DIY Video and Photography Projects

Self Balancing Two Wheel Scooter – Segway Like
April 19, 2015


I ride electric skateboards and I ride them quite a bit. I use them whenever I find the opportunity when tracking shots or subjects. Combined with a hand held stabilizer, you can get smooth long fast dolly like motion. One problem with skateboards though is they can’t turn on a dime. Many Steadicam operators have used Segways, but they need to be modified for hands-free operation (so you can hold your camera equipment). But a big problem is that you can’t throw a Segway in the trunk of your car.

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

So here’s a fun new toy i’ve been riding around with for the last few weeks. It’s a self balancing two wheeled electric scooter-thing much like a Segway but totally hands-free. It’s actually very easy to learn and most people pick it up in just five minutes. Combined with a gimbal stabilizer, you’ve got a pretty smooth infinite track dolly that helps remove the up/down motion that often shows up when walking or running (even with gimbals).

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

We recently shot at a HUGE warehouse in San Francisco, possibly about the size of 4-5 city blocks. Moving from end to end would have been a task just walking, but we moved swiftly using our 3 electric skateboards and this segway-thing. I even carried equipment back and forth from the parking lot. This certainly was a huge asset and we plan on purchasing several more. It’s small enough to throw in your car, and light enough to carry with one hand, but it will pretty much run you about 5 hours of average use. You’ll find them under various name brands, but they all seem to be the same (CLICK HERE).

self balance scootersegway like scooter electric
find-price-button Self Balancing Two Wheel Electric Scooter

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Crazy DEAL – BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera + Lens + Battery + SD Card
April 17, 2015


I’m done with NAB2105, and even after all the new camera announcements I have no plans to sell my BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera. In fact I have a big shoot tomorrow in which i’m taking the BMPCC out. The specs and quality coming out of this little guy still holds up dollar for dollar. Yeah sure BlackMagic Design has announced two new ‘Micro Cinema Cameras’, but once you dig into the specs it’s really quite different than the original Pocket Cinema Camera.

Now paying full price might be a stretch, but you’re all in luck. Here’s a great bundle deal for the BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera! You get an INSTANT -$500 OFF the retail price of the BMPCC. The bundle includesa Lumix 14-140mm Lens + Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro SD Card so you can start shooting RAW), and a spare BMPCC Battery. And you can get FREE Expedited shipping on this deal.

So if you’ve ever wanted to shoot a camera that has many flavors of ProRes, and can shoot CinemaDNG RAW now’s the time. This is over $500 dollars back in your pocket on this deal. Don’t miss this deal, check it out now before it’s gone (CLICK HERE).

blackmagic_design_pocket_cinema_camera_and_1021120
find-price-button BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera Bundle + Lens + SD Card + Battery -$500 OFF INSANT

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NAB 2015 BlackMagic Design Ursa Mini 4.6K
April 13, 2015


Now in a smaller, more handheld friendly form factor, the URSA Mini 4K Digital Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design can record cinematic images with its Super-35mm 4K, global-shutter sensor with 12 stops of dynamic range. The ergonomic body design is balanced and can be used for many different styles of filmmaking. The PL-mount is compatible with a plethora of popular lenses, opening up different aesthetic options. A rosette on the side of the camera accepts the included side handle which can control start/stop via a LANC connection.

blackmagic design mini ursa

To produce cinematic images, the URSA Mini can record uncompressed raw sensor data in the CinemaDNG format onto CFast 2.0 memory cards at up to 60 fps. The raw files preserve the full dynamic range and color tonality output from the sensor so you can have greater control over the look in post-production. However, data-heavy uncompressed raw files aren’t always easy to deal with on-set, so Blackmagic provides compressed raw at 3:1 and 4:1 ratios to save space while retaining postproduction flexibility.

Blackmagic design mini ursa super 35

The URSA Mini also records UHD (3840 x 2160) and 1080p video using ready-to-edit ProRes files in many different flavors within the 444 and 422 chroma subsampling variations depending on your workflow. Starting at the high end, UHD footage can be recorded in ProRes 444 XQ at a rate of 312.5 MB/s all the way down to 1080p in a ProRes 422 Proxy file coming in at a relatively paltry 5.6 MB/s data rate. Since the camera accepts dual CFast cards, you can record for long periods of time by having the camera switch cards when one is full.

blackmagic ursa mini camera
find-price-button BlackMagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K Super 35 Camera

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NAB 2015 Blackmagic Design new Micro Cinema Camera
April 13, 2015


Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera 2

The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera is a miniature digital camera with a Super 16mm-sized sensor designed to be operated remotely and capture footage from virtually anywhere. It features the same image sensor found in Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera, which supports 1080p video and 13 stops of dynamic range but adds a global shutter that supports frame rates up to 30 fps. Frame rates up to 60 fps are possible using a rolling shutter. The camera is equipped with an active MFT mount that can accept native MFT lens or be adapted to a wide range of other modern and vintage lenses using optional third party adapters. Video is recorded to SDHC/SDXC memory cards using the 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW format or 10-bit Apple ProRes family of codecs. Read More…

Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera 3
find-price-button Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera

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PVGear KavalCage Full Metal Cage for Atomos Shogun with HDMI Locks
April 10, 2015


The Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI Recorder is continuously becoming more and more popular with more cameras supporting clean HDMI signals. Instead of your camera recording to a compressed file to an SD or Compact Flash card, the feed is recorded in the Shogun to a variety of high quality formats. Aside from just being a recorder, the Atomos Shogun is an amazing full featured high resolution monitor with waveforms, peaking, zebras, and more. The fact that it can see a 4K signal also makes this ideal to monitor from such cameras that only output 4K where other monitors won’t work.

Atomo Shogun 4k Recorder
find-price-button Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

HDMI itself though can be problematic as there is no locking mechanism to keep the connection solid, and as the cable protrudes, there is the possibility of damaging the HDMI port. If you’re working with the Atomos Shogun, and want to instill a higher level of confidence, check out the PVGear KavalCage with HDMI Locks designed for the Atomos Shogun.

At almost $2,000 dollars, I think the Shogun’s ability as a 4K Recorder, Monitor, and Audio Preamp makes it worth every penny, but it might be worth spending a few bucks more for the PVGear KavalCage system to protect the Shogun during use.

PVGear Shogun Cage
find-price-button PVGear Cage for Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI Recorder with HDMI LOCKS

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New Firmware BlackMagic URSA 150FPS Video Capture
April 9, 2015


The BlackMagic URSA gets a new firmware upgrade allowing HD capture at 150fps (almost doubling the previous max of 80fps). The new firmware also hints about a new 4K sensor that will allow 120fps 4K RAW capture. (The URSA sensor is upgradeable). I recently tested 80fps on the URSA.

Right now DVEStore is offering up a 128GB 2.0 CFAST Card + Card Reader + extra savings COUPON off the total price. If you’re familiar with 128GB 2.0 (not 1.0) CFAST Cards, they can run well over $600 dollars. Add in the extra savings from a coupon code, you’re on your way to almost $1K OFF the URSA. For more information about the BlackMagic URSA visit the DVEStore.com (here)

BlackMagic URSA

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Tilta Armorman Gimbal Support Vest
April 9, 2015


Supporting the weight of a gimbal has been done by in a variety of ways, but the latest trend is being coined as exoskeletons. There are a few already available, but Tilta – known for making exceptional camera rigs, has an exoskeleton Gimbal Support Vest called the Armorman. Two mechanical ISO Arms (similar to steadicams) are attached to the arms of the operator to carry heavy gimbal setups.

tilta armor man

One unusual feature is a V-Lock battery plate attached to the rear of the vest. Possibly to run power to your camera setup while relocating that battery weight off the stabilizer.

tilta armorman gimbal vest

Asking price is about $2300+ US dollars. The vest has been shown around the web for some time, but this is the first time i’ve seen it available on eBay (click here).

tilta gimbal vest armor man stabilizer
find-price-button Tilta Armorman Gimbal Support Vest

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DJI Phantom 3 4K Camera Lightbridge Visual Positioning
April 8, 2015


DJI has just announced the new Phantom 3 Quadcopter this morning. Many of it’s features are similar to the more expensive Inspire1 including Lightbridge to stream and HD Feed from the 4K camera stabilized on a 3 axis gimbal. Visual Positioning sensors under the craft allow you to fly indoors without GPS. BTW, GPS has also been upgraded to track more satellites for more accurate positioning. The motors have been ugpraded for more power but still allowing up to 23 minutes of flight time. [Unfortunately if you plan to upgraade, the old Phantom batteries won't work]

DJI Phantom 3 Lightbridge Visual Positioning
find-price-button DJI Phantom 3 with 4K Camera + Gimbal + Lightbridge HD + Visual Positioning

Product Description:
A complete 4K camera and 3-axis gimbal system come integrated with the Phantom 3 Professional edition quadcopter from DJI. In addition to video, the camera is capable shooting up to 12MP still photos using JPEG or non-proprietary DNG RAW format. The three axes of the gimbal give you pan and tilt control, and keep the horizon line level even as the aircraft banks. Different gimbal settings allow the camera to lock onto a fixed subject, be moved manually using transmitter rotaries or the app, or to simply provide camera stabilization.

Already available for pre-order and for additional specs and information about the new DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter with 4K Camera, visit the full product page via B&H (click here).

new phantom 3 quadcopter
find-price-button DJI Phantom 3 with 4K Camera + Gimbal + Lightbridge HD + Visual Positioning

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Balancing Panasonic GH4 on CAME-MINI 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
April 8, 2015


Here’s a step by step balancing video I shot when the CAME-MINI Gimbal first arrived at the studio. The first camera I attempted to balance was the GH4 + 12-35mm F/2.8 Lens. Without tool-less adjustments and a super compact frame, balancing a camera for the ‘first time’ may take at least 10-15 minutes.

Now that i’ve had CAME-MINI Gimbal for more than a week, it’s pretty much everything I expected. Feels like great build quality, works very smooth, super portable, lightweight, and compact. But of course with such a compact gimbal, you’ll naturally run into limitations of what camera and lens you can actually use. Even though the front mounted frame can be removed to support a slightly taller camera, and a larger lens, this doesn’t mean this will be the ideal gimbal for that setup.

CAME-MINI Gimbal
find-price-button CAME-MINI 3-Axis Gimbal GH4/A7s/BMPCC

Now i’m sure there will be people attempting all types of heavy setups, and maybe you can prove me wrong, but my general recommendation is that if you have to use a lens adapter this is probably not going to be a good gimbal for you. If you’re working with a GH4 | A7s | BMPCC body with a lightweight native lens (that you don’t have to swap often), the CAME-MINI Gimbal makes for a great compact stabilizer.

Unlike the even smaller handheld systems, this is of course a 32 bit Dual IMU Sensor gimbal. So it’s got all of the latest and greatest firmware for stability and PID tuning. If you have to travel with a more compact size, the entire top handle can be removed from the lower frame, the top handle can be removed, and the side handles can be removed as well.

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

The system uses 18650 Batteries, and while I thought this might be a task to get spares, I purchased this set of 18650 Ultrafire batteries + 2 chargers, and they work perfectly. The system runs for about 1 hour on stock batteries, but my set of batteries have double the capacity and i’m hoping they will run for about 2 hours.


find-price-button UltraFire 18650 Batteries with Chargers

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Introducing Canon XC10 4K Professional Camcorder 10x Zoom
April 8, 2015


Lately, Canon’s been criticized for being behind the times and late to the 4K compact camera game. Today they’ve introduced the Canon XC10 which looks like someone threw a Canon C100 in the dryer and shrunk it. Looking at the video below, you get the feeling that it’s not really being pushed as a serious camera for professionals, and are sort of marketing this as a perfect ‘B-Roll’ camera Cinema EOS operators, or a gateway camera for DSLR stills shooters looking to get into 4K video.

At 4K the Canon CX10 can uses a completely new Canon Codec which they call XF-AVCS. This is an Intra Frame Compression, basically every frame has full video data and information. At 12 stops dynamic range and a high data rate, it’s seems like a darn good camera, but in typical Canon fashion, it’s limited by not having an interchangeable lens.

The 10x 8.9-89mm (27-270mm equivalent) F/2.8 – F/5.6 10x Zoom lens is fixed to the body. If you look at this as a true camcorder, a fixed lens is pretty standard. I think it would have been more revolutionary had they made this an ILC and threw in a basic kit lens for the starters.

xc10 image quality specs
canon xc10 framerates
find-price-button Canon XC-10 4K Camera

Even though this may not be a a professional camera system, it does require CFAST cards to shoot full 4K resolution (not compact flash). It’s not very clear what CFAST rating is needed, but I can tell you this is a very expensive card. A basic 32GB Lexar CFAST card will run you about $180 dollars if you require 2.0 speeds. If all that is needed is 1.0, then the Atomos 128GB CFAST would be a better buy. Wouldn’t it be great if they could just ouput the 4K from the sensor? From how they mention CFAST on video, I’m guessing they’ll be limiting this feature too.

There does appear to be a Mic input and a Headphone Out port which is good news. But with a 1″ sensor, fixed lens, and most likely no HDMI out to record to cheaper media, Canon doesn’t seem to want to give it all up. Almost purposely crippling certain areas as to not cannibalize their higher end cameras. Sure, far from perfect, but if it’s available for the rumored $2000-$2500 dollar pricepoint, this might be a Canon camera i’m interested in testing out. (I said testing out…)

Canon XC10 Camcorder 4K highlights features
find-price-button Canon XC-10 4K Camera

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BlackMagic Design URSA 80fps Lowest Quality 1080p Prores Proxy
April 4, 2015


I was lucky to get a BlackMagic Design URSA 4K Camera loaner from the DVEStore.com, so I decided to take my son out to the park and test it out. The URSA is capable of 4K 80fps, but because 4K 80fps‬ requires a lot of data storage and a very fast card, I had to shoot this video at the lowest possible quality setting in 1080p ProRes Proxy. I also shot the whole piece handheld and my forearms were so cramped afterwards. This is a beast of a camera.

The card I was mainly using was the Atomos 128GB 1.0 CFAST Card which will only work with many of the lower quality and lower framerate settings. Trying other compression settings just continued to have dropped frames, and the only thing that worked well for 80fps was ProRes Proxy in 1080p. For lenses, I only used the Sigma 18-35mm as this is not a full frame sensor camera it works perfectly.

I know this camera is far better than what I can currently get out of it so I’m hoping to get another card that will allow me to shoot at least at 4K Compressed RAW at 80fps. The next step up to utilize more of URSA’s power is to shoot with a Lexar 2.0 CFAST Card which is not very cheap.

It’s not as bad as I thought it would be shooting with such a heavy camera, but you can check out more specs at the BlackMagic URSA Product Page over at the DVEStore.com (click here).

Blackmagic_URSA_Promo_image__30559.1425321297.1000.1000
find-price-button BlackMagic Design URSA 4K RAW 80FPS Camera

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Varavon’s latest Armor II Implements 15mm Clamps into Cage Design
April 1, 2015


armor2_5d3_specification

Varavon’s latest Armor II Camera Cage takes a bold unique approach to mounting your video accessories. Around the cage system and top handle are a total of four (4) 15mm Clamps allowing you more options to attach a variety of accessories. Often mounting to a 15mm Rod is better than a variable friction arm that may spin loose from a 1/4″ threaded mount, and then there is the benefits of speed assembling and disassembling rigs when using 15mm clamps.

The Varavon Armor II offers an anti-twist base when the camera is installed, HDMI and Audio Cable Locks, and an HDMI Cable Pinch. The Top handle provides several 1/4″ threaded mounting points, a cold shoe mount, and (2) 15mm rod clamps. Around the cage you’ll also find more than a dozen 1/4″ and 3/8″ threaded mounts.

armor2_5d3_rod_2

Includes an HDMI adapter, Leather Handstrap, (1) 15mm Carbon Rod, and Chest Pad to be used as a shoulder stock for stability. The new Armor II cages will be available for select Canon, Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung cameras found at Varavon’s website (click here).

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find-price-button Varavon Armor II Camera Cage Systems Designed with 15mm Rod Clamps

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TrekPak – A Better Way to Organize Gear in Pelican Hard Cases
March 31, 2015


Just about every single person I know who travels with equipment has at least a Pelican 1510 Rolling Hard Case. It’s Carry-On size makes it perfect for bringing your gear onto a flight without having to risk damage or having it lost from baggage handlers.

A while back I purchased some pluck-foam inserts for my Pelican cases, but noticed I was not using them as much. Once pluck-foam is customized, you really can’t make use of the hard case for an entirely new set of equipment – unless you purchase new pluck foam.

I love my Pelican cases, but they are too expensive to just be laying around and dedicated to one thing. I needed a better, easier, more modular organizing system. Of course there are padded dividers which use velcro to move around, but there’s something far better out there and it’s called TrekPak. Check out the video below.

So while I can’t say it’s cheap, the value is what you get in the long run instead of having to buy endless amounts of pluck foam. You’ll most likely end up using your cases more often and the inserts are easier to reconfigure than velcro organizers. The TrekPak inserts are incredibly modular allowing you to utilize every possible inch of storage in your hard case. Right now TrekPak has complete kits available for a variety of Pelican | Storm Hard Cases. You can find a full list of TrekPak Kits available via B&H (click here).

trekpak pelican organizer lining padding kittrekpak pelican organizer lining padding kit 2
find-price-button TrekPak Hard Case Organizer Insert Kits

If you’re looking for a rock solid rolling hard case to take on a flight, you gotta take a look at the Pelican 1510.

Pelican 1510 Case
find-price-button Pelican 1510 Carry On Size Roller Hard Case

Now someone mentioned about ‘loose articles’ floating around the bag. Don’t forget you can always get cheap plastic Plano tackle boxes for small batteries and media cards, or even Padded Lens Cases to house and protect your small items like wireless receivers, cables, etc.

padded-camera-lens-pouch
find-price-button Padded Lens Bags for Canon Nikon Sony Pentax Panasonic DSLR Lenses

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CAME-TV CAME-MINI 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
March 27, 2015


This package arrived earlier today. So far i’ve had the chance to unbox the CAME-MINI 3-Axis Gimbal and balance a Panasonic GH4 + 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS Lens. I’ve also managed to balance out my Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye lens which is my personal little compact setup with this camera. I’m still working on a video about my first initial impressions, but if you have any questions, now is the time to ask.

The CAME-MINI feels solid, and you’ll immediately notice the excellent build quality. To balance a camera on the CAME-MINI, it requires a hex tool for almost every adjustment, and the small frame means this will not work with heavier camera setups. Example: If you’re thinking speedbooster and a Canon EF lens with a Sony A7s, this is not going to be the gimbal for you.

On the flip side, if you plan on using this with a GH4 and a small Lumix Lens like the 12-35mm it will work perfectly. Hopefully i’ll have a video up after the weekend, but for more information take a look at the CAME-TV.com website (click here).

CAME-Mini Mini Gimbal 3 Axis StabilizerCAME-TV CAME-Mini Mini gimbal sony a7s
find-price-button CAME-TV CAME-MINI 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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Kingjoy VT-3510 55 Dollar Video Head with Manfrotto 501 QR Compatible Plate
March 27, 2015


If you haven’t heard about the Kingjoy VT-3510 Video Head, it’s a damn close version of Manfrotto’s popular 701HDV (now discontinued). So much that the pan handles are interchangeable between the two heads, but of course the best part is that the Kingjoy is VT-3510 is compatible with Manfrotto’s 501PL QR plate. Here’s a closer look at this video head in the video below.

I’ve also included a gallery of images comparing the Manfrotto 701HDV next to the Kingjoy VT-3510 Video head so you can see the close resemblance.

While this head may not be as smooth as the original 701HDV, the build is sturdy and perfect for tripods that are often set aside for a static angle, mounted to the end of a jib, used on a skater dolly, or even placed on a slider. All while still offering the compatibility of a Manfrotto 501PL plate.

You’ll typically find the Kingjoy VT-315 for over $100 dollars or sometimes listed as a Kenro Video Head (as seen here). The big news here is that the one I received was from a listing for JUST $55 Dollars + FREE Shipping. There’s only just a couple left, and I think it’s safe to say that after this blog post it will sell out quick. Most likely they won’t be available for this $55 Dollar Price again (find it here).

kingjoy neewer video tripod headkingjoy video monopod like manfrotto 701hdv 701
kingjoy video head manfrotto 701manfrotto 701hdv video head china kingjoy neewer
find-price-button KingJoy VT3510 Pro Video Fluid Head w Manfrotto 501PL Compatible Plate

If that item has completely sold out, here’s an eBay link to more VT-3510 Video Heads, though I don’t think you’ll find quite the deal I got.

kingjoy vt3510 vt-3510 kenro pro fluid video head manfrotto
find-price-button More KingJoy VT3510 a.k.a Kenro Pro Video Fluid Heads

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Z1 Rider GoPro HERO3 HERO4 Mini 3 Axis Gimbal Mounted on Audio Boom Pole
March 24, 2015


Remember the versatile Z1 Rider GoPro Gimbal I shared a short while back? Well, the other day I had the opportunity to test it out while mounted to one of my Carbon Fiber Audio Boom Poles. Here are a few examples.

So while the footage may not be perfect, I think the results came out pretty well considering it only took a very minimal set of tools. The GoPro HERO4 is a camera small enough to fit in your shirt pocket, and the versatile design of the Z1 Rider Gimbal allows you to mount it almost anywhere you can mount the GoPro itself.

z1 rider gopro hero gimbal stabilizerz1 rider gimbal for gopro cameras
find-price-button Z1 Rider Mini 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for GoPro Cameras

The original shots were done with a DJI Ronin Gimbal and Sony A7s (not seen here). Needless to say the footage captured from the Ronin was better, but with that heavy setup comes additional effort and risk.

Being able to move a tiny GoPro around at the end of a stick while having full three axis stabilization was both easy and fun. About 2:17 in the video even looks like
Aerial Drone footage. Something i’ll definitely be experimenting more with, though next time i’ll probably choose a different framerate and turn ProTune On for best quality.

The Audio Boom Pole I used could have easily been replaced with a broom stick or cheap Painter’s Pole. If you need a rock solid camera tripod mount adapter for a Painter’s Pole, make sure to check out the adapter from SeaPort Digital (found here).

painters-pole-adaptersa1501-view-2-2
find-price-button Seaport Digital Painter’s Pole Adapter with 1/4-20 Male Thread

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