Category: VFX

Blue Screen Vs Green Screen: Explained

 

 

As an aspiring VFX Artist, you must have seen tons of behind-the-scenes footage of movies that use advanced VFX techniques to create fascinating visuals for the audience. Something common in all of them is the usage of blue and green screens. Sci-fi, period and fantasy genre movies use them all the time. Before we dive into it further, first let’s understand the concept of chroma keying. It is the process of shooting video on a solid colour backdrop which is later replaced by the required footage or CGI. It isn’t strictly a post-production process as

shooting on a screen on set is the first part of the entire workflow.
But why only blue or green? Blue and green are on the opposite ends of the color spectrum. Red and orange which correspond to the skin tones, so by using blue or green you have lesser unwanted effects when keying a person on screen.
Should you choose the blue or the green screen for chroma key compositing? This essentially depends on the lighting of scene to be shot. If it’s a daytime background, then green in the ideal choice as it blends seamlessly. Blue as you’d have guessed is best for replicating nighttime. Apart from that the choice actually isn’t that simple.
Blue is a higher frequency colour than green and thus gives a more distinct keyed image with greater contrast.
The blue screen is also the most common choice of the compositor as it has less depth than green screen and so it does not stand out in the real world. The blue screen can be created using silk or fine fabric coated with an emulsion of fine particles of a light reflecting material. Most people like to use velvet for this purpose, but fabric such as muslin can also serve as a good option.
Talking about the counterpart, green color is processed the cleanest with the most luminance. The result is that you will be able to pull a clean key with the least amount of noise, and often, without a complicated lighting setup. Conversely, because of green’s brightness, it can also lead to more ‘spill,’ meaning the green color may reflect and bleed over on your on-screen talent. It isn’t that big of a problem and one of the easiest ways to avoid it is to ensure distance between the actor and the screen.

 

 

Now it may seem as though blue is superior to green, which to some extent is right. But it does have its own downsides too. Blue screen will require twice as much light as green screen thus it’s an expensive choice. This difference in luminosity results in less colour spill than green. You would not want your post production to be messy after all.
In conclusion even though blue gets the upper hand, the green screen is still the most popular choice for chroma key compositing since it’s cheaper and has lesser depth with respect to its surface. Nevertheless, you may need to use both screens in various circumstances. The ideal solution is not just one.
Fascinated with the behind-the-scene intricacies about film-making? You can become an integral part of the process too. Get trained in VFX fundamental and advanced techniques at Arena Animation.
Check out the career courses in VFX here and take the first step ahead in your career pursuit.

VFX Studios in India that Made their Name in the Global Cinema

Though Indian movies may be running a bit late to catch up with the global CGI and VFX, many of the popular Hollywood movie production houses choose companies in India for their visual effects works.

Don’t believe us? Here are some VFX companies in India that are becoming hot favourites among Hollywood filmmakers:

Digital Domain

The visual effects of the chart topping Hollywood superhero movies like Deadpool, X-men Apocalypse and Spider-man: Homecoming were all made possible by Digital Domain.

Phantom FX

It is a leading VFX company today, and have created the awesome transformations of robots to cars for Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. Along with it, they have worked on some other movies including The Avengers, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Ghostbusters.

Prana studios

 

When watching Game of thrones most of you would at least have had one awe struck moment viewing the majestic fire-breathing Dragons. Well, the next time you watch those dragons, don’t forget to tell your friends or family that it is the work of Indian visual effects artists.

MPC

Since its inception in December 2010, the Bangalore division of Moving Picture Company (MPC) has delivered high quality visual effects for Hollywood movies. The team has contributed VFX for movies including X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy, Cinderella, and The Martian.

Prime Focus

 

Avatar, one of the most expensive movies ever made, with a budget of Rs. 1,100 crore was revolutionary in terms of its visual effects. 200+ VFX shots for this movie was done by none other than the Indian company Prime Focus.

Prime focus founded by Namit Malhotra has now proved itself worthy enough to be the world’s largest independent and integrated media services powerhouse. To their credit are Hollywood entertainers like Gravity, Interstellar, Shrek, and Tron: Legacy, among others.

After winning the Oscar for the Best Visual Effects in 2010 for Gravity, in 2015 the team again got their well-deserved win for the same category for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar!

A year later, Prime Focus again received five Oscar nominations for their works in Tree of Life, X-Men: First Class, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Hugo.

These simply prove that the VFX studios in India have already made their mark in the global cinema. The industry needs more and more trained VFX professionals to create such marvellous films. Now is the right time for you to enter the industry. Arena’s career course can definitely help you get started.

Which is your favourite VFX-heavy film till date? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The Lion King: A Game-Changer in Photo-real Animation

The most anticipated remake of Disney has hit the theatres and its release marks the completion of 25 years of the original movie that came out on June 15th of 1994.
The Lion King is not just one of many classic animated Disney films getting a remake, but is one of Disney’s most dearly loved possession.
As expected, the voiceover cast were appreciable, especially James Earl Jones returning as the voice of Mufasa. Donald Glover ‘Simba’ is outstanding too.

The most debated aspect of ‘The Lion King’ was whether it is a animated or live-action? Well, it’s complicated. The Lion King team moved away from the typical CGI animation process. They came up with a new way of shooting in virtual reality with a live-action crew and made use of life-like animation.
All 1,600 shots of the movie was made using computer generated imagery. But at the same time, the movie’s creative team also used a various live-action filmmaking tools and techniques. From lighting to camera movement to set dressing, everything was done using techniques that have been around for decades.
In terms of depicting the characters in CGI, VFX and photoreal animation, Disney animators have done a phenomenal job! It’s not the first time that they pulled off photorealistic looking animals. The Jungle Book that released in 2016 is still fresh in the memories of the audience.
For the purposes of the Academy Awards, Disney is expected to position the film as live-action as it did with The Jungle Book, which ultimately won an Oscar for visual effects.

Even though The Lion King is amazing in a number of ways, it is not perfect. As admirers of Disney studios and their works, many often think it’s unfair to point out where the studio is lacking. According to many, the purely CGI-ed animals aren’t able to match the timeless classic. As a 2D animator, one had the liberty to amplify emotions through facial expressions and ignore some laws of physics. Being a ‘live-remake’ the animals failed to elicit such response as they were realistic.
The second criticised aspect is the addition of new scenes and dialogues. It’s understandable that there has to be some tweaking for novelty, but it has to be done better than the previous one or else why change upon perfection? Small changes make big differences and in this case, unfortunately, it wasn’t for the better.
On the other hand, some critics objected the film being too similar to the original movie. Director Jon Favreau defended it by stating that the movie shouldn’t be reinvented completely and most agree with it.
Nevertheless, there is a sense of depth and energy in this edition of The Lion King too. It has already created box office records in its opening week.
Have you watched The Lion King yet? Tell us in the comments below, what you loved the most about the movie.

Oscar 2020 Winner and Nominees for Best Visual Effects

The Oscar 2020 nominations for best visual effects had the strongest contenders. While the prospects of Disney looked great with three movies, the others had more or less if not equal the chances for a win.
1917
This Oscar winner proves that visual effects are not just some replacements done to a green screen through digital machinery. It necessarily involves production design and a creative approach to achieving effects possible without the use of heavy editing. The way this movie incorporated VFX into it is absolutely genius. The movie had to be framed in such a way that I was entirety captured in one single shot. In this movie, the camera never cuts away from the action. The task of integrating multiple shots together seamlessly was an incredibly challenging task for the VFX team. Depending on the type of shot, different approaches were used to achieve the desired results. The fact that the movie was produced in native IMAX (widescreen with incredibly high-resolution) format made it even more complicated. The digital painting work of the VFX artists had to be precise and intricate.
Apart from 1917, Birdman too was shot using this one-continuous shot technique and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category.
In a nutshell, VFX is more effective when it goes unnoticeable.

VIDEO

The Irishman
It is masterpiece from Martin Scorsese and a big budget ambition project due to the cast and the de-aging used in it. Now, it is a familiar technique (seen in Iron man 3, Ant Man, and Terminator: Dark Fate earlier). In The Irishman it was used in the flashback scenes where De Niro is required to look like his 40s. The present age of De Niro is 76. If you haven’t watched it already it is available on Netflix.

Avengers Endgame
Being the most anticipated movie of 2019, VFX artists had no room for error. The final fight sequence against the army of Thanos made a memorable impact on the viewers. However, Marvel was condemned by critics for using too much CGI. The Marvel team mentioned that the nearing deadlines left less time for production design to develop full-fledged sets, and they had to rely on VFX.

 

The Lion King
Imagine the CGI being so good that it actually becomes a shortcoming of the movie. That’s exactly what happened with The Lion King. In the original animated counterpart, the characters portrayed their personalities through expressions and quirks while the live action seemed flat due to the hyper-realistic animation. Still kudos to the Disney artists for they have almost blurred the lines between reality and CGI with the movies like The Jungle Book and The Lion King. VFX isn’t an easy task and to mimic the movements and natures of animals is nothing less than a revolutionary feat.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Layers of work went into The Rise of Skywalker. Some of the most striking VFX moments from the film include the assembly of Leia’s farewell from deleted scenes shot by Carrie Fisher years before her death, the blending of old-school models and digital effects, and flashback scene of Luke and Leia training created with the elements from the Return of the Jedi.

Do you think 1917 deserves the Oscar win? Or do you have another personal favourite? Let us know in the comments.
If you wish to be more than just a spectator of amazing visual effects, join a VFX course and get the skills to create your own VFX. Click here to know more.

Did First Man deserve an Oscar for the best visual effects?

Universal studios on 12th November gifted us with a space epic movie – First Man. Directed by Damien Chazelle, this movie dramatises the ‘Giant leap for Mankind’- the moon landing and the biopic of Neil Armstrong. The film was awarded an Oscar in the Best Visual Effects category at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, defeating fellow nominees – Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, Ready Player One and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The Oscar was accepted by VFX supervisor Paul Lambert of the DNEG team who had also won an Oscar the previous year in the same category for Blade Runner 2049.
Was First Man’s Oscar a deserving one? Do you think Ready Player One was more rightful or any of the rest were more worthy? Well, we leave that to you, but let’s talk about First Man. It deserved the Oscar not for the CGI-ed moon landing or the intense eye-popping space travel rather for relying more on in-camera effects than Visual Effects. Let us explain it.

 

 

Damien Chazelle wished to work with practical sets and archival footage that would be able to capture the authenticity of this historical event. For this, they used the original never-seen footages of the Apollo mission which were in square format. Additional CG and matte paintings were then added to extend the square footage on either side to match the IMAX format.

Rather than counting on CGI, the First Man VFX crew filmed docking scenes using miniature models of various space shuttles, including the Saturn V rocket. Also for the launch sequence there wasn’t any green screen. How did they achieve it then? DNEG developed a 60 foot wide by 35 foot tall curved 180 degree LED screen. The LED wall was the best option to get the clarity and brightness and capture as much in-camera as possible. As for the CG part, DNEG delivered around 430 VFX shots supervised by Paul who oversaw all the on-set VFX work as well as the VFX process in post-production.

 

The old-school technique of using miniatures and avoiding green or blue screen for live-action shots depicts the brilliancy of the VFX crew. As a general audience we have always stated that CGI is pleasing only when used in the right amount. Had it been over used, it would have distracted the viewers from immersing into the story.

DNEG CEO Namit Malhotra said: “It is a huge honour for the team’s work on First Man to be recognised with an Oscar.”
Apart from First Man and the other nominees, we would also like to appreciate another movie- Aquaman. The visual effects used were truly artistic and absolutely outstanding. Achieving the floating effect and under water movements seem a bit more difficult than two people stranded in zero gravity. Unfortunately Aquaman wasn’t able to secure a nomination which it rightfully deserved.
Do you believe it to be an Oscar snub? Does First Man deserves this? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
VFX enthusiasts… you too can work such award winning movies. To get the skills, click here.

Why the Action-Packed VFX Sequences of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier are ‘Marvel’lous

 

Whether you are an aspiring VFX professional or a superhero movie enthusiast, you are here because you are impressed by the visual effects of the original MCU series, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

The MCU, for more than a decade has been carrying the Torch of legendary CGI epics. But lately they have been trying to shift your attention from heavily CG-ed wars to grounded and realistic TV series like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. These shows have given us CGI scenes so perfect that none of us could have ever doubted it to not be real. From the aerial chase in the first episode and a few others that we would be exploring shortly. And who other than Weta Digital could have been trusted with such epic sequences amidst the global pandemic!

The show received a total of five award nominations including a nomination for a 2021 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects. The VFX team involved was supervised by Charlie Tait who alongside Eric Leven have been part of the Weta digital team for over two decades. You may not have heard his name but we are pretty sure that you would have enjoyed his work, which includes Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool, Alita: Battle Angel, and Game Of Thrones Season 8. K

Meant for theaters, the production had a blockbuster budget with each of the six episodes reportedly costing $25 million and featuring a total of 2,500 visual effects shots.

Here are our top 3 favourite breakdowns of the VFX shots:

Madripoor

Establishing shots of Madripoor were entirely CGed with Hong Kong as the key reference for it. The uniquely shaped sky-scrapers and the dense slum was a mixture of on-set special effects and VFX. It’s amazing how they could show the stark contrast between the slum life and the riches all through CG, since Madipoor was essentially a pirate city.

 

Canyon chase sequence

It was the first of the sequence to make us realise the brilliance of MCU’s execution of fight scenes. But what makes it unique from the ones we saw in the movies was the different visual language using the GoPro mount.

 

Credits: (c)Weta Digital and (c)Marvel Studios

Digital double of Walker

The Walker you saw running and jumping through the window was a CG John Walker. A stunt double enacted the fall through the window on the car but the dents, exploding car windows, and the smashing through the house window was CGed. It might seem simple to create it but calculating the intensity of the smash is challenging.

Some scenes had digital doubles of both Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. And since they have been in the MCU for a long time, they have become a few of the recognisable faces in the industry. Thus there wasn’t any room for the slightest of the mistakes in creating their CGs.

 

Truck battle

The trucks were absolutely stationary! The only thing moving was the CGI-Ed road. The road was moved at the required speed (120km/s) while adding bits of rocks, dirt and dust being kicked up subtly to enhance realism in the scene. In addition to that the sequence was shot in Atlanta (USA) and thus sign boards and surrounding environment was required to be transformed to that of Germany.

Credits: (c)Weta Digital and (c)Marvel Studios via beforesandafters.com

Marvel is stepping up the game for other superhero franchises like The Boys (Prime) and the DCEU. We believe there are much more surprises waiting for us in ‘Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness’.

Have these action-packed VFX sequences inspired you to join a career course in VFX? If yes, wait no more. Check out this VFX Filmmaking course.

Why Skills & Training are the Key to Starting a Career in VFX

Unlike the olden days, creativity is now swiftly transitioning itself to digital. And in this era the price of software, hardware, and related camera equipment to capture creativity is relatively inexpensive. So much so that anyone with aptitude can learn VFX by joining a career course with a reputed VFX institute. The VFX industry is gaining traction and is becoming competitive for those who want to make a career in it.

In this article, we will discuss the two major questions that most VFX career aspirants ask, “Is it absolutely necessary for me to join a professional VFX institute to learn visual effects? What skills must I gain to become a VFX professional?”

 

 

Should You Join a VFX Institute?

In simple words, yes! Today, most recruiters value skills over qualifications. Even though one can learn VFX and CGI using free open source software like Blender, there are loads of other benefits that an institution provides. To know the intricacies of the field, one has to be involved with others who have mastered the game, and for whom it is not just some hobby. Rarely will you find others with whom you can collaborate at such a high level, for free, for extended periods. VFX training institutions are one of the few places where you can connect with others with similar passions and goals.

Apart from that, when you join an institute, you follow an industry-relevant curriculum, get assistance and advice from experienced faculty, develop social skills, gain hands-on experience through projects, and create your own demo reel. Most reputed institutions offer placement assistance thus boosting your chances of landing a job immediately after the successful completion of your course.

It is true that VFX and design are skill-based industries. Your portfolio and reel speak for you. Companies will look at your past experience, your showreel and will probably talk to people who have worked with you when they are considering you for a job vacancy. Venturing out alone as a VFX artist without any job offers at hand could be overwhelming and exhausting. When you are a part of a training institute, you will get ample guidance during every step of your journey to a VFX career.

What VFX Skills Should You Gain?

As for the skills needed, start with the basics such as digital illustrations, storytelling, and anatomy study. As your course progresses, you will start learning more complex concepts such as character design, audio-video editing, rotoscopy, matchmoving techniques, compositing, pre-visualization, and VFX filmmaking. Consider learning some of the most in-demand software such as Nuke, Blender, Houdini, and Autodesk Maya. For a complete guide to VFX software, check out this article.

With the right skill sets and hands-on experience, you can start a career in the VFX industry in no time. All the best!

Why Building a Career in VFX Makes Sense

Figure 1Source: Dan Cutler on Unsplash

If you are an artist and wish to see your work on a big screen, Visual Effects aka VFX is a good career option for you. You can work on high-stake projects, associate with the topmost studios and climb up the corporate ladder to lead teams of talented VFX Artists. 

 

 

With optimal technical and creative skills, you can work in the field of media & entertainment as a VFX professional. VFX is the art of combining computer-generated (CG) sequences with live-action footage to create scenes that are otherwise difficult, impossible, impractical or expensive to shoot in real life. The size of the VFX market in India alone is increasing rapidly. With many of the Hollywood studios outsourcing their projects to Indian VFX companies along with Indian studios themselves expanding their VFX departments, the number of VFX artists required annually is set to rise phenomenally.

Although a standalone course in VFX would open up numerous career opportunities, a VFX course combined with these courses by creative professionals such as Animators, Graphic Designers, Film Editors and Game Developers can add a significant value to the resume. There is no limit to the variety of career prospects available after taking a VFX course, from a reputed institute. Some of the most prominent job portfolios are:

  1.   Rendering Artist
  2.   Composting Artist or Compositor
  3.   Roto Artist
  4.   Layout Artist
  5.   Lighting Artist
  6.   Matte Painter
  7.   Match Mover Artist
  8.   Rigging Artist
  9.   Animator (VFX)
  10. Concept Artist

As far as sectoral avenues are concerned, with the exponential growth of digital content, the following industries are going on a hiring spree for VFX Artists:

  1.   Film, Television and OTT:

Most filmmakers today want to give their audience a larger than life experience of cinema. Each of such mega film projects requires hundreds of VFX artists. Programmes on Television and OTT platforms are equally active in terms of ensuring good quality visual effects.

  1.   Advertising:

Advertisement companies are obsessed with motion graphics and visual effects, because they help to create eye-catching ads for their clients. The industry has been traditionally a big employer of VFX Artists.

  1.   Animation:

Animation and VFX industries are very much complementary to each other. All animation companies hire VFX artists to jointly work on projects with animators. A course in Animation combined with another one in VFX is the perfect combination to make it big in the creative space.

  1.   Gaming:

Be it on consoles, computers or mobile phones, video games have become all-pervasive, being played by people of all age groups. Gaming companies hire VFX artists for various tasks involved in the game development process.

  1.   Corporate Presentations:

Companies these days tend to hire professionals to help them create aesthetic presentations or videos in order to convince their investors, customers, partners etc. VFX artists with a knack for designing could find tremendous opportunities in this area.

  1.   Ed-tech: 

Ed-tech startups are one of the fastest growing startup companies. These companies are betting big on creators and VFX Artists to make their educational content more interactive, artistically pleasing and easy to understand.

Choosing a reputed animation and VFX training institute with a focused placement cell can help you land in one of the big names in one of these multi-billion dollar industries. All the best on your creative career path!

What to Expect in Visual Effects in 2019 & Beyond

The present technological advancement in movies have proven that almost nothing is impossible in the visual effects industry. With the tremendous growth of technology, day by day, there are no limits in filmmaking. We are already at a point where digital animation and CGI can look exceedingly similar to reality.

So what does the future has in the stores for VFX?

1. VFX will be used even more throughout the development, pre-production and filming process of a film. That’s the pretty obvious one!

2. The current VFX technologies are not only time consuming but also expensive. So the companies would be focusing not just to improve the quality but also to reduce the average cost of delivering a single shot. Right now the goal is to make it profitable enough to stay in business.

3. The distinction between Visual Effects shots and real-life shots will fade, further. An incredible number of visual effects shots are not even being noticed today. They go undetected as they are amazing. This gives more opportunities for creativity and storytelling to the filmmakers. For example, TV shows like The Walking Dead and movies like Fast and Furious involving car chase scenes use green screens for driving sequences.

4. VFX may still not be able to do everything 100% perfectly. Like the holograms used in I, Robot and Captain America they still pose a challenge which will hopefully be conquered with advancing software. Traditionally, the most difficult things to simulate are dust, water, smoke, fire, and light distortions.

5. Optimised work flow can be expected. Fully rendered animations are not real time animations, but hopefully with the advent of faster processors and better technology it will get closer to real time animation which is visually as perfect as offline rendered animation is now.

Did that go over your head? Pardon us. To present in simpler terms – the offline rendering process is usually much less performance-critical, so you have the option to use very expensive rendering techniques for better performance.

6. India may get more VFX. More and more Hollywood studios and directors are willing to outsource their post-production VFX work to Indian studios and companies. This means, there will be more job opportunities for the trained professionals who have completed job-oriented courses in VFX.

Do you see any more advancements in the VFX industry in the near future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below

Why Building a Career in VFX Makes Sense

If you are an artist and wish to see your work on a big screen, Visual Effects aka VFX is a good career option for you. You can work on high-stake projects, associate with the topmost studios and climb up the corporate ladder to lead teams of talented VFX Artists.

With optimal technical and creative skills, you can work in the field of media & entertainment as a VFX professional. VFX is the art of combining computer-generated (CG) sequences with live-action footage to create scenes that are otherwise difficult, impossible, impractical or expensive to shoot in real life. The size of the VFX market in India alone is increasing rapidly. With many of the Hollywood studios outsourcing their projects to Indian VFX companies along with Indian studios themselves expanding their VFX departments, the number of VFX artists required annually is set to rise phenomenally.

Although a standalone course in VFX would open up numerous career opportunities, a VFX course combined with these courses by creative professionals such as Animators, Graphic Designers, Film Editors and Game Developers can add a significant value to the resume. There is no limit to the variety of career prospects available after taking a VFX course, from a reputed institute. Some of the most prominent job portfolios are:

1.    Rendering Artist

2.    Composting Artist or Compositor

3.    Roto Artist

4.    Layout Artist

5.    Lighting Artist

6.    Matte Painter

7.    Match Mover Artist

8.    Rigging Artist

9.    Animator (VFX)

10.  Concept Artist

As far as sectoral avenues are concerned, with the exponential growth of digital content, the following industries are going on a hiring spree for VFX Artists:

 

1.    Film, Television and OTT:

Most filmmakers today want to give their audience a larger than life experience of cinema. Each of such mega film projects requires hundreds of VFX artists. Programmes on Television and OTT platforms are equally active in terms of ensuring good quality visual effects.

 

2.    Advertising:

Advertisement companies are obsessed with motion graphics and visual effects, because they help to create eye-catching ads for their clients. The industry has been traditionally a big employer of VFX Artists.

 

3.    Animation:

Animation and VFX industries are very much complementary to each other. All animation companies hire VFX artists to jointly work on projects with animators. A course in Animation combined with another one in VFX is the perfect combination to make it big in the creative space.

 

4.    Gaming:

Be it on consoles, computers or mobile phones, video games have become all-pervasive, being played by people of all age groups. Gaming companies hire VFX artists for various tasks involved in the game development process.

 

5.    Corporate Presentations:

Companies these days tend to hire professionals to help them create aesthetic presentations or videos in order to convince their investors, customers, partners etc. VFX artists with a knack for designing could find tremendous opportunities in this area.

 

6.    Ed-tech: 

Ed-tech startups are one of the fastest growing startup companies. These companies are betting big on creators and VFX Artists to make their educational content more interactive, artistically pleasing and easy to understand.

Choosing a reputed animation and VFX training institute with a focused placement cell can help you land in one of the big names in one of these multi-billion dollar industries. All the best on your creative career path!

 

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