Mastering the View

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Throughout the ages people have used many different ways to try to capture significant events that occurred within their lives. Just when we think we have seen them all, in comes yet another media type that we had forgotten about.
Pictured above is an old viewmaster type reel that was used to produce “stereo pictures” when placed inside a plastic binocular shaped device. As you can see there are 14 small “slides” but, as there are two slides per image (one for each eye), this equates to 7 pictures. When viewed through the viewmaster, the optics gave the illusion of depth resulting in a 3D effect.
Most of us older folks probably remember the commercial versions of this format featuring our favorite Disney characters or famous landmarks. But some people may not know that there were devices that were available that could be used to produce personal pictures in this “viewmaster” format.
I received a box of these the other day and am going through the process of digitally transforming them so they can be seen on a computer or tv. We won’t be able to reproduce the 3D effect (without the use of special glasses) but will be able to turn them into regular photographs so those memories can once again be enjoyed.
No matter what your family used to capture the special moments of your life, I’m sure Home Video Studio can help you recapture them in a way that will allow you to experience those memories all over again.
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 (and now personal reel mounts!) For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.
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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.

Globetrotting

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Back when my wife and I were raising children, we had the benefit of having her mom and dad living in the same city as us. Every day after school and every Sunday afternoon our sons could be found at their NanNan and Grandpa’s house. As a result, our boys developed a close and loving bond with their grandparents.

We certainly desired to have a similar relationship with our grandchildren but, like so many other families in today’s world, we were separated from them geographically. We did not have the opportunity of constant or regular contact. So we decided to invent a new family tradition. We asked permission of our kids to be allowed to take their children, one at a time, on a cultural adventure. When a grandchild of ours turns twelve but before they become thirteen, we promised that we would take them on a trip outside of the United States and introduce them to another country and culture of their choosing… a special Papa and Nana trip.

Our eldest grandchild, Morgan, opted for Italy. We spent a glorious fall with her, walking throughout Rome, enjoying paninis and gelato amidst one of the most amazing cities in the world. It was an experience shared just between us and one that we will always treasure.

And now the time has come for her sister, Elle, to have her special trip. She, perhaps influenced by the Harry Potter books she’s been reading, decided that she’d like to see what London is like. So we’re closing our studio for the next ten days while we jaunt off to jolly old England with a side trip to wee bonnie Scotland.

So hold onto your memories until we return. We’ll be back to help you preserve them on August 15th. We’re sure to have some new memories to share with you when we do.

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

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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.

 

Schnitzel Me This

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We here at Home Video Studio have a pretty cool business. We are in the unique position to have access to a huge storehouse of personal memories because families bring their recorded treasures to us to preserve and protect. And in the process, we get to vicariously experience things of which we may have no personal memory. For example, I had never before heard of or listened to Professor Schnitzel. And yet, I had the opportunity to hear three of his recorded comedy routines that were presented to me on vinyl 45s.

But in researching this name, I came across something very interesting. There were at least two Professor Schnitzels that became popular in America. One operated on the west coast in the 1920s and the other on the east coast during the 50s and 60s. There is no indication that the one was aware of the other’s existence.

The first Professor Schnitzel was played by a man named Clarence Coleman in the 1920s.  A realtor in San Francisco, Coleman created the character for a radio show in 1927 called Blue Monday Jamboree which aired on KFRC-AM. While CBS eventually picked the show up and syndicated it nationally, Professor Schnitzel was sadly never added to it as a regular character. Over the next few years he would make appearances on other shows up and down the AM dial.

The second Schnitzel made his home in Reading PA. Theodore L. Rickenbach was best known for performing his character in front of live audiences and for producing a series of 45rpm recordings for Butch Records.  It is this Professor Schnitzel that I heard yesterday when I transferred those 45s into CDs for my customer.

Both men based their humor by adopting a thick, almost unintelligible Pennsylvania Dutch accent along with a folksy demeanor to tell jokes and make funny observations about life, language and everything Pennsylvania Dutch. Audiences of the day howled.

By the way, the word schnitzel, if you didn’t know, comes from the German for “slice” and refers to a dish where a cut of meat is pounded flat, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Typically made with veal, chicken, beef, turkey or pork. The veal version is known as Wiener Schnitzel.

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.

Mystery Date

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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.

Film or Videotape?

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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

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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!

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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!

 

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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.