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.

Viva La Similarité

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I have been asked repeatedly, “Do you write your own blogs or did you hire someone?” When I assure them that I write all my own stuff they quickly follow up with “Where do you find the time?” or “Where do you get the ideas on what to write about?”

If you haven’t picked up on the theme of my blog as yet, it is based on a simple truism. Memories matter. Each one of us is a walking encyclopedia of experiences. We wake up, experience life, go back to sleep. And repeat day after day.

When I started my Home Video Studio business, people started bringing their memories to me for preservation. And it struck me, in an age when our differences are continually being magnified or exploited in what appears to me to be an orchestrated attempt to keep walls or divides between us, how similar our memories are. Despite all the cultural, racial, economic, philosophical, political, or gender specific labels that can be used to highlight our differences, our memories seem to prove the opposite. They unite us in a deeply personal and profound way.

We tend to record the same kind of events and for the same reasons. Our memories spark the same emotions within us; bring the same smile to our lips; cause the same tears to be shed. When a customer comes in and tells me what memory he or she is looking to have preserved, it is never hard for me to relate. I have the same kind of memories and I know how important they are to me.

Most if not all of my blog posts come directly from a shared memory that I have been reminded of by working with or talking to my clients. I never seem to have writers block because we all have a vast memory vault from which to pull treasures.

Yes, we are all different because we are all unique individuals. But within our differences there is plenty of common ground upon which we can stand. Share a memory with someone today. You may be surprised to see where it will lead.

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.

Cry Me A River

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Tears are shed relatively freely in our studio. Most of the times they are happy tears… but not always. Memories can dredge up emotions and can bring back the pain of loss or hurt. Our clients know they will always find a compassionate ear or empathetic shoulder on which to lean at such times. And we stock a large supply of tissue.

We’ve seen octogenarians shed tears watching footage of their now adult grandchildren as kids and being reminded of how quickly life has passed.

We’ve had people break down simply by hearing the long forgotten voice of a family member who had departed this earth decades earlier.

We’ve helped families plan memorial video presentations for their loved ones even as they grapple with the deepest emotional pain they’ve ever experienced.

We get it. We understand. And we are right there for you. Because as sometimes painful as they are, memories do matter.  Because with the passage of time, our sadness will eventually fade. And when it does, it is the memories that we have worked to save or preserve that will bring us comfort, joy, and happiness. Sometimes, it feels like they are the only things that can.

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.

Batman

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Did I ever tell you all about my bat encounter?  It was probably not one of my finest moments.  Picture me, alone in a house. Watching television in a pair of gym shorts and not much else. It was summer. And hot.

I noticed a smudge on the fireplace bricks. Never noticed it before. I went up to wipe it off but as I reached out my hand, it flew away.

My scream broke a decibel level, I’m sure. Last time I heard anything like that come out of my mouth was at the end of Carrie when (SPOILER ALERT) Carrie’s hand reached out of the grave.

My mind came to grips with the situation. I had a bat in the house. I was the only one home. It was up to me to defend the homestead. I needed to gear up.

Protect my feet – cowboy boots. Protect my hands –  winter gloves. Wait a minute… didn’t I hear that bats like to nest in hair? On goes the cowboy hat.  Now I look like the consummate bat hunter. Gym shorts, cowboy boots, big insulated gloves, bare chested, with a stetson to complete the outfit.

And to capture the flying demon?  What else… a tennis racquet. Did I mention that I was alone in the house?  Thank goodness. There would be no photographic evidence of any of this.

I stalked the creature around our living room and for a terrifying quarter of an hour it was man against flying mammal. I swung my tennis racquet with wild abandon any time it fluttered in my direction, looking every bit the weekend tennis player that I was. Suddenly, out of frustration, I flung the racquet up in disgust and accidentally clipped the bat which zigged when it should have zagged. It crashed to the floor.

I quickly placed a trash can on top of it and sat back, spent.  Now what? I caught a bat. I knew I had only stunned it. So what do I do?

I settled on the humane option. I took the trash can out to the patio, removed the lid and let the bat fly free into the night sky. But I can’t help thinking that while I had a funny story to tell my friends, the bat had a much better tale to tell – the story about a near-naked cowboy tennis player with big hands who in a moment of compassion, let him go.

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.

Memory Lapses

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Hey, it happens to all of us. We take great pains to record the special moments of our lives. Then we tuck them away to make sure they are kept safe and secure. After 30 or 40 years, we take them back out only to find that we can’t watch them any more because the technology we used back then is now obsolete.

So we find someone like Home Video Studio who can convert our old memories to a digital form that will play on today’s equipment. All well and good but we’re not out of the woods yet. As we are watching those memories play back… the ones we haven’t seen for decades… we discover that we don’t recognize some of the people or places that appear on the screen.

It happens more often than you think. I had an elderly couple watch some of their 8mm film that I transferred for them. The footage opened with a pair of toddlers under a Christmas tree. I could see their confused expressions. They looked at me and actually asked if perhaps I was showing them someone else’s film. They were so adamant that I began to doubt myself. I doubled checked but it absolutely was their footage.  As we continued to watch, they eventually realized that the toddlers on the screen were their own children — just 60 years younger then they are now.  It turns out, my clients had never seen that particular 8mm film before. It was shot but never viewed. Tears were certainly shed once we recognized what we were seeing.

Now sometimes, the mysteries are never solved. No worries. I’ve had people come back to me and ask me to edit sections of their movies in order to remove people or places that no longer have any relevance to their lives. Once the film or video has been digitalized, editing that footage is relatively easy to accomplish. We have the ability to shape your memories to your exact specifications, allowing you to enjoy your past exactly the way you want to remember it.

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.

Everyone Has A Story To Tell

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It is the tagline we use in the marketing for our LifeStories product: “Everyone Has a Story to Tell.” And because of what I do, I am in the unique and privileged position to hear many of them. I found myself reflecting upon some of the people I’ve met and the tales they have told since I opened my studio.

There was the WWII fighter pilot who told me about the dogfight he had with a Japanese Zero during the great Marianas “Turkey Shoot.” At one point the Zero, who was out of ammunition, tried to ram him in mid air, passing so close over his head he could actually count the rivets in the fuselage.

There was the mom of a world champion waterskier who would fill me in on what it was like in the early days of competitive waterskiing with story after story of her daughter’s journey.

There was the ex-musician who was working as a laborer here in Central Florida who had just learned that an album he made some twenty years ago had become very popular in South America and was getting a lot of radio play. He was on his way down there to make a personal appearance.

There was the documentary filmmaker who was finishing up a project on powerlifters and had some bizarre encounters with some of the colorful characters who hang around the periphery of that sport.

There was the combat veteran who was involved in the Battle of Midway. He watched the entire conflict from his perch on a 30 foot searchlight tower armed only with a rifle. Mere days earlier he was sharing a bunkhouse with Hollywood director John Ford who would regale him and his other bunkmates with stories of his movies and the celebrities who starred in them.

And recently I sat with a woman whose parents bought a three masted schooner in 1948 and beached it by a NJ boardwalk in order to convert it to a unique gift shop/tourist attraction. It became the signature landmark of the entire community.

What’s your story? And how can I help you not only to tell it but preserve it so it can be retold to future generations? Call us to get started.

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.

The Music Machine

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If I have said it once, I’ve said it countless times… memories make the best gifts ever. I was reminded today that I have actually been gifting memories longer than I’ve been in the memory business.

Way back, when my son first got married and entered into the Coast Guard… while he was going through his initial training at Cape May NJ, our daughter-in-law, who was carrying our first granddaughter to be, stayed with us. While she was there, probably thinking about the things she wanted to share with her expected child, she mentioned that there was a children’s record that she listened to all the time when she was growing up but she didn’t know what had happened to it.

It was called The Music Machine. After a little online research, I was able to find the CD of it (both vol.1 and vol. 2) and purchased them for her. To be honest, I had never heard of it before but hearing her talk about it let me know what an important part of her childhood it was to her.  Seeing her reaction as she opened the package made me a solid believer that gifting a memory, when you can pull it off, is the best gift you can ever give.

Those CDs became staples in her audio collection and she played them repeatedly on road trips she spent with her daughters. 

Here’s a little about Music Machine:

Recorded and released in 1977, Music Machine (AKA The Music Machine: The Fruit of the Spirit or Music Machine: A Musical Adventure Teaching the Fruit of the Spirit to All Ages) (1977) is a Christian children’s album by Candle. It is set in Agapeland, and teaches children about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It features the characters Stevie and Nancy. It spawned a series of spin-off Music Machine albums, books, a video game and Music Machine movies too.

If you, like me, had never heard of it before, here’s a sample of the kind of songs that were featured on the album:

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

Hi Ho, Oh No, It’s Off To School I Go.

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We have five senses. And a memory can be attached to any or all of them. Today, I was reminded of a memory through an auditory trigger which led to an olfactory memory.

An old high school buddy who I read online today mentioned a local radio station which prompted me to recall the local AM station my family listened to in the morning every…single…day…for…fifteen…years. It did have the best contact information to report on school closings due to stormy weather which is why my parents tuned into it. But it also had some very odd practices which it never wavered from. One of them was the practice of playing, at 6:30am, a military march to get their listeners awake and active and ready to face the day. Let me say, that when you’re a school-aged kid, you don’t much appreciate that style of music jarring you from your deep sleep.

And I was hit with a double whammy, because my father, as a depression era kid, refused to waste food. If the previous night’s meal was not entirely consumed, it became his breakfast the next day.  Here’s what he did. He chopped up an onion. He chopped up a green pepper. He took the leftovers of last night’s meal. And he threw them all into a skillet. It could have been lasagna, it could have been flank steak. He just fried it all up. The smell of fried green pepper and onion quickly infused the house and it…along with the oom…pah…pah beat of the morning march.. drove me straight out of the house. I could not get to school fast enough.

To think of it, I never did stick around long enough to see if my dad ever ate his concoctions. Perhaps it was all a ruse to get us kids to wake up and go to school. But, knowing him as well I did, I wasn’t about to bet against it. It worked. We survived and I got an education. And as much as I am loathe to admit it, I even developed a kind of fondness for military marches.

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

Wedding Memories

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I don’t know if anyone noticed but there was a little wedding that took place yesterday. Congratulations to the newly wedded Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Nice ceremony. And I should know. I’ve certainly transferred enough wedding videos to recognize the good from the great (there’s no such thing as a bad wedding. There may be bad marriages perhaps but weddings are always happy occasions). And I’ve seen my share because they are usually among the first memory people want to digitally protect and preserve.

There was the outdoor wedding that had to be moved under the caterer’s tent when the weather took an unexpected turn for the worse. People coped. Couple got married. Everyone was happy… wet but happy.

There was the wedding that took place around Halloween. It was a costume affair. Bride was a princess. Groom was a frog. Minister was a vampire. I would have been… you guessed it… a cowboy. People seemed happy beneath the masks they were wearing.

There was the Indian wedding and reception that from beginning to end needed three DVDs to hold all  the video that was shot. Lots of colors. Lots of music. Lots of cultural traditions. Lots of happiness.

There was the wedding that had members of the wedding party seemingly competing with each other as to who could give the most emotional toast. Lots of tears but they were happy tears that flowed from an abundance of love and joy in the room.

My favorite wedding video of all time is, of course, mine. And it was the very first videotape I transferred when I got into this business of digitally preserving memories. What is the state of your wedding memories? If they are still on film or videotape, let me protect them for you by converting them to a DVD or digital file.  And if you never had a video done of your wedding, bring me your wedding album. I’ll make a movie for you using your photographs and your favorite songs.   You’ll be glad to have it so you can pass all that happiness onto future generations. And what a wonderful surprise gift for your spouse!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, 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.