DIY?

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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.

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Here Comes the Bride

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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. homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Our Roman Holiday

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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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Live Long and Prosper


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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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Be Mine

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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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

 

The Final Frontier

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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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Countdown to Christmas X

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#It’s just three days till Christmas… I hope my true love gives to me…

A fix to faded photos…#

Doesn’t it make you a little sad to find one of your fondest memories has begun to show signs of age?

Slides and photos, even when fastidiously cared for, will all begin to deteriorate over time. Colors will fade or bleed. The photo paper will crease or crack. And that’s just through the normal aging process. That doesn’t include the damage that can be caused through accidents or outside forces.

While our digitalization process for photos and slides includes image enhancement and color correction, there are times when a full photo restoration is needed. We have the tools to help digitally repair or modify an image so it can be reprinted, reframed and proudly displayed again.

Ever had a great picture ruined by an anonymous and annoying photobomber? He can be removed from the scene. Miss a family reunion? We can insert your image into a group photo to make it look like you were there.

This is the time of year we all feel a little magic in the air. More and more that magic is coming from digital technology.

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

Countdown to Christmas VII

#It’s just six days till Christmas… I hope my true love gives to me…

A special video portrait.#

Looking for that one-of-a-kind gift for someone special? Our Face to Face video portraits will be sure to delight your loved ones and be the standout present at any holiday gathering.

Here is all it takes:

  • Select a series of photos featuring the same individual.
  • Headshots or annual school photos work the best
  • Organize them in chronological order
  • Choose a song
  • Bring everything to us

We will deliver back to you a “photo/video” where the subject will seem to grow into his older self in a matter of seconds. Instead of cutting from picture to picture, each photograph will morph into the next one.

We’ve made these for various occasions:

  • Graduations
  • Birthdays (sweet sixteens especially)
  • Engagement parties
  • Anniversaries
  • Celebrations of life

Whatever the occasion, a Face to Face is a special way to commemorate the passage of time and a loved one’s journey through it.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories (and can help create new ones). For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Countdown to Christmas IV

#It’s just nine days till Christmas… I hope my true love gives to me…

A perfect photo keepsake…#

I can’t explain it. There’s no logical reason. It doesn’t even make sense. Take a photo that you’ve seen every day… maybe it is framed and sitting on your dresser and you pass by it every morning for twenty years without giving it a second thought. But if you set that same picture in motion and put it to music along with other photos, suddenly these familiar pictures will take on such a new life that it is like seeing them again for the first time.

A photo video keepsake uses photographs, video clips and music and, through the magic of video editing, is able to tell a story that touches the heart, triggers the mind, and enriches the soul. It is quite unlike any other media experience I know.

If you are planning to gift someone with a photo video keepsake here are some tips to remember:

  1. Cull through the photos. Eliminate the duplicates. And remember that something a little too short is far better than something way too long.
  2. Strike a balance between posed shots and candid shots.  Remember we want to tell a story that resonates. Too many photos of people behaving like mannequins won’t tell much of a story.
  3. Figure on approximately 10 photos per minute so a 100 picture photo keepsake would run about 10 minutes long.
  4. Audio is in some ways more important than the photos. Spend some time picking the perfect songs to accompany your pictures.
  5. Songs will typically run between 2.5 to 4 minutes so for a 100 photo keepsake, you would need between 3 and 4 songs to use as a soundtrack.
  6. As a rule, landscape oriented pictures work better than portrait oriented pictures – although any editor should be able to work with portrait photos as well as landscape.
  7. Spend extra time deciding how to open and how to close the keepsake. The first image and last image sets the tone for all that comes after or before and is what people tend to remember.
  8. Title slides can be effective as can narration if they are planned and properly done.
  9. Don’t forget humor. These keepsakes tend to become emotional and humor can go a long way towards releasing emotional tension in a positive way.
  10. Don’t tackle the project alone. It may seem that it should be easy but it can quickly drain your time and your resources and cause unwanted stress. Besides, professionals have a few tricks up their sleeves that will help enhance your project to the enjoyment of all.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories, including creating photo video keepsakes that bring both joy and tears to those who choose to trust us with telling their family members’ stories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd