Oh, The Things You’ll See

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“You must see some pretty wild stuff.”

I get asked that question a lot. People are generally disappointed by my response.  “Not really,” I say. I see interesting stuff; heartwarming stuff; funny stuff; but not that much that would be called wild.

When I first started transferring people’s home videos to digital form, I quickly began to recognize patterns. I realized that deep down, we are all pretty much the same. We all seem to want to record and preserve the same kind of memories. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, vacations, holidays, and a lot of videos of kids just being kids until they aren’t kids any longer.

Now I don’t mean to say that all videos are alike. All of my clients’ tapes are special because they contain memories specific to them and their lives. Some even have historical significance. I’ve transferred film from a European vacation a client had in 1937 that captured the motorcade during the coronation of King George VI. I once transferred a video of a presidential inauguration. The camera never got close enough for me to see which one but Gov. Ronald Reagan was definitely in attendance. I even received film taken during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

I believe that every video transfer job I do is an opportunity to peek into the past and keep a memory alive. But there is a side effect that happens when your job is to help preserve the memories of others. And I have definitely experienced it.

There are times when an adult will come into the studio to pick up the order their parents had placed with me and I will recognize them as their 10 year old self. It is weird to have a sense of knowing someone you have never met. So you’ll have to forgive me if I act overly familiar. For me, it is like seeing an old friend again after many years.

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.

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All Tapes Are Not Created Equal

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The image above was taken yesterday. This is a new order that just came into my studio. At first glance there doesn’t seem like anything is amiss. These are 8mm tapes – could be Hi-8 or Digital 8 – but definitely something that we should be able to convert into a digital form.

Most people are aware of the evolution of video tapes. First came the Betamax. Closely followed by VHS at which time the two of them battled for dominance in the market. VHS-C was introduced shortly thereafter allowing for the production of smaller camcorders. Then various versions of the 8mm camera and tape were introduced. Followed by the mini-DV tapes and cameras. After that, digital cameras that were able to record onto memory chips or sticks became the rage.

But what was brought into my studio did not fall into one of these categories. True, they are 8mm tapes containing home movie footage of my client. But my client was raised in a European country and so these tapes were recorded with a PAL camera. They will not play on US machines which use the NTSC format of video recording.

Fortunately for my client, I have a PAL playback device that will not only allow me to play his tapes… it will allow me to pass them through an international converter to capture the files in the NTSC format thereby allowing him to watch them with his US equipment.

If you ever discover media that you aren’t sure about… bring them by the studio. I’ll be happy to take a look and let you know what it is that you found. And if I don’t know, so much the better… I love learning about new obsolete media.

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

This do ye, in remembrance of me.

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Trying to remember key events or special moments is nothing new. Regardless of one’s faith, we can all agree that the Bible, which in one form or another, has been around for millennia, always taught that we ought to remember what is important.

In the days of Moses, fathers were exhorted to teach their children the things of God, “speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” In other words, keep on teaching them… always. Why? So their children would learn and, most importantly, remember them.

Jesus took great pains to instruct his followers to use the practice we now know as communion in order to remember his sacrifice and what was accomplished through it. It is a practice that has continued uninterrupted in Christian religions for the last 2,000 years.

Why is it that cultures will build monuments or statues of influential leaders? It is done so future generations might recognize and respect the life and accomplishments of the one being honored. It is done so that others will remember.

Your memories are worthy of remembrance as well. Maybe you didn’t change the world but I can guarantee that the impact of your life reaches well beyond you. And therefore, your memories matter… to someone. They deserve to live on after you are gone.

We can help you with that. Give us a call or pay us a visit. Learn what is available and how you can leave your loved ones with a treasured legacy of your life.

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

 

The Best Compliment Ever

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I received a compliment yesterday. I actually receive them most days but I don’t often mention them. I am basically a modest and reserved person (although you may find people who think they know me who will disagree with that assessment. Go figure.) Regardless, I am generally not inclined to bring undue attention to myself.

But yesterday’s compliment struck home with me. It spoke to what is probably the one attribute that I strive hardest at maintaining. I received a call from an out of state individual who has been following me for months on Facebook. He spends part of his year in my area (winters generally) and the rest of the year he spends in northern climates.

He called me to let me know that he has chosen to bring his videotapes to Florida next time he comes down for one reason only. He trusts me to transfer his precious family memories to a digital form in the best possible manner. Through following me on Facebook and by reading my blogs, he said he could tell that I was a person of integrity. That hit my heart big. Because it is true.

I may not always be the smartest guy in the room. I may not always be the most talented guy in the room. But I hope I can always be the truest guy in the room. Ask me a question. I’ll tell you what I can do and what I can’t do. I’ll tell you what I think would be the best solution to your problem and I’ll advise you whether it makes financial sense to chose one way over the other.

Why? Because that is what I want service providers to do for me. Service providers can always make money just by providing the services they do. They don’t need to pad their coffers giving people services or products they don’t want or need. I vow never to be that guy. I want to be the guy people trust to do right by them. My integrity is everything. I’m just glad someone noticed.

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

Spring Fest is Here!

 

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Mount Dora is well deserving of its reputation of being a festival city. It can sometimes feel as if every weekend brings another opportunity to celebrate something of note.

During various times of the year we play host to an Arts Festival, a Crafts Fair, a Storytelling Festival, a Blueberry Festival, a Seafood Festival, a Bicycle Festival, a Plant Fair, and multiple Christmas events just to name a few.

Mount Dora’s Spring Fest kicks off this weekend.  I know because one of the exhibitors was in my studio yesterday with a rush order. He needed extra copies of his CD which he will be making available to attendees who stop by his booth. Turns out he is an interesting man who shared his story with me and permitted me to repeat it here.

His name is Colin MacLeod, a native Scot living most recently in Australia. A former accountant whose love of music and its properties has compelled him to pursue that passion as his new profession. Over the past years he has traveled the world, performing and teaching the celtic fiddle to appreciative audiences and students. Dubbing himself the Celtic Fiddle Guru, he has launched an International Executive MBA of Life Program (where the MBA stands for Music Business Adventure.)

And this weekend, he’ll be found right here on the streets of Mount Dora, delighting Spring Fest goers with his engaging style and music. If you happen to be coming to town for the festival, be sure to look him up. He’ll be the one in the kilt.

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.

Half Full or Half Empty?

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So much of what we get out of life is what we put into it. I recently helped a woman who had called me because she was ready to rid her house of the equipment her late husband used for his side business. He offered many of the services I offer so she thought I could use the video equipment she no longer wanted in her house now that he was gone.

I met with her because I could sense that she was ready to part with that part of her life. It had been 18 months since her husband died. I really didn’t need the equipment, nor did I necessarily want it. But from our conversation, I could tell she really wanted it out of her house so I paid her a visit one evening and took some pieces with me. Whether they work or not, I still don’t know. And it is really besides the point. She was frustrated because she found that she couldn’t even give this equipment away. So, in compassion, I took it off her hands. I most likely will not be able to use it for my transfer work due to its age and condition.

What surprised me was her statement that her late husband confessed to her — he often would get depressed watching the home movies he was transferring. He said it was because it reminded him of the brevity of our lives.

I have never, ever, felt that. I feel nothing but joy when transferring tapes or film of home movies. Images cross my screen that speak of love, family ties, and the bonds of friendship. Through watching your lives pass in front of my eyes, I have recognized that, while each life is unique and different, there is more that unites us than divides us. We record the same events. We treasure the same memories. Our experiences are shared.

Memories are not to be mourned. They are to be treasured for the precious commodities they are… reminders of the happiness we experienced in years past. At Home Video Studio, we are honored to covert your memories to a format you can access and enjoy today. A format that you can bring into the future and leave as a legacy to your children’s children.

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.

A Ship By Any Other Name

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A bit of history walked through the doors of Home Video Studio yesterday. But before we get into that, some facts:

The first USS Ticonderoga was an 18-gun schooner that was in service from 1814-1825.

The second USS Ticonderoga was a screw sloop-of-war in commission from 1863-1881.

The third USS Ticonderoga was a former German cargo ship that served in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service during World War I.

The fourth USS Ticonderoga was a long hull Essex-class aircraft carrier that served during WWII and beyond; from 1944 -1973.

The fifth USS Ticonderoga was a guided-missile cruiser that served from 1981-2004.

The Ticonderoga name has served our country well in all its forms. But it was her fourth reincarnation (the aircraft carrier) that brought her to our attention. Yesterday, I was presented with reel to reel audio tapes containing the actual mission control recordings for the Apollo 16 and 17 moon missions and the Skylab recovery mission.

Back in the day, before the space shuttle and the Space-X automated re-entry boosters, space capsules returning to earth splashed down in the ocean. It was up to assigned US military vessels to be on hand to retrieve them. The Ticonderoga ( the aircraft carrier) was assigned to recover the capsules during the aforementioned space expeditions. The tapes from mission control were given to the historical society that is tasked with maintaining the official archives for the Ticonderoga. They, in turn, passed the tapes to me for digitalization and preservation.

It is an honor to be a part of this history. Just as it is an honor to be a part of yours.

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.

Dancing Fool

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One of the benefits of my job is that I get the opportunity to discover whole groups of people sharing a like interest to the point that they almost become a world unto themselves. These subcultures exist all around us and not a day goes by that I am not introduced to another one.

In the past, I have transferred videotapes for drag race enthusiasts, water-skiing champions, horse show participants, marching band members, model train builders, and the list goes on. And each of these groups seem to exist within its own world with its own rules.

The most recent addition to a world I never knew existed at the level it does is ballroom dance competitions. It is a big thing… judging from the videos I transferred. They take their dance very seriously and it looks like it takes serious money to compete at the levels I was watching. In the competition, each “student” dances with a professional. There are multiple costume changes and multiple disciplines to learn.

My wife and I took lessons once. It didn’t really take with me (much to her disappointment). I grew up influenced by the 70s. Our dance back then was pretty simple. If you could keep time with the beat, you could move whatever you had in any direction you wanted. There were no rules, or steps to learn.  So ballroom dancing, to me, was a restriction to my wild and crazy dance stylings.

I did get pretty good at the swing but I only learned 3 moves. So 20 seconds into the dance, you’ve seen all you are going to see from me. I go into a lather, rinse, repeat mode until the song ends.

I understand that the studied, precise moves of a trained ballroom dancer can be a marvel to behold. But put on an Elvis tune and i’ll show you what an untrained, spontaneous, 70s rhythmic explosion can do. Then again, I’m not sure my hips are still up to the challenge.

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.

Mini-Me

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Consider this a public service announcement. I recently had two different clients come in on two different days with the same request and the same problem.

They had mini-dvds – miniature discs that fit into certain camcorders. Both clients wanted to have the video footage from the discs transferred to computer files that they could play on their computers.

They came in because they found they could no longer watch the mini-DVDs. The reason?  The cameras that recorded them were no longer working. And when they tried to play the mini-dvds on another player… they didn’t work.

Here’s how I explained it to them. Each mini-dvd camera had the ability to write directly to the disk and play those disks back. However, each camera is different in where they store the digital data on the disk. To make the disk universally accessible to all DVD players, they needed to “finalize” the disk. This process puts metadata on the disk that will tell all other players where the files are stored. If that finalization process isn’t done, the only player that would know where the files are is the equipment that recorded it. And no other player would be able to play it.

There is a way to recover files if the original camera is no longer available but it takes some doing. One of my clients still had the camera. The other one didn’t. Thanks to our ability, both will be getting their memories restored to them but it will be at a vastly different price point.

If you have worked with mini-dvds in the past, double check to make sure the disks have been finalized. You’ll save yourself a few dollars.

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.

Color Me Amazed

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Michael Ondrasik is nearing the end of his annual training conference and will  soon be returning home armed with an abundance of new knowledge and experience to add to the tools of his trade. He is continuing to blog daily from the field. To have his blog delivered directly to your email, simply click on the subscribe button from his blog page.

As we are finishing up our week-long training, I continue to be amazed at just how much control we, as photo and video editors, have over the manipulation of images – whether they are still photos or moving videos. Over the past few days we received extensive training in many different features of Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Audition, Lightroom, and Davinci Resolve. The technology available to us has grown to unfathomable levels.

Techniques once reserved for Hollywood and their six figure editing suites can now be easily performed by individuals with a laptop and the proper software. Spielberg’s technique of colorizing a single red dress in a full length black and white movie (Shindler’s List)? I did that this week. Ken Burn’s technique of panning and altering the perspective of a still photo? I did that too. How about that shot of Roy Schneider in Jaws where his image zoomed closer to the camera as the beach background grew smaller when he first saw the shark? I learned how that was done as well and can duplicate it with the equipment I have.

I may never have the need to use many of the techniques we covered this week but knowledge learned is never a bad thing. The more I can learn how to use the tools I have, the more options I can give my customers to meet the needs that they may have.

I am looking forward to returning home and putting into practice much of the learning I received this week. I’ll be in the studio on Monday morning bright and early.  Hope to see you then.

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.