We All Make Misstakes…

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We’re in our 5th year of serving our community and helping families protect and preserve the memories they’ve recorded over the years. During that time, we’ve seen some wonderful videos, photos and slides that capture the essence of what it is to be a family.  I’ve also been in a position to observe some of the common mistakes made by people who wanted to record their memories.

#1 – Scenery is nice but not always memorable. It’s ok to take a picture of a mountain – just be sure to put someone you love in front of if. If you want to point a video camera out of a moving car to capture a road trip… try provide a running narration so we’ll know decades later what we’re seeing.

#2 –  I know it can sometimes be annoying to have someone point a camera at you but you’ll be thankful he or she did twenty or thirty years from now. So just grin and bear it. Why ruin a memory by showing your annoyance to the camera? Is that really how you want to remember this time?

#3 – Time stamping or mentioning the date and year will help you organize your video clips in the future. It is easy to lose track of time and place as the years pile on. Little clues go a long way when trying to fill the gaps of our older memories.

#4 – Keeping the camera steady will greatly add to one’s viewing enjoyment. Fast pans, quick zooms and shaky footage can actually bore or tire viewers out. When available, use a tripod or camera stabilizer. If you must go handheld, keep your elbows close to your body when shooting.

#5 – The bigger the family, the fewer the pictures or videos of the youngest members. I know it may feel a little like deja-vu to capture yet another 1st grade concert or Pop Warner football game but it’s all about capturing the young one’s first experience – even though you feel like you’ve seen it 100 times before.

#6 – If you find an old piece of media and you’re not sure what’s on it, please don’t throw it away. It’s like tossing away an old wallet before checking to make sure it doesn’t contain anything valuable.

#7 – Don’t assume that no one in the family would want to see the old stuff. Nostalgia can unexpectedly strike at any age. Teens may not want to sit for long periods of time watching themselves as babies but when they have tykes of their own, they’ll be asking “what ever happened to my baby tapes?”

#8 – Family memories are best viewed, when possible, as a family. It is what we used to do in the 50s and 60s before our entertainment options grew to seemingly infinite bounds. Gathering in front of a projector or TV and telling the old family stories and jokes that come to mind as we watch the “olden days,” is part of the family bonding process. One that is sadly in short supply. With the holidays fast approaching, consider having a tape or two transferred to digital so it can be played at your next family function.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

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Mischief Managed

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One of the truisms I’ve learned over meeting and speaking with a wide variety of people is this: Different parts of the country develop different customs and traditions. This past weekend we were interviewing a couple for a documentary we’ve been hired to make and, as we were getting some background information from them, the conversation turned to what plans we had for Mischief Night.

My wife and I looked at each other and it was clear that neither of us had ever heard of it. The couple was shocked as it was a big night back where they were from.  They’ve been “celebrating” it since they were kids.

It seems that, in some areas, on the night before Halloween, it is customary to pull harmless (or relatively harmless) pranks on unsuspecting friends and neighbors. This includes but is not restricted to: the papering of cars and houses, the “relocation” of porch furniture, and the random knocking on doors and dashing away. It was with great pride they remembered the time they found these huge concrete planters at a neighbor’s house and managed to drag them into the neighborhood street to barricade the block from all vehicular traffic.

It is known by different names in different parts of the world. It has been called “Devil’s Night,” “Goosey Night,” “Cabbage Night,” and “Tick Tack Night” among other things. How it escaped our radar all these years is beyond us but it appears it is well known in certain areas.

The increasingly inventive antics that this couple pulled off eventually culminated with the police showing up at their door with a heartfelt plea to knock it off and give them a break. It seems their reputation as pranksters was well known in their small town community. At that bequest, they toned down their “celebration” of this particular event. But they still hold fond memories of the fun mischief they caused back in the day.

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.

Not Ready For My Close Up

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I heard a great story today.  A client came in with some 16mm film to be transferred and after we conducted the transaction, we got to talking. Some of our stories seemed to share certain elements and before you know it I was showing her one of the video editing jobs I had done in the recent past. The soundtrack I used was taken from an Andrea Bocelli album and my client smiled as she recalled her memory.

It was in the 90s and Bocelli was giving a concert in Madison Square Garden. My client, who lived in NY at the time and was a big fan, was able to score two tickets… up in the nosebleed section. In fact, there was no seat situated further away from the stage which from her vantage point looked about the size of a postage stamp.

As they were settling in, a woman came up to her and asked if she would like to swap seats. In typical New York fashion, she retorted, “How much further away do you want me to go? Out in the parking lot?” The woman quickly put her mind at ease. “No,” she said, “I just have these two extra seats that I need filled.” My client figured they couldn’t be any worse than the ones she paid for so she took her up on the offer.  A few minutes later they found themselves in the orchestra, third row center sitting amidst A list celebrities. They had better seats than Donald Trump who sat two rows behind them. Turns out the woman who offered them worked for Bolla Wines who was the concert’s sponsor and they had some extra comp seats up close and she didn’t want them to go unused.

As she told the story, I couldn’t help but notice that it was as if she was experiencing it all over again. That’s the power of the past remembered. What a great memory.

Unfortunately, the only story I had that was similar was back when Orlando was home to the Solar Bears, an ice hockey franchise.  I got seats in the balcony and was prepared to root the home team on from a birds eye view when we got randomly selected for a seat upgrade. Instead of being perched and viewing the game from above where we could watch the entire ice and see the plays and patterns develop before our eyes, we were escorted to the ground floor behind the glass where we sat in wingback chairs and given champagne glasses but, to be honest, the view was terrible. The only part of the game we could see was when a player crosschecked an opponent into the glass right in front of us. And we really didn’t need or particularly want to see that up close.

It turns out that not every upgrade is a good one. 

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

Forgotten But Not Gone

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National Home Movie Day is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays.

It is celebrated in October – this year on the 20th – and we use the occasion to invite people with unmarked, unlabeled videotapes to bring them into our studio so we can play them on our equipment to look for lost or hidden memory treasures.

Thanks to all who participated this year. Trust me, we enjoy it and look forward to it every year. The stand out this year was a young mother and her eleven year old daughter who were on a quest. She was looking for her wedding tape and brought in about a dozen candidate tapes that it might have been on. The eleven year old just wanted to find the production of Grease that her mom was in when she was a kid because one Halloween she dressed up in her mom’s Pink Lady jacket from that production. This year, she’s going as a cop. With real handcuffs!

Sadly, tape after tape revealed not the sought after recordings but recordings that reflected the interests of years ago:  episodes of Beverly Hills 90210; a Super Bowl; a marathon Friends event; a special presentation of a US Open; and a myriad of HBO movies from various time periods.

I could see the frustration growing but we pressed on. We finally hit an unexpected jackpot on the final tape. It started off like the others – nothing of current interest – but suddenly the scene cut to a Christmas morning with the family gathered around a tree opening presents that were wrapped some 20 or 25 years ago. The daughter squealed with delight as she saw younger versions of her aunts and uncles on the screen.

It made our day.  And we’d like to make yours. Bring your films, tapes, slides and more to our studio and let us convert them to a digital form that will last for future generations. Your children’s children will thank you.

Update: The mom dropped back in today with 3 more tapes. She found Grease and her wedding – she had put them in her safe deposit box for safe keeping prior to hurricane season. Now she’s digitalizing them for permanent security.  I love happy endings.

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

The Bells of Mount Dora

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When you live in a small town, like I do, you are often challenged to change perspectives. After all, by now most of us are “plugged in.” We co-exist amid a tangled web of online communities forever pushing us into having global awareness. We have mass media feeding us nonstop information about the world and the multitude of problems facing every corner of our globe. Being thus inundated, we sometimes overlook the mundane, everyday challenges that can exist in our own backyard. In fact, they can seem downright minuscule when compared to the world and the mess to be found there.

Case in point:

Mount Dora’s First Congregational Church, which has faithfully served our local community for 135 years, has a bell tower badly in need of repair. They are trying to raise the funds to make the needed repairs so the bell can continue to ring out – calling its parishioners to worship or signifying to the community a special occasion or event.

Maybe it is because my family has been binge watching The Waltons (we’re up to season 3) but I find that there’s something refreshingly wholesome about a small town banding together to restore a historical landmark that serves as a spiritual center. Call me John-Boy but this is a cause I can rally around. I’m not a member of the congregation. I’m not affiliated with the church. But I am a resident of Mount Dora and I’d love to hear those church bells chime again.

I hope you will consider making a small contribution to the effort. The church leaders have started a gofundme page and have gotten a commitment from the Community Trust to match whatever funds are able to be raised, The link is listed below.

https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-1887-bell-tower

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.

Once A Shellback, Always a Shellback

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A Shellback walked into my studio today… not that I would have noticed. I had never heard of one before. Fortunately for me, he decided to tell me his story. 

He came in to have a series of 35mm slides transferred. They were taken during his Navy days  and as he related his tale, I learned how and when he became a Shellback. It is a designation given to seaman who cross the equator (which can be found at 0 degrees latitude.)

But he was no ordinary Shellback. He achieved the rarified status of Emerald Shellback which is reserved for the few who managed to cross the equator precisely where it intersects with the Prime Meridian.  In other words, he passed through the intersection of 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude. There aren’t that many who can lay claim to that status. But my client is one of them.

In doing a little research, I’ve found that there is a strange little shipboard ritual that takes place during the Shellback initiation that dates back centuries. On that my client was a little close-mouthed. But apparently Neptune makes an appearance, there’s a bit of hazing that goes on, and an embarrassing time is generally had by all… or at least by those slimy Polywogs who are undergoing the initiation into trusted Shellback status.

After reading some of the descriptions of the rituals, I’ve come to the mindset that it is probably a good thing that they happen at sea.  I think it’s kind of like Fight Club… The first rule of the Shellback ritual is… you don’t talk about the Shellback ritual.

But I found a few photos…

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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 info, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. Reminder: our Fall Food Drive continues through Oct 15. Bring in an order along with a food donation and receive a 30% discount. Food donations will be given to Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Up In Smoke

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One of our clients told us the saddest story yesterday. A friend of theirs was taking a family vacation aboard a cruise ship and while gone, they received a message from a neighbor saying that their home had burnt to the ground overnight. There was a problem with the home’s electrical wiring.

I can certainly relate on multiple levels. Bad news seems inevitably to follow me on vacations. I’ve had two companies sold out from under me while I was off sightseeing other lands. I returned home only to find I’d been downsized by the new management. And still my wife wonders why I don’t much care for vacations…

But my experiences can’t compare to hearing the news that everything you once owned is now in ashes. While it was a blessing that everyone, including their pets, were away when the fire broke out, and so no lives were at risk, it is heartbreaking to face the reality that all of one’s possessions – including the recorded memories taken over a lifetime – were now gone… just like that.

It is one reason we are passionate about the business we are in. By updating family memories to a digital form, it is easier to make a back up copy of all your family memories (film, videotape, photos, slides, audio recordings, etc) and store that copy in an off-site safe deposit box in the case that, should a tragedy occur, the memories will not be irretrievably lost.

Our prayer is that no one ever face the devastating loss that fire, flood, hurricanes, etc can bring. But while we continue to believe for the best, it is wise to prepare for the worst. Insurance can help you replace things. Memories cannot be insured – but they can be protected. Call us and ask us how.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

I’m Flying

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My eldest son recently completed his first solo flight. I’m sure it was an exhilarating moment for him. Not being particularly fond of flying myself, I never had the desire to put myself in the cockpit. It’s all I can do to strap myself into coach.

But I try to find things in my past that I can use to relate to the experiences others have. So I dug into the recesses of my mind and thought about the last time that I had the sensation of being free and unencumbered by gravity… soaring like a bird resting on invisible currents of air.

I came up with this image.

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In the fifties and sixties, hands-free had nothing to do with cell phones or wi-fi… in fact we didn’t have those.  We did have hi-fi which stood for high fidelity – the trademark of a good stereo cabinet or transistor radio. But that’s another story.

To be hands free in my day meant coasting down a neighborhood street, preferably one with a steep hill and letting go of the handlebars of your trusty Schwin. Where do you think the expression, “Look Ma, no hands” came from? Leaning back in the banana seat, arms thrust outward, head back to let the wind rip through your closely cropped hair.  (Bike helmets were not yet invented. ) The only sound to be heard was the familiar tic-tic-tic-tic-tic of a Sandy Koufax playing card clothespinned to the spokes of the rear wheel.  I was flying.

So I get it. I understand the feeling of solo flight. I’ve been there in my mind. I just prefer to experience it on a bike. It’s way closer to the ground.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

And remember, special discounts available through Oct 15th with a donation of canned or dry packaged food items during our Fall Food Drive. All donations to go to Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Not Yet Forgotten Food Memories

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My wife and I have for years adhered to a grain-free/gluten-free diet. And while we have noticed an improvement in our overall health as a result, there are still times when I get nostalgic for those innocent college days when I could eat whatever I wanted based solely on two important factors: taste and cost.

Finding delicacies on a limited budget was never easy but I was nothing but resourceful in those days and, in time, able to discover two places close to campus that became culinary staples for me.

My favorite go-to spot in those days was Coney Island’s in New Castle PA. In the 70s it was an unassuming, small, hole-in-the-wall place run by a Greek family, but they made the most incredible chili dogs that appealed to starving and oftentimes hungover college students. I haven’t been there in over 40 years but I can still taste those dogs (which, if you think about it, probably isn’t such a good thing.)

Halfway between the campus and Coney’s, sat a small Italian restaurant that on certain days would advertise their sausage subs coated with marinara and mozzarella. Oh my, were they good. And on those special discount days, affordable. When paired with a side of deep-fried, batter-dipped mushrooms… it was ambrosia to our still developing taste buds.

Those two finds supplied the bulk of my “nutritional” supplements for the four years of academic study. And it is with a tinge of wistfulness that I look back on those carefree years. Now please pass the broccoli as I wipe away a tear.

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.

 

Memory Town

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It turns out that reflecting on memories can have a therapeutic effect on a person. It’s something that I think we all recognize intuitively at some level.  I was fascinated to read the attached article about the development of “Memory Towns” that cater specifically to dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Quoting from the article by Amanda Kolson Hurley, “Studies have shown that reminiscence therapy has positive effects on the mood, cognition, and communication level of dementia patients.” Borrowing from an experiment that took place in the Netherlands, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center designed and built a fake city they call Town Square. Built to resemble a typical small town circa 1953-1960, it is fashioned to evoke the memories that tend to be the strongest within us.

Built inside a 9,000 square foot industrial warehouse, the first Town Square opened in San Diego, California and a second is scheduled to open in White Marsh, Maryland near Baltimore. Organizers are optimistic that more and more locations will be rolling out in the near future.

It’s what I have always said… “Memories Matter.” Take the step to preserve yours today.

For the full article about Memory Town, click here.

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