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.

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A Stain On My Memory

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We get a lot of compliments on the stained glass windows that frame our windows in our lobby. And they are attractive. But I had nothing to do with them. These gorgeous custom-made artistic creations were left behind by the previous owner presumedly because they were made to fit this exact space.

I know this to be true because, to my surprise, a woman came into the studio a while back to transfer some tapes and recognized her design. Yes, she was the artist who was commissioned to draw the design that became these lovely stained glass windows.

She’s a local and a stained glass designer. Her father, now in his 80s if I recall the story correctly, works out of his garage and creates the glass masterpieces from her drawings.  She gave me her card but I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t do well with business cards. Most of them end up on the floor, tossed in a drawer or, I suspect, somehow drop through a wormhole into a 6th dimension. In any case, I can’t find the card and can’t remember the name of the company to give credit where credit is due.

So, stained glass designer, if you are out there in the blogosphere, drop me a line and remind me of your company name and contact information. I’ll make sure to pass it along to all the people who have been admiring your work.

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.

A Night To Remember

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Our “season” came to an end last night at the 18th annual Home Video Studio Getaway. As always, it was a time of learning, camaraderie, and some good-natured competition as studio owners vie for honors during our traditional black-tie Hanley Awards celebration.

Every year, we enter the event with low expectations due to the level of talent that HVS attracts. The competition is always stiff. However, last night our cup runneth over as we ended up with 8 total award nominations and 5 Hanley Awards.

Memories Matter was chosen for the Cut and Paste Award for excellence in editing. This short piece which I put together using stock footage clips from Film Supply, a video clip repository, tells a story without dialogue. The tag at the end is for a fictitious company, as that was one of the rules of the competition for which it was made, but you could easily replace it with the name of my company for it is my story that is being told.

The Life and Times of Ralph and Mary was selected for Best Memorial video. Memorials will always take priority in my studio as I know from personal experience what a trying time it can be for a family to go through the pain of losing someone. The last thing they need is to stress over putting something together to honor the memory. So we take the stress out of the process. The video we submitted for consideration was unique in that it was a dual memorial for a husband and wife who, after a long life together, passed in relatively quick succession to one another. If we have to depart this earth, I can’t think of a better way to do it. 

Testimonials won out for the Best Studio Promo. Using some stock photographs, retro music and actual quotes taken from some of our client’s testimonials that they have been kind enough to leave on various social media sites, we pieced together this short commercial. As my wife often observes, we have the nicest clients. We always appreciate the feedback we get after we deliver the goods and we wanted to pay homage to the people who keep us in business.

The awards continued with our acceptance of the Social Media award which was given to me, I believe, in recognition of my blogging efforts which has proven to be personally rewarding. Thank you for your support and interest in my musings.

Finally, in what came as a surprise to us, we were humbled to receive the Studio Owner of the Year award. You would have to know the caliber of talent and expertise on display in the Home Video Studio family to understand the level of our shock at being selected above others for this high honor.

But, as special as this time spent has been, we can’t wait to get back to the studio and get back to work. We love what we do and love who we do it for. Hope to see you in the studio in the very near future. We’ll have our Hanleys on display. Come on by and have your picture taken with them.

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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.

Tucson – Day Two

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I spent most of the day in the editing suite working on a commercial spot for the studio while expanding my working knowledge of Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Audition in Adobe’s Creative Cloud video editing platforms. Hopefully, when I’m done, I’ll have something I can use to help promote my business while, at the same time, continuing to build upon the skills I need to provide superior service to my clients.

Being in Tucson, we had an old fashioned cowboy cookout for dinner and afterwards, Kate and I were tapped to be actors in a film for another studio owner who is putting a web video together.  And then it was time for the 2018 awards nomination announcement.  As in past years, the competition is pretty stiff. We have some very talented people in the Home Video Studio family. But we managed to walk away with a total of seven nods. All the nominations were pulled from work I have performed in the studio between September 2017 and April 2018. Here are the categories for which we have been nominated and a brief description of what they mean:

Best Sports Video:  usually a sports highlight video or a sports scholarship video intended to showcase the strengths of a specific player or team.

Cut and Paste Award for Editing: focuses on the juxtaposition and movement from one scene or clip to another. Editing is a key element when telling a story with video. The judges will look for expertise and efficiency in the editing choices.

Best Memorial Video: a specific type of photo/video keepsake that celebrates the life of a person who has recently passed on. 

Best Company Promo: a video intended to promote a business (other than the studio itself). The judges look for how effective the spot is in creating and communicating a call to action in the minds of the viewer.

Best Studio Promo/Trailer/Tag: a video that promotes Home Video Studio. A promo is a 4 or 5 minute spot that describes the services and value of the studio. A trailer is a condensed promo designed to highlight the studio’s services and benefits in under a minute. A tag is a short 10 second clip used as an identifier, like an animated logo reveal.

The Dr. Strangelove Award:  an open category for videos hard to classify. They are usually humorous, often quirky, and …more times than not… a crowd-pleaser.

Best DVA Authoring: one of the features of our streaming service – Digital Video Archive – is the ability to customize a video’s menu features by inserting chapter markers, choosing thumbnail images and more. The award will go to the most creative and useful custom DVA authored video.

Winners will be announced at a black tie gala event to be held this coming Saturday. 

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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.

NOTE: Home Video Studio of Mount Dora is closed until Monday, July 30th, while Michael and Kate attend the 18th annual HVS Getaway in Tucson, Arizona.

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.

The New Normal Isn’t Normal At All

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I attended our local Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting yesterday. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo above but the guest speaker was the Sheriff of Lake County who introduced us to a leading expert on active killer situations. He spoke to us on our country’s long history regarding mass attacks and school massacres. Surprisingly, it is nothing new.  It just feels like it is. That doesn’t make me feel any better. 

My generation never practiced for terrorist attacks or school shootings.  It simply wasn’t on our radar. We were an in-between generation. Too late for the Cold War and too early for domestic terrorism. In my day, the only defense training we received was a twice a year fire drill which hardly any of us took seriously. We got up, marched down the hallways in a straight single-file line until we were outside and then our nature took over and we became kids at recess.

The generation before me wasn’t as lucky. They were taught the duck and cover maneuver to “protect” themselves during nuclear attacks. 

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Speaking frankly, that always seemed a little silly to me. My school desk was unable to protect me from the spitballs lobbed from David Cook seated a row behind me… I somehow think it would not have been an effective deterrent to an H-bomb lobbed from a Russian sub.

These days, whole classrooms are being taught the Run, Hide, Fight response. Instead of teaching our children to be victims (aka Duck and Cover), they are being taught how to take action to try to avoid being victims. It is great training but in my opinion, it is something that we, as a society, should be ashamed by the fact that it even has to be part of the curriculum. Not that it isn’t needed… it is. And that is why we should be ashamed.

Our culture is what it is and there are so many moving parts to it that it is difficult to effect overall change except in gradual steps. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make the attempt. It took a while for us to get to the sad and unfortunate place that we are… and it will take a while to move us back to where we should be. But every step we take in that direction will be worth the effort. There is nothing normal about this “new normal” in which we find ourselves. 

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.

Sliding Into History

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I met with a prospective client today who seemed a little overwhelmed with a project she is beginning to undertake. She has discovered boxes of 35mm slides that contain the photographic memories of her family and her youth.

She wants to preserve them by moving them to a digital medium but is aware of the potential costs and wants to select only those images that will have meaning to her and her family.

It is a natural and understandable feeling. I told her that I’ll be happy to scan anything she brings me to create a digital file that will preserve and protect the memories they invoke but I quite understand that she may not want to bring her entire slide collection to my studio.

I always encourage my customers to cull their collection. Here are the tips I provide:

  • Look for people. One of the biggest mistakes people made back in the day when taking photos was to capture the scenery without placing a family member in the foreground. Getting a nice shot of the Eiffel Tower is great. But you can find better pictures of the Eiffel Tower online or in a book. When preserving memories, focus on the people in your past. Those are the pictures/memories that cannot be duplicated or found anywhere else.
  • Don’t worry so much about photo quality. If the colors have faded or bled a bit, digital restoration can often bring the picture back to its original quality. Our pricing includes color restoration and image enhancement. Don’t reject a slide or picture just because its dulled a bit over time.
  • Know how you want to enjoy and use these memories when the job is completed. We can provide you with .jpg files that will give you individual access to each image. We can also use those .jpgs to assemble a presentation DVD that will play your slides like a movie with motion, transitions and a musical soundtrack. Or you may choose to receive both.
  • The slides will be scanned in the order in which they are presented to me. So if having the slides appear in chronological order is important to you, take the time to sort them chronologically.
  • And for an extra special touch, we can have you add a narrative soundtrack or commentary along with captions so future generations can hear, from your own voice, exactly what they are looking at and why.

Those are just some of the considerations that come to mind. But always remember that our services are completely customizable. We will adapt our services to meet your needs and desires. You just have to tell us what they are.

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

Branded

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I stumbled across this piece of video the other day that reveals some of the clever “hidden in plain sight” images contained within many familiar logos. Who knew such thought went into branding a company or service.

Having once worked for FedEx, I was aware of the arrow contained in its logo. And once it is shown to you, it is pretty much the first thing you notice whenever one of their trucks rolls down the street. But I must admit, many of the other images were surprises to me.

I’m going to have to look closer at the Home Video Studio logo… maybe there’s a secret message in there somewhere.

Here’s the video for your viewing and learning pleasure (from Matthew Santoro)

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

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

 

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Memories truly are the gift that keeps on giving. I am reminded of that every year around this time as I prepare for the Home Video Studio annual “Getaway” convention. Every year during this time of training and team building, the event culminates in a black tie awards ceremony where studios “compete” for best of recognition in 17 different categories.

In preparing for the event, I’ve been going back through the projects I’ve been honored to have worked on this past year, looking for possible entries to represent the work I do in my studio. And, as I do, I am reminded of many of the memories my clients have generously allowed me to preserve for them.

There’s the photo/video keepsake I put together to celebrate a 90th birthday comprised of a collection of photos interspersed with videos of family members telling stories about the birthday girl.

There’s the sports highlight video I edited from a full season’s worth of game films for a high school basketball player who is preparing herself to move on to the next level as she considers her college prospects.

There’s the informational teaching video I prepared for a health and beauty consultant demonstrating a line of skin care products and how to apply them.

There’s the web commercial done for a business based around the testimonial comments their clients have provided that express the quality and value of the work they do.

Each project I go back and review prompts the memory of the memories they contain. And if it is this much fun for me to go back and review, I can only imagine how enjoyable it must be for the clients themselves. It is, after all, their memories being preserved.

Here are the categories for this year’s event scheduled for the end of July: Best PhotoVideo Keepsake; Best Documentary; Cut and Paste Award for Editing; Best Video Production; Best Event Video; Best Short Video; Best Long Form Video; Best TV/Web Video; Best Rookie Video; Best Memorial Video; Best Company Promo; Best Studio Promo/Trailer/Tag; Best Use of Post Production; “Dr Strangelove” Award for Strangest or Weirdest Video; Best DVA Authoring; President’s Award for Best in Show.

Wish me luck. Who knows, maybe one of the projects you had me work on will bring home the trophy this year!

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

Mini-Me

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Consider this a public service announcement. I recently had two different clients come in on two different days with the same request and the same problem.

They had mini-dvds – miniature discs that fit into certain camcorders. Both clients wanted to have the video footage from the discs transferred to computer files that they could play on their computers.

They came in because they found they could no longer watch the mini-DVDs. The reason?  The cameras that recorded them were no longer working. And when they tried to play the mini-dvds on another player… they didn’t work.

Here’s how I explained it to them. Each mini-dvd camera had the ability to write directly to the disk and play those disks back. However, each camera is different in where they store the digital data on the disk. To make the disk universally accessible to all DVD players, they needed to “finalize” the disk. This process puts metadata on the disk that will tell all other players where the files are stored. If that finalization process isn’t done, the only player that would know where the files are is the equipment that recorded it. And no other player would be able to play it.

There is a way to recover files if the original camera is no longer available but it takes some doing. One of my clients still had the camera. The other one didn’t. Thanks to our ability, both will be getting their memories restored to them but it will be at a vastly different price point.

If you have worked with mini-dvds in the past, double check to make sure the disks have been finalized. You’ll save yourself a few dollars.

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.