There’s a well-known truism about dealing with service vendors. There’s good; there’s fast; and there’s cheap. You can pick any two but you can’t have all three.  In other words, if you want it good and fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good. And if you want it good and cheap, it won’t be fast.

There’s a similar truism about the do-it-yourself option. Whether or not you should tackle a do-it-yourself project depends on three things: Do you have the experience? Do you have the tools? Do you have the time?

If you lack the experience, the finished project may lack some of the quality that a professional could bring. If you lack the tools to do the job, it may be less expensive to hire someone who already has invested in the equipment needed. And if you are short on time, you may never get around to doing the job in the first place.

I transferred a couple of videotapes for a client yesterday to .mp4 files on a rush request. When I asked the reason for the rush, she explained that she wanted to take certain clips to use for a family member’s memorial service video presentation she was going to put together. After expressing my condolences, I asked what program she was using to edit the footage. She didn’t have one. I asked if she had ever used an editing program before. She hadn’t. I asked when the service was taking place. In two days.

I gave her my card, and let her know that I give memorial videos top priority in my studio and to call me if she needed my help to produce something that can be played at the service. Something tells me I’ll be hearing from her. There are times when it just makes sense to use someone who has the time, tools and experience.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation (and editing) 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.

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 Final Cut

editing desk.jpg

I spent most of yesterday at my editing desk. People are learning more and more that digital technology provides almost limitless possibilities in how one’s movies can look or sound.

In the past I have sped footage up, slowed it down, and had it played in reverse. I’ve added soundtracks, suppressed noises, zoomed in closer, or eliminated scenes entirely. I’ve restructured the timing of events, merged scenes together from two different sources, and added subtitles to help with understanding dialogue.

Today’s digital equipment provides editors with a vast array of tools that make it look like they can do just about anything. But it remains a labor intensive process and most editing jobs are still priced out using an hourly rate.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when contracting with a video editor that may help keep your budget in check.

  • Be specific in what you want the final product to be. The more information you provide the editor, the easier it will be for him or her to deliver to your expectations.
  • If possible, provide the time code of the sections that need to be edited. A lot of wasted time (and dollars) can be spent simply trying to find the piece of video that needs to be altered. Knowing ahead of time that it appears fifteen minutes into the hour long video allows the editor to narrow the search.
  • Editors work faster alone. While most will allow their customers to sit with them as they edit, understand that the process will take longer and therefore become more expensive.
  • Recognize the difference between what is available and what is affordable. Some requests, while achievable, can only be accomplished if some extensive man hours are put in. The result may not add a value that matches the cost.
  • Know that some things are simply not possible. A video editor cannot reshoot your original film to refocus, change the angle, or capture something that happened offscreen. What we can do is to insert additional footage or “B” roll to give it that illusion.

There’s an old saying that people “can’t change the past.”  While that remains true on an existential level, we can change how it was recorded and thereby change how it will be remembered.

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

Countdown to Christmas IX


#It’s just four days till Christmas… I hope my true love gives to me…

Our family’s movie highlights#

I see a lot of home movies and while they are all different and unique to each family, there are always similarities.  One that I’ve noticed is that on just about every videotape or reel of film that I transfer, there’s always a moment that stands out. That one section where fortune smiled down on the cameraman who happened to be at the right time and the right place with the camera running and caught the video equivalent of lightning in a bottle.

It might have been a poignant moment, or a turning point in someone’s life; an incident that became the family’s running joke, or simply a tradition within the family that was repeated every year. Whatever it is, on every tape there’s usually one segment that people tend to remember and really enjoy.

The beauty of digitalizing one’s memories is that it becomes so easy to isolate all those moments from your collection of tapes and “splice” them together to form a special highlight reel – without affecting the original footage that will remain intact.

There are few limitations in the world of digital video editing. If you can imagine what you want to end up with, more than likely we can make that happen. And what better gift can be had than to present your family with all their favorite moments gathered together and packaged in an easy to view format?

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