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Alex Anstey

"The cinematographer of Knives Out wants to end the film-vs.-digital debate”

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34 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Yes, although as with the earlier ‘La La Land’ example I posted on Page 2 of this thread, I think some of the film stock’s ability to retain the color of the red tail lights also has to do with its relative lack of sensitivity.

If you shot a long exposure still on the same 5219 stock to match the ambient exposure level of something like a Varicam 35 at 5000 ISO (pretty typical for a modern night exterior scene), then I think you might find that the 5219 also will not hold color well when the red tail lights are grossly overexposed to the same degree. I don’t know that for a fact, but it should be tested. 

Interesting - 

This phenomenon also appears on daylight footage. See picture:

I always find night scenes with point lights like cars, street lamps, signage more pleasing when it's shot on film but also cool that you get some of it on daylight footage too.

daylight.thumb.jpg.12a3011655e6cb0e96b3625eae2d1309.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Robino Jones
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2 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

This episode sort of made me realize why some older DPs don’t like film. When there was no choice in formats, they were trying to avoid grain, flares, underexposed shots, accidents and surprises of any kind, etc. What they really wanted was a clean, safe, digital alternative, whether they knew it or not. That’s what the Alexa gave them. 

Yes, I feel the same way. 

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3 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

He just doesn’t believe that cameras marketed as ‘4K’ or ‘8K’ are necessarily capturing more information than a camera like the Alexa in ARRIRaw 3.2K. He’s saying, if you care about high resolving images then test for yourself and don’t rely on marketing. That’s a very different philosophy from, ‘just scan it in 2K, nobody can tell the difference.’ 

But all his tests are finished in 2k. He never gives the user the ability to see them in 4k,  to prove his point that a 6k 35mm scan and a 4k finish is not better than a 3.2k digital image with a 2k finish. 

Personally? I feel it's a philosophy founded on some inherent issues with his favorite camera (more about that below) and his bias towards theatrical. I sit in front of a grading monitor most hours of the day and I cut/edit material shot on a wide range of formats and resolutions. There is NO doubt a 4k image looks better, especially when sourced at higher than 4k. Now, when you talk about theatrical, yea there is definitely some argument that much over 2.5k can't be seen by most people due to seating/screen position. I for sure have a more difficult time telling the quality of source material in the cinema, then at home. With that said, most people consume media at home, where higher resolution has other benefits, like greater bandwidth on streaming and physical media sources. 

I think he is discounting resolution because his favorite camera can't do 6k and theatrical isn't a great tester of resolution. I guarantee you, if the Alexa Mini did 6k, he would have an entire about face about resolution. As there is no doubt a 6k camera and a 4k finish is night and day over a 3.2k camera and a 2k finish, for everything else but theatrical. I mean I also love the fact his Star Wars film was finished in 4k, so even after all the hub bub about 2k doesn't mean much when it comes to his movies. 

Now before you slam the door in my face, I like Yedlin a lot. I think his stuff looks great and he's been one of the only guys whose been very open about how he works. I commend him on not only being a great cinematographer, but also very knowledgeable about the post process. However, when you work an image in post SO MUCH, suddenly are you a cinematographer or a computer technician? I think the biggest problem I have with digital cinema is the "tinkering" with the image, trying to create perfection out of real life. Sadly, the world is very imperfect and I think everyone is so focused on cleaning, rather than letting it just be, they've lost sight of reality within the images they capture. 

 

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6 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

As discussed before, Yedlin's color science is NOT available to the public. Nobody has yet to copy his work. 

As discussed before, Yedlin's videos do not include extreme highlights, which is where film shines. Also, his film scans don't appear to be HDR, so they are very limited in dynamic range and he's compensating for that by shooting everything with low dynamic range. Today everyone scans in HDR and the difference is night and day, MUCH better dynamic range in the black's. 

As discussed before, Yedlin's videos do not show resolution, he doesn't believe in 4k. When shooting on film, high resolution scans really make the grain pop and help to separate the formats better. With a 2k scan like Yedlin likes, you won't see that.

The great thing about film is more about the workflow anyway. How you can't just run the camera all day and figure it out in post. How film makes everyone on set, make less mistakes because they know it's money running through the camera. How crews that shoot on film, generally rehearse and prep more, making the shoot faster AND in some cases, the product better. Now obviously one can argue that using those same tricks on a digital shoot is possible, but NOBODY DOES! Heck, I don't either. I love shooting the rehearsal without anyone knowing, but can't do that on film. 

This is just wrong .. not much else can be said ..

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4 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Was listening to Roger and James Deakins’s podcast yesterday, and on a recent episode with Greig Fraser, Mr. Fraser mentioned how his young 2nd Unit DP on a recent project was raving about film. He watched some of her celluloid-based projects, and said they ‘looked like crap.’ He went on the clarify that the images were grainy, underexposed, and generally rough looking. 

Now, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything personal by it and he seems like a pretty decent fellow, but I was a bit taken aback. He called her out by name. I happen to know this DP as we were camera assisting around the same time, and I find her work inspiring. It is rough and wild, in a Chris Doyle sort of way. That’s what’s beautiful about it to me. 

This episode sort of made me realize why some older DPs don’t like film. When there was no choice in formats, they were trying to avoid grain, flares, underexposed shots, accidents and surprises of any kind, etc. What they really wanted was a clean, safe, digital alternative, whether they knew it or not. That’s what the Alexa gave them. 

But that’s not what many of us liked about their work when we were film students in school.

We liked Harris Savides’s scratched up negative in the title sequence of ‘Se7en.’

We liked Chris Doyle pushing his Fuji film stock and shooting handheld chase sequences at 6fps in ‘Chungking Express.’

We liked Janusz Kaminski sucking the color out of his film stock with ENR and de-coated lenses and throwing his shutter out of sync on ‘Saving Private Ryan.’

We liked Matthew Libatique shooting pushed reversal 16mm black and white to a Seurat-like grain level in ‘Pi’ and Paul Cameron’s cross-processed hand-cranked footage in ‘Man on Fire.’

And yes, we liked handsomely shot films like John Toll’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ and Deakins’s ‘Shawshank Redemption’ too.

Those films all had balls. The images were sensory and impressionistic. They felt like dreams. And that is mostly missing nowadays. I think that’s what most people itching to shoot on film are looking for.

Anyway, here’s the episode: https://teamdeakins.libsyn.com/greig-fraser-cinematographer

Funny I was listening to that yesterday too.. hadn't got to that part.. please tell me you dont think Greig Fraser is an "older " DP 🙂 

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26 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Funny I was listening to that yesterday too.. hadn't got to that part.. please tell me you dont think Greig Fraser is an "older " DP 🙂 

Compared to me, he is! 🙂

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

But all his tests are finished in 2k. He never gives the user the ability to see them in 4k,  to prove his point that a 6k 35mm scan and a 4k finish is not better than a 3.2k digital image with a 2k finish.

Because when he first posted the test, very few people had a high end native 4K display at home. Most still don’t.

Instead he did the next best thing, which was to crop into a 1:1 area of the 4K/6K camera files so you can get an idea of what it would look like on a native 4K display. Maybe at some point in the future he will repost them in 4K, but for now I think it’s enough to make his point.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Because when he first posted the test, very few people had a high end native 4K display at home. Most still don’t.

Maybe? The videos he makes are specifically targeted towards industry professionals, especially DP's and Colorists. It does make sense that those people would be a bit on the advanced side of tech. 

14 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Instead he did the next best thing, which was to crop into a 1:1 area of the 4K/6K camera files so you can get an idea of what it would look like on a native 4K display.

Sure, but it doesn't really help persuade someone in the know. I for sure felt his resolution video wasn't anywhere near the level of his 35mm vs Alexa video, which was very good. 

Edited by Tyler Purcell

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Maybe? The videos he makes are specifically targeted towards industry professionals, especially DP's and Colorists. It does make sense that those people would be a bit on the advanced side of tech. 

Sure, but it doesn't really help persuade someone in the know. I for sure felt his resolution video wasn't anywhere near the level of his 35mm vs Alexa video, which was very good. 

Anyway, that was Mr. Yedlin’s reasoning. I’m just paraphrasing his explanation in the video. 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

... I find her work inspiring. It is rough and wild...That’s what’s beautiful about it to me. 

This episode sort of made me realize why some older DPs don’t like film...What they really wanted was a clean, safe, digital alternative, whether they knew it or not. That’s what the Alexa gave them. 

But that’s not what many of us liked about their work when we were film students in school.

We liked Harris Savides’s scratched up negative....We liked Chris Doyle pushing his Fuji film....We liked Janusz Kaminski sucking the color out of his film stock with ENR and de-coated lenses and throwing his shutter out of sync.....We liked Matthew Libatique shooting pushed reversal 16mm black and white to a Seurat-like grain level in ‘Pi’ and Paul Cameron’s cross-processed hand-cranked footage...And yes, we liked handsomely shot films like John Toll’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ and Deakins’s ‘Shawshank Redemption’ too.....Those films all had balls. The images were sensory and impressionistic. They felt like dreams. And that is mostly missing nowadays. I think that’s what most people itching to shoot on film are looking for.....

Very well said.

I like artistic risk and handmade things, rough and wild, etched and hand-cut, natural. I'm not so much into smooth, polished chrome, pristine glitz and plastic, and clinical purity. The same in music. I like an acoustic violin with an interesting, passionate sound, with a bit of risk in the playing. I'm a bit of a Gypsy in character. Film isn't hipsterish (though it can be of course). Film is just a little bit grittier and real than digital. That appeals to a lot of people and they seek that out, over the clinical and neat and tidy.

I get why digital is so loved. Perhaps it might help some digital purists to think of film as the slightly rough and dirty version of what digital can do. But a bit wild and a bit interesting and bit unpredictable. The pixel purists can turn up their nose at it, sure. Perhaps take a whiff of perfume on their lace hanky and serenely look the other way whenever the great unwashed wanders by their table, while taking their tea.

They'd be absolutely right to say nearly all of the audience doesn't care whether films are shot on digital or on film. But the cinematographer knows, just like the violinist knows precisely what violin and what bow he or she is playing on. And does a violinist care?

Oh yes.

 

 

 

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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12 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Was listening to Roger and James Deakins’s podcast yesterday, and on a recent episode with Greig Fraser, Mr. Fraser mentioned how his young 2nd Unit DP on a recent project was raving about film. He watched some of her celluloid-based projects, and said they ‘looked like crap.’ He went on the clarify that the images were grainy, underexposed, and generally rough looking. 

Now, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything personal by it and he seems like a pretty decent fellow, but I was a bit taken aback. He called her out by name. I happen to know this DP as we were camera assisting around the same time, and I find her work inspiring. It is rough and wild, in a Chris Doyle sort of way. That’s what’s beautiful about it to me. 

This episode sort of made me realize why some older DPs don’t like film. When there was no choice in formats, they were trying to avoid grain, flares, underexposed shots, accidents and surprises of any kind, etc. What they really wanted was a clean, safe, digital alternative, whether they knew it or not. That’s what the Alexa gave them. 

But that’s not what many of us liked about their work when we were film students in school.

We liked Harris Savides’s scratched up negative in the title sequence of ‘Se7en.’

We liked Chris Doyle pushing his Fuji film stock and shooting handheld chase sequences at 6fps in ‘Chungking Express.’

We liked Janusz Kaminski sucking the color out of his film stock with ENR and de-coated lenses and throwing his shutter out of sync on ‘Saving Private Ryan.’

We liked Matthew Libatique shooting pushed reversal 16mm black and white to a Seurat-like grain level in ‘Pi’ and Paul Cameron’s cross-processed hand-cranked footage in ‘Man on Fire.’

And yes, we liked handsomely shot films like John Toll’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ and Deakins’s ‘Shawshank Redemption’ too.

Those films all had balls. The images were sensory and impressionistic. They felt like dreams. And that is mostly missing nowadays. I think that’s what most people itching to shoot on film are looking for.

Anyway, here’s the episode: https://teamdeakins.libsyn.com/greig-fraser-cinematographer

That's the best post of this thread. Yes, imperfection, soul, life, personality, dream like. 

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Posted (edited)

I don't give a f**k about 'the debate' I know what I like and what I dont like.......I just want film to always be available to buy, shoot and process......I think the superstars like Roger Deakins should be more careful of what they project in order to preserve the artistic choice for the 'lesser' people and absolute nobodies like me.....

.....if Roger Deakins went on and on about film like he does now about digital then many many many more films would be shot on film and that means we keep it as an artistic option......

I really enjoy the 'Team Deakins' podcast but when a guest speaks about their love of film its embarrassing to anyone with half a brain how they want to change the subject or how they steer conversations......I just think the superstars have a responsibility to keep the options open for everyone shooting motion images.....

Edited by Stephen Perera
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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Stephen Perera said:

.....if Roger Deakins went on and on about film like he does now about digital then many many many more films would be shot on film and that means we keep it as an artistic option......

I have a suspicion that he has a deal with ARRI who are not interested at all in keeping analog film making alive. I've seen him promoting their digital products on the ARRI channel.

Edited by Uli Meyer
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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

I have a suspicion that he has a deal with ARRI who are not interested at all in keeping analog film making alive. I've seen him promoting their products on the ARRI channel.

....people obviously get paid by Arri to promote their Alexa's....its so obvious...and fair play to them as we all need to get paid.....I just wish people in the public eye of cinematography were more 'responsible' and respectful to film so it always remains an option....come on....16mm film....NOTHING I've seen emulates the look of 16mm.....it transports the audience to a 'feel' - look' - 'era' of films that use it in my view like nothing else......

Edited by Stephen Perera
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The Eddy - laughable at how ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT episodes 1 an 2 look to the rest of the episodes......like night and day....and in my opinion....how 'amateur' the other episodes look in comparison

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2 hours ago, Stephen Perera said:

I really enjoy the 'Team Deakins' podcast but when a guest speaks about their love of film its embarrassing to anyone with half a brain how they want to change the subject or how they steer conversations......I just think the superstars have a responsibility to keep the options open for everyone shooting motion images.....

Huh? Which version of their podcast have you been listening to? 🤔 A different one than me I guess. 
 

Their episode with Bev Wood they did basically nothing other than wax lyrical on film and its process. Indeed that episode is one of the most in-depth discussions of the analog process that I’ve ever heard anywhere. 
 

The only thing I’ve heard them steer away from is the “Film vs. Digital” debate, which they seem pretty sick of talking about. 
 

They’ve also made it pretty clear that their hesitancy around shooting film these days, relates to serious problems they’ve had with some of the processing on their more recent film jobs. And not with shooting film itself. 
 

 

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Posted (edited)

It is good that people have choices nowadays - in terms of format choices. Also it is good that democratization came in for people with little or no money to be able to express themselves for cheap or for virtually no money. As the days go by though, the format choices are disappearing and everyone is pigeonheld to digital. It is very hard to find people who want to shoot on film - either RED or Alexa Mini or nothing... So in a way, there is no more choices left... The taste has changed and seems like people LOVE textureless and characterless images... People complain about some "noise" you get from digital cameras even... ugh... I love texture and I do believe it is a part of the picture that, if removed, the picture would be incomplete. 

There is a reason, movies nowadays do not feel or look like proper movies with rich colors and strong blacks. Take a look at some movies from the 90's and even early 2000's, movies like Leon the Professional, True Lies etc. All of them have a look and feel to them but still looked like a movie with rich colors and strong blacks. Also, lets look at the craftsmanship and artistry too. As a cinematographer, you achieved the look through exposure( under or over for a look), filtration, LIGHTING and printing techniques that were crude next to DI. Nowadays that craftsmanship is gone for the most part except for established DPs of course. It feels like the art and the craftsmanship turned into computer engineering. People "fix" everything during color grading that makes me want to ask, where is your photography that YOU achieved in camera? I am sorry but I find this very disturbing. It used to be more punk rock where the look was achieved in camera mostly through wild and risky practices that usually turned out really well and interesting. It just seems too clinical, too corporate and risk-free nowadays when it comes to baking a look in camera. Not to mention lighting... People shoot under little or no lighting but where is the cinematographer's intentions and expression in that? People brag about how they can shoot under moonlight with their cameras, which is great but where is your expression as an artist in that? Where is YOUR skills as an artist and a craftsman with shaping with lighting? Anyone with a camera of some sort is a "DP" nowadays. It is a joke... really a joke.

Just to be clear, despite my bias to film,  I am not anti-digital. I appreciate the good work that other fellow cinematographers put out there with digital cameras.

Edited by Giray Izcan
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On 8/6/2020 at 5:56 AM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Was listening to Roger and James Deakins’s podcast yesterday, and on a recent episode with Greig Fraser, Mr. Fraser mentioned how his young 2nd Unit DP on a recent project was raving about film. He watched some of her celluloid-based projects, and said they ‘looked like crap.’ He went on the clarify that the images were grainy, underexposed, and generally rough looking. 

Now, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything personal by it and he seems like a pretty decent fellow, but I was a bit taken aback. He called her out by name. I happen to know this DP as we were camera assisting around the same time, and I find her work inspiring. It is rough and wild, in a Chris Doyle sort of way. That’s what’s beautiful about it to me. 

To be fair to Greig, he did clarify quite clearly that it was the texture and imperfections in the roughly shot film that was drawing younger people to it, and that it was precisely because the rougher the film looks, the more distinct it becomes as a format.

I don’t know if the tone is somewhat obscured by the Aussie accent, but he genuinely wasn’t having a go at her.  Just highlighting the difference in approach to the medium between those who came up on it, and those who are discovering it now.

(And I couldn’t agree more with you about Kate’s work 👍 )

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Posted (edited)
On 8/5/2020 at 2:56 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Was listening to Roger and James Deakins’s podcast yesterday, and on a recent episode with Greig Fraser, Mr. Fraser mentioned how his young 2nd Unit DP on a recent project was raving about film. He watched some of her celluloid-based projects, and said they ‘looked like crap.’ He went on the clarify that the images were grainy, underexposed, and generally rough looking. 

I had to re-listen to this because I did not remember that at all and after I did, I noticed he didn’t say that HER work in particular looked bad, he just mentioned that she was really pushing film as a lot of young Dp’s are these days.  Then he actually went on to say it’s an important thing for young Dp‘s to distinguish themselves these days even if that means they only shoot on film. Then he said, BUT a lot of Dp’s really pushing film tend to shoot crappy images basically because they don’t know what they’re doing. But he didn’t say her’s were bad, just a lot of young DP’s pushing film in general. 
 

Edited by Justin Hayward
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43 minutes ago, Mark Kenfield said:

Huh? Which version of their podcast have you been listening to? 🤔 A different one than me I guess. 
 

Their episode with Bev Wood they did basically nothing other than wax lyrical on film and its process. Indeed that episode is one of the most in-depth discussions of the analog process that I’ve ever heard anywhere. 
 

The only thing I’ve heard them steer away from is the “Film vs. Digital” debate, which they seem pretty sick of talking about. 
 

They’ve also made it pretty clear that their hesitancy around shooting film these days, relates to serious problems they’ve had with some of the processing on their more recent film jobs. And not with shooting film itself. 
 

 

I've heard them all...the best one for me was indeed the Bev Wood one......just expressing my opinion

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Justin, are you surprised that those young DPs get crappy images when shooting on film? Most young DPs don't really know proper lighting and ratios etc. Why should they? They can just shoot a safe and bland image and make it look like anything but their photography during post. The lighting for most nowadays seems to be only for exposure not for shaping. Just my 2 cents

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25 minutes ago, Mark Kenfield said:

To be fair to Greig, he did clarify quite clearly that it was the texture and imperfections in the roughly shot film that was drawing younger people to it, and that it was precisely because the rougher the film looks, the more distinct it becomes as a format.

I don’t know if the tone is somewhat obscured by the Aussie accent, but he genuinely wasn’t having a go at her.  Just highlighting the difference in approach to the medium between those who came up on it, and those who are discovering it now.

(And I couldn’t agree more with you about Kate’s work 👍 )

Thanks Mark, that’s fair. Perhaps I misread a bit of irritation toward the younger filmmakers in his response. 

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19 minutes ago, Justin Hayward said:

I had to re-listen to this because I did not remember that at all and after I did, I noticed he didn’t say that HER work in particular looked bad, he just mentioned that she was really pushing film as a lot of young Dp’s are these days.  Then he actually went on to say it’s an important thing for young Dp‘s to distinguish themselves these days even if that means they only shoot on film. Then he said, BUT a lot of Dp’s really pushing film tend to shoot crappy images basically because they don’t know what they’re doing. But he didn’t say her’s were bad, just a lot of young DP’s pushing film in general. 
 

Thanks Justin, perhaps I misread his intent then. My apologies if that is the case. 

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6 minutes ago, Stephen Perera said:

I've heard them all...the best one for me was indeed the Bev Wood one......just expressing my opinion

The Bev Wood episode was particularly good, as it’s a perspective we don’t hear often enough. 

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14 minutes ago, Giray Izcan said:

Justin, are you surprised that those young DPs get crappy images when shooting on film? Most young DPs don't really know proper lighting and ratios etc. Why should they? They can just shoot a safe and bland image and make it look like anything but their photography during post. The lighting for most nowadays seems to be only for exposure not for shaping. Just my 2 cents

I didn’t say some of them get crappy images... Grieg Fraser did.😊 It’s funny though, I’m old enough to remember a time when I was afraid to shoot video. Film was easy. As long as you have the right ASA in your light meter, the rest was just taste. Then these big fat HD cameras came along with all their stupid menus and settings... made my brain hurt.😄

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