Voices of Yesteryear

June 11, 2020

Three vinyl records came into my studio the other day. These weren’t the commercially made rock or pop albums most of us grew up with. These were homemade disks recorded at 78 rpm that were made over 75 years ago. I know this because it was written on the label.

In the 1940s, there were dozens of “Voice-O-Graph” machines sprinkled up and down the Coney Island boardwalk. They looked like telephone booths and by inserting 25 cents, you could actually record your voice and have it scratched into the grooves of your own personal record for all of posterity.

The three records I received and transferred to digital audio files for their preservation had my client’s father crooning familiar standards and pop favorites in the style of Bing Crosby. What a wonderful treasure for the family to have. Sure, there are scratches and pops throughout the recording but that only adds to the charm of being able to hear voices from the past, recorded as they lived through what for them was their present. All three records were dated June, 1944… shortly after the D-Day invasion. The songs were upbeat, filled with hope and promise, with just a tinge of melancholy. I’d say it was a perfect capsulation of the mood of that time. I am honored to have been a part of preserving this personally impactful and historic moment.

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.

Cover Fire

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2020 has to be the weirdest year ever. As one TV pundit put it, “It’s like we’re living through the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the 1929 Great Depression, and the 1968 social unrest… all at the same time.”

Yesterday, in our quaint little community of Mount Dora, we were placed under curfew in response to the rioting taking place across the country. The word curfew is of French origin, derived from an Old French phrase “couvre-feu” which literally means “cover fire.” It was in reference to a 11th century law enacted by William the Conqueror which instructed people to cover or put out lights and fires at 8pm to help prevent the threat of spreading flames within and between the wooden buildings of their communities.

The flames that are currently burning in the hearts of so many; flames that are resulting in the wanton destruction of property and the putting of innocents in harms way – it is hard to imagine they would ever spread to my little town but I suppose stranger things have happened.

I understand the anger and the distrust so many feel. I don’t understand the violence and destruction taking place. I simply don’t see how that helps anybody’s case. True change, if that’s what people are seeking, will never come from external forces or pressure. It can only start from within. We must change ourselves first. Change the way we act; change the way we react; change the way we view people. We look in the mirror and make the deliberate choice to become the person we want others to be. If enough of us do that and, by leading from example, encourage others to follow, perhaps we’d be on the way to building a world that doesn’t provide us with so many cringe-worthy or heartbreaking moments.

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.

You Say Football, I Call It Soccer

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As we continue our semi-isolation, we are ever vigilant for some new, engaging television shows on which to binge.  My wife and I just recently finished the six episode mini-series from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. It’s called The English Game and it is currently streaming on Netflix.  It is an excellent depiction of the early years of the game the English call football. For some reason we, in the United States, call it soccer.

Based very loosely on historical events, the series follows the lives of its two main characters: Arthur Kinnard, an upper class gentleman and founding member of the Football Association (FA) which sought to provide rules and structure to a fledgling sport; and Fergus Suter, a working-class man who made his living as a stone mason who dared dream of a life playing the game he grew to love. These two individuals, who actually existed, did more than most to build the game of football/soccer into a global obsession.

Excellent character development, interesting historical elements, and dramatic pacing and flow make this a must-see show for those of us starved for entertainment diversions.  I heartily recommend it.

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.

Memorial Day

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In observance of Memorial Day, we’re taking a few days off to reflect upon those who served and those we’ve lost.  We’ll be back in the studio on Tuesday. Until then, here’s a repost of a blog from last year about some of the military men in my family:

From left to right:

My father, Edward J. Ondrasik, who, with the Eighth Air Force, flew 24 missions over Germany as a bombardier during WWII. We learned afterwards that he flew each of those 24 missions without a parachute as he could not fit into the bombardier compartment with it on. He died in 2009.

My uncle, Charles C. Parish, served as Lt. Commander in the US Navy. Was a pilot of a #2 F-4J (Phantom) during the Vietnam War. He was shot down over North Vietnam and declared Missing in Action in 1968. His status was changed to Killed in Action in 1973. His name is among the tens of thousands engraved on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC.

My maternal grandfather, Herman O. Parish, who, as captain and commanding officer received the Navy Cross and the Legion of Merit for services rendered during WWII. He retired as a US Navy Rear Admiral. He died in 1989.

We honor their memory and thank them for their service and sacrifice. As we do all who have given service to our country.

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

What’s in Your Time Capsule?

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We, at Home Video Studio, are kind of in a time capsule business. People bring us items that have been buried for 50, 60, even 70 years or more and ask us to unearth their secrets. And sometimes, after we’re done, they let us keep some of the old capsules themselves.

The camera pictured above was given to us by one of our clients. It belonged to his family, most likely his grandfather.  It is an Agfa Movex 16mm camera circa 1930s, complete with leather case and light-gauge. It was a German camera and what makes it remarkable to me is the film that we transferred for the client that brought it in. There were 4 reels of 16mm silent film and after transferring the footage and watching it back we were mesmerized to find that our client’s grandfather, most likely with this camera, was seated in the stands of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, filming the games.

The final reel was taken much later and showed a jeep ride through the rubble-strewn street of post-war Berlin.

I’m not able to show you the actual footage we preserved for our client but I found a website with some pretty spectacular still photos of that historical event.

https://historycollection.co/a-look-inside-hitlers-1936-nazi-olympics-through-amazing-photographs/

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.

The New Normal?

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As the country inexorably moves towards “reopening,” pundits everywhere are offering their opinions on what our new normal will look like. The bottom line… no one really knows.  It will be dependent upon which way the wind blows (and what may be in that wind as it’s blowing.)

At Home Video Studio Mount Dora, we certainly altered our operational protocol to reduce the amount of physical interaction needed to take place while the coronavirus threat was so strong. And in many ways, the changes we developed made us more efficient and allowed us to maximize our time management to a higher degree. So, speaking for ourselves, our new normal will be a continuation of the processes we put in place to keep everyone safe while we continued serving the community during this time.

We are in the studio 6 days a week from 9:30am until 5:00pm but we request that our clients call us to schedule an appointment so we can be sure as to manage the traffic flow in and out of our studio.

Simple drop off and pick up of orders can be conducted curbside. More complex transactions will be handled inside our sanitized studio which will be re-sanitized after every visitor. We will be wearing masks during all face to face interactions and ask all to do the same.

We’ve been doing the above for the past month and have been able to operate without a hiccup. We’re thrilled to be able to continue providing the services that allow our customers to preserve and protect their memories from loss or damage and look forward to the time that we can help you with your next project.

The individual pictured above is famous for saying: “What, me worry?” Like him, we have no reason to be worried. We’re getting through this in fine shape.

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.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY FORTY-TWO

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May 14, 2020

I wonder if people 50 years from now will look back at some of the television spots we produce with the same level of bemusement we experience when we look at some of the stuff that aired back in the 60s?

I have long been a subscriber to The National Archives which has a mission similar to ours – the conservation and preservation of motion picture records. And every so often they let us take as peek into their archives and review some of the gems that are both fascinating and a little giggle-worthy.

Here’s one that I caught today of The Swingin’ Six as they explain the need for a Zip Code system within the US Post Office.

https://archives.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bfeaf03e7b0b1636c0b375892&id=456bf91f5f&e=a4aadc5f78

It kind of reminds me of a radio PSA I wrote for a class project on the dangers of underaged smoking. The entire 60 second spot consisted of me trying to read from a published brochure they gave us while hacking my lungs out. Largely improvised (because I forgot to do the assignment), it was chosen from the class to be recorded and broadcast – pretty sure on AM radio (WINK were the local call letters).  If I only had the Swingin’ Six to help me out back then, it might have gone national.

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.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-EIGHT

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May 10, 2020

One of the benefits to owning a video transfer business is the opportunity we have to see and hear the experiences many of our clients took the time to record. We’ve learned to recognize the many scenes that repeatedly appear in a lot of the video we handle: Chuckee Cheese Birthday parties, trips to Hawaii or the Grand Canyon, visits to Disneyland, Sea World, Marineland, and more. But there’s one scene that keeps popping up in various films or tapes we handle which we could not identify.

I finally learned of its source. In 1957, a theme park in North Carolina was launched, supposedly the first in the state and one of the first in the nation. It’s called Tweetsie Railroad and it is still operating today (although it is currently closed awaiting the end of the Covid-19 pandemic).

It is home to two narrow gauge steam locomotives (No. 12 “Tweetsie”, and No. 190, “Yukon Queen”) which pull visitors along a 3 mile loop around a mountain near Blowing Rock, NC. Other rides, events, and family attractions were added over the years to make Tweetsie Railroad a perennial favorite among tourists and railroad enthusiasts or “foamers” as some call themselves.

The scene which keeps appearing in the videos of my clients is apparently filmed during the train ride. As the 100 year old steam locomotive pulls its cars around a bend, it stops in front of a lovingly recreated wild west town where cast members enact a brazen and entertaining train robbery/shootout. It’s nice to finally know where to go to see it live. It is just one more item to added to the bucket list.

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.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY – SIX

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May 8, 2020

It was a gorgeous day in Florida today – and began that way with this beautiful sunrise. As I sat there in quiet solitude with my cup of coffee, I began to think back on some of the other sunrises I have been privy to during my lifetime.

I’ve always been partial to sunrises; something about the hope of a new day and all the promises and opportunities that may be contained therein. The most amazing sunrise I was ever awake to see occurred a few years back while we were vacationing in Italy. We found a small little cottage/chalet nestled high up in the Umbrian hills that overlooked the massive valley below. It was located just outside of a little village called Campello sul Clittuno where LA Law actor Michael Tucker and his wife Jill Eikenberrry found their Italian home away from home, as they describe in their book, Living in a Foreign Language.

Our temporary abode, nicknamed Roccioviva Atelier, provided spectacular panoramic views of the valley. Kate and I would sit out on the porch as the sun was setting, listening to the peaceful rustling of the wind through the trees as the distant church bells pealed out their melodic tones marking the end of another day.

The next morning, as I awoke, I was greeted with this magnificent sight:

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A blanket of white covered the entire valley, giving me the eerie feeling of being Jack atop the Beanstalk looking down through the clouds. I cherish those moments that catch us by surprise with their sheer beauty and simplicity. I look forward to discovering many more.

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.

SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-FIVE

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May 7, 2020

We are living during some rather unbelievable times… but nothing that is unique to mankind. I’m not sure who wrote the following, but these words certainly provide a perspective that should give us all pause…

“We probably all think that it’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.  Many would think that that was a pretty simple time of life. Then on your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war, including many of your friends who volunteered to defend freedom in Europe. 

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million. On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 38. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.   If you were lucky, you had a job that paid $300 a year, a dollar a day. 

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet, but don’t try to catch your breath.  If you lived in London, England or most of continental Europe, bombing of your neighborhood, or invasion of your country by foreign soldiers along with their tank and artillery was a daily event.  Thousands of Canadian young men joined the army to defend liberty with their lives.  Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. 

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. On your 62nd birthday there is the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended.  Sensible leaders prevented that from happening. 

In 2020, we have the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands have died; it feels pretty dangerous; and it is. Now think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you think they survived all of the above?  When you were a kid in 1965, you didn’t think your 65-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was, and how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and very enlightening. So, let’s try and keep things in perspective.”

Keep your chin up, your mind sharp and remember… we’ve gotten through worse times than this.

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.