The Gift That Stole Christmas

xmas gift.jpg

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.

A Day for Dad


A quick check of the calendar tells me that there’s just a little over 2 weeks until Fathers’ Day. There is still plenty of time to prepare that one of a kind video gift that will show dear old dad just how much he means to you.  Here’s a quick reblog of a post that originally appeared at The Art of Manliness that explains how Fathers’ Day came into being.

The History of Father’s Day in the United States

There are two stories of when the first Father’s Day was celebrated. According to some accounts, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Washington state on June 19, 1910. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea of honoring and celebrating her father while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909. She felt as though mothers were getting all the acclaim while fathers were equally deserving of a day of praise (She would probably be displeased that Mother’s Day still gets the lion’s share of attention).

Sonora’s dad was quite a man. William Smart, a veteran of the Civil War, was left a widower when his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. He went on to raise the six children by himself on their small farm in Washington. To show her appreciation for all the hard work and love William gave to her and her siblings, Sonora thought there should be a day to pay homage to him and other dads like him. She initially suggested June 5th, the anniversary of her father’s death to be the designated day to celebrate Father’s Day, but due to some bad planning, the celebration in Spokane, Washington was deferred to the third Sunday in June.

The other story of the first Father’s Day in America happened all the way on the other side of the country in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton suggested to the minister of the local Methodist church that they hold services to celebrate fathers after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men.

While Father’s Day was celebrated locally in several communities across the country, unofficial support to make the celebration a national holiday began almost immediately. William Jennings Bryant was one of its staunchest proponents. In 1924, President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge recommended that Father’s Day become a national holiday. But no official action was taken.

In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson, through an executive order, designated the third Sunday in June as the official day to celebrate Father’s Day. However, it wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.

So if you’d like to put something together for your dad on his special day, bring pictures of the two of you down to the studio. We’ll set it to music and give back to you a gift your dad will always remember.

Here’s some ideas for songs you might want to consider:

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

Pomp and Circumstance


It is that time of year to prepare to say congratulations to the young men and women who are on the cusp of one of life’s great achievements – high school graduation. Putting together a photo/video keepsake to recognize and honor their journey is a great idea and I’ve done a number of them over the years. The importance of choosing the appropriate song to accompany pictures of your graduate in various stages of his or her life cannot be emphasized enough and there are a number of great songs to choose from.  Here are some client favorites along with some key lyrics that help explain why they are popular:

The Climb – Miley Cyrus 2009. “Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.”

My Wish – Rascal Flatts 2006. “My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to…”

I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack 2000. “I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance. Never settle for the path of least resistance.  Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’…”

Graduation (Friends Forever) – Vitamin C 1999. “And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives. Where we’re gonna be when we turn twenty five. I keep thinking times will never change. Keep on thinking things will always be the same.”

Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield 2004. “Staring at the blank page before you. Open up the dirty window. Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find. Reaching for something in the distance. So close you can almost taste it. Release your inhibitions”

Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson 2004. “I’ll spread my wings, and I’ll learn how to fly. I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky. And I’ll make a wish, Take a chance, Make a change, And breakaway.”

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day 1997. “So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why, It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time, It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right, I hope you had the time of your life.”

These are just a few of the songs clients have used to tell the story of their graduate’s life. There are many others and I’m sure there’s one that would be perfect for the graduate in your family.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.



There’s a well-known truism about dealing with service vendors. There’s good; there’s fast; and there’s cheap. You can pick any two but you can’t have all three.  In other words, if you want it good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good. And if you want it good and cheap, it won’t be fast.

There’s a similar truism about the do-it-yourself option. Whether or not you should tackle a do-it-yourself project depends on three things: Do you have the experience? Do you have the tools? Do you have the time?

If you lack the experience, the finished project may lack some of the quality that a professional could bring. If you lack the tools to do the job, it may be less expensive to hire someone who already has invested in the equipment needed. And if you are short on time, you may never get around to doing the job in the first place.

I transferred a couple of videotapes for a client yesterday to .mp4 files on a rush request. When I asked the reason for the rush, she explained that she wanted to take certain clips to use for a family member’s memorial service video presentation she was going to put together. After expressing my condolences, I asked what program she was using to edit the footage. She didn’t have one. I asked if she had ever used an editing program before. She hadn’t. I asked when the service was taking place. In two days.

I gave her my card, and let her know that I give memorial videos top priority in my studio and to call me if she needed my help to produce something that can be played at the service. Something tells me I’ll be hearing from her. There are times when it just makes sense to use someone who has the time, tools and experience.

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

Here Comes the Bride


One of yesterday’s jobs consisted of a tub filled with video tapes (mainly VHS and hi-8) that contained all the family’s memories of their years together. The mom and dad brought them to me with a rush request. Their daughter is getting married soon and they need to put together a video presentation with footage of the bride as she was growing up. It is to be featured during the reception planned for after the ceremony.

Unfortunately, all those memories are trapped on the obsolete format of videotapes. The problem is how to put them into a medium that can be viewed, edited, reassembled and exported into a playable form. The solution: bring them to Home Video Studio. This happens to be our specialty. Rush jobs don’t scare us. We like the challenge.

In fact, as they were leaving, trusting me with all their tapes, I showed them an example of a quirky little service we developed to use for graduations, milestone birthdays, and yes… weddings that they might want to consider including in their presentation.

We call it Face to Face: A Video Portrait. All we need is a series of photographs of the same person in different stages of their life. Headshots work best. School pictures, if they were saved through the years, are perfect. But any clear picture of the subject that has the face in focus against a neutral or non-distracting background will do.

We do the rest. We set the pictures on a video timeline, but instead of cutting from one picture to the next, we force the picture to morph into the next one. It gives the illusion of the face actually growing from childhood to adulthood before our eyes. With the right song playing as its soundtrack, it’s a clever and unique way to commemorate a special milestone event and will certainly delight those who are there to celebrate with the happy couple.

Here’s an example of a Face to Face presentation:


Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

OK, this was a little weird…

There can be a number of things that serve as “memory triggers” but today was the first time a memory (actually a series of memories) was initiated by my smart phone.

I got a beep on my phone yesterday. It was a system message from my iCloud photos account saying that I had a new memory waiting for me. When I followed the link I found that a movie had been put together (by my phone?) that apparently used face matching technology because it only took pictures of my wife (Kate) from its storage and then set it to music.

Here it is… and what follows are the memories that it spawned.

Cover photo: We were in Sedona Arizona admiring its red rocks and celebrating our 25th anniversary.

1st photo: Kate with our two granddaughters during a vacation we took to Nashville TN. This was during a children’s art and music festival we took them to one afternoon.

2nd photo: I took her to Costa Rica on our 24th anniversary and surprised her with those earrings. (I had thought it was our 25th but later did the math and discovered I was a year early. So I had to do something special the following year as well.)

3rd photo: Our first trip to Hawaii to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters. Loved it. And if it was up to me, I’d wear a Hawaiian shirt every day.

4th photo: Still in Hawaii. We were taken to visit the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor.

5th photo: In Orlando at the Dr Phillips Arts Center getting ready to see “Wicked.” It was our Christmas present to each other.

6th photo: Repeat of the cover photo. But worth repeating. It is a good one.

7th photo: In Sedona, at the bar at L’Auberge de Sedona, waiting for our table to enjoy our 25th anniversary dinner.

8th photo: At our table at L’Auberge. Fine dining. Worth the wait. And the expense.

9th photo: Last year at a convention in Tucson. Kate with fellow Home Video Studio owner, Craig Peterson. Kate and I won best western costume – mainly due to her getup. First prize was a camera crane rig.

10th photo: I’m clueless.  That’s Kate with our youngest granddaughter. If I had to guess I’d say that was on the back porch of their home in Hawaii.

11th photo/video: We end with Kate’s video message to her mother for her mom’s 90th birthday celebration.

Great memories all. And while, at first blush, I found it a little creepy that my phone took it upon itself to build a video tribute to my wife, I have to admit, it chose some pretty good pictures. But if it ever decides to start calling her on its own behind my back, I’m going to have to put my foot down.

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

Our Roman Holiday


I transferred a videotape yesterday that showcased a family’s trip to Rome, Italy. These always contain special memories for me as I’ve been to Rome on no less than three separate occasions (it is one of the benefits/drawbacks that comes from being married to an Italian woman.) The last trip was the most special for me. We brought our 12 year old granddaughter with us to introduce her to the many wonders of the region.

It was her first time beyond our American borders and we wanted to expose her to the history and artistic heritage of a culture that dates back multi-millennia.

It was a special time for both us and our granddaughter and we commemorated it in pictures. I then turned those pictures into a photo video keepsake that we gave it to her so she might always remember the time we spent together during that memorable week.

Here’s a snippet of that keepsake. The music is from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which was my late father-in-law’s favorite piece of music and on our last night there, we were blessed to be able to go to a musical performance of the piece held in one of the most famous piazzas (city squares) in all of Rome – The Piazza Navona which was built in the 1st century AD.

Preserving memories is what we do at Home Video Studio. We’d love to help you preserve the ones you have made during your lifetime.

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

Live Long and Prosper


Michael is still at the Advanced Training Seminar for Home Video Studio owners but is continuing to blog from the field on a daily basis. Subscribe to the blog to have it delivered directly to your email.

Yesterday, at our conference, we held our traditional movie/pizza night where studio owners around the world were invited to bring and show a small segment of a video project that they have either worked on recently or are currently working on. It is always a fun event showcasing the degree of talent and creativity that exists within our franchise family.

For my part, I decided to bring a short, personal clip that I used to open a 90th birthday video for my mother-in-law. The family had decided that, as a birthday gift, each member should film a short selfie video telling a small story or recollection that would help celebrate the fun times shared over the years. I assembled the clips, and then added some photos and music to make a special 30 minute video presentation. We presented the movie at a family gathering, gave it as a gift to the birthday girl and she has watched it many times since. It makes her cry each time… happy tears.

The clips ranged from sentimental to funny and came from far and wide as our family is spread across the globe. I received video segments filmed from the deck of a Coast Guard cutter destined for Antarctica, from a desert in Arizona, from the beaches of Hawaii, from the hills of Tennessee and in my case, from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the familiar setting of her favorite TV show.

As I often say, if you don’t know what to get for the person who has everything, you can never go wrong with a video of memories shared. And because each keepsake we produce is different – specifically tailored for the person to whom it is given – it can never be duplicated; it always delivers an emotional impact; and it will be treasured forever.

For the curious, here’s the clip I made for my mother-in-law that I showed my fellow studio owners last night:

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories (and in the creation of new ones). For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Be Mine



Flowers? You don’t need no stinkin’ flowers. This Valentine’s Day, if you want to wow your significant other with a gift he or she will truly treasure, bring me 30 pictures of the two of you together along with your favorite song, and I will deliver back to you a photo video keepsake – a customized DVD presentation that will remind you both of the special relationship you share.

Let’s face it. Flowers wilt and die. Chocolates are eaten and are soon forgotten. But memories are meant to last forever. And with our Valentine’s Day Special we can make that happen for you. #Memoriesmatter.

With thirty pictures, one song, and $74.99, you’ll be able to give your sweetheart the greatest gift ever… the memories of the times you’ve spent together and the knowledge of how special they are to you… because you spent the time and effort towards putting together this keepsake. This discounted package includes an archival quality, fully authored DVD enclosed in a case with a customized case wrap and comes conveniently packaged in a gift bag.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This offer is for lovers only so call today to place your order. 352-735-8550 or visit

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. But we are also in the business of creating new ones. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit


The Final Frontier


At the risk of sounding macabre, I have to say that some of my best work can be seen at funerals. I consider it a privilege and an honor to produce a memorial video to commemorate the life of a loved one who has passed.  When handled with care, compassion, and respect, a memorial video can help the grieving process by reminding us that even though a life has ended, our memories of that life don’t have to.

The first memorial video I produced was for my older sister Allison (pictured above) who died far too young after a long battle with cancer. This occurred before I opened my studio so the resources I had available to me at that time were limited and yet the rudimentary video I produced was still able to capture her essence and remind us all of the wonderful life that was hers.

Since then, I’ve been able to perfect my techniques and streamline the workflow so the process can be done quickly and cost-effectively without affecting the quality of the work produced. A few things to remember if you find yourself in a position to need this service:

  • You’re grieving so there is no need to feel pressure or undue stress to deliver to me a polished, scripted video idea. I will work with you at your comfort level. And I will do the work needed to give you a video that you will treasure.
  • All I need is whatever photos you are able to collect and some songs that have a connection to the one being honored.
  • You can figure that 100 photos will result in a 10 minute video but many memorial videos that I do are “looped” so they play continuously as people come and go during the service. There is no right or wrong as to the number of photos to be included.
  • I keep the “bells and whistles” to a minimum. The video is not intended to showcase my abilities, but to give tribute to the life of the loved one. I try to keep the editor’s hand out of sight.
  • There is no limit to what is available. I have included audio tape, video tape, film footage, slides, photos, negatives and more to build the proper tribute.

Because I know first hand the healing properties contained within a memorial video, I always assign priority to these projects. I  am not usually given a lot of time to produce the finished product, so when an order is placed it goes immediately to the top of my queue. I have never missed a deadline and to my knowledge, have never disappointed my clients.

And recently, a new phenomenon has begun; more and more clients are coming to me with the request that I work on their own memorial video so their family isn’t burdened to handle that task when the time comes. I am happy to work with you so that when the time comes, you can be remembered the way you wish to be remembered.

Whatever your need or request, know that we are able and willing to deliver to you something that will not only give a proper sendoff to the one we’ve lost, but also deliver a timeless keepsake to the ones left behind. 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit