The New Normal Isn’t Normal At All


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. 


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


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.



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



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 dvd.jpg

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

Color Me Amazed


Michael Ondrasik is nearing the end of his annual training conference and will  soon be returning home armed with an abundance of new knowledge and experience to add to the tools of his trade. He is continuing to blog daily from the field. To have his blog delivered directly to your email, simply click on the subscribe button from his blog page.

As we are finishing up our week-long training, I continue to be amazed at just how much control we, as photo and video editors, have over the manipulation of images – whether they are still photos or moving videos. Over the past few days we received extensive training in many different features of Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Audition, Lightroom, and Davinci Resolve. The technology available to us has grown to unfathomable levels.

Techniques once reserved for Hollywood and their six figure editing suites can now be easily performed by individuals with a laptop and the proper software. Spielberg’s technique of colorizing a single red dress in a full length black and white movie (Shindler’s List)? I did that this week. Ken Burn’s technique of panning and altering the perspective of a still photo? I did that too. How about that shot of Roy Schneider in Jaws where his image zoomed closer to the camera as the beach background grew smaller when he first saw the shark? I learned how that was done as well and can duplicate it with the equipment I have.

I may never have the need to use many of the techniques we covered this week but knowledge learned is never a bad thing. The more I can learn how to use the tools I have, the more options I can give my customers to meet the needs that they may have.

I am looking forward to returning home and putting into practice much of the learning I received this week. I’ll be in the studio on Monday morning bright and early.  Hope to see you then.

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

Live Long and Prosper


Michael is still at the Advanced Training Seminar for Home Video Studio owners but is continuing to blog from the field on a daily basis. Subscribe to the blog to have it delivered directly to your email.

Yesterday, at our conference, we held our traditional movie/pizza night where studio owners around the world were invited to bring and show a small segment of a video project that they have either worked on recently or are currently working on. It is always a fun event showcasing the degree of talent and creativity that exists within our franchise family.

For my part, I decided to bring a short, personal clip that I used to open a 90th birthday video for my mother-in-law. The family had decided that, as a birthday gift, each member should film a short selfie video telling a small story or recollection that would help celebrate the fun times shared over the years. I assembled the clips, and then added some photos and music to make a special 30 minute video presentation. We presented the movie at a family gathering, gave it as a gift to the birthday girl and she has watched it many times since. It makes her cry each time… happy tears.

The clips ranged from sentimental to funny and came from far and wide as our family is spread across the globe. I received video segments filmed from the deck of a Coast Guard cutter destined for Antarctica, from a desert in Arizona, from the beaches of Hawaii, from the hills of Tennessee and in my case, from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the familiar setting of her favorite TV show.

As I often say, if you don’t know what to get for the person who has everything, you can never go wrong with a video of memories shared. And because each keepsake we produce is different – specifically tailored for the person to whom it is given – it can never be duplicated; it always delivers an emotional impact; and it will be treasured forever.

For the curious, here’s the clip I made for my mother-in-law that I showed my fellow studio owners last night:

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories (and in the creation of new ones). For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

Away From Home Still Feels Like Home


Michael Ondrasik is attending an annual training seminar and will return to the studio on March 5th. While away, he will continue to post blogs from the field. Subscribe to the blog to have them delivered directly to your email.

One of the best things about conventions are the people who attend them with you. Sure, there are guest speakers, and educational tracts to take but the real learning and benefit in attending is in the associations you form with people who are doing the same thing you are doing.

Home Video Studio is a quarter century old and has studio locations scattered across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Each studio is independently owned and operated by a studio owner and twice a year we gather to learn more about our industry, share insights and observations about what we do and the problems we encounter with the aim of helping each other solve those problems to make ourselves better suited to serve the needs of our customers.

Tonight, I dined with studio owners from the states of Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and California. The food was good; the company was better. I remember my first year as being a studio owner (a year culminated by being named “Rookie of the Year”). I said it then and I will repeat it now, the people drawn to this business are so passionate about what they do that they decide to make the financial commitment required to open a studio. They are among the most likable, genuine and personable people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

If you ever have the need for the services offered by this franchise, (videotape transfers, film transfers, photo/video keepsakes, 35mm slide transfers, audio transfers, memorial videos, sports scholarship videos, life stories, and more) you can rest assured that you are in good hands. You need not look any further for you won’t find any better.  That, of course, is only my opinion – but it is an informed opinion that caused me to want to join their ranks. You see, preserving your family’s memories is not just a job to us… it is a calling – and an honor.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit

The DVA Kid

I always like to know where my customers heard about me or what brought them to my studio. A lot of time people mention a Facebook post or my link from a Google search. Sometimes they were just driving by and noticed my sign on Donnelly St or they clipped out my ad from the Daily Commercial. But yesterday was the first time that a new client simply said, “I saw that western you did.”

Last summer at a convention for Home Video Studio owners, we were challenged to craft, shoot and edit a small movie under 3 minutes using techniques and skills we had developed. The only other limitation was that it needed to be centered around a western theme as the convention was being held in Tucson Arizona.

I teamed up with John Montgomery of Home Video Studio in Newark OH and Peter Galluzzo of Home Video Studio in Apex NC and we decided to make a western commercial for DVA, our cloud-based streaming solution for home videos. Armed with our love of spaghetti westerns and using a western ghost town belonging to the El Conquistador Hilton Hotel, we set out to do just that.

Here are some trivia facts:

  • Shooting this little two and a half minute mini-movie required a day and a half of production (shooting in front of the camera) and more than two days editing the footage we shot.
  • We used a Canon EOS C-100 DSLR as our primary camera and edited on a laptop using Adobe Premiere Pro software.
  • The actress playing the saloon keeper, Stella, is my wife, Kate.
  • The actor playing The DVA Kid is Vernon Walker, a local actor and horse trainer who made himself available for our project as well as other projects that were in development that week. He’s included The DVA Kid as part of his demo reel on IMDb. 
  • The uncredited voiceover at the end of the film belongs to Jay Carneal of Memory Box Archives, Richmond VA.
  • The DVA Kid won for Best Backlot Video at the 2017 Hanley Awards. The trophy is on display at our studio.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

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

The Amelia Room


If you’ve been to our studio, you may have noticed that we’ve got nameplates over the doors to each of our rooms. You enter into our lobby and from there can either go into our editing room where our our video work takes place or our showroom where we consult with our clients regarding their projects.

But in the back of the studio is an area we simply call “The Amelia Room.” It’s where we do much of our slide and audio transfers as well as some green screen production work. We took the name from our very first customer, Amelia Yokel, who, as it turns out, is a filmmaker in her own right.

Back in 2014, we took a chance on this business, believing that we could provide a needed service to our community but not really knowing if the community would respond. We gambled and made the considerable financial investment in the equipment and support structure and believed for the best.

The very day I picked up the keys to our chosen location, long before our equipment arrived, I was at the studio wiping down the walls, sweeping up cobwebs, and scrubbing the baseboards in preparation for our opening in a couple of weeks. In my eagerness to let people know we were coming, I had already listed our business information with Google, thinking it would take a while for it to come to the attention of the general public.

So imagine my surprise when a car pulled into our driveway. We had no signage, no furniture, no video equipment, no phones… just me in a t-shirt and shorts holding a dirty rag. And yet, here comes Amelia walking through the door carrying boxes.

She had found some 6000 feet of film that her grandfather, locally renown environmentalist Bernie Yokel,  had taken during his travels around the world.  She wanted to preserve it to a digital form. And despite the fact that there was nothing she could see that indicated that I was a legitimate business as yet, she trusted me and gave me the job. 

I will always remember that leap of faith and be forever grateful to her. She could not have possibly been aware of this but receiving a sizable order before I was even open for business  convinced me that I had made the correct choice and could make Home Video Studio of Mount Dora a viable and successful business in our little home town. Amelia gave me support to follow through on my dream. I figured the least I could do in return was to name a room after her.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit