Dancing Queen

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We do a lot of tape transfers. In addition to our work with film, photos, audio, and editing, we will typically have two or three videotapes playing in the background of our studio as we convert them to a digital form. So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to realize we don’t have a lot of time to sit and watch every moment of every tape as it is being transferred. So, when we do, you know that it has to be something really special to capture our attention.

One of my clients is a videographer who travels the country to capture footage from the many ballroom dance competitions and events that are held throughout the year. He’ll then send me the footage to convert to the specific media format requested by the dancers.

Recently, I received some footage he took at the Michigan Dance Challenge and as it began to play, I found myself riveted to the screen watching the performance from beginning to end. It was mesmerizing.

In 1983, as a teenager, Cheryl Angelelli was practicing with her YMCA swim team when an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. She would eventually become a para-Olympic champion, competing in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 games. When she retired from swimming, her passion turned to the world of ballroom dancing and she has been turning heads ever since.

The grace, fluidity, and seeming effortlessness that she and her partner, Tamerlan Gadirov, bring to the dance floor is both beautiful and inspirational. While watching her dance, one forgets that she is confined to the chair. As she has said, “I don’t dance with my legs – I dance with my heart.”

Their performance in Michigan (seen below) was awarded first place in the Best of the Best Bronze Show Dance which means they will be moving on to compete in the Best of the Best grand finale at the prestigious Ohio Star Ball. We wish them all the best. Keep on dancing.

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.

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A Personal History Restored… Never To Be Forgotten

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Dear Readers,

I apologize for the long blog absence. I kind of got caught up in the holiday season/rush and fell out of the habitual practice of writing about the memories I am privileged to capture and preserve.

I had always planned to get back into the swing of things but the longer I waited, the more difficult it was to find a topic that somehow justified breaking my unintentional silence.  Until today.

I am not often surprised when I do videotape transfers. Over the years, I have observed that we, as a people, all record the same kind of events – birthdays, vacations, sports, school concerts, etc… But every so often something comes along that just floors me. And it reminds me that people are always more than they appear and have histories that run deep and wide.

Today, I transferred to DVD a videotaped interview of one of my clients. It appears to have been recorded in the early 80s. He was born in 1934… in Berlin Germany…of Jewish parents. So as a young boy he was witness to and victim of some of the hateful, unconscionable acts that occurred in Nazi Germany.

The interviewer took him through his earliest memories and into his families’ experiences during WWII. It was horrifying but at the same time riveting. I could not imagine living through what he was describing… and yet, he had little choice but to live through it.

Memories are not always pleasant but they are always important. The past informs our present and can help to shape our future. The quote attributed to George Santayana says it best: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I am honored to have been able to have heard and preserve this slice of personal history. I would like to think that we, as a people… as a culture… will remember and learn from it so as to be spared from having to repeat it. As I look at the world today and hear the hateful rhetoric being spewed daily across the airways and internet… I’m sad to say that I’m not so sure we have.

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

Forgotten But Not Gone

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National Home Movie Day is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays.

It is celebrated in October – this year on the 20th – and we use the occasion to invite people with unmarked, unlabeled videotapes to bring them into our studio so we can play them on our equipment to look for lost or hidden memory treasures.

Thanks to all who participated this year. Trust me, we enjoy it and look forward to it every year. The stand out this year was a young mother and her eleven year old daughter who were on a quest. She was looking for her wedding tape and brought in about a dozen candidate tapes that it might have been on. The eleven year old just wanted to find the production of Grease that her mom was in when she was a kid because one Halloween she dressed up in her mom’s Pink Lady jacket from that production. This year, she’s going as a cop. With real handcuffs!

Sadly, tape after tape revealed not the sought after recordings but recordings that reflected the interests of years ago:  episodes of Beverly Hills 90210; a Super Bowl; a marathon Friends event; a special presentation of a US Open; and a myriad of HBO movies from various time periods.

I could see the frustration growing but we pressed on. We finally hit an unexpected jackpot on the final tape. It started off like the others – nothing of current interest – but suddenly the scene cut to a Christmas morning with the family gathered around a tree opening presents that were wrapped some 20 or 25 years ago. The daughter squealed with delight as she saw younger versions of her aunts and uncles on the screen.

It made our day.  And we’d like to make yours. Bring your films, tapes, slides and more to our studio and let us convert them to a digital form that will last for future generations. Your children’s children will thank you.

Update: The mom dropped back in today with 3 more tapes. She found Grease and her wedding – she had put them in her safe deposit box for safe keeping prior to hurricane season. Now she’s digitalizing them for permanent security.  I love happy endings.

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

Mystery Date

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One of the iconic board games of the 60s was Milton Bradley’s Mystery Date. Targeted to girls aged 6-14, the game had players collecting fashion cards on their turns. When they assembled a complete matching ensemble, they could open the door to reveal the date. If he was dressed in similar attire, a winner was declared. The mystery dates included: the formal dance dude, the surfer dude, the skier, the bowler, and the dud.

I barely remember the game (I was much more interested in Battleship at that time.) But my sister had it and may have tricked me into playing Mystery Date once or twice. I seem to have a faint recall of getting the dud date but have managed to block out most of those details from my memory.

However, I do get faced with “mystery tapes” on almost a daily basis. You know the ones I mean. The VHS, VHS-C or 8mm tapes that were tossed in a drawer or shoebox. Quickly forgotten until discovered on a spring cleaning day decades later. But now, with no label on the tape and no way to play it to find out if it is something worth keeping, it goes back into the drawer until someone finds it next time a cleaning day rolls around.

I get asked on a regular basis if I can play a mystery tape in my studio so the prospective client can see what’s on it. Unfortunately, during normal business days, the equipment in my studio is busy performing transfer services and can’t be interrupted to satisfy a curiosity.

Except for one day a year. On Saturday, October 20th in honor of Home Movie Day (yes, that’s a real thing), we will suspend all normal operation and open our equipment up to the community so they can finally see what they’ve been holding onto all these years.

So, from 10 am until 4pm on Saturday October 20th, bring your unlabeled tapes to Home Video Studio and we’ll help you see your mystery tape. Hopefully, it won’t be a dud. If, after seeing what memories the tapes hold, you would like to protect and preserve them, we’ll also be offering our transfer services at discounted rates.

Even if you have no tapes to bring, stop on by anyway. We’ll have a good time reliving old memories with friends and neighbors. We’ll have the popcorn ready. Happy Home Movie Day.

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

Film or Videotape?

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I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client the other day. He came into my office with a videotape and some reels of film and told me that some fifty years ago his father had already had the film transferred and put on the VHS videotape he was holding. He then asked what would be better – transferring the VHS to a digital form or using the original reels of film to do the transfer?

As I thought about my response it made me realize that it is a complex question with multiple issues to consider:

Cost: The cost to transfer a VHS tape up to two hours is considerably less than the cost to transfer 1700 feet of film (which would equate to approximately two hours of footage.)

Condition: Both videotape and film will degrade over time. But what degrades faster? A lot would depend on how they were stored and how often they were played or viewed. Most condition issues that I see in the studio comes from neglect or from faulty equipment that caused damage during playback.

Quality: Here’s the kicker – our technology has advanced exponentially over the last five decades. The methods used to transfer film to video back in the day now seem rather primitive by today’s standards. Even though his film has aged an additional fifty years since his father had it converted to VHS, converting those same film reels again using current technologies may produce a far superior result whereas converting from the VHS tape can only capture the quality of the tape as it exists today… it cannot improve upon it.

Our film transfer process is top of the line. We use a frame-by-frame image capture device which enables us to control or correct color issues, as well as film “noise” issues which can cause a movie to look “grainy.”  For more information, visit this link.

Bottom line, my prospective client has choices. And we’re happy to present him with all the available options and help him to reach the decision that best suits his purposes. And we can do the same for you.

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.

 

I Work In a Time Machine

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One of the best things about my business is the environment in which I work. It is kind of like stepping into a time capsule every day. Our studio may not be as snappy as a modified DeLorean fitted with a working  flux capacitor, but it often provides the same effect… we constantly find ourselves going “back to the future.”

This past week we spent a lot of time converting old audio recordings to CDs and mp3s. It was a blast from the past hearing a high school graduation ceremony – class of ’63. The students who graduated that year will be celebrating at their 55th reunion this year. I’m sure they would be mesmerized to hear their thoughts and dreams for the future (now the past) expressed on audiotape so many years ago. Thanks to our work, they’ll be able to.

I also had the pleasure of listening to one of my client’s parents encouraging her to talk while she was just a babe. She now has children of her own and will be going through that process again, this time taking the role of the parent teaching the child.

Time is a treasured commodity at Home Video Studio and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t recognize the importance of the many moments that have been recorded for posterity. There’s a reason we, as a people, do it. And there’s a reason we all keep schlepping boxes of these treasured memories around with us from house to house… even when we no longer have the equipment that can play them.

As the title of my blog says… Memories Matter. And because they do, we stand ready to help you ensure that your recorded memories can stand against the test of time. So instead of keeping all those memories locked away on archaic media that can no longer be accessed, bring them to us and give us the opportunity to deliver your past back to the future.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of 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 Got A Problem? I Got a Joke.

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One of the benefits of being a part of a franchise operation is the ability to tap into the collective knowledge of those who are providing the same services you are… even though they may be in different areas of the country.  Every so often, one of us will run into something that we haven’t seen before and it is comforting that we have the ability to learn from those who have been doing this longer and have probably run into the seemingly unsolvable problem that lies before us.

Sometimes.

Recently, one of our colleagues reached out for suggestions about a difficult file transfer he was trying to accomplish.  An android phone video file that needed to be accessed by a Mac computer. And none of the established procedures were working.  The colleague reached out to the Home Video Studio community. And the response was overwhelming.

Studio owner after studio owner offered suggestions as we have all had to deal with uncooperative devices. But all the suggestions offered had been tried to no avail. After multiple suggestions and multiple “tried that, doesn’t work” responses, there was only one recourse. I decided to chime in. After all, the studio owner seemed desperate enough to try anything.

“Take the android phone,” I advised, “Place it in a paper bag. Wave it over your head… And scream like a chicken!” When all is lost, I find it best to take comfort in the comedy stylings of Dick Van Dyke.

The good news is that the owner was able to reach a solution on his own. The difficulty was found to be linked to a faulty cable.  Personally, I prefer the scream like a chicken solution.

Here’s the link to the Dick Van Dyke episode entitled The Impractical Joke. Love me some Dick Van Dyke. He was my comedy mentor throughout high school.

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.

Hail to the Chief

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One of the pleasures of life in a small town is that it doesn’t take much to rub elbows with the  movers and shakers of the community.  I recently spent a pleasant hour with the mayor of our fair city: Nick Girone.  He came into my studio, not to discuss affairs of the city or to canvas for votes. He was simply a client who needed to preserve a memory. And who knew he had such memories to preserve?

Long before he was an elected official, Nick was once part of a family business. One that brought great joy and excitement to thousands of people each year. Nick ran a fireworks production company for ten years. The VHS he brought me to preserve to a DVD format was a production that was held in the Philadelphia Eagles’ Veterans stadium on July 3rd in the 1980s. That show broke the MLB record for paid attendance up to that time.  It was an incredible show with pyrotechnics timed to an orchestrated soundtrack… made even more incredible with the knowledge that this was done before the ability to digitally preprogram the explosions.

I unfortunately didn’t ask for permission to upload a clip so I certainly won’t presume to do so now but I’m sure if you run into Mayor Girone and ask him to play it for you, something tells me you won’t have to twist his arm too much. He has a right to be proud of the work that he did so long ago.

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.

Now, What Did I Come In Here For?

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When you reach a certain age, you have probably have had this experience: You’re sitting in one room of your house when you suddenly get up and walk into another room for a reason… but when you get to that room, you find you can’t remember why you went there.

Memory is sometimes fickle like that. One moment you can recall with absolute clarity the finest details of your past and other times the memory you are searching for seems just out of reach like it is hidden behind a veil. You know it’s there but you are unable to reach out and pull back the curtain to reveal it. It is frustrating.

Having your memories stored on devices that can no longer be played is just as frustrating. All the events, occasions, and family times that were important enough to record for future reference were supposed to be available to us when we reached the future. But technology had other plans.

Fortunately, there is a way to retrieve those memories and bring them with us to our current day and time. If you have a 8mm or Super 8 film but no projector to play them on; or a VHS, hi-8, or mini-dv videotape but no working tape player; if you have boxes of 35mm slides but the irreplaceable bulb in your projector is dead; or you have photos so faded you can’t see the people in them clearly; or if you found an old audiotape that you don’t recognize or a vinyl album you vaguely remember but lack the equipment that can play them… there is a solution.

My company, Home Video Studio specializes in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of old analog media. Bring us a 8mm film, we’ll give you back that footage on a DVD or a computer file that you can play today. We can even offer you the ability to stream that home movie to your smart phone or tablet. Same with all those videotapes you haven’t seen in decades. And as far as the slides, photos and audio recordings go, not only do we give you the access once again to view or listen to those memories, our digital products take up much less space than their bulky analog counterparts.

Your memories deserve to be preserved and protected. More importantly, they ought to be remembered. At Home Video Studio, we make sure they can.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio stand ready to help you protect your memories. And right now, we are in the midst of our Christmas in July sale, offering up to 40% off many of our transfer services. Call 352-735-8550 for more info or visit our website.

Digital Video Archive

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It was a relatively slow day in the studio today. So I spent the time catching up on the video transfers in my queue. I find that more and more people are requesting transfers of videotapes to computer files on usb drives instead of getting DVD disks. And we are happy to do that for them. And we still process a large number of DVD disks. And we are happy to do that as well. But we do have a third option – developed specifically for us. We call it DVA, Digital Video Archive.

Last year, during our corporate getaway, a few of us teamed together to do a western tribute to our DVA product.  I have it posted below. DVA brings the best of the DVD features (chapter markers, authoring capabilities) to a streaming technology. It allows you the ultimate flexibility to watch and share your home movies – wherever you are, whenever you want.  Call us for more information.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s the award winning short film: The DVA Kid.

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.