The Future Is Here

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We finally did it. We cut the cord… to cable tv. And I wish we had done it years earlier. There is a bit of a learning curve because it does alter the way one watches televised entertainment but I’m slowly adapting.

I have been a lifelong channel surfer. Back before we had remotes, I used to wear out the TV dial by turning it to change channels constantly. That habit, honed over the last 50 years, has been deeply ingrained in me. I’m finding that it doesn’t serve me well with this new technology but the cost savings are so high that I’m making the effort to retrain my TV watching habits.

We’ve cancelled our cable service. To replace it, we bought an HD antenna which picks up some 60 channels of which maybe 5 has programming that we might watch (mostly local news shows). We also bought an Amazon Fire TV kit that connects to our Smart TV. I am an Amazon Prime subscriber and we’ve signed up for Netflix. The HD antenna and Fire TV were a one time fixed cost and the combined Netflix and Prime monthly subscription rate are substantially less than the monthly cable bill we were incurring.

But no more channel surfing. Streaming technology is more suited to binge watching. Pick a show and watch a season at a time. My wife just finished The Crown and is working her way through The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I just finished the last two seasons of Stranger Things and have yet to decide where to go from there. There is just so much to choose from.

It is a new world with new rules…but it seems to be where the future is heading.  That is one reason why we offer Digital Video Archive as a part of our Home Video Studio services. Digital Video Archive (DVA) is the streaming alternative for your home movies. We even have an app that works with the Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick. Just bring your home movies to us, we will encode it to the DVA format while you download the DVA app to your Fire TV or Fire Stick. And in no time you’ll be watching your home movies on your smart TV, your smart phone, or your computer. And you can share them with all of your friends and family no matter where they live.

The future is here.  And you can find it at Home Video Studio.

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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New Is Not Always Better

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My wife and I like antiques and have pretty much furnished our home with them. Perhaps 80% of the furniture we use is over 50 years old if not older. One thing we quickly realized is that certain concessions have to be made when you choose to populate your living space with old things.  Like not expecting them to always work as they should.

We have a 100 year old storage cabinet with drawers that always stick… to the point where I don’t remember what we’ve stored in two of the drawers because it’s been so long since I’ve been able to open them. But the cabinet itself looks great and fits the space. And so far I haven’t missed whatever might be in those two drawers so I really don’t feel the need to replace it.

However, our dining room table which was bought from a Sears catalog in 1905 was admittedly beginning to show its age. The table itself still looked in good shape but whenever we inserted its leaves to accommodate visitors, my wife was so embarrassed by their condition she needed to use a tablecloth to cover the flaws.  (Which kind of gives me a clue as to how she’ll be dressing me in years to come.)

Anyway, we started pricing out replacement dining room sets and the costs to get something of quality were exorbitant. So we just kept the old Sears set until we could figure something out. One day, at an antique auction, I spotted an old dining room set that was being put up for sale. Nice carvings, chairs looked great. And it was a drawer-leaf table – meaning it went from a 4 top to a 8 top by pulling out its built-in leaves. And they were in great shape… original to the table which means no tablecloth would be needed.

I looked at my wife who shrugged and said, “I don’t think so.”  By this time, we’d been looking for over a year without finding even a potential candidate. I was excited by this find but my wife was not so I played it cool.  I sat down and watched the auction.

The table came up late in the sale. Still looked good to me. My wife sat stone faced. The auctioneer opened the bidding. Crickets. No one wanted it. He dropped the opening bid price. Sounds of silence from the crowd. He looked at one of his partners and said, “Looks like I’m buying this one. $100 to…”

I thrust my paddle in the air so quickly, I broke the sound barrier. Based on the expression my wife gave me, she must have heard it. But I bought the dining room set: One expandable table, six chairs, in near perfect condition, for $100.00. It now sits proudly in our home as a table no one sits at… right near the cabinet that doesn’t open and the clock that doesn’t chime.

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.

I Am Grout

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I’d like to meet the twisted mind that invented grout… or at least the consumer application of it. It’s difficult to apply; impossible to keep clean; and a major pain to remove. Really, what’s to like?

Guess what I spent the weekend doing? Why my wife puts handyman items on my weekend todo list I will never know. After so many years of marriage, you’d think she’d pick up on the fact that, while I have many long suits, being handy is not among them.

But the state of the grout in our shower stall has been skeezing her out for a while now so as I approached my Sunday chore list I saw written (in capital letters) REGROUT THE SHOWER TILES!  First step: I immediately went to get a six pack of beer to use as a celebration once the job was done. It is important to self-motivate.

Turns out, I got lucky. It wasn’t the grout that needed replacing. The silicone sealer had become stained over time – probably because it was poorly installed the last time it was done. (Not one of my finest efforts.)

So out with the old, in with the new. To be honest, it wasn’t that tough a job… at least it wouldn’t have been for a guy under 5 feet tall. But at 6’3”, and something something years old, my body doesn’t bend and maneuver in a small square space all that well. It did get a little looser after I self-lubricated by cracking the celebration beverages a bit early.

So mission accomplished. Our stall has been re-silicone sealed. Can’t wait to see what is on the list for next Sunday.

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.

They’re Having A Bowl!

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A few years back I was asked to sponsor a neighboring community’s bowling league to help it get launched. Why not I figured? I always like to help out my fellow Floridians.

The league was launched in Oxford Fl, just outside of The Villages, the nation’s premiere retirement community and was open to all residents of The Carriage House, which is an independent living facility and the current home of my own mother.

I paid a visit to see how the fledgling league was getting on and to my surprise, it has grown and flourished. Multiple teams, two lanes (plus a practice lane on another floor), some teams even have cheerleaders rooting them on.  Scores and stats are diligently kept. Granted, we’re talking Wii Bowling but these octogenarians are eating it up. And they’ve gotten pretty darn good. And, a little prideful boast… last season, my mom’s team came in first. They call her team the Studio Stars… thanks for the plug, mom.

It actually does good to see our older citizens enjoying an activity together, having fun despite the aches, pains and other difficulties that seem to increase with every year that passes. Really, isn’t that what we should all wish for? To enjoy as much of this life as we can, spend time with people we like or love, and not let the frailties that may come with the passing of time steal all the pleasures we can derive from this life.

So bowl away seniors. Don’t you let a pin remain standing. We’re all rooting you on.

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

AARRRrrrr!

 

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It’s Pirate Week in Mount Dora.  This is a relatively new thing – a town promotion attaching itself to the success of our popular Seafood Festival, now entering its 3rd year. 

I’m finding that one of the unwritten laws of being a merchant in a small town, you kinda have to go with the flow.  It’s Pirate week… so guess who’s dressing up as a pirate? Hint: It’s not my wife.

I have been wracking my brain searching for pirate memories that I might use for this blog but I keep coming up empty. Is it possible that I’ve never, in my life, had a pirate experience that was strong enough to create a recallable memory?

I don’t remember ever dressing up as a pirate for Halloween. Cowboys, yes. Hobos… done that. But I’ve never been a pirate.

I’ve acted in over 50 different theatrical productions and have played various characters originating from many different cultures: a Chinese grandfather, an Indian warrior, Frankenstein’s monster, a WWII fighter pilot, even a Star Fleet captain… but never a pirate.

But merchant responsibilities being what they are, I begrudgingly agreed to put on the eye patch.

I have to tell you… I can feel the pirate swagger. Maybe it’s the clip on earring… or perhaps it’s the Seinfeld puffy shirt… but whatever the cause… there’s definitely a vibe happening.

If you happen to be in the Mount Dora area this weekend, I hope you’ll enjoy all the activities at our Seafood Festival and please drop by the studio for a quick selfie with Captain Mike.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora 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.

Imagine

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You might be thinking that all I did in the recent Getaway in Tucson was win awards.  I have to admit, that was a sweet icing on the cake but the real reason we attend this annual event is to learn, grow, and stretch our abilities in our field. My personal focus this year was to further develop or polish some of the production skills that I don’t always get an opportunity to use during the normal course of our business. I spent much of my time during that week composing and editing a 60 second commercial that I hope to be using for our company in the coming year.

Here’s a first look at the newest commercial spot for Home Video Studio of Mount Dora. It’s called “Imagine.”

 

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.

Sticker Shock

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I can sometimes be my own worst enemy.

We were in the studio on Saturday. It was an active day with customers streaming in throughout the morning and afternoon. We had a Brazilian couple stop by with a box of memories: film, slides, and videotapes. After a bit of small talk, the husband wanted to get an idea of cost.

So I started looking at the film.  And I was counting aloud as I handled each reel.  “400… 500… 900… 1200…” I caught a glimpse of my wife in the corner of the room. She was animatedly pointing to the client. So I turned in his direction.

I think the proper expression is bug-eyed. I had to stop what I was doing and address his obvious distress. “Is there something wrong?”

He looked at the film and said, “This is going to cost over $1200.00?”

I was puzzled at first and then I realized why he was thinking it might.  “No!” I quickly exclaimed. “I’m just counting how many feet of film you have here.  Our prices are based on how many feet you tender to us so I need to get a count of how many feet of film you have in order to tell you how much its going to cost.  It looks like you have 1350 feet of film.  Based on that, I can now give you an accurate price to transfer that much film to a digital format.”

His sigh of relief could be heard counties away.

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 Evolution of Popcorn

 

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Thanks go out to the Wise Corporation for this insightful (albeit incomplete) evolution of the hands-down all-time favorite movie-watching snack: popcorn.

Whether it is buttered or “naked,” popcorn and movies have long been paired together.

But a glaring omission is to be found in the above chart that remains in my memory banks. If you were a child of the 50s, no discussion of popcorn would be complete without a passing reference to Jiffy-Pop. As the ads said, it was as much fun to make as it was to eat.

For the uninitiated, Jiffy-Pop was a popcorn making invention that resembled a small skillet covered with aluminum foil. Instructions were easy. Light burner on stove. Put Jiffy-Pop container on burner. Shake.  That last part was the most important if you didn’t want charred kernels.

As you shook, the aluminum cover would begin expanding to make room for the ever increasing size of all the popcorn kernels. Once all kernels had been popped, your Jiffy Pop container would look like a small, silver mushroom cloud filled with hot, fluffy morsels of goodness.

I can remember jiffy-popping my way through many a Sunday night and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. And then microwaves came on the scene and Jiffy-Pop became little more than a footnote in popcorn history.

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 Queen is dead. Long live the queen.

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Aretha Franklin impacted so many people with her music… my wife included. Her gospel leanings infused with an energetic pop style led many people to appreciate and applaud her vocals. And with so many iconic songs, Aretha’s sound absolutely electrified a gender; a generation… indeed, an entire world.

As a tribute to this remarkable artist, here are a few memories to hold onto –  a collection of some of her most iconic hits:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Aretha’s reinvention of this Otis Redding song became an anthem of empowerment and basic human rights.

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – Her performance during songwriter/performer Carole King’s Kennedy Center honors brought the house down and brought a president to tears.

Chain of Fools – Another song intended for Otis Redding, it appears on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Think – written by Aretha Franklin, it was showcased in the movie Blues Brothers.

I Say A Little Prayer – This was already a Dionne Warwick hit when a record producer heard Franklin and studio musicians playing around with it during a break in the studio. He had them record it and in just one take, they captured what was to become one of Aretha’s most popular songs.

Freeway of Love – Another Grammy award winning hit from Aretha featuring a killer saxophone solo from Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – This duet with George Michael was to be Aretha’s biggest hit in the UK.

Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) – Originally written by Stevie Wonder in 1967, he sat on it for ten years. Aretha turned it into a hit in 1973. Stevie released his own version four years later.

Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul. R.I.P.

Tap Tap Tap… Tap Tap Tap

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You just never know who is going to walk into the studio on any given day.  Yesterday it was a delightful young lady of 84 who just wanted a DVD of one of her tap dancing performances to be copied.  But this was not just any transfer of an old performance of years gone by. This was a recording of a recent show. As a matter of fact, at 84, she is still teaching tap to anyone who would like to learn.

I had to ask, since I’ve been an admirer of tap dancers for some time, who her favorite all time tap dancer was.  I was expecting the usual suspects.  Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, etc… Her reply was instant and a bit of a surprise. Without missing a beat she blurted out, Dan Dailey.

In my age group, Dailey was not all that well known as a tap dancer… to be frank, he probably wasn’t all that well known at all.  I remember seeing him in a 60s sitcom called The Governor and JJ in which he starred with Julie Sommars. It only lasted a few seasons. But, as it turns out, he was quite a hoofer in his younger days.

After bouncing about MGM in a few modest parts, his big break came after he returned from WWII and was allowed to sign a contract with 20th Century Fox. They paired him with their biggest female star, Betty Grable, in the musical Mother Wore Tights. He would eventually co-star with her in two other films. He had another big hit with Give My Regards to Broadway which boasted an all-star lineup. He then had a string of semi-successful films but the film I remember him in most was a sports biopic where he played Dizzy Dean in The Pride of St Louis.

If you still can’t quite place him, here’s a snippet of a musical number from It’s Always Fair Weather with Dailey, Gene Kelly and Michael Kidd as soldiers returning home from the war.  (Dailey is the tall lanky fellow.)

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.