Never Hike Alone | Location Scout | Unit Stills

I love Horror movies. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them. My appreciation for the genre grew in college when I moved into a house full of theater majors and we began (starting the first night we moved in) to make a steady stream of films. Nights were spent filming and days spent editing, using two VCR’s and other equipment hodgepodged together in our living room. We used slushies from 7-11 for visual effects and everyone got bumps and bruises from our terrible attempts at stunt work. There is a reason there are PROFESSIONALS in every field in this biz. But we were energetic college kids who easily bounced back from whatever we threw ourselves down, stairs in my case.

Every since I started working as a Unit Stills Photographer, I have longed for the chance to create images for a Horror film. Patience and persistence pays off as the first Horror movie that I will be creating images for is an homage to Friday the 13th! The cool factor is bumped because the original was one of the first horror films I ever saw, I must have been around 8 years old and I definitely wasn’t allowed to watch those type of movies. My mom still can’t get through anything scarier than Criminal Minds. It was at my parent’s friends house during a party. The parents left a few of us kids together under the watchful eye of their older son while they socialized. The watchful eye decided to scare the ever living shit out of the younger kids with a viewing of his video tape of the first Friday the 13th. It was awesome and terrifying. See, I grew up in the middle of the woods on a lake. Oh yeah!! I don’t know how long it took for my mom to stop me from trying to sneak into their bed at night. ha!

So I was very excited when the awesome guys that make up Womp Stomp Films took me along to location scout for Never Hike Alone honoring the Friday the 13th films. Vincente DiSanti drove us deep in the woody mountains somewhere east of LA to a long abandoned camp at the end of a twisting and turning ‘road’ with a steep drop to one side and boulders going up the other. It was a slow climb to the top with frequent stops to clear trees and larger rocks from the ‘road’ and boy oh boy was it worth it! YAHHHSSSSS!!! The abandoned camp is exactly where a 13th homage must happen. We were all looking over our shoulders the entire time and as I explored the cabins farther away from base camp by myself, I sort of expected to turn the corner and find sweet ole Jason taking a nap. I cannot wait till principle photography.

How perfect is this?

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Vinny and Christopher James Thellas testing out the sony a7s ii low light capabilities

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Costume + Location tests

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and we were gifted a beautiful sunset on our ride back to civilization!

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Cannot wait to watch the awesome unfold.

 

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Half The Picture | Unit Stills

I’ve been creating images for a documentary called Half The Picture on female directors (and convos on women in the biz) and it got me thinking that my journey in the world of movie making has been a very different journey than what a lot of females experience. My first project was a wonderful pilot called “Wake Up America.” It had a female producing team, female director and two female leads! My 2nd project was written by a woman who also was the producer. And then my 3rd experience was staffed ENTIRELY by women! The production company 6 With Heels states in their mission statement that every project they work on will be filled by at least 50% women! They went 100% with their first project, Chickadee in which every position, like every single one, was manned by a female. From the director to the grips to the camera to the art to the sound, to the actors every single position was rocked by a lady. The only male on set was a neighbor who kept wandering into frame to watch every once in a while. Considering the usual ration of men to women on sets, this is RARE start to my Unit Stills photography career. Not saying that the fella’s don’t do a rocking job, they do and I love working with the fellas and there are a lot who are very supportive of females on set. BUT the amount of women usually filling roles on sets is very low. Especially when you look towards the directors chair, where around a whopping 9% find women sitting in that chair.

If only 9% of films that shape our culture are told by women that means 91% of what influences our society is told from a (mostly white) male point of view. This is problematic. We need stories championed by female voices (and more from minority voices too, while we are at it.) Movies shape the way people see the world and how they act towards each other. They direct our culture. All people’s voices should have a say in what is seen as normal or okay, the views that influence society. When everyone has a voice in telling their stories there will be a more even look at what is normal and thus a healthier point of view shaping the world. What is seen influences what is liked, so the more points of view that people are exposed to leads to a wider world experience.

“We are notes in this beautiful concert of existence.” – Mozart in the Jungle. I look forward to hearing more voices in the mix!

“Directing isn’t the only dark spot for women, either. The report shows that women represented just 11% of writers in 2015, 20% of executive producers, 26% of producers, 22% of editors, and 6% of cinematographers. Women fared slightly better across each category than they did in 2014 — which may be the source of an intra-industry butterfly effect. It turns out that when women are in key positions on film sets, the representation of women is better overall than if men are leading the show.” – Refinery 29 (check out the full article)

I heard about a documentary that was exploring these issues and the EEOC’s investigation into unfair hiring practices at the beginning of this year and I leapt at the chance to participate. Half the Picture is a documentary directed by Amy Adrion. Amy is diving deep into these issues and what it means to be a female director with her interviews of some of the top players in the industry including Mary HarronKimberly PeirceMaria BurtonKaryn Kusama, Caroline LibrescoDaisy von Scherler Mayer, Tina MabryEmily Best, and Destri Martino (and lots more, they had already been filming for 3 months when I joined the team and many more interviews still to come!)

The conversations that I have gotten to be privy to at these interviews is simultaneously heartening and devastating, inspiring and terrifying and 100% empowering. The hurtles and uphill battles these women have had face to be able to create their award winning films is mind boggling. A woman can direct a film that wins the lead an oscar but then can’t get another project for a decade while their male counterpart puts out a flop and has a new film gift wrapped and handed to them. It just makes no sense. I’m looking forward to the EEOC’s findings and meanwhile I am having a great time with Amy and her crew; Yamit ShimonowitzOna IsartDavid HarrisDelrissa MachainJenn GittingsKarla Mendoza, Laura Peyer, Jeanne TysonBella Sosis, Soraya Selene, Eve Cohen, and Evan Menak

Interviews are ongoing, we have our next one in a few weeks.

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Cuddles with mom after another successful shoot.

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How many male directors are asked how they balance their career with their families? Every female director is………

 

 

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Chickadee | Unit Still Photographer

I was so excited to be a part of the 100% cast & crew family as the Unit Still Photographer for the short film Chickadee!
#GirlPower

When I heard what producers Sarah Chaney and Heather Olt were putting together with Alissa Jessup, I knew this was an incredible opportunity. I’ve been working in the film world a long time as both a hand model and a photographer and the ratio of women to men on every set is very low. I have worked with three female director and one female DP in the 13 years I have been working on commercials! The articles going around about gender inequality in hollywood aren’t exaggerating.  There are very few women found on the majority of sets. & the crazy thing is if you look at the history of cinema, you find that 1/2 of all writers, directors and production company owners before 1925 were women!  So what happened between 1925-2015 to create such imbalance? and what can happen in 2015 to start a reversal?

One great thing to help start a new trend, is 6 With Heels. The production company founded by Sarah & Heather, they state very clearly in their mission statement that “women will make up at least half of the cast,crew and content of our multimedia productions. YES!

and then they tossed out ‘half’ for their first project and said ‘f.it, lets go all in’ and a cast and crew was formed entirely of ladies.

“I’d love to see four girls who actually get along in a movie that’s not about chasing some guy or marrying somebody. Like, where the f–k is our ’Pulp Fiction?’ Where is our ’Reservoir Dogs’? Where’s that cool s–t with the chicks kicking ass, having some fun?” – Michelle Rodriguez

Here ya go, Michelle Rodriguez, here ya go.

100% women cast and crew short film #girlpower

100% women cast and crew short film #girlpower

After being inspired by Michelle Rodriquez’s words, Allissa Jessup wrote, directed and starred in the hysterically real and funny comedy about a gal who throws a baby sister for her sister. A gal, who is the older sister, married, without children and very unfiltered. Things detour rather quickly from a simple afternoon party.

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Images from the table read to the weekend shoot!

Talented women are available for every position in front of and behind the camera. Women are not a niche, we write, direct, light, prop, gaff, boom, photo, whatever is needed.
and if that isn’t enough,
a female crew will slash your crafty budget. (I heard after wrap, a lot of the unopened crafty was returned.}

though nothing remained of the pie! Thanks Piehole for the delicious prop!!!

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Interesting Articles on women in film

http://therepresentationproject.org/career-pipeline-from-shorts-to-studio-films-fails-female-filmmakers/

http://deadline.com/2015/10/female-directors-discrimination-probe-eeoc-interviews-1201585045/

http://www.thewrap.com/arclight-to-launch-women-in-entertainment-summit-in-november/

 

plus there is the spontaneous dancing.

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#‎chickadeeshort‬ ‪#‎6wh‬

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A review of Fractal Filters

Many years ago, I grabbed a friends beer glass at a show and put it in front of my lens and fell in love with the effect. Creating an added bit of sparkle or interest made a stage come to life. I began experimenting with different shapes of glasses and varying colors of liquids, this lead to me finding a prism at a craft store and I was hooked.

My first goal with music photography is to capture the moments that show how it sounded and felt to experience the music.

My second goal is how to make it look cool.
Adding elements to shoot through added a new dimension to my music photography work and I loved pulling out a few tricks at each show. I never want to over use these elements. Getting a clear rocking image with no tricks is still my first priority.

After using prisms for a few years, I was very excited to see a Kickstarter by Nik Wong for an interesting creation called Fractal Filters.

Fractal Filters are basically a filter with cut glass that you hold in front of your camera lens when making the image. Each filter has a very comfortable handle, this is one of my favorite features. It is really easy to hold and move around.

The Fractal Filters come in 3 design

a) center hole  b) straight edge   c) curved edge

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For my first testing with the Fractal Filters, I had a lovely model shoot and experimented a bit during touchups.

b) straight edge
I made the first image and then walked around AJ and Emilie so the wall was in the background and used the straight edge fractal filter held at an 45 degree angle to the lens.

Canon Mark III, 85mm 1.8

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I then held the straight edge Fractal Filter directly across the entire lens and created this image of the alley.

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The same filter was used on this image and then in photoshop I doubled the image and flipped it to create the mirror effect. The double exposure is from the straight edge Fractal Filter.

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I immediately liked the way the Fractal Filter feels when holding it. The finger grips are comfortable and it is easy to manipulate. I did miss the ease of also holding the lens with that hand. When using my prisms, I’m often holding the end of my lens – had not realized that until trying to incorporate the Fractal Filters into my shooting flow. I love the grips, but I miss being able to use that hand…I’m a little stuck between adoration and annoyance every time I hold it.

 

Next up – a wedding day test

100mm 2.8

The room that the lovely bride was getting ready in was full of all the wedding day festivities and bags and boxes and the usual assortment of stuff that it takes to create your wedding celebration. I decided to pull out my filters because I wanted to make the world about the bride and to bring focus on her as opposed to her surroundings. For the 2nd image, I used the a) center hold Fractal Filter held directly in front of the lens.

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For the next image, I decided to pull out one of my craft store prisms. I really liked the effect in the 2nd image, I just wanted to be more low key about what I was creating. The Fractal Filter is large and eye catching. After I had made a few images with it, it started to be a conversation piece and was distracting to the quiet moment that I wanted to create for the getting ready image, so I put it away and got my very small prism that I can  pretty much hide in the palm of my hand until the I need to use it.

 

 

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Testing at a music show – Daniel Romano and The Trilliums at the Bootleg Theater

This was where the Fractal Filters really shined for me. I love how easy they are to hold on, no slipping grip on prisms when someone bumps into you. The filters felt very secure in my grip. It did make it slightly harder to maintain focus with the 70-200mm lens without the use of my 2nd hand but the images made it worth the added concentration on finding a good stance, breathing out slowly and snapping 3 images.

The images below were shot on either the 70-200 or the 100 Canon Mark III as wide open as possible.

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by holding the center hole filter at different angles to the lens the setting could go from this

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to any number of designs.

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I pulled them out again for the Vinyl Soul show at the Greek Theater.

b) straight edge

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a) center hole

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My prisms from the craft store

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a) center hole

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I’m very interested in seeing how the Fractal Filters develop. I know that the creator, Nikk Wong is working on refining the design and is excited to put out the best possible product. I would like to see a version with thinner glass. The c) curved edge filter was my least favorite as it distorted everything that it covered. It did create neat patterns and designs. I am looking forward to having more time to experiment trying to incorporate recognizable views or people with the curved edge filter.

I will always be drawn to my craft store prisms as I love the irregularities they create in the images. You don’t know exactly what you will get and nothing will be perfect. Those are two reasons that I love playing with them. I also prefer that they are low key and do not draw a lot of attention. The Fractal Filters are large and they are noticed. It can make it a harder to get a candid moment if you are not far away. And even far away, people who see you using them will want to stop to ask you about them and look at images on your camera. That is awesome and I love spreading new tricks and techniques but sometimes when you are there for a purpose it can be harder to create the images when you are holding a very intriguing piece of gear. At the above show of Vinyl Soul, I was questioned about 15 times and when a band only has 1/2 hour to play that starts to cut into the number of images that I can create. I do like the images that they make and need to figure out a way to make it less obvious.

more experimenting to come….

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Dylan Earl / The Lemon Trees at Bootleg Theater, LA | Music Photography

The Bootleg Theater was the place to be on 10/10/15 as three very talented groups played to a packed house.  First up was Dylan Earl then the la locals, The Lemon Trees and closing out the night with Daniel Romano and the Trilliums.

Dylan Earl is a cowboy suited fella with roots in Arkansas and friends of the ridiculously amazing Tyrannosaurus Chicken.  I liked his cowboy hat and easy grin immediately and dug his real feeling brand of country, none of that pop shit here, real country, sad songs sung with beauty and power.  His backing band looked remarkably like the members of Daniel Romano and the Trilliums. Remarkably so.

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The Lemon Trees helped me set up a shoot and I ended up loving everything they did that the test became a final and this image was born.

The Lemon Trees

The Lemon Trees

I got to catch a bit of their hysterically funny and smooth beautiful harmonies backstage and look forward to seeing them onstage at another show.

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While they played the band from Dylan Earl were switching off twinsies and getting into character for the main event of the night, Daniel Romano and The Trilliums.

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Skye’s Handler records at The Virginia Moonwalker| Music Photography

My existence has alway been about the journey with not a lot of thought into the destination, other than continual learning and practice to be ready for whatever crosses my path.  This night ( 6/1/14) was one of those nights, Fear of Music (check them out right now if you don’t know them) had me over to Sound of Music in Richmond, VA to create some BTS images from their video shoot.  We had wrapped up and I was in the basement experimenting with some light painting, I can’t help myself when I find a completely dark space when down walked Russell Lacy with a long haired, glasses wearing fellow with a contagious smile and giggle.  We all started playing with the lights, which devolved into the need for more creating, so we hopped into cars and headed to The Virginia Moonwalker at some ridiculous time in the early morning to make it happen.
Fast forward to the present and Skye Handler is a performer that I am always ecstatic to see rock, his talents and energy keep me & my camera on our toes when creating music photography.  2nd Band you must go check out right now is his other band Lady God.  Super exciting band that is starting to tour around the east coast (please come west!!) go check them out if you ever have a chance.

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Snow & Ryan | Pasadena, CA | Wedding Photography

this day was……..

oh just watch the video, words cannot do the fun of this wedding justice.

For all the pics CLICK HERE

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Daniel Romano at Bootleg Theater, LA | Music Photography

lil RVA in the LA  <3 <3

Guitar Works

Matt ‘Roddy’ Kuester is living the dream all because he reached out and asked for what he wanted. Thanks to a lot of talent (from years of practice), being a great person and asking for his dream job, he is now on a tour around the country and  the first RVA’er that I’ve gotten to see play on my adventures on the west coast.  Forever first and always one of my favorites. Fantastic player and seriously one of the best people.  The Kuester clan breeds them well.

I was psyched for the lucky band that had added him to their lineup. He told me they were a country band from Canada and sent me some links. Good stuff. Sounded like a great music family for him to join. Perfect amount of drawl, interesting voice, beautiful harmonies, some great pickin’  and a genuine sense of the golden area of country cool. And some kickass suits.

So he was off around the country with a show in LA on the books, hell yes!

With a new gee-tar and a suitcase, adventure abounds.

The show was at the Bootleg Theater, which turned out to be a groovy little spot. It is pretty non descript from the outside and the area I drove through to get there looked a little hmmm but the inside was great. Huge stage with high ceilings and a lot of standing room. You could fit a lot of people in there. There is a smaller theater off the main room where a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire was currently taking place.
The only possible improvement that I would make would be a foosball table, because foos always makes everything better.

Bootleg Theater Pingpong Championship Games

Bootleg Theater

The Players.

The Champion, Kenny Meehan – One sound guy to rule them all.
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This is what a band that brings IT, looks like.  thank you.  bands like this make me ecstatic about music photography.

& the show – yes!  The Bootleg Theater was packed, I love how many country music lovers there are in LA.  Great crowd of smiles and friendly music loving people.  & music to love they were given. The LemonTrees and Dylan Earl hooked the crowd early (another blog) and then Daniel Romano and The Trilliums took the stage and delivering a crooning melody of country, weaving stories and enchanting the crowd, who were swaying their hips, heads thrown back and eyes closed lost in a memory painted by the music.

 

photography stuffs.
I’ve been rocking prisms and bottles or glass, whatever is handy, in images (a fave for my music photography)for a long time. Most of my prisms come from a craft store or some random holiday store. My favorite one has a big beautiful scar and is missing a chunk and I often freeze in white hot fear when don’t instantly feel it in my Shootsac. It is my imperfect masterpiece worn from rough use.

But the question I’ve been getting is what is this new magic prism, the one that creates such a unified evenness to the image? It is one of the Fractal Filters!!!  I’ve been experimenting with the new Fractal Filters created by Nikk Wong.  Nikk came up with this handy dandy piece of gear for prism photography and I’ve been playing with them for a few months.   There are 3 different versions, the one that I used a bit at this show is the version with the center cut out. It gives a pretty cool effect.

I will be writing up a really long and detailed review with images of the Fractal Filters and photo examples from all three filters at a later date.  I’m still testing (oh, time, time, time) and taking notes.  I’m pleased with what I’m seeing so far (LOVE the handle) and also remain excited about their future evolution as Nikk rarely takes his head up from fine tuning the design.

1/160 at 1.8 85mm Canon Mark III – Fractal Filter (center hole)

Fractal Filters prism photography

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People’s Blues of Richmond Video, RVA | Music Photography

I was supposed to go home and pack for my jaunt across the country to transplant myself on the warmer coast for a few months… I’m supposed to do a lot of things. Sometimes I do…  and sometimes I don’t. I couldn’t just continue on my way home and pack when I got the call letting me know that the first video shoot for People’s Blues of Richmond was happening in Richmond that night. I would go and stay for an hour. I could be strict about that. I could enforce that for myself. About 15 minutes after arriving, I knew that I wasn’t going to be leaving in an hour to start packing, shit was happening, shit was about to happen and well, shit is far more important than packing ‘stuff.’  Stuff can be replaced, shit happening can’t.

& shit is happening with People’s Blues of Richmond. They have signed with Madison House and word of their prowess is quickly spreading. & it is rightfully deserved.  This band.  THIS band.  Seriously.  Damn.  They ARE my favorite. I have my favorite bands…there is a long list, duh. Lots of bands that I love. But this band. PBR has that it, when the music, the performance, the players, the determination and the drive come together to create something truly electric. They are the band that feeds my obsession for music photography.

They grabbed me the very first time that I saw them play at a packed The Camel years ago in Richmond, VA. Their show is gritty. Their show is raw. Their show is dangerous. Watching a PBR show is a pulse racing, elevating experience because you never know when something is going to explode, cuz something IS going to explode but you don’t know when they are going to catapult over the safety line of life. They start every show with a climax and have somehow found a way to sustain the fervor and excitement with which they play till the very last note. Till beyond the very last note. Fucking love this band.

 

get ready to feel the power of ‘gone gone gone’ from PBR directed by Julian Ashbee of Barking Iron, visuals by Dustin Klein of VIDEOmetry, and lighting by Alex McArthur of McArthur Lighting.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/135489072″>PBR Gone Gone Gone</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user12660487″>Barking Iron</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

and I ended up staying way later and packed my car in 45 minutes with what I thought I would need in California.  Turns out I didn’t do that great a job with packing as I somehow forgot that I would need stuff like clothing for a west coast winter. All was okay as my camera and computer made it along with my Forever Lazy. Gone Gone Gone was a night not to be missed.

Forever Lazy

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The Young Dubliners | House of Blues, LA | Music Photography

I was ridiculously excited as I headed to The House of Blues, Sunset Strip the other week. It was going to be my first time making images at the legendary HOB (as well as being one of the last times as their doors are closing.) That thrill was small compared to the joy I felt getting to watch the boys of The Young Dubliners rock in front of my lens again. The last time our paths crossed was back in 2011 at a bar called Mexicali’s in NJ.  It had been ages and I couldn’t wait to hug everyone again.
My excitement was already at the max when I found out Eric Rigler would also be joining them.  Eric Fucking Rigler.  He is the badass of all badass pipers. You know who he is, well, you know his Uilleann pipes anyways. Titanic, Braveheart, etc etc..if there are Uileann pipes being played, it is probably him. I cannot even remember the last time I got to see his magic.
The show was fucking awesome. The guys rocked like they always do and the crowd ate up every moment. I LOVED the venue and I hate money since that is the reason they are closing the amazing space, seriously?!?! why would anyone want to live in condo’s on what used to be the HOB’s??  Isn’t Sunset Strip cool >because< of the landmark spots?  Why people gotta destroy awesome??  but i digress, this night was awesome.  Great music, great crowd, great reunions *Erica n Gretchen*, great space, great guys.
Fantastic night!!!!

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