Film or Videotape?

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I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client the other day. He came into my office with a videotape and some reels of film and told me that some fifty years ago his father had already had the film transferred and put on the VHS videotape he was holding. He then asked what would be better – transferring the VHS to a digital form or using the original reels of film to do the transfer?

As I thought about my response it made me realize that it is a complex question with multiple issues to consider:

Cost: The cost to transfer a VHS tape up to two hours is considerably less than the cost to transfer 1700 feet of film (which would equate to approximately two hours of footage.)

Condition: Both videotape and film will degrade over time. But what degrades faster? A lot would depend on how they were stored and how often they were played or viewed. Most condition issues that I see in the studio comes from neglect or from faulty equipment that caused damage during playback.

Quality: Here’s the kicker – our technology has advanced exponentially over the last five decades. The methods used to transfer film to video back in the day now seem rather primitive by today’s standards. Even though his film has aged an additional fifty years since his father had it converted to VHS, converting those same film reels again using current technologies may produce a far superior result whereas converting from the VHS tape can only capture the quality of the tape as it exists today… it cannot improve upon it.

Our film transfer process is top of the line. We use a frame-by-frame image capture device which enables us to control or correct color issues, as well as film “noise” issues which can cause a movie to look “grainy.”  For more information, visit this link.

Bottom line, my prospective client has choices. And we’re happy to present him with all the available options and help him to reach the decision that best suits his purposes. And we can do the same for you.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora 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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Why Two Are Cheaper Than One

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It is a question that gets asked frequently. So much so that I have posted a video FAQ addressing the issue but since it came up again yesterday in the studio, here’s the question and the short explanation.

“Can you put the footage from multiple tapes onto the same DVD?”

The answer is yes, if you want us to, but it will actually cost you more. It is less expensive to have each video transferred to its own disc. Here’s why.

There’s two methods of combining videos:

1- Via a monitored capture. I watch your first video as it is playing and at the precise moment it ends, pause the recording, eject tape 1 and insert tape 2, hit play and continue the recording process so the second tape is being transferred onto the same DVD. But that means that I cannot do anything else in the studio while tape 1 is playing. And so there’s an additional charge for the time spent monitoring the process and manipulating the controls.

2- Through editing. I capture video 1 and then capture video 2. I then take those two files to my editing desk, lay the two files down onto a single timeline and re-encode the footage to a new combined file and burn that to a disk. It is a three step process that carries with it a labor cost.

The most cost effective way to transfer your tapes to a DVD is to let my machines do what they are designed to do. Capture the video footage of a tape and burn that footage to the disk. Once I set up the machine for your tape, the rest is an automated process and I can back out any of the labor or time cost elements to give you the lowest available price.

Just know that most anything is possible to do but there there are price considerations for every option. We work with each of our customers to find the best solutions to meet both their needs and their budgets.

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

Invisible Damage

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I take great pride in the services we provide and the quality we work hard to attain. But sometimes, there are circumstances we are faced with that prevent us from delivering the clearest or sharpest images from the tapes tendered to us.

Recently, I had to deal with some “damaged” tapes that appeared outwardly to be perfectly fine.  It was part of a large order from a client. She presented me with VHS tapes, VHS-C tapes, digital-8 tapes, and mini dv tapes. Over the years, she would continually upgrade to the newest camera models as they were released so she had a large supply of different videotape formats none of which she could watch because the various cameras that recorded and played those formats were no longer available to her. She asked me to convert them all to digital files in order to preserve and protect them.

Her VHS, digital-8 and mini-dv tapes are transferring with no issues. Beautiful results. But almost all of her VHS-C tapes are giving me fits. They just don’t want to track properly on my equipment, causing the picture to “jump” or static lines to display on the screen. After working with the tapes for a while, I believe I know the cause. It is not my equipment. It is functioning properly because other tapes I play on them transmit clear and crisp images. And yet her tapes, regardless of which of my machines I use to play them, do not track properly even though the tapes themselves show no signs of external damage.

What I figure is that her original VHS-C camera that recorded the footage on these particular tapes, at some point, must have been dropped, resulting in its video heads being knocked out of alignment. The camera continued to record but with a misaligned head. This misalignment would be responsible for the tracking issues experienced during playback as the camera’s recording head and my players’ playback head would not be in sync according to the industry’s universally accepted calibration settings.

Because my equipment has the ability to adjust to some degree the alignment of its heads to match the variance of the source tapes, I feel confident that I will be able to capture and preserve the majority of her memories with a minimum of distortion. Just one more reason why it is a good idea to bring your most treasured possessions… your memories… to a professional for safe-keeping.

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.

Oh, The Things You’ll See

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“You must see some pretty wild stuff.”

I get asked that question a lot. People are generally disappointed by my response.  “Not really,” I say. I see interesting stuff; heartwarming stuff; funny stuff; but not that much that would be called wild.

When I first started transferring people’s home videos to digital form, I quickly began to recognize patterns. I realized that deep down, we are all pretty much the same. We all seem to want to record and preserve the same kind of memories. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, vacations, holidays, and a lot of videos of kids just being kids until they aren’t kids any longer.

Now I don’t mean to say that all videos are alike. All of my clients’ tapes are special because they contain memories specific to them and their lives. Some even have historical significance. I’ve transferred film from a European vacation a client had in 1937 that captured the motorcade during the coronation of King George VI. I once transferred a video of a presidential inauguration. The camera never got close enough for me to see which one but Gov. Ronald Reagan was definitely in attendance. I even received film taken during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

I believe that every video transfer job I do is an opportunity to peek into the past and keep a memory alive. But there is a side effect that happens when your job is to help preserve the memories of others. And I have definitely experienced it.

There are times when an adult will come into the studio to pick up the order their parents had placed with me and I will recognize them as their 10 year old self. It is weird to have a sense of knowing someone you have never met. So you’ll have to forgive me if I act overly familiar. For me, it is like seeing an old friend again after many years.

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.

The Best Compliment Ever

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I received a compliment yesterday. I actually receive them most days but I don’t often mention them. I am basically a modest and reserved person (although you may find people who think they know me who will disagree with that assessment. Go figure.) Regardless, I am generally not inclined to bring undue attention to myself.

But yesterday’s compliment struck home with me. It spoke to what is probably the one attribute that I strive hardest at maintaining. I received a call from an out of state individual who has been following me for months on Facebook. He spends part of his year in my area (winters generally) and the rest of the year he spends in northern climates.

He called me to let me know that he has chosen to bring his videotapes to Florida next time he comes down for one reason only. He trusts me to transfer his precious family memories to a digital form in the best possible manner. Through following me on Facebook and by reading my blogs, he said he could tell that I was a person of integrity. That hit my heart big. Because it is true.

I may not always be the smartest guy in the room. I may not always be the most talented guy in the room. But I hope I can always be the truest guy in the room. Ask me a question. I’ll tell you what I can do and what I can’t do. I’ll tell you what I think would be the best solution to your problem and I’ll advise you whether it makes financial sense to chose one way over the other.

Why? Because that is what I want service providers to do for me. Service providers can always make money just by providing the services they do. They don’t need to pad their coffers giving people services or products they don’t want or need. I vow never to be that guy. I want to be the guy people trust to do right by them. My integrity is everything. I’m just glad someone noticed.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of older media like film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Word of the Day: Cacophony

 

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It may come as no surprise to find that our business is not one that allows us to do one thing at a time. We have multiple machines in our studio and usually multiple jobs are running on each of those machines simultaneously. And each one emits sound.

I like to think of it as the soundtrack of your lives. That’s not to say that it is always harmonious. Just this week I was transferring a video of a Mexican wedding to DVD while the machine next to it was transferring a series of karate demonstrations. In the adjacent room was a vinyl record of a school band in concert playing patriotic songs that was being saved to a CD. Orchestral arrangements, strenuous grunts, and marriage vows spoken in Spanish are not often heard at the same time. For us, it was just another day at the office.

The word cacophony is defined as a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds. If you think about it, that kind of describes life itself. Which is why, when you drop by our studio, you may be greeted with any number of noises from the past. If you are lucky, it will be the sound of laughing children. But there’s no guarantee. It may also be the bone-jarring rumbling of an ATV slogging through the mud.

What we must remember is that all those sounds represent someone’s past experience and should be respected and honored as such. When heard together, it may be a raucous noise… but it is also a joyful one.

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

Countdown to Christmas IX

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#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 www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Countdown to Christmas VIII

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

D…V…A…!!!#

The home movie world continues to evolve… and we would be remiss if we did not evolve with it. Which is why we developed Digital Video Archive (DVA). It delivers cutting edge technology to consumers looking to preserve and share their family memories for the next generation.

Think of it as a Netflix for your home movies.  Here are some of the benefits:

  • Instantly accessible. All you need is a wifi connection and the device of your choice. DVAs can be viewed on all popular platforms: smart phones, tablets, computers, smart tvs.
  • Has the best features of a DVD. DVAs are fully authored and come with chapter markers pre-installed.
  • Easy to share. DVA was created primarily as a platform to share videos with anyone, anywhere. And it is a private network – the only people who can see your videos are the ones you invite.
  • Versatile. Not only can you watch your videos and share your videos, DVA comes with a built in video editor so you can shape your videos to your liking.
  • Once you establish your DVA account, you can continue to add to it with videos taken on your phone by directly uploading them to your account.

It’s a new world and there’s a new kid in town. Take control of your memories with DVA.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories and are committed to staying current and relevant in today’s technologically advanced world. For more information, contact 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Countdown to Christmas

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#It’s just twelve days till Christmas, I hope my true love will give to me:

My memories on a brand new DVD.#

Home Video Studio excels at taking recorded memories from the instruments of old and transferring them to updated digital media that can continue to be accessed in our day and time.

If you decide to receive a DVD, you can rest assured that all the discs we produce are archival quality, professionally encoded, and masterfully authored. We will install up to 42 chapter markings and make sure your DVDs are attractively packaged.

They make for great gifts at Christmastime. Just don’t be surprised if, when they are opened, the rest of Christmas is put on hold because people will immediately want to start watching them.

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

A Huggable Job

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I earned a hug today.

A young lady came into the studio with a VHS videotape and a story. The tape contained footage of her mother who had died when my client was still a child. The tape was supposedly lost and there was no other recorded footage of her mom. Thankfully, the tape was recently found. She was both excited and anxious about two things. One, she wanted to have this tape transferred to a format she could actually watch. Two, she didn’t want to let the tape out of her sight for a moment.

I understand this. The value of a videotape cannot be measured in dollars and cents. It’s measured in laughter and tears. When you possess an irreplaceable item it becomes priceless to you.  I work hard to deserve the trust people place in me when they hand over their precious memories for me to work on.

So I did something that only a small, independently owned business can do. I promised this young lady that her tape was in safe hands and that it would be the next tape transferred. I offered her our DVA service so when the transfer was completed, she could begin watching her movie on her smartphone immediately. She decided to take in the sights of Mount Dora while her tape was being transferred.

Two hours later, she returned to the shop to pick up her original tape, She had already begun watching her DVA as she made her way back. She was so thankful for the service we provided, the care we took, and the speed with which we delivered that she refused to shake my hand. I got a hug instead.

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