Wedding Memories

Prince+Harry+Marries+Ms+Meghan+Markle+Windsor+Q5jsjRDXS_fl.jpg

I don’t know if anyone noticed but there was a little wedding that took place yesterday. Congratulations to the newly wedded Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Nice ceremony. And I should know. I’ve certainly transferred enough wedding videos to recognize the good from the great (there’s no such thing as a bad wedding. There may be bad marriages perhaps but weddings are always happy occasions). And I’ve seen my share because they are usually among the first memory people want to digitally protect and preserve.

There was the outdoor wedding that had to be moved under the caterer’s tent when the weather took an unexpected turn for the worse. People coped. Couple got married. Everyone was happy… wet but happy.

There was the wedding that took place around Halloween. It was a costume affair. Bride was a princess. Groom was a frog. Minister was a vampire. I would have been… you guessed it… a cowboy. People seemed happy beneath the masks they were wearing.

There was the Indian wedding and reception that from beginning to end needed three DVDs to hold all  the video that was shot. Lots of colors. Lots of music. Lots of cultural traditions. Lots of happiness.

There was the wedding that had members of the wedding party seemingly competing with each other as to who could give the most emotional toast. Lots of tears but they were happy tears that flowed from an abundance of love and joy in the room.

My favorite wedding video of all time is, of course, mine. And it was the very first videotape I transferred when I got into this business of digitally preserving memories. What is the state of your wedding memories? If they are still on film or videotape, let me protect them for you by converting them to a DVD or digital file.  And if you never had a video done of your wedding, bring me your wedding album. I’ll make a movie for you using your photographs and your favorite songs.   You’ll be glad to have it so you can pass all that happiness onto future generations. And what a wonderful surprise gift for your spouse!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation 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.

Advertisements

The Diary of Anne Frank… continued?

Anne Frank.png

In the news recently was the story about a discovery of two “hidden pages” within the Anne Frank diary. I always love hearing about historical finds and this one particularly hits a chord as it lands close to the essence of what we do. After all, what are family films and videos other than a different form of a diary record?

Here’s the article about the find that was published on the Smithsonian Mag website.

Researchers Decipher Two Hidden Pages of Anne Frank’s Diary

What little pieces of your history are yet to be discovered? They just might be on that one mystery videotape or unlabeled reel of film you have tucked away in a drawer. You’ll never know what treasures they may hold until you get them converted to a form you can actually use to watch on today’s media equipment. Bring them on down to Home Video Studio. We can help you reveal your past and fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle that is your life.

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.

You Can’t Dress Me Up

cowboys.jpg

If you study your home movies closely enough, you may begin to see the origin of certain character traits or peculiarities you may have. It just happened to me. I had an epiphany. You see, for as long as I can remember, I have always hated costume parties. Just getting an invitation to one would make me cringe.

Halloween, for all its candy, is absolutely my least favorite holiday. Why? It’s the dressing up part… which is a bit odd for someone who spent a large part of his life on stage in costumes playing different characters. That didn’t seem to bother me. But I have almost always had an aversion to costume parties and Halloween celebrations where dressing in costume was a prerequisite.

I think I’ve discovered the reason why I have such a negative bias of a practice that so many others enjoy.  I came across this rare footage of me as a child in the midst of what must be a Halloween parade.

 

First off, let me say the sight of so many white sheeted costumes with pointy hats is a bit off-putting. I’m pretty sure they were supposed to be ghosts (Casper was popular back then) but when viewing the past through the lens of today’s social filters things can tend to take on unintentional meanings.

costumes 1.jpg

So, here are my sisters.  Angelic looking aren’t they? No, I’m not the creepy kid behind them looking like a zombiefied caped crusader.  I wish I was. It would have been much cooler. Here I am in my costume:

costume 3.jpg

Seriously? Of all the costumes in the world to choose from, I got to dress up as a fashion challenged Mickey Mouse in a Pepto Bismol colored fat suit with pom poms? Granted this picture doesn’t do it justice but in all honesty, I’m not even sure that’s a genuine Mickey Mouse mask. Looks a little deformed.  But get this:

costume 2.jpg

Again, hard to see but this is a different year. The pink outfit is gone but the same mask is being used? I must have complained about the oversized clown suit so this was the solution? Dress the boy all in black and send him out into the night? I’m amazed I got to live through puberty.

With this as my entry into a world of costumes, it is no wonder I shy away from them. Since I still get the inevitable invites, I have, though pure necessity, devised the only getup I’ll wear.  I’ve got jeans, boots, and a plaid shirt. If your party ever needs a cowboy, I’m your guy. Hat is optional.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation 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.

Child Stars

32737787_1967408006625021_4836739388454993920_n.jpg

I don’t often get surprised by nostalgic posts and pictures of popular figures from our past. But this one took me aback. One, because I had never seen it before; and two, because I could identify every single kid in the picture.

Starting from the back, from left to right:

  • Billy Mumy played young Will Robinson in Lost in Space. “Danger Will Robinson!” spoken in a robot voice became an iconic phrase back in my day. 
  • Barry Livingston joined the cast of My Three Sons as the adopted Ernie after the oldest son Mike (Tim Constantine) left the show. His real life older brother, Stanley, was already on the show as one of the other three sons. The show had one of the best TV theme songs ever.
  • Ron Howard gained fame as Opie, the son of sheriff Andy Taylor, on The Andy Griffith Show. He went on to star as Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. And finally as an A-list Hollywood director of such blockbusters as Apollo 13 and more recently Solo: A Star Wars Story.
  • Anissa Jones was best known for the popular sitcom Family Affair. She was cast as Buffy, the youngest of three children sent to live with their bachelor Uncle Bill when their parents died in an accident. She usually shared screen time with her character’s doll, Mrs. Beasley. Sadly, Annisa died of a drug overdose at the young age of 18.
  • Stanley Livingston played the third child, Chip, on My Three Sons. He is the real life brother of Barry Livingston who joined the cast in later years, Stanley was the only cast member (other than star Fred MacMurray) who appeared throughout the entire series’ five year run.
  • Johnny Whitaker is best known for playing Jody in Family Affair. He fell prey to drug abuse after the show ended but managed to overcome the addiction to become a certified drug counselor.
  • Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s younger brother, has been seen in multiple shows and in various roles. He had a co-starring role in the TV series Gentle Ben but is probably best known for his cameo appearances in many of his older brother’s film projects.

This picture brought back a lot of memories for me. I spent many an hour in front of the TV watching these kids practice their craft. So it was kind of like I grew up with them. I doubt I would recognize a single child actor who has a recurring role on any of today’s shows.

(PS, I couldn’t help noticing they are all holding up ties. Perhaps it was a promo shot for Father’s Day? It’s coming up. And video gifts make for a great present. A heck of a lot better than another tie. Just saying.)

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

What’s For Dinner…Again?

glop.jpg

I hit a home run with dinner tonight.  I made an Instant Pot recipe that was, if I happen to say so myself, delicious.  Here’s the recipe (https://lifemadesweeter.com/instant-pot-lemon-garlic-chicken/)

I received accolades and rave reviews from my dinner companions and had to chuckle to myself because I remember the road I travelled to get here.  I’ve even blogged a little about it in the past. But here’s a specific that came to mind as I accepted the culinary compliments.

When I was in college and on a tight budget, I had to figure out a way to feed myself with limited funds. My solution was to invent a meal that I could stretch to last me an entire week.  To my deepest embarrassment, here’s what I made.  Mind you, this recipe was entirely my doing. And I ate it more times that I can count.

Take a pound of ground beef (or ground chuck, whichever is cheaper) , brown it in a skillet with salt, pepper and a diced onion. Set aside.

Make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Add the ground chuck mixture to it.

Open a can of Campbell Cream of Mushroom soup. Do not add water.  Just dump the contents into the pot.

By now the concoction will have begun to take on the consistency of spackle. Add a can of corn.  Just because. All balanced meals have vegetables, right?

If you have followed the directions, the mixture will be nearly impossible to stir. I’ve broken many a wooden spoon trying to.  Here’s the secret. Pour a cup or three of red wine into the mess. That will loosen things up so you can stir and serve.  If wine is not available, a can of beer works just as well.

Trust me, you can improvise on this recipe nine ways till Sunday – nothing is going to “ruin” it.  And believe me, it did the job.  I made this on a Monday and by Friday, I was still eating it. Spreading the cost over the span of a week, I figured I was eating on about 70 cents a day. Got me through my senior year in college.  Haven’t dared make it since. I’m afraid to subject my colon to it in my advanced years.

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.

Branded

HVS-Logo-09

I stumbled across this piece of video the other day that reveals some of the clever “hidden in plain sight” images contained within many familiar logos. Who knew such thought went into branding a company or service.

Having once worked for FedEx, I was aware of the arrow contained in its logo. And once it is shown to you, it is pretty much the first thing you notice whenever one of their trucks rolls down the street. But I must admit, many of the other images were surprises to me.

I’m going to have to look closer at the Home Video Studio logo… maybe there’s a secret message in there somewhere.

Here’s the video for your viewing and learning pleasure (from Matthew Santoro)

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.

Pondering on the Ponderosa

bonanza-500x360.jpg

The opening of Bonanza, which premiered in 1959 and ran for 14 seasons, was one of the most iconic images on TV. So much so that when we were filming our western (The DVA Kid) last year in Tucson, I had wanted to imitate the effect. 

If you recall, the screen filled with a old-timey map of the Ponderosa which then burst into a ring of fire, revealing the main cast riding towards the camera. After spending much of the night unsuccessfully trying to replicate the effect digitally, I finally decided to do a little research on how they actually accomplished the feat way back in the late 1950s. Turns out the answer was both simple and obvious.  They just lit their map on fire and let a hole burn in it while the cameras were rolling. Wish I had thought of that.

Here are some other factoids about my favorite TV western:

  • Producer David Dortort originally imagined Bonanza as an Old West reinvention of the King Arthur legend… with Ben Cartwright as Arthur and his sons as the knights of his round table.
  • Bonanza was the first series to have all its episodes broadcast in living color and as such carried the biggest price tag of any other show of its time.
  • Lorne Greene (Ben Cartwright) must have loved the set. He built a replica of the Ponderosa home on a half-acre of land in Mesa, AZ. It went on the market in 2016 valued at $849,000.
  • During the first season, the actors brought on to play guest roles on the show were paid more than the regular cast members. The producers didn’t think Green, Roberts, Blocker, and Landon were well known enough to draw in an audience on their own.
  • The show was almost cancelled early in its first season but as it was one of the few shows being broadcast in color and NBC was owned by RCA which was selling color tv sets to consumers, the decision was made to keep it on the air in the hopes it would spark sales. A move from Saturday night to Sunday night catapulted the show to #1 status.
  • The Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses were inspired by the show and started by Dan Blocker who played Hoss.
  • The main characters wore the same outfits from episode to episode. This was a deliberate choice by producers so it would be easier to reuse stock footage when necessary, thereby lowering production costs.

In case you’ve forgotten, here are the opening titles and theme song to Bonanza:

 

And if you’ve missed it in the past, here’s the western we put together last summer with our opening credits:

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation 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.

Space Savers

IMG_0028.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scene pictured above is a small illustration of one of the major benefits to digitalizing one’s family’s memories. The physical footprint is a lot smaller. All the tapes shown in this photo will fit on the hard drive in my hand and it will still have room for eight times the number shown here.

So, forget the fact that most analog storage devices cannot be played and therefore the memories they hold stay locked away.

Forget the fact that digitalizing the old memories make them look newer and fresher and more clear than you have ever seen them before because you’ll be watching them on newer and brighter screens.

Forget the fact that after digitalizing all your memories, making digital copies for every single member of your family is not just doable… it is affordable.

But forget all that stuff… just remember that what once took an entire closet or chest of drawers to contain can, after digitalization, fit onto a device the size of a deck of playing cards. If that isn’t enough to convince you that the time is right for you to take back control of your memories, I’m not sure what will.

What could you do with an extra empty closet in your house?  Come see us at Home Video Studio and we can make that happen for you.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation 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.

Invisible Damage

DM_03242016_1990.jpg

I take great pride in the services we provide and the quality we work hard to attain. But sometimes, there are circumstances we are faced with that prevent us from delivering the clearest or sharpest images from the tapes tendered to us.

Recently, I had to deal with some “damaged” tapes that appeared outwardly to be perfectly fine.  It was part of a large order from a client. She presented me with VHS tapes, VHS-C tapes, digital-8 tapes, and mini dv tapes. Over the years, she would continually upgrade to the newest camera models as they were released so she had a large supply of different videotape formats none of which she could watch because the various cameras that recorded and played those formats were no longer available to her. She asked me to convert them all to digital files in order to preserve and protect them.

Her VHS, digital-8 and mini-dv tapes are transferring with no issues. Beautiful results. But almost all of her VHS-C tapes are giving me fits. They just don’t want to track properly on my equipment, causing the picture to “jump” or static lines to display on the screen. After working with the tapes for a while, I believe I know the cause. It is not my equipment. It is functioning properly because other tapes I play on them transmit clear and crisp images. And yet her tapes, regardless of which of my machines I use to play them, do not track properly even though the tapes themselves show no signs of external damage.

What I figure is that her original VHS-C camera that recorded the footage on these particular tapes, at some point, must have been dropped, resulting in its video heads being knocked out of alignment. The camera continued to record but with a misaligned head. This misalignment would be responsible for the tracking issues experienced during playback as the camera’s recording head and my players’ playback head would not be in sync according to the industry’s universally accepted calibration settings.

Because my equipment has the ability to adjust to some degree the alignment of its heads to match the variance of the source tapes, I feel confident that I will be able to capture and preserve the majority of her memories with a minimum of distortion. Just one more reason why it is a good idea to bring your most treasured possessions… your memories… to a professional for safe-keeping.

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.

What I Learned in School… From A Substitute Teacher

 

boy-writing_roLOD30Ix_thumb (1).jpg

Substitute teachers have to have one of the hardest jobs I can think of. I only ever had one that I liked and learned from – although the lesson was not part of the regular curriculum. This young teacher, perhaps trying to relate to us kids, decided one day to teach us how to pass time in class while looking like we were working on something.

He had us write down on a piece of paper the letters of the alphabet in one column:

Then he had us choose a section from whatever book we had handy and write a random sentence down a second column.

The instruction then was to see how many famous names you could match to the pair of initials on your page. From a teacher’s perspective, it looked like we were studiously working on a difficult assignment.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I played this little memory game in class when I was bored which was, as I recall, often. I don’t know what happened to that substitute or what career he finally settled upon but I owe him a major debt of gratitude. His little trick got me through calculus.

Here’s an example.  See how many celebrities you can plug in to the following list of initials:

AN – Anthony Newley

BO – Bobby Orr

CW – Carl Withers

DI – Daniel Inouye

ES – Edward Snowden

FT – Forrest Tucker

GH – George Hamilton

HE – Hector Elizando

IW – Irving Wallace

JI – Jeremy Irons

KN – Kevin Nealon

LT – Lawrence Taylor

ME – Mamie Eisenhower

NR – Nancy Reagan

OO – Ozzy Osbourne

PF – Peter Frampton

QO – ????????

RU – ?????????

SR – Sally Ride

TD – Tommy Dorsey

UI – ????????????

VS – Vin Scully

WC – Walter Cronkite

XO –     ??????????

YN – ??????????

ZT – Zachary Taylor

I came up with 20 out of 26. Not a bad score. You can see my answers by dragging your cursor over the space next to the initials. How many could you think of?

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation 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.