With A Song In My Heart

I used to think that my company produces the best emotionally charged gifts available. I still do. And if you want to give your family a present that will live long into the future, there’s nothing like giving them a gift containing the memories of the past. That’s what we do at Home Video Studio.

But, the next best thing would be to take the emotions of your heart and set them to music. And that is exactly what does. Once you answer a few questions and provide a couple of details, they will produce a professionally mixed original song specifically for you that will melt the heart of your significant other. I should know… I had one produced for my lovely wife for her birthday. And outside of the videos that I produce, it was the best gift I ever gave.

It was a random Facebook ad I responded to so I realized that it was a roll of the dice that could have gone badly south. But exceeded my every expectation and allowed me to give my wife an experience she will never forget.  Fortunately, I had my phone out and was able to record her reaction the first time she heard 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.

Playing Through Adversity


I am constantly amazed at how frequently history comes walking through our doors. Today a client brought us some films that were part of his dad’s collection. He then began to tell his story.

His dad was Paulino Caron, a Cuban musician turned dissident during the height of the Castro regime. He was an active participant in the disastrous Bay of Pigs “invasion” and as a result was captured and imprisoned by the Castro forces along with nearly 1200 other members of Brigade 2506. While in the prison camp, he was shot twice – once in the chest and once in the arm for being “uncooperative.”

What he was doing was trying to build morale among the other prisoners. He fashioned and led a prison camp band. They had no traditional instruments so they improvised. Broken bottles became horns, trash cans became drums. And they played music. It became so popular amongst the other prisoners they performed weekly shows. They took to calling it “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

After JFK finally arranged for their release in late 1962, the real Ed Sullivan, who had heard of their inspirational story, invited them to appear on his actual show with their makeshift instruments to play to his national audience. The video clip survives and can be found below. Paulino Caron is the one leading the band.

As the son was telling his father’s story, the pride in his voice and the glow in his eyes told me all – this was a story I needed to retell. I am thankful that he allowed me to do so.

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.

Name Droppings

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I am a big fan of talent. And it thrills me when talented people come into our studio to ask for our help in protecting and preserving the artistic creations they’ve made. We have had quite a few stop by our studio over the years.  They usually space themselves out but yesterday in particular it was like celebrity central around Home Video Studio.

It started out to be a relatively uneventful day when into our studio walks Key West artist/muralist/sculptor, Dick Moody, who also happens to blow a mean saxophone. We always enjoy talking with Dick who is never short on stories about his time on and off the stage with familiar names in the music and art world. Dick came in to get a live jam session he was a part of at the Green Parrot in Key West transferred over to a usb drive.

No sooner did he leave than we got a surprise visit from our old friend Colin MacLeod, the Celtic Fiddle Guru, who stopped in on his way to Singapore and Australia to regale audiences there with his unique style and inspirational message. He needed to get a number of his CDs duplicated so he would have something to sell after his appearances.

And to top the day off on a high note, we had an enjoyable visit from Canadian Country Music Juno Award winner, Glory-Anne Prophet who found some “lost” recordings of her late husband Ronnie Prophet who was a world-class, hall of fame entertainer. She presented us with a number of his 45’s and a mixture of his audio recordings to make a compilation CD for future enjoyment.

It was a red-letter day all around for us but, to be quite honest, most days here are. Because whether you are an international star or just a celebrity among your own family, your memories are special and you will always receive special treatment from us. You can rest assured that we’ll always give you the star treatment you deserve.

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.


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.

One Man’s Noise Is Another Man’s Symphony


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Passion is a wonderful thing. It is something that can be shared and appreciated… but not always understood. I learned that recently through a client who brought in an audio tape that he wanted “cleaned up” a bit.

I was not prepared for what I heard. Noise would be putting it mildly. There was percussion, but no beat. Sounds but no melody. Have you ever heard a comedy routine where a character leaves the stage and the next sound you hear is the crash of someone tripping over a garbage can? To my ear, it was kind of like that but it lasted some 20 minutes.

When the client returned to pick up his order, I got an opportunity to learn a little more about what it was I was transferring. Turns out, it was a real and rare recording of a specific musical composition. The proper term is called “twelve tones” and is also known as dodecaphony or twelve tone serialism.

Devised by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg in 1921, the term “denotes a system of musical composition using the twelve chromatic notes of the octave on an equal basis without dependence on a key system. The technique is central to serialism and involves the transposition and inversion of a fixed sequence of pitches.” [Wikepedia]

I know, right? Silly of me not to recognize it. But while listening to my client who obviously had a passion for the mathematical precision needed to compose and perform this particular discipline, I couldn’t help but form an appreciation for something beyond my comprehension.

Researching it a bit further, I found that this musical system has been adopted by many classical and mainstream composers including Igor Stravinsky and American composer Scott Bradley, probably best known for scoring Tom & Jerry and other cartoons.

Here’s an audio sample of a twelve tones composition by Anton Webern.


It’s not what I’d call a toe tapper but I’m told there’s a musical genius behind it that my audible perceptions aren’t skilled enough to recognize. Which is why I love what I do… I am continually introduced to new disciplines, artforms, and historical facts or events of which I had no previous knowledge. And I get to hear about them from people who have developed a passion for them to the point that they want to preserve the memory of it. And that is something I can definitely understand.

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.


Searching for Salsa Man



Life can certainly contain some surprising twists and turns and I love hearing the stories that some of my customers tell about theirs. Yesterday, I transferred a music video for a customer who shared with me the reasons why he needed it.

A few years ago, there was a documentary called Searching for Sugar Man. It was about an all but forgotten American musician named Sixto Rodriguez who was living in near obscurity in Detroit. Unbeknownst to him, his music had gained a phenomenal popularity in South Africa even though his fans there knew nothing about him. In fact, there was a false rumor going around that he died shortly after making the one album they were all listening to.

The movie documented one man’s search for and eventual discovery of the musician whose record sold more copies in South Africa than anything recorded by Elvis Presley.

My client may be about to have the same kind of experience. After decades of living a non-celebrity, non-musical life here in Central Florida, he’s just learned that a salsa album he made some twenty five years ago has been getting a lot of radio play in South America. Turns out the new generation has “discovered” him and has been clamoring to hear his songs in the discos and nightclubs they frequent. So much so that it has caught the attention of some music producers.  He’ll be meeting with them in a few days and wanted to bring a video of himself performing back in the day. Of course, back then, the video was stored on a VHS tape and that is what brought him to my studio. I transferred it to a digital form.

Just goes to show that you never know what life will bring us. I wish my client well; that he has good success and enjoys whatever ride he is about to start.

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

First Record

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Kids today have so much to be thankful for… but at the same time, I can’t help but think that they may be missing out on some of the more iconic moments we remember of growing up. I vividly recall the first music that I purchased with my own money. A 45 rpm single of The Beach Boys hit “Barbara Ann.”

For any kids that may be reading, let me explain. Before there was iTunes or Pandora or Spotify, there were record stores. That’s where we would have to go to buy a song we wanted to hear. They were sold as single recordings on vinyl discs that could be played by dragging a needle across the face of them. On the flip side was usually a lesser known song by the same artist or group. In my case, it was “Girl, Don’t Tell Me.”

Buying a record was a monumental decision for a child. The first time you put your allowance money down to buy a piece of music that wasn’t chosen for you by your parents was like taking a first step towards your independence.

I may be wrong but I doubt today’s kids can remember the first song they downloaded. It is just too easy a process to be memorable. Back in the day, great thought and planning had to be made to bring about the physical transaction that resulted in a sale of the one piece of music you decided you wanted to own. There would be other purchases to be sure, but the first record held a special meaning all its own.

“Baa Baa Baa, Baa Barbara Ann…”

Or maybe not.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. One of the many services they offer is digitalization of audio recordings from reel to reel tape, cassette tapes, or vinyl records. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit