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The Art of Editing...

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Shane Ross
The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:02:36 am

...according to Tyler Perry, is simply knowing when from the long shot, to the close up, to the medium shot, to the wide shot. I guess. If cinemotography is just pointing a light at the subject and turning on the camera.

Or was it just a way to simplify the amazing effort that we put into a project in a way the masses understand? I dunno...it seemed very demeaning to what we do. We are as important to the process as the producer, writer and director, and DP is, IMHO.

But my wife thinks I'm overreacting.


Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Mark Suszko
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:31:33 pm

Was he in drag when he made the remarks?


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Glen Montgomery
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:51:11 pm

I'm with you. This fact was echoed by quite a few of the people at the viewing party I attended, who are not in the industry and didn't know I worked in editorial. I was glad to have a couple "normal" people recognize the importance at least. I think it was even more of a blow because they did such a good job setting up the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories with the behind the scenes segment on the "Dark Knight". Maybe the Academy thinks that more of the public already understands Editing and Cinematography, and therefore can be more playful.


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Arnie Schlissel
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 2:21:22 pm

I'm with you, Shane. In my experience, the editor organizes and orchestrates the entire post process, all while effecively re-writing the script, sculpting the performances of the actors and giving structure and form to the cinematography and sound recording.

We are not button pushers, we are film makers and artisans in our own right. We are collaborative artists, often without ever communicating even once with the other artists that we work with.

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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wiremu harpuka
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 25, 2010 at 8:26:21 am

Well put!


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Dan Archer
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 4:54:58 pm

I agree with yo Shane, but I also see your wifes point. What we do is an art. Its very subjective. There are a million ways to put together a film and its up to us to figure out the best one.With out the editor, the best shot footage and captured audio is just a pile of useless pretty pictures with no form.

BUT. on the other hand try explaining that to your mom and or family next holiday. My grandmother used to think that when i was on vacation they would have to rerun shows on TV. I think that was a way of trying to explain what we do to a mass audience that has absolutely no clue. Hell I cant get my producer to understand it half the time. I do think it would have been better if TP was in drag for the segment but alas he was not. I have never understood why people think he is so funny.

A cut is a cut & a dissolve is a disolve, and not just anybody with a system is a pro.


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Shane Ross
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:38:19 pm

See that wonderful job they did explaining what sound effects editors? That was great? Why couldn't they do the same for editors? Nope, we just cut from wide to close to medium, that's all.



Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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grinner hester
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:37:25 pm

I think people are either great story-tellers or they are not. Art is not something that can be tought... technique is. Nobody can write in a book the technique to properly edit any of my shows... unless they worked on one of my shows. The art is not the pacing or the structure of shots, the art of editing is making the client feel like these decisions were their idea.



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Graham Withers
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 6:00:13 pm

Was it just me or was that segment not only pointless and utterly banal but also, ironically, poorly cut? Possibly on purpose (just to illustrate how hard we editors work at making those tough decisions between CU, MS and Wide....)!


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Dan Archer
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 6:36:39 pm

I wouldnt give them that much credit...........No pun intended. And yes I thought it was switched a little wonky.

A cut is a cut & a dissolve is a disolve, and not just anybody with a system is a pro.


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Bill Davis
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:20:57 pm


All I can think of is 10 different newsgroups or forums on moviemaking crafts an in each the attendees are saying.

No, you've got to understand, what *I* do is what's important. Without what *I* do this whole thing will fall apart.

And the truth is that they're all more or less right.

But I'm sorry, but if you think the editor is MORE critical than the folks scoring the film, or the executive producer lining up the cash to pay for everything, or the costume designer working his or her ass off to make sure that nobody is wearing a 14th century design in a 13th century period piece, then you're woefully ignorant of the whole process.

Look, I'm an editor. And I know that what I do is important. And I'm sorry to have to say it, but to take the next step into thinking that what I do is MORE important than what anyone else does is INSULTING to everyone else at best. And reeks of HUBRIS at worst.

The only people qualified to judge whether their job is more or less critical to overall success than another job is someone who had successfully done BOTH.

And so if you haven't PRODUCED, or SCORED, or WRITTEN, or COSTUMED at the same level where you're EDITING, then, sorry, but IMHO you are talking without a base of experiential support.

It's EXTREMELY difficult to do ANYTHING at a high level. That certainly includes EDITING. But it includes most everything else as well.

And one final thought to stir the pot. Have you ever considered that your project might be every bit as successful as it is if it was edited in an entirely different way? That, in essence, there is never just ONE right way to edit something, but bunches of ways that the audience will happily accept and enjoy, and pay to view?

What does that mean in the overall scheme of things? What if what we do in editorial storytelling is not so unique or precious after all? And, just as with, for example, the craft of writing - there is plenty of room for journeymen writers (just like editors) who labor away doing corporate or business, or comedy writing for a variety of stuff and NEVER have their work tested against any standard of excellence simply by circumstance? Are they still good? Or are they less than good?

Are our gifts as editors so rare? Is everyone who owns their FCP system and put in the 10 years in the seat a "good" editor? If so, there are a MILLION+ registered and updated FCP seats alone out there. If just 10% of them are excellent, that's 100,000 excellent editors we're all competing against. Why might I be "better" than you, or Jane, or Raj? Better yet, why would any of us have the right to feel "superior" to the DP, or the scriptwriter, or the freeking Craft Services folks, who might well be a Cordon Blu dropout in these weird financial times, for heaven't sake.

Sorry to ramble, but I've just finished riding heard on a large local charity effort, and I"m particularly sensitive right now to anyone who feels that THEIR contribution is "SUPERIOR" to anyone elses.

Without EVERYBODY motivated to do their best - you always risk falling short of excellence and having your work dragged down by the overall effort.

And casting your part as SUPERIOR to someone else's is a VERY bad way to set yourself up for long term success in this kind of necessarily collaborative field.

My 2 cents anyway.





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Shane Ross
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:37:33 pm

I'm not trying to sell myself as superior to any of those people in any way. I didn't exclude them because I feel the Composer has any less impact, or that costumes are unimportant. I just didn't want my list of "we are just as important to the production as..." and then have a list of feature credits follow.

There is a perceived level of importance/contribution to a film that most everyone agrees to. There is a "line" and there are those "above the line" and those "below the line." Producers, directors, actors...above the line. Meaning that they get more money and residuals and all that because a movie can fail or succeed due to their contribution. Below the line is seen as the craftspeople...the people who work on the film. But I feel that a few of those people need to be ABOVE the line, Editors included. I'm not being snooty or self important, just observant.

Read "When the Shooting Stops, the Cutting Begins" and see how editors have completely SAVED films from total ruin, including Annie Hall, that won an Oscar for Best Picture. The original script, the original edit...the film was a convoluted mess! The producers saw it, Woody saw it. It took Woody and the editor a few months to make it work, completely changing the focus of the film. Diane Keaton was not the original focus...she was a side character originally. The recut obviously changed that.

And yes, DPs contribute a lot, and composers (god, I have seen many good films made tepid with bad music), and costume design, art direction. But I didn't want to get into all of that...I just wanted to comment on Tyler Perry's rather simplistic way of describing what editors do...after the great way Sound Mixing was shown.

But they also dissed Cinematography...not even showing clips from the films that were nominated...while Art Direction got beautiful treatment. I guess it was give and take...most years they focus on editing and cinematography, so why not THIS year show Art Direction and Sound Mixing? Costumes?

Whatever, you are reading too much into my post. I am not a prima dona that thinks that editors are more important than everyone else. But I feel that they are more important than most people think they are. Otherwise why would producers and directors be so concerned about who they get to edit their film?



Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Arnie Schlissel
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:12:20 pm

[Shane Ross] " But I feel that a few of those people need to be ABOVE the line, Editors included."

I couldn't agree more. The location sound recordist, for example. Is what she (or he) does not as important as the DP on some films? Yes, we're going to replace a lot of sound later on, maybe even build quite a bit from scratch in post, but the aural character of a city is impossible to fake.

And how many of us have seen a beautifully shot film and thought "It feels so low-budget indie" simply because the sound was crappy? Or seen a not particularly well shot film with great sound & felt that it was a professional piece of craft?

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Alan Okey
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:45:50 pm

Wait, haven't you heard? Anyone with a laptop and Final Cut Pro is an editor. It's just pushing buttons, after all. There's no real skill involved.

/sarcasm




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Rocco Forte
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 11:14:03 pm

It's the colorists I feel bad for... Even fewer people know what a colorists does outside of the industry than editor. Plus if they describe a Sound Editor / Sound Mixer combo, then shouldn't there also be a Cinematographer / Colorist combo? Poor guys ;o)

But yes, I agree that was a pretty lazy description of what an editor does.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 8, 2010 at 11:55:08 pm

Shane,
No I don't feel your over-reacting. To many people, on both sides of the camera think of editing as an afterthought, as if it is nothing more than a data entry job.
Part of the problem is the general attitude of the 'new' editors. When I say 'new', I'm referring to those that never edited any way other than NLE. For some reason there is a huge demographic 'subgroup' in the 'new' editors that thinks editing is about the best plugin, the most FX, etc. Even where VFX is called for to tell the story, it is amazing how often the 'new' editors can't break down a scene, and apply their craft without thinking about what they need to buy. Yes, I'm painting with a broad brush, but how often do we see posts where these folks are stuck because they are unable to innovate, and are "looking for a plugin to do xxx". Its always about the FX, and not often about 'what shot goes with what, and why'. Is it any wonder that others think editing is some type of IT job, and all you need is an Apple certification, and that makes you an editor.

Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Shane Ross
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:07:38 am

Ahhh, thanks Scott, now I get it. Yes, there are far too many of the "new breed" who feel that the NLE and the plugins are all they need to tell a story.



Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Andrew Kimery
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:47:12 am

Careful guys. You don't want to invoke the wrath of 'new breed' of FCP editor. ;)

Anyone remember the hornets' nest Scott Simmons apparently poked w/a stick back in '08 w/his "What’s wrong with the young FCP editor?" blog post:

http://www.studiodaily.com/blog/?p=466


-Andrew

3.2GHz 8-core, FCP 6.0.4, 10.5.5
Blackmagic Multibridge Eclipse (6.8.1)



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Alan Lloyd
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 1:50:51 am

There are editors, and there are operators.

Both of them know how to push buttons to generate an end product. The editors' end products tell stories, the operators' end products...well...sometimes, if the tides are running right and the moon is not obscured by clouds...



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grinner hester
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 12:57:29 am

That's all the new breed needs, man.
You and I were story tellers long before we were around tools. If you are like me, you were editing as a teen but aiming the ole Quazar VHS camera at the boob tube while playing previously shot vhs tapes in it.... sometimes with a boombox next to the camera to add a music bed. lol
I started linear editing in th late 80s. By the mid 90s, the best editors were, of course, the ones who knew their room the best. Ideas come cheap. Executing them is where skills come into play.
FF to today. Dope-smokin' 20 grand-makin' MTV-watchin' kids have had FCP in their basement as long as many editors in the market today. They know AE like the back of their hands and can crank out anything desired in a short amount of time... or don't mind staying late because they don't have to tuck in any kids that evening.
Does that threaten you or I? I gues it could if we elected to see it that way. We could also see it as exactly what justifies our rates.
Don't doscredit em though. They are fine story-tellers... they just still have to have the story fed to em. Once they realize they don't require that, we can set em up with some gear and some freedom and let em make bank for us.



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Scott Sheriff
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:57:23 am

Andrew: "Careful guys. You don't want to invoke the wrath of 'new breed' of FCP editor. ;)

Anyone remember the hornets' nest Scott Simmons apparently poked w/a stick back in '08 w/his "What’s wrong with the young FCP editor?" blog post:"


If you think that saying that a portion of new editors don't take their craft seriously, and that's why others might not see it as a real skill or art, could invoke the wrath of the new breed. Then you don't want to get me started on people that can't be bothered to put the camera on the sticks, when there is no reason to shoot HH!



Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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cowcowcowcowcow
adam taylor
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:26:53 am

first off - who's Tyler Perry? Never heard of him before.

I'm guessing he's been presenting something in the States. And if its recently, then probably an expensive back patting exercise involving little yellow gonks and a highly select bunch of .....err better stop there before i get out of control!!

anyway - its my theory that people rarely get visual editing, because they do it themselves every few seconds subconsciously. Its never explained to them, it just happens.

Ever try looking from one person to another without blinking during the heads whip pan?

A sound effect can be quickly and easily demonstrated - crinkle the cellophane, close your eyes - hey presto...campfire!

A visual edit is a much more subtle trick. Done correctly, it is invisible. Create a visual rhythm and the viewer will assume the edits are just blinks and not realise they are being manipulated by the editor.

Yet with audio, they only ever hear a continuous uninterrupted stream. Its natural to assume all sound just flows. Show them how a film soundtrack is created from scratch (often from completely incongruous sources) and everybody is astonished at the work involved.

I agree completely with Shane. The art of the editor is unfortunately one not shrouded in mystery but smothered by disinterest and apathy. And not just from the public, but from many of those we work with who really should know better.

Whilst it can be annoying to realise how the public perceives what we do, it is also gratifying that we are able to do this job, and if more people realised how much fun it can be, we may all find it harder to get work!

adam

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk


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Glen Montgomery
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 3:42:37 pm

I need to chime in for the new breed. I know much of the comments were generalizations but you have to know there are a great many of us who are in this for the storytelling and not the plug-ins. I hate expressions, stabilization trackers, and denoise filters, its just more things that keep me from thinking about what impact that reaction shot is going to have on the interview. Yes many of us grew up with computers and geek out on glow dissolves, but don’t take away the idea that we can fret over 6 frames of trimming to get two pieces of audio to sound natural as one. But the fear of the next breed is always there, because they do things differently and come from a different culture. I am not much far removed from the little ones coming out of school now, but the stuff they can do in AE makes me sick to my stomach sometimes. I may never be able to do some of that high level motion graphics work, but I would rather have more confidence in the story and rhythm department. I would rather be trusted by my producers that I will have a project organized so well that even with the senior editor’s love of having 18 untitled sequences, even he can’t get lost. Even more so I want clients who have been in edit suites for years to trust my perspective on the project because I can clearly communicate what I envision for it and logically argue for the things that need to happen to make it a better piece. Avid is my scissor and tape of choice, but Ill lump myself in with the new FCP breed. Yes, sometimes we worry too much about what version of software is running and yes sometimes we want to film effect everything. But don’t say we don’t want to learn how to craft a program that makes you cry or shutter on the edge of your seat. I would rather be sitting behind you asking annoying questions about why you put that shot in front of that other shot or how you made the stammering CEO sound suave, but I have to go juggle 12 different codec issues and check on those damn untitled sequences again. And from some of the stories I have heard about the edit suites before the no smoking at work rules, the dope was still being smoked by the old breed.


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Alan Okey
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 4:47:05 pm

[Scott Sheriff] "For some reason there is a huge demographic 'subgroup' in the 'new' editors that thinks editing is about the best plugin, the most FX, etc."

And it's not just editors who are guilty of this. There are plenty of clients who assume that they don't need to coordinate color palettes, light properly or do any kind of preproduction work because they can do it all with a plugin in post.

Client: "Just use the 'make it look cool' filter. I know it's just a plugin."



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Mike Cohen
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 5:13:07 pm

I too have never heard of Tyler Perry - sounds like the love child of two members of Aerosmith.

Was the quote mentioned something said as Academy Awards patter? The presenters just read what they are given on the prompter. We should be blaming the writers of the show. Personally I did not watch the Oscars - much easier to check the web in the morning and get all the info in like 30 seconds.

Editing is storytelling. Whether you are editing picture, sounds, effects, copy, motion graphics or sound design - you are helping to tell the story. Show me a best picture nominee without fantastic editors in all of these departments.

Software is guaranteed to change every decade - the craft of editing remains. Perhaps new tools can make editing tasks better/different/more variable/faster/slower/whatever but if you can't tell a story then all the buttons in the world are not going to help you or your project.

I have edited on 7 different systems over the years (13 if you count software versions of Premiere) but the end goal remains the same - making the final product.

That's my contribution to this editors' manifesto.

Mike Cohen

PS - I googled Tyler Perry and I still can't figure out what's so special about him.



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Scott Sheriff
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 5:58:01 pm

FYI:
Who is Tyler Perry?
Tyler Perry would probably be considered a B-lister, and has a few movies out there, most notably "Diary of a mad black woman", and has a sitcom "Tyler Perry's House of Payne".
He is known for playing a cross-dressing character based on his aunt.


Scott Sheriff
Director
SST Digital Media
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


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Rick Turners
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 8:49:17 pm

Editing is a hard skill to sell..

You cut things together and a story happens.. problem is anyone can do this to a level where it "works" well enough to pass. The only way to prove that you are worth cutting films is by having cut a film that has done well. And to have cut a film to prove you can cut a film you have to have cut a film already.. blah..where is the entrance here?

For example, 3D artists have an art in the industry that has a direct impact/concrete skill to display.. "ok.. you modeled something and it looks amazing".. there is no explaining to be done "how you found the shot" or "you had to use this because the other angle was fudged, without me the film would suck!" basically, 3d is a concrete and obvious skill, unfortunately editors dont have this to show, editors who do mograph (which is becoming more common and essential) is a little different.

and personally.. I hope colorists stay under the radar so that it stays a professional pocket in the industry and not a red carpet everyone-wants-in type of thing that directing/editing/producing has become.


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Rocco Forte
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:19:48 pm

This just in from the year 2025:

"Seriously guys, these xPad_Air editors think they're the shiz. Remember FCP? When I started out, we actually had to watch the footage first, then organize it before we started editing! Then we had to physically search for and then load in the plugins to alter the picture quality. I mean just because you can wave your hands about for five minutes and show me six versions of the title sequence in 3D doesn't make you a story teller!

We learned it the hard way right? On our own! With a pirated version of FCP and a Macbook Pro. When I started out I had to start from the bottom posting to Youtube before I got a break. You actually had to have real skills like converting to H.264 before uploading. Compression is a real art form you know!

These kids today with their air_xmotion_tech and their instant access to all the media ever created and their ability to quickly deconstruct another motion picture at the click of a button; it's not even real story telling!

I even read the manual. They don't even make manuals any more! It took me seven years before I mastered the art of editing. 15,000 hours of work. Today it's all "30 seconds and I'm making my epic feature" I had a kid the other day, didn't even know what a codec was! Never heard of DVCPRO HD! In FCP you literally had to move the pieces of video and audio around with a physical object. This made it feel real and organic and allowed you to tell the story. Not like todays editors who whizz around so fast they can't even think about what they're doing! Those were the days, man. FCP was a revolution."

And this just in from the year 2045:

"Seriously guys, these _Kut*99_ editors think they're the shiz. Remember xPad_Air ? We had to……………….. "


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cowcowcowcowcow
Richard Herd
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:21:24 pm

Editing is not the most important part of the movie.

It IS the movie.



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Tom Sefton
Re: The Art of Editing...
on Mar 25, 2010 at 3:23:42 pm

I don't think I have ever watched a good film/TV show/video that has been edited badly. The success of the whole project rests squarely on the shoulders of the person who decides the edit.

I don't profess to be an editor. Yet. But I know how important it is. Maybe if this guy called Tyler Perry had a good editor on his films they wouldn't be such shite.


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