As You Wish

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Some movies just have a special place in your heart or mind.  I found out that my mother-in-law had never seen The Princess Bride so we took the time last night to watch it. It is, for me, classic storytelling. And I never get tired of watching it. That is the sole criterion for me when looking to put together a top ten list of favorite films. That, no matter how many times I may have seen it, it never fails to draw me into its world when I see it again.

While my Top Ten list is an ever fluctuating and always incomplete thing, here are some of the films that I’ve seen multiple times and have not been bored by them yet.

It’s a Wonderful Life – is always at the top of my list. An average, good, decent man comes to discover how impactful his life has been.

The Shawshank Redemption – a riveting tale of perseverance and hope set in the bleakest of all places.

A Few Good Men – I’ve always been a sucker for courtroom dramas or legal thrillers. This one, about a military court-martial, never fails to entertain.

Pretty Much any Pixar film – Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Monsters Inc, Up, Ratatouille, Toy Story… the fact that they place the story and characters on an equal if not higher plane than their animation is what makes this team so successful.

Hacksaw Ridge – Films that depict actual events, when done well, will always capture my interest. This one particularly so because I learned that the filmmakers chose to leave some events out as they thought the audience would think them too unbelievable – even though they did actually happen. It is a remarkable story of courage and conviction.

Being There – a fanciful tale of a man whose only frame of reference to life has been what he has seen on TV. Peter Sellers is masterful in the role.

The Star Trek reboot – breathing new life into an old series whose audience appeal appeared to be waning is no small feat. That J.J. Abrams successfully did it, not just with Star Trek, but also with Star Wars defies all odds. Brilliantly conceived.

These are just a few of the films I’ve enjoyed watching and rewatching over the years. I’m sure you have your own list of favorites. But nothing Hollywood puts out can ever match the level of joy derived from re-watching your own life played out on the screen via your digitalized home movies.

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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The Future is Now

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The following has been floating around the Internet for a year or so.  I’ve heard it attributed to a Singularity University Summit that took place in 2016. While it certainly doesn’t claim to accurately predict what’s going to happen, it does present a few logical assumptions based on informed observations:

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they got bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming.  Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law.

So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years.

It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.

Welcome to the Exponential Age! Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.………

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years…  Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.  Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.

In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans.  In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous automobiles: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public.  Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You won’t want to own a car anymore.  You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking spaces into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. Engineers from Volkswagen and Audi should be completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear. Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars: Electric cars will become mainstream by 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year.  There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and your breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease.  It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster.  All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past. At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities.  You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.

Technology continues to advance at a next to unbelievable exponential rate. In my lifetime, family home movies have gone from being stored on 8mm/Super 8 film to videotape cassettes, to DVD, to SD cards and memory chips. And there is no indication that we’ve reached the end of innovation. This is why we are so pleased to be able to offer our DVA service. Streaming technology has been around for commercial movies and music for a while now. We are pleased to offer this same cutting edge technology tailored especially for the private individual as a way to preserve, play and share their recorded memories.   The future is already here and it is DVA.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and is committed to expending every effort to protect our pasts from being technologically obsoleted. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Deadlines

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Deadlines. Don’t you just hate them?

I know I did. Ever since the day I was assigned homework in school that HAD to be turned in by such and such o’clock. I hated looking at my watch knowing that I was running out of time. I hated the pressure of performing under a time limit. I always have. I can’t tell you how many library cards I let expire because I was embarrassed to go back there knowing that I had missed the deadline to return my book(s) and they were now overdue.  I knew there would be a penalty and I didn’t want to face it. I made my sister return them.

But I have since grown to learn that working under deadlines teaches us discipline. It encourages planning and deliberate execution. It helps to perfect us, in spite of our imperfections. A deadline is the reining in of a goal. It helps to clarify a vision and enables us to achieve what we want to achieve. Deadlines, as I have discovered, are our friend. They help us to keep structured and keep our expectations realistic.  This is a good thing because they are now very much a part of my life – and they have been for a long time.

Speaking of deadlines, if you have any expectation of having film (8mm, Super 8, or 16mm) converted to a digital format (DVD, mp4, or DVA) before Christmas, the deadline to get them to me is today. Any film order presented to me after 5pm Tuesday Nov 28,  cannot be guaranteed a pre-Christmas delivery. I still have room in my videotape, audiotape, photo and slide transfer schedule so if you bring them in anytime this week I can turn it around in time for the holidays. But time is closing in on us fast. And those deadlines will be here before you know it.

 Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Why Super 8 was super

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My very first venture into filmmaking was a high school project I shot and edited on Super 8 film. I’m in good company. Steven Spielberg did the same thing. 
Super 8 was a vast improvement over the regular 8mm film that was being used at the time. 8mm was nothing more than 16mm film cut in half… literally.  Camera operators would need to feed a 25 foot, 16mm sized film cartridge into their cameras, shoot their footage which would record on one side of the strip, then remove the cartridge, flip it over and shoot again so the images would record on the other half. When the the film reached the lab for processing, it was then split down the middle and spliced together to form the 50 foot 8mm film reel that has become so iconic. It was, in a word, a pain.
Super 8 simplified the matter and, by doing so, ushered in a new age of amateur filmmaking. Spielberg and I were not the only ones who cut their auteur’s teeth on Super 8 film. Directors J.J. Abrams, Tim Burton, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan and Michael Bay have all reflected fondly on their cinematic beginnings that started with a Super 8 camera. 
Here, copied from a Live Science blog of 2011 are some random facts about Super 8:
• Although Kodak no longer produces Super 8 cameras, the company still makes four different kinds of Super 8 film. (You can find used Super 8 cameras on eBay.)
• The last manufacturer to produce Super 8 cameras was the French company Beaulieu, which continued making the cameras well into the ’90s.
• Super 8 continues to be used in the film community as an inexpensive alternative to high-definition video. “It tends to be more for small films, commercials and music videos rather than the big blockbuster movies found in theaters,” Johnson said.
• Super 8 film was made using Kodachrome, a type of color reversal film that was manufactured by Kodak from 1935 to 2006. The color was used in motion picture cameras as well as still cameras, especially for images intended for publication in print media. Steve McCurry used Kodachrome for his well-known 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula, the “Afghan Girl”, for National Geographic magazine.
• The new “Super 8” app recreates the experience of having an old-school Super 8 camera by letting you adjust different lens and filter effects while recording a video on your iPhone, iPad or iTouch. The app also contains embedded information about Steven Spielberg’s new “Super 8” movie as part of its marketing.
And in case you were wondering why I didn’t go on to direct films like Jaws, E.T., or Shindler’s List like Mr. Spielberg… here, for your viewing pleasure, is my Super 8 high school effort.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories, including films shot in 8mm, Super 8, and 16mm format. They can be reached at 352-735-8550. www.homevideostudio.com/mtd