and stats are diligently kept. Granted, we’re talking Wii Bowling but these octogenarians are eating it up. And they’ve gotten pretty darn good. And, a little prideful boast… last season, my mom’s team came in first. They call her team the Studio Stars… thanks for the plug, mom.

It actually does good to see our older citizens enjoying an activity together, having fun despite the aches, pains and other difficulties that seem to increase with every year that passes. Really, isn’t that what we should all wish for? To enjoy as much of this life as we can, spend time with people we like or love, and not let the frailties that may come with the passing of time steal all the pleasures we can derive from this life.

So bowl away seniors. Don’t you let a pin remain standing. We’re all rooting you on.

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

AARRRrrrr!

 

pirate.jpg

It’s Pirate Week in Mount Dora.  This is a relatively new thing – a town promotion attaching itself to the success of our popular Seafood Festival, now entering its 3rd year. 

I’m finding that one of the unwritten laws of being a merchant in a small town, you kinda have to go with the flow.  It’s Pirate week… so guess who’s dressing up as a pirate? Hint: It’s not my wife.

I have been wracking my brain searching for pirate memories that I might use for this blog but I keep coming up empty. Is it possible that I’ve never, in my life, had a pirate experience that was strong enough to create a recallable memory?

I don’t remember ever dressing up as a pirate for Halloween. Cowboys, yes. Hobos… done that. But I’ve never been a pirate.

I’ve acted in over 50 different theatrical productions and have played various characters originating from many different cultures: a Chinese grandfather, an Indian warrior, Frankenstein’s monster, a WWII fighter pilot, even a Star Fleet captain… but never a pirate.

But merchant responsibilities being what they are, I begrudgingly agreed to put on the eye patch.

I have to tell you… I can feel the pirate swagger. Maybe it’s the clip on earring… or perhaps it’s the Seinfeld puffy shirt… but whatever the cause… there’s definitely a vibe happening.

If you happen to be in the Mount Dora area this weekend, I hope you’ll enjoy all the activities at our Seafood Festival and please drop by the studio for a quick selfie with Captain Mike.

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, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Imagine

FilmVideoPhoto.png

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.

Sticker Shock

Eye-Popping-Bill-4101915-xs-edit.jpg

I can sometimes be my own worst enemy.

We were in the studio on Saturday. It was an active day with customers streaming in throughout the morning and afternoon. We had a Brazilian couple stop by with a box of memories: film, slides, and videotapes. After a bit of small talk, the husband wanted to get an idea of cost.

So I started looking at the film.  And I was counting aloud as I handled each reel.  “400… 500… 900… 1200…” I caught a glimpse of my wife in the corner of the room. She was animatedly pointing to the client. So I turned in his direction.

I think the proper expression is bug-eyed. I had to stop what I was doing and address his obvious distress. “Is there something wrong?”

He looked at the film and said, “This is going to cost over $1200.00?”

I was puzzled at first and then I realized why he was thinking it might.  “No!” I quickly exclaimed. “I’m just counting how many feet of film you have here.  Our prices are based on how many feet you tender to us so I need to get a count of how many feet of film you have in order to tell you how much its going to cost.  It looks like you have 1350 feet of film.  Based on that, I can now give you an accurate price to transfer that much film to a digital format.”

His sigh of relief could be heard counties away.

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.

A Stain On My Memory

stglass.jpg

We get a lot of compliments on the stained glass windows that frame our windows in our lobby. And they are attractive. But I had nothing to do with them. These gorgeous custom-made artistic creations were left behind by the previous owner presumedly because they were made to fit this exact space.

I know this to be true because, to my surprise, a woman came into the studio a while back to transfer some tapes and recognized her design. Yes, she was the artist who was commissioned to draw the design that became these lovely stained glass windows.

She’s a local and a stained glass designer. Her father, now in his 80s if I recall the story correctly, works out of his garage and creates the glass masterpieces from her drawings.  She gave me her card but I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t do well with business cards. Most of them end up on the floor, tossed in a drawer or, I suspect, somehow drop through a wormhole into a 6th dimension. In any case, I can’t find the card and can’t remember the name of the company to give credit where credit is due.

So, stained glass designer, if you are out there in the blogosphere, drop me a line and remind me of your company name and contact information. I’ll make sure to pass it along to all the people who have been admiring your work.

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

A Night To Remember

IMG_0167.jpg

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.

IMG_0166.jpg

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

hot in tucson.jpeg

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. 

Hanley awards.jpg

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.