The Gift That Stole Christmas

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I wanted to share this unsolicited post that popped up on social media last week:

“Christmas is coming! Last year I was able to give my parents an amazing present that was well received by the entire family. Old film, VHS, slides, etc that had not been played in 35+ years (and could not be played on any devices we had!) were brought back to life – we were able to watch Christmas’s, birthdays and other celebrations with loved ones that have passed and we were able to laugh and cry as a family. I also condensed an entire cabinet or two of unplayable media into a small digital drive…mom loved this. I highly recommend Michael Ondrasik at Home Video Studio in Mount Dora for the best Christmas present around.”

We see it happen year after year. The work we do for our clients have a tendency to stop their Christmas celebrations in its tracks. As soon as our gift is unwrapped, all other gifts are put on hold while the family gathers around the TV or computer screen to watch their memories begin to play back.

Watching the old footage sparks laughs, brings tears, and triggers other memories of days and times gone by. Christmas is best spent with families and what better way to spend that time than by reflecting on the experiences you had growing up together?

If you want to turn this Christmas holiday into something truly memorable, get in touch with us. Whether it is a home movie or home video conversion to a digital format or a specially designed photo video keepsake using images from your scrapbook or photo albums, we will make sure that you have something under your tree that will be the most talked about present of the season.

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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Ah, Sweet Mysteries of Life

 

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Customers come into our studio all the time with little mysteries they want us to solve for them.  It might be an unmarked VHS tape that they are unable to play; or a reel of audio tape from a long forgotten tape recorder the family used to own. They appear to be simple, innocuous objects but they could very well turn out to be a precious family treasure. If only there was a way to play them to find out.

Fortunately we specialize in that. And like I said, it happens all the time. But I never thought that it would happen to me. I had thought I converted all my families memories long ago. I was wrong. The last time I was visiting my mother I happened upon a small unmarked reel of Super 8 film. “What’s this?” I asked her. “No idea,” was the response.

Home Video Studio to the rescue. After we got through transferring the footage to a digital form, we were treated with a glimpse of our lives that took place in the late 1970s.

The movie opened with a neighborhood party that looks like it was a combination of pot-luck and clam bake. Adults only and I only recognized a few. This was my parent’s crowd and I’m sure will help my mom bring back some memories.

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The scene then shifts to my younger sister, now in her 60s but back then fresh-faced and clad in her graduation cap and gown, patiently enduring the requisite photo op in the backyard.

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The movie ends with a little puppy action. A cute terrier playing fetch with someone (we can only see the legs below the knees.) I don’t think I ever met this pooch but I suspect it might have belonged at one time to my sister (the graduation girl).

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These forgotten images of a life that seems so long ago are not particularly memorable… until they become so. Anything that helps connect us to our past is valuable. I can’t wait to show them to my family to see what further memories they might trigger.

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, visit our website, or stop by our studio now located at 930 N Donnelly St Mount Dora FL 32757.

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.

Dearly Beloved

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In my lifetime, I have been blessed to receive many honors. None have touched me more than the honor bestowed upon me this past weekend. My son and his fiancée asked me to officiate at their marriage ceremony. It is always a joy to watch your children as they take that momentous step into wedded bliss. It is another thing altogether to be the one to usher them into it.

Here is the advice I imparted to them just before declaring them as husband and wife:

“You are surrounded by friends and family – the people who most love you. And that’s important. But here’s the thing…if you ask each of them to tell you the secret of a successful marriage… if you ask 100 people… you will find that you’ll receive 100 different answers. The bottom line is that the two of you are going to have to figure out what works for you. Marriage, while it is clearly defined, is also extremely intimate and personal. No two marriages are exactly alike because no two couples are exactly alike. So while the “what” of marriage can be quickly grasped, the “how” of marriage can be elusive.”

“This much I can tell you. Marriage is not always easy. It will be full of challenges, obstacles, bumps in the road and hiccups along the way. It is not always easy. But it is always worth it. Marriage can be the single most important, fulfilling, and rewarding relationship that one person can have with another human being.”

“Some people view marriage as a 50/50 relationship – equal parts of give and take. Don’t limit yourself to that because it can be so much more. Go for 100. Love unselfishly. Devote 100% of yourself to doing those things that will bless your spouse. Give 100% to learning and meeting their needs… 100% to recognizing and fulfilling their desires… 100% to anticipating and providing for their wants.”

“I know, it sounds scary. ‘If I give 100% of myself, there will be nothing left over for me.’ But consider this… if you are each successful… if you each truly give 100% of yourself to the other, you each will receive all the other has to offer. No one gets missed; no one is deprived or neglected; it’s a win-win. And the important thing is that by doing this, you will be forced to think and act outside of yourself. You’ll have to adopt a positive mindset of giving; an attitude of service which will affect not only how you treat each other but how you interact with the world around you. I have found from experience that it is the healthiest way to get through this life.”

“Granted, it may not always be attainable but if you genuinely strive for it, I promise you that there is absolutely nothing you cannot accomplish together… fueled and strengthened by the sheer power that will be present and evidenced within your marriage.”

Words from a proud father and father-in-law. Take them for what they’re worth.

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.

Playing Through Adversity

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I am constantly amazed at how frequently history comes walking through our doors. Today a client brought us some films that were part of his dad’s collection. He then began to tell his story.

His dad was Paulino Caron, a Cuban musician turned dissident during the height of the Castro regime. He was an active participant in the disastrous Bay of Pigs “invasion” and as a result was captured and imprisoned by the Castro forces along with nearly 1200 other members of Brigade 2506. While in the prison camp, he was shot twice – once in the chest and once in the arm for being “uncooperative.”

What he was doing was trying to build morale among the other prisoners. He fashioned and led a prison camp band. They had no traditional instruments so they improvised. Broken bottles became horns, trash cans became drums. And they played music. It became so popular amongst the other prisoners they performed weekly shows. They took to calling it “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

After JFK finally arranged for their release in late 1962, the real Ed Sullivan, who had heard of their inspirational story, invited them to appear on his actual show with their makeshift instruments to play to his national audience. The video clip survives and can be found below. Paulino Caron is the one leading the band.

As the son was telling his father’s story, the pride in his voice and the glow in his eyes told me all – this was a story I needed to retell. I am thankful that he allowed me to do so.

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.

Finding the Key

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As you may know, Kate and I recently returned from a vacation in the UK with our granddaughter. We arrived in London on a Monday morning but could not check into our flat until late afternoon. With nothing scheduled for the day, we dropped our suitcases off at a holding station and looked for something to entertain us.

We walked past the British Museum which was not on our list of sites to visit during our stay so we entered on a whim – without knowing what was contained in their exhibits. It turned out to be a  delightful surprise; especially for someone who makes his living preserving memories.

As we walked through room after room, we became fascinated with the many items of antiquity that were displayed and then we turned the corner to find a rock encased in a glass box. We had rediscovered the Rosetta Stone.

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The stone was originally discovered in 1795 but dates back to 196 BC (nearly 2 centuries before Christ). Engraved on the stone were words from an ancient language… 3 languages to be precise which is what made the discovery so significant. The engraved texts spoke of a decree issued during the reign of Ptolemy V Epiphranes. While the decree was nothing extraordinary, the fact that the same decree was engraved in ancient hieroglyphics, ancient demotic script, as well as ancient Greek gave researchers the ability to finally decipher the lost language of hieroglyphic symbols thereby increasing our understanding of ancient Eygptian life.

History is all around us. You never know where it will turn up. Although, come to think of it, museums would be a fairly obvious place to look.

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.

 

Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds

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I really do love getting to know the people who walk into my studio. Just the other day I was privileged to meet a woman who had a VHS videotape of a amateur video interview she conducted of her friend Ken Carson.

Ken was a member of the internationally known and multiple award winning group Sons of the Pioneers. For my younger readers, you can think of them as an early version of a boy band (without the choreography and with a western twang). Roy Rogers, as Leonard Slye, was one of its founding members in 1933. Ken joined the group a little later and it is his voice that is featured on the songs Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds and Cool Water. He appeared with the Sons of the Pioneers in 22 of Roy Rogers films. The group exists and performs to this day, making it one of the longest surviving country western music groups.

The interview I transferred to a DVD was made in Ken’s home with his wife in 1994, shortly before he died. It was enjoyable to hear him, in his own words, reflect on his life and career. And, even at 80, his tenor voice had not lost any of the crystal clarity for which he was known as he was taped singing many of the songs he made famous, accompanying himself on his guitar.

What a treasure to have and pass on to the next generation of western music fans.

Little known fan note: My client shared with me some memorabilia she has collected through the years. One was a picture of Ken with an early girlfriend. It was none other than Dale Evans, back in the days before Ken introduced her to Roy Rogers.

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.

Bear With Me

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There is something about holding a stuffed animal that has a calming effect on a person.

Hospital workers, paramedics, and police officers have long recognized the comfort that a teddy bear can bring to children who find themselves in a stressful situation. So, when the residents of Carriage House Gracious Retirement Living in Oxford Florida heard about a teddy bear drive that local first responders had put together, they decided to get involved. And get involved in a big way.

The word was put out and circulated throughout the communal building. And the bears started trickling in. Different sizes, different colors, different shapes. The menagerie continued to grow. Soon plush dogs and fuzzy rabbits began to join the teddy bears. They outgrew the original donation box; they had to be moved out of the manager’s office for lack of space. They finally took over the staircase in the central lobby where they are temporarily watching over the same people who so lovingly provided them to help children in need. Local officials will be by early next week to collect this cuddly zoo and put them into service.

Well done seniors. It would appear there’s no age limit on acts of kindness.

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 352-735-850 or visit our website.