Safer at Home – Day Twelve


April 14, 2020

Maybe it is us, but a dozen days in “isolation” has flown by. Of course, we don’t have the parenting responsibilities to deal with as our kids are grown and out on their own which I’m sure makes it easier for us. We can focus on things we like or want to do.

I can say that our house has never been cleaner. Kate has wiped down, scrubbed, or polished just about every surface within her reach. And she still has time to study her Italian, read up on George Washington (one of her favorite historical figures), get in her 40 minutes of cardio, and stay connected with our family and friends while continuing to look as sharp and beautiful as she has always been, even though I’m the only one who gets to enjoy that now.

On the other hand, I spend most of my days writing out these blog posts, and working on some video projects that people dropped off. Right now, I’m working on a lovely wedding video that is being pieced together from multiple cameras that captured just about every moment of the ceremony and celebration. I’m pulling clips from each camera and editing them together so it depicts the event as it unfolded. When done, the newlyweds will have a wonderful detailed record of their special day. I think they’ll be pleased. What can I say, I like what I do… and time flies while I’m doing it.

No one really knows what our lives are going to be like as we move forward. But I have to say that I loved the life we had before… I’m loving the life we’re living now… so maybe it isn’t circumstances that control our happiness? As a wise person once said, “You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you react to it.” I hope we can all learn to make good choices.

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.

Cracking up

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There are pros and cons to every digital format. DVDs and CDs, although they are digital, they do have their drawbacks. First, there are clear signs that the industry is moving on and it will only be a matter of time that the disk technology will go the way of the 8-track and VHS tape. That may not happen for a few more years but it sure looks like it is an eventuality.

The other problem with disks is pictured above. They are not indestructible.  They can crack if handled improperly and once cracked, they are pretty much unplayable and the data may not be able to be recovered.

We are happy to provide DVDs and CDs to our customers. We still have that capability and a lot of our customers prefer them to any other option. But we always recommend that they also consider getting their memories stored on a computer file or open a DVA streaming account with us so when the DVDs stop working, the memories that were preserved don’t have to be converted for a second (or sometimes third) time. Food for thought. Whichever format you choose, having your memories digitally preserved is infinitely better that keeping them locked away on inaccessible analog media that will eventually corrode.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.


Final Cut

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There was a Robin Williams film made in 2004 called Final Cut.  It was somewhat panned by the critics but generally liked by the movie-going public. In it, Williams played a man known as a “cutter.” In this futuristic reality, people would pay to have microchips installed in their brains that would record everything they saw and heard during their lifetimes. Upon their death, the chip would be extracted and given to a “cutter” who would then edit all that recorded information down to a viewable video summary of a life lived, cutting out any of the negative or emotionally troubling memories the surviving family members wish to forget.

In a way, it’s kind of what I can do for people – except for that creepy “install a microchip in your brain” element.  People bring me their films, video, photographs, audio recordings, etc. to digitalize them. Once they have been converted to a digital form, many clients take the extra step and have me edit out the unwanted aspects of their past – or edit in a missing aspect.

Do you have a family photo that is absolutely perfect except for the fact that Dad was behind the camera and therefore not in the shot? I can add him to the picture and blend him in so it looks like he was always there. Are all the videos of your children growing up painful to watch because your ex’s voice could be heard throughout as he “directed” the kids? Keep the images of the kids and replace the audio track with a more pleasurable musical score.

I often tell my clients that with today’s digital technology, we are limited by only two things.  Budget and imagination. If we can think it and afford it, it can be done.

I often check out this site when I want a good laugh. James Fridman has mastered the tools of the trade and people will send him their photos requesting specific changes. But it is how he interprets their requests that always makes me laugh.  Take a look here.

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.

Memory Lapses



Hey, it happens to all of us. We take great pains to record the special moments of our lives. Then we tuck them away to make sure they are kept safe and secure. After 30 or 40 years, we take them back out only to find that we can’t watch them any more because the technology we used back then is now obsolete.

So we find someone like Home Video Studio who can convert our old memories to a digital form that will play on today’s equipment. All well and good but we’re not out of the woods yet. As we are watching those memories play back… the ones we haven’t seen for decades… we discover that we don’t recognize some of the people or places that appear on the screen.

It happens more often than you think. I had an elderly couple watch some of their 8mm film that I transferred for them. The footage opened with a pair of toddlers under a Christmas tree. I could see their confused expressions. They looked at me and actually asked if perhaps I was showing them someone else’s film. They were so adamant that I began to doubt myself. I doubled checked but it absolutely was their footage.  As we continued to watch, they eventually realized that the toddlers on the screen were their own children — just 60 years younger then they are now.  It turns out, my clients had never seen that particular 8mm film before. It was shot but never viewed. Tears were certainly shed once we recognized what we were seeing.

Now sometimes, the mysteries are never solved. No worries. I’ve had people come back to me and ask me to edit sections of their movies in order to remove people or places that no longer have any relevance to their lives. Once the film or video has been digitalized, editing that footage is relatively easy to accomplish. We have the ability to shape your memories to your exact specifications, allowing you to enjoy your past exactly the way you want to remember it.

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.



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.

Color Me Amazed


Michael Ondrasik is nearing the end of his annual training conference and will  soon be returning home armed with an abundance of new knowledge and experience to add to the tools of his trade. He is continuing to blog daily from the field. To have his blog delivered directly to your email, simply click on the subscribe button from his blog page.

As we are finishing up our week-long training, I continue to be amazed at just how much control we, as photo and video editors, have over the manipulation of images – whether they are still photos or moving videos. Over the past few days we received extensive training in many different features of Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Audition, Lightroom, and Davinci Resolve. The technology available to us has grown to unfathomable levels.

Techniques once reserved for Hollywood and their six figure editing suites can now be easily performed by individuals with a laptop and the proper software. Spielberg’s technique of colorizing a single red dress in a full length black and white movie (Shindler’s List)? I did that this week. Ken Burn’s technique of panning and altering the perspective of a still photo? I did that too. How about that shot of Roy Schneider in Jaws where his image zoomed closer to the camera as the beach background grew smaller when he first saw the shark? I learned how that was done as well and can duplicate it with the equipment I have.

I may never have the need to use many of the techniques we covered this week but knowledge learned is never a bad thing. The more I can learn how to use the tools I have, the more options I can give my customers to meet the needs that they may have.

I am looking forward to returning home and putting into practice much of the learning I received this week. I’ll be in the studio on Monday morning bright and early.  Hope to see you then.

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


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.

How Many Balls Can You Juggle?


I hate to break the news to all you alpha-type overachievers but there is no such thing as multi-tasking. I know many of us would like to lay claim to that ability but the sad reality is… it doesn’t exist.

It is impossible for the human mind to think two thoughts at the same time. Look it up. Scientific fact. What we think of as multi-tasking is not doing two or more different things at the same time. It is doing two or more different things in quick and ever changing succession. it is the ability to juggle tasks… oftentimes extremely rapidly.

Such is the case during a normal day in my studio.  I go from station to station, checking on works in progress, adding input, correcting errors, and moving on.  At any given time, I can be working on three video transfers, an audio transfer, a slide transfer, a video editing job, answering phone calls, greeting customers who drop in, responding to email requests and so much more… but I have to handle them one task at a time. 

To be effective in what I do, I have to juggle them, giving priority to the task which requires the most immediate attention. If I am working on a video transfer and the front door opens, I leave one task to respond to the more immediate need.

If an audio transfer still has another 15 minutes to go before completion but a slide transfer is ready to move to the next stage, I’ll address the needs of the slide transfer.

Juggling tasks is the proper way to describe what many call multi-tasking. Fortunately for me and my clients, I am an excellent juggler. I learned the skill in high school and once learned, it is never forgotten. Ask me next time you come by. I’ll be happy to demonstrate.

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.

The DVA Kid

I always like to know where my customers heard about me or what brought them to my studio. A lot of time people mention a Facebook post or my link from a Google search. Sometimes they were just driving by and noticed my sign on Donnelly St or they clipped out my ad from the Daily Commercial. But yesterday was the first time that a new client simply said, “I saw that western you did.”

Last summer at a convention for Home Video Studio owners, we were challenged to craft, shoot and edit a small movie under 3 minutes using techniques and skills we had developed. The only other limitation was that it needed to be centered around a western theme as the convention was being held in Tucson Arizona.

I teamed up with John Montgomery of Home Video Studio in Newark OH and Peter Galluzzo of Home Video Studio in Apex NC and we decided to make a western commercial for DVA, our cloud-based streaming solution for home videos. Armed with our love of spaghetti westerns and using a western ghost town belonging to the El Conquistador Hilton Hotel, we set out to do just that.

Here are some trivia facts:

  • Shooting this little two and a half minute mini-movie required a day and a half of production (shooting in front of the camera) and more than two days editing the footage we shot.
  • We used a Canon EOS C-100 DSLR as our primary camera and edited on a laptop using Adobe Premiere Pro software.
  • The actress playing the saloon keeper, Stella, is my wife, Kate.
  • The actor playing The DVA Kid is Vernon Walker, a local actor and horse trainer who made himself available for our project as well as other projects that were in development that week. He’s included The DVA Kid as part of his demo reel on IMDb. 
  • The uncredited voiceover at the end of the film belongs to Jay Carneal of Memory Box Archives, Richmond VA.
  • The DVA Kid won for Best Backlot Video at the 2017 Hanley Awards. The trophy is on display at our studio.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

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.

Happy Birthday Sergei Eisenstein!

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I don’t know if anyone noticed that Google paid homage to Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein yesterday. It would have been his 120th birthday.

I studied Eisenstein’s work when I was in college – particularly his masterpiece silent film “Battleship Potemkin.” His primary contribution to the film world was his development of the film montage – editing disparate clips in a way to evoke emotion and add to a story in a brief period of time,

The role of a film editor is often largely overlooked by the general public but there are few other contributors that have as great an impact on the final product. The editor, more than anyone else is tasked with capturing the heart of a film and delivering it to an eager audience. If he does his job well, no one notices him… they’re too involved in the story he pieced together.

Eisenstein’s work today may seem dated or even antiquated. But there is no mistaking that it was revolutionary in its time. The Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin (filmed in 1925) is still studied in film classes today. It was even successfully copied in many other films decades later including: Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables; Terry Gilliam’s Brazil; George Lucas’s Star Wars III; and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather.

As someone who edits video, I can appreciate how a film is enhanced and improved through the work of someone who takes raw footage and converts it to a finished product. It takes skill to shoot video. It takes a different skill to shape the video shot into a final product that will engage an audience.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. We also edit those memories to tell the story you want future generations to remember. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.