The Final Cut

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I spent most of yesterday at my editing desk. People are learning more and more that digital technology provides almost limitless possibilities in how one’s movies can look or sound.

In the past I have sped footage up, slowed it down, and had it played in reverse. I’ve added soundtracks, suppressed noises, zoomed in closer, or eliminated scenes entirely. I’ve restructured the timing of events, merged scenes together from two different sources, and added subtitles to help with understanding dialogue.

Today’s digital equipment provides editors with a vast array of tools that make it look like they can do just about anything. But it remains a labor intensive process and most editing jobs are still priced out using an hourly rate.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when contracting with a video editor that may help keep your budget in check.

  • Be specific in what you want the final product to be. The more information you provide the editor, the easier it will be for him or her to deliver to your expectations.
  • If possible, provide the time code of the sections that need to be edited. A lot of wasted time (and dollars) can be spent simply trying to find the piece of video that needs to be altered. Knowing ahead of time that it appears fifteen minutes into the hour long video allows the editor to narrow the search.
  • Editors work faster alone. While most will allow their customers to sit with them as they edit, understand that the process will take longer and therefore become more expensive.
  • Recognize the difference between what is available and what is affordable. Some requests, while achievable, can only be accomplished if some extensive man hours are put in. The result may not add a value that matches the cost.
  • Know that some things are simply not possible. A video editor cannot reshoot your original film to refocus, change the angle, or capture something that happened offscreen. What we can do is to insert additional footage or “B” roll to give it that illusion.

There’s an old saying that people “can’t change the past.”  While that remains true on an existential level, we can change how it was recorded and thereby change how it will be remembered.

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

The Story of Yellow Feather

 

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I don’t know how I ever found the (courage, arrogance, stupidity… insert your favorite word here) but I enrolled in college as a theater major with a concentrate in acting without ever having set foot on a theatrical stage.

My first role as a college freshman was certainly one to remember. I was cast in the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald musical spoof, Little Mary Sunshine, as the villainous Indian, Yellow Feather. He doesn’t appear at all in the first act until the final seconds but the character is talked about with such impending dread that the audience is expecting to see evil incarnate. Here’s what actually happened (mind you, this all happened opening night of my very first theatrical performance).

  • My first entrance was to be a dramatic onstage leap onto a 3 foot platform where I was to strike a menacing tableau pose as the first act curtain was falling. I somehow made it up on the platform without tripping and struck my pose with my tomahawk held high. The music built to a crescendo… and the audience howled. I discovered that I was holding my tomahawk backwards so the little dinky tip was facing front and the sharp blade was pointed towards my own face.
  • My next scene was a solo dance number to cover for a scene change. As I got into place, the scrim upon which was painted a mountainous background was to fly in behind me. It got hung up on one of the stage lights and in trying to force it free, the backstage crew managed to dislodge the 30 pound Klieg light which came crashing down at my feet, narrowly missing my head. I had the presence of mind to kick the light under the descending scrim but forgot the steps to the dance number. Instead of an Indian war dance it looked more like an uncoordinated Boogaloo.
  • Next, I was to kidnap the female star, Little Mary Sunshine, and tie her to a tree. I got behind the musical beat and didn’t have enough time to complete the task so I handed her the rope and the poor actress was forced to hold it up and “pretend” she was tied to the tree.
  • Then, the hero, Big Jim of the Forest Rangers was to arrive and save the day, after a fierce struggle with me. During that choreographed struggle, I broke the blade of my plastic knife on Big Jim’s wrist. My next move was supposed to be to threaten him with the knife but since I now only held a hilt, I decided to choke him instead. I probably should have first consulted with the actor playing Jim. Surprised, he threw me off so violently I ripped the seam of my buckskin pants, leaving me wearing a pair of yellow leggings and exposing my lucky bikini blue underwear I wore underneath. (This was the fashioned challenged 70s after all.) I finished the fight scene with my thighs held so tightly together I probably looked like I was channeling Jerry Lewis.
  • At the end of the play, to show my conversion from bad guy to good, I was to walk out during the curtain call waving a large patriotic flag as snow gently fell from above. The crew lost control of the snowbox and ended up dumping a carton of shaved styrofoam directly on top of my head.

That was my theatrical debut. But I have to say, it got better. I think back now with the fondest of memories of my time spent in front of the footlights. And I’m very happy that a number of those performances have been preserved in a digital form so I can revisit them from time to time. Even the embarrassing moments.

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. And don’t forget, we’ve extended our end of year sale for one last week. Big discounts can be had on orders placed between now and Jan 13.

Countdown to Christmas IX

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

Our family’s movie highlights#

I see a lot of home movies and while they are all different and unique to each family, there are always similarities.  One that I’ve noticed is that on just about every videotape or reel of film that I transfer, there’s always a moment that stands out. That one section where fortune smiled down on the cameraman who happened to be at the right time and the right place with the camera running and caught the video equivalent of lightning in a bottle.

It might have been a poignant moment, or a turning point in someone’s life; an incident that became the family’s running joke, or simply a tradition within the family that was repeated every year. Whatever it is, on every tape there’s usually one segment that people tend to remember and really enjoy.

The beauty of digitalizing one’s memories is that it becomes so easy to isolate all those moments from your collection of tapes and “splice” them together to form a special highlight reel – without affecting the original footage that will remain intact.

There are few limitations in the world of digital video editing. If you can imagine what you want to end up with, more than likely we can make that happen. And what better gift can be had than to present your family with all their favorite moments gathered together and packaged in an easy to view format?

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