What’s Your Passion?

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I’ve learned a few things about people as I meet them every day and they share their stories with me. Probably the biggest revelation is that we all share passion. We may direct it in different areas but we all have events, experiences, or activities that we prefer above all others and we spend a great deal of time, money and energy while pursuing them. I love it when my clients share with me their passions.

Just recently, I’ve learned from two different customers a little about the sport/art of dressage. A French term that can be translated to mean “training,” dressage is a highly skilled form of riding where horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements. It is not unusual for the relationship between a dressage horse and rider to span decades. My clients had me transfer videos of them working with their respective horses.

Here, from the United States Dressage Federation is a spectator’s guide to watching a dressage performance or competition.

1. Less is More

In dressage, the less you see the rider do, the better, because that means he is communicating with his horse quietly and his horse is attentive — they are working as a team.

2. Good Figures

Circles are round and lines are straight, a precept true in geometry and dressage. A 20-meter circle should go from one side of the arena to the other, a 10-meter circle only half way across. A horse should not weave on a straight-line movement.

3. Tempo and Rhythm

Rhythm is the repetition of footfalls. A sound dressage horse has only three correct rhythms – a four-beat walk, two-beat trot, three-beat canter. Tempo is the speed of repetition of strides. Every horse should have a consistent tempo throughout the test that is controlled by the rider, a tempo so obvious you could sing a song to it.

4. Naughtiness

Horses, like people, have good days and bad days and days when they are just feeling a little too good. Naughtiness in horses can be exhibited in bucking, rearing, tossing of the head, or even jumping out of the dressage ring.

5. Tension

During a test, the horse needs to remain calm, attentive and supple. If the horse gets tense, he gets rigid through his neck and back, which can exhibit itself in stiff movement, ears that are pinned back and a tail that swishes constantly and doesn’t hang arched and quietly swinging.

6. Rider Seat and Position

The rider should sit upright quietly and not be depend on his whip, spurs or voice to have a nice test. Riders who use their voice have points deducted off their test score for that movement.

7. Whipped Cream Lips

When a horse is relaxed in his jaw and poll (the area just behind his ears), he releases saliva, you might see white foam around his lips and mouth. That is a good sign as it means he is attentively chewing on his bit and comfortable in his work. The amount of white foam varies from horse to horse.

8. Horses and Flight

Horses have two main mechanisms for protection from danger: they run and they kick. Remember to always allow plenty of room for the horses at a show and never approach any horse without first alerting the rider that you are doing so.

9. Scary Stuff

Horses have the strangest aversions: plastic grocery bags can remind them of Satan’s minions and an opened umbrella can cause bolting to three states over. Again, use caution at horse shows and think before you toss away noisy garbage, open an umbrella or put on and take off plastic rain ponchos or blankets in the stands.

10. SSSSHHHH!

Focus is important during any test, from Training Level to Grand Prix, so remember to be courteous and follow the rules by staying about 15 meters (45 feet) feet back from the competition ring and remaining as quiet as possible during rides. If you have any questions about where you may stand or sit, check with the ring steward.

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

Would You Believe…?

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I was brainstorming with a client who wanted to develop an infomercial for his commercial door company and in discussing potential concepts we remembered an old TV series that featured a number of doors during its opening credits.

Who remembers this show:

Here are some facts about Get Smart:

  • The main character was conceived as a cross between James Bond and Inspector Clousseau, two of the most popular movie characters of the 1960s.
  • The series was co-created by comedy legends Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.
  • The pilot episode featured a bumbling but effective secret agent, Maxwell Smart, played by Tom Poston. It was offered to ABC who allegedly dismissed it as being un-American.
  • NBC picked it up with the stipulation that Maxwell Smart would be played by a star they had under contract, Don Adams.
  • Max was Agent 86. His partner, played by Barbara Feldon was Agent 99 and was never given a real name.
  • The series spawned a number of catch phrases and running gags, many of which came from Don Adams’ comedy sketches
    • Would you believe…
    • Missed it by that much…
    • Sorry about that chief…
    • …and loving it…. among others.
  • Don Adams developed Max’s unique vocal delivery from the clipped stylings of William Powell in The Thin Man series of films.

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.

Honoring Thy Parents

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The Bible says it is the first commandment with a promise:

“Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12

That’s a great promise, but, even with putting that aside, it is a great way to live one’s life… by bestowing honor on those who had the care of you during your formative years.

One way to honor our parents and grandparents is to let their life stories live on after they have passed. There are cultures who get this. They embrace their ancestral histories. They have oral traditions; stories that continue to be told generation after generation, educating their young of the heritage that is theirs.

We happen to live at a time when what has been called “the greatest generation” will come to an end. Sometime during our lifetime, we will hear that the last WWII soldier is no longer with us. At that time, how many stories will we realize have been lost to us? How many lessons will go unlearned?

Our elders, who have already lived through so much of life, have a great deal to impart if we just take the time to give them the platform. And with today’s technology, their personal history can be recorded and stored for all time.

If you want to honor your parents (and it is still available to do so), do yourself a favor and record them as they talk about their life growing up. Their challenges; their experiences; their observations… Future generations will be thankful.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and offer a LifeStories service which is a video recording of a family member’s personal history. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Cartoon Memories

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Boy, make one mention of a childhood cartoon and the memories start flooding in. I was born in the 50s and spent most of my childhood in the 60s. Naturally, cartoons are going to be a major part of my early memories.

Here are some of the familiar catchphrases said by popular cartoon characters of my youth. To reveal the speaker, drag your cursor over the open space to the right of the quote. How many did you remember?

20. “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” – Snagglepuss

19. “Boop boop da boop” – Betty Boop

18. “Oh, Magoo.. you’ve done it again.” – Mr. Magoo

17. “Nothing up my sleeve.” – Bullwinkle the Moose

16. “Yabba Dabba Doo!” – Fred Flintstone

15. “I’m smarter than the av-er-age bear.” – Yogi Bear

14. “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” – Popeye

13. “Here I come to save the day!” – Mighty Mouse

12. “Hokey Smoke.” – Rocket J. Squirrel

11. “You’re dethspicable.” – Daffy Duck

10. “Beep Beep” – The Roadrunner

9. “Oh bother.” – Winnie the Pooh

8. “Silly Wabbit.” – Elmer Fudd

7. “Bing Bing Bing!” – Ricochet Rabbit

6. “Suffern’ succotash!” – Sylvester the Cat

5. “Exit Stage Left” – Snagglepuss.

4. “I tawt I taw a puddy tat.” – Tweety Bird

3. “There’s no need to fear…” – Underdog

2. “What’s up, doc?” – Bugs Bunny

1. “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!” – Porky Pig

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.

Word of the Day: Cacophony

 

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It may come as no surprise to find that our business is not one that allows us to do one thing at a time. We have multiple machines in our studio and usually multiple jobs are running on each of those machines simultaneously. And each one emits sound.

I like to think of it as the soundtrack of your lives. That’s not to say that it is always harmonious. Just this week I was transferring a video of a Mexican wedding to DVD while the machine next to it was transferring a series of karate demonstrations. In the adjacent room was a vinyl record of a school band in concert playing patriotic songs that was being saved to a CD. Orchestral arrangements, strenuous grunts, and marriage vows spoken in Spanish are not often heard at the same time. For us, it was just another day at the office.

The word cacophony is defined as a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds. If you think about it, that kind of describes life itself. Which is why, when you drop by our studio, you may be greeted with any number of noises from the past. If you are lucky, it will be the sound of laughing children. But there’s no guarantee. It may also be the bone-jarring rumbling of an ATV slogging through the mud.

What we must remember is that all those sounds represent someone’s past experience and should be respected and honored as such. When heard together, it may be a raucous noise… but it is also a joyful one.

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 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.