Thursday, 9 December 2010

More Dead Space news

So a new Dead Space trailer is out:

Now go look at 1:21, I was pretty excited to see it in the trailer.
Look again, it's a pretty quick shot.

Look familiar?

That's right. They decided to include a quick bit of footage of Meat Cello, that move I designed for the competition.
It looks great, they've done a great job with it. It looks so much better in 3D. Although I've only seen this small clip, I've been told that the whole move is in the game and "looks just like the original flash animation".
I'm really looking forward to seeing and using that move in the finished game.

Moving on from Dead Space; I've been busy on this little Fentil-related piece:

It's a spread of the different types of inflatogastrates

(clockwise from left)
Finworm (Rock-stalker)
The 'typical' inflatogastrate. They vary greatly in size and shape, and spend most of their time high in the air, silently scanning for prey, while also looking out for larger, equally cunning airborne predators.
An example of these is the Arctic finworm , which, unlike other finworms, hunts more like a land-based predator; The thin, cold air stops it from getting enough buoyancy to float higher, so it stalks its prey by taking cover behind mounds and snow banks.

Micromorphs (Diamond darter & Puff owl)
The smallest (by average) of all airborne inflatogastrates. Because of their size, micromorph species often haunt in swarms - safety in numbers.
Diamond darters live only on the small, isolated island, Subi. Subi is unique to Fentil as it near-constantly has a thick, humid and highly acidic atmosphere, which is retained by the dense forests. Puff owls are only found on the large southern continent.

Gripworm (Leatherbelly)
While having airborne ancestors, gripworms lost their inflatable bladders soon after getting them and live a more snake-like, arboreal lifestyle. The back-looping gut system of modern inflatogastrates is modified, resulting in a creature that is almost all neck and uses its vent as a opposable digit (inflatogastrate vents are usually gill-like structures at the base of the neck which constantly drip waste). This digit allows them to easily grab and swing from branches. It also aids in trapping prey.

Burner (Firebird)
Burners The linked sheet explains most of the details about burners.

Hover Prowler (Vinestalker)
Another inflatogastrate group that has returned to the ground.
Hover prowlers' siphons no longer function to propel them through the air. Instead, they use the leg-like tips to pull their buoyant body along, making them perfectly silent predators. The terminal half of their 'limb' is stretchy and can retract and move about in a similar way to an elephant's trunk. The pads at the end are similar in function to chameleon feet.

Mandibulopd (Spear dropper)
The most intelligent of inflatogastrates. Their cognitive skill is similar to that of birds such as Kea. They can use their three legs to manipulate objects, such as burner larvae (spears)
Similar to hover prowlers, the powerful siphons used by other inflatogastrates are re-worked; the olfactory nodes are substantially larger and the siphons relatively smaller. They use wing-like projections of the siphons to propel through the air, flapping them in a bird-like manner.
Despite being vicious predators, their intelligence leads many species to also be very inquisitive and neophilic.

Screamer (Striped creeper)
A 'living fossil' species. Screamers are perfect examples of what ancient inflatogastrates looked like - 3 unfused mandibles, segmented body, straight gut, 3 posterior spiracle pouches, and fleshy lobopod-like legs.
As the gas bag became more prominent in inflatogastrate lifestyle, the body curved around underneath, leading to a U-turn gut and one of the spiracle pouches ending up on the bottom of the body, with the other two becoming the powerful siphons.
Screamers get their name from the surprisingly loud calls that they use to communicate.

Dangler (Pseudo pulmonary)
Possibly the next most primitive group after screamers. They are ground-based predators which simply hang from their gas bag, all 3 undifferentiated spiracle pouches aligned radially around the body.
Most danglers are ambush predators, using camouflage to remain hidden. Many mimic Pulmonary plants due to the similar tri-lateral symmetry and simple shape.

It's going to be a big picture and I'm doing this in the same way I did this piece:

I did the lines in Flash, then went into Photoshop to colour it. I really like this way of doing things, as I have trouble keeping definite edges when painting in Photoshop. Also, it's nice having some lines to colour inside, I find it easier to define the form and just be more detailed in general without having to worry about the niggly little edges.
This is what the inflatogastrate thing looks like without using lines at all, just going straight from sketches:

It just looks messy. Also, that small one above took about twice as long as the line one did.
I do want to get much better at doing realistic things in Photoshop, though. Perhaps next time I'll use thinner lines and slowly get rid of them.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Or something.

Well with all deadlines behind us, here is my finished experimental piece,


I'm really happy with this little animation.
My original idea was something much darker and surreal, revolving around the theme of parasitism, and using raw meat for some of the stop-motion parts.
One of the major problems that I found with this idea was that it seemed far too complex and difficult. I managed to do a few tests, but ultimately I just wasn’t happy with the idea, and so I ended up changing my idea at the last minute.
My new idea was admittedly less experimental, but I still tried to make it mostly new techniques.
The last time I did some paper animating was the ‘Paper Love’ short. I quite liked the simple style of it and I wanted to do something visually similar, but different in style. Initially it was going to be just black and white, but I felt it was too bland, so I added a mid-tone background.
Only about a third of the way through shooting I realized that I had chosen almost the exact same colour as the Paper Love background. I guess I just like those colours.

The main inspiration for the piece was the idea of swarming animals such as birds and fish, and how the individual units move together, split off and rejoin again. I wanted to take the idea one step further to make the amorphous swarms form solid objects periodically, which animate then split off again.

From the beginning of the animation, I had decided to do it all straightforward, with as little planning for the actual animation as possible, as it would make for a more fluid movement of the swarm. I did make dope sheet for the animation, and made some basic plans for what happened. However, once I started moving the bits of paper around, the plans started to crumble, and the intricate dope sheet only became useful for telling me where the beats in the music where, which was all I ended up needing.

The bomb was inspired by the beginning of the short movie, PIXELS, by Patrick Jean, which begins with an 8-bit bomb inside a TV which explodes, sending out a cloud of floating 3D pixels. I guess the more I think about it, the more I see the inspiration. The bomb itself went well; the fuse burned away exactly how I wanted it too. As for the new fuse growing, I simply shot it in reverse, cutting small bits off at a time and then reversing the frames to give the illusion of a growing fuse.

The border of the animation serves two purposes. The first and foremost is to widen the frame to make it fit into a 16:9 window, as the camera only shot on 4:3.
The second was for aesthetics. I chose intricate, baroque patterns, which were contemporary to Vivaldi, himself, so it all fits together. The blend burn effect of the border resembles an old silent film vignette, which helps fit with the old feeling.

The Shrapnel logo was designed to convey the visual style of the animation, and so is made of lots of shattered pieces. However, simply having sharp, angular shards overlooks the gentle overall tempo of the animation and the music, so I added a more stylized, baroque ‘L’

I’m very happy with how the finished animation came out, especially after adding the extra border, which made the footage have a sense of place, as if it’s being projected in an old theatre. I was tempted to add a film-grain effect to give it a more aged appearance, but I decided against it as most of them look a bit cheesy and are generally overused.
I feel it was quite ambitious to shoot it at 25 frames per second, especially as I was already halfway through the allotted time. I managed to condense the actual animation into 4 days of solid work, clocking up about 20 hours work.
Despite the tedious nature of this cut-out stop motion, I do enjoy the outcome. I’m probably most happy with the tentacles, I managed to give them the whipping, twisting look that I was trying to achieve.

Next time I try some experimental animation, I feel that I will definitely have to branch away from paper animation, because it won’t really by experimental by this point.

Here are the two, rather messy dope sheets for the second half.

As you can see, few of the original scribbles and ideas ended up in the final piece, but the red waveform was vital in timing the little pieces of paper.

Finally, one more of the many icons I've been dabbling in:

This is my one for Flash.

It's been a good term overall, and I'm really happy with what I managed to get done.

I'll probably still update this blog over the holidays.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Finally. Another post.

So the experimental is coming along swimmingly, just 9 seconds left to go, which I'm hoping to get done tomorrow. I just wish I'd started it earlier so I wouldn't be panicking so close to the deadline, but I guess that's what I get for changing ideas so far in.

I'm happy with how things are matching up to the music, but I might still do a few frame tweaks once the whole thing is done.

I haven't been uploading my other WIPs to this blog simply because I've done most of it in the space of a few days, and it seems odd to upload bits each day.
So just incase you're curious - here they are:
Day 1

Day 2

I did do a dopesheet for the last 20 or so seconds, in which I planned for a creature to walk on from the side and then dissolve, but that idea just collapsed as soon as I started animating. With this sort of thing, it's much easier and generally better when you make it up as you go along. I still use the dopesheet to plan out beats and such, but that's about it. It does show, though, as the second half fits much better to the first.

I'm not happy with the stop-motion cameras shooting in 4:3, so I'm thinking of adding a baroque frame to make it wider and hide the black-boxing so it fits 16:9

This is the sort of thing I was thinking of, just wrapped around the outside of the frame.

When not meticulously placing tiny pieces of black paper, I've been getting back into Fentil things and other various artings.

Here's a sheet on a group of Fentil plants, called 'Pulmonaries' because of their lung.
I've missed doing these kinds of sheets, but I forgot how tedious they can be to make, and I am ashamed to say I cut a few corners, but hopefully they're not noticeable.

Also I've been dabbling in graphic design again, and practicing with some iApp-style icons for programs on my computer. There's an interesting piece of software called CandyBar, which is a really good way to change software icons. It has a nice interface, too. I'm tempted to get the full version - I just like to customise things.

I made a re-make of the new iTunes logo. That warpy effect really does do wonders.

And just incase I somehow manage to make it, here's a mock-up of what the Fentil app would look like:

(both in Flash, except for that warpy tunnel effect which I did in 2 minutes in Photoshop - both of which I am also making icons for)
I don't own an iPhone or iPad, so making an app like this would be fundamentally pointless and difficult. With the upcoming OSX Lion, however, similar app to those on iPods and iPads will be available on desktops/laptops.
I honestly can't wait when Apple run out of big cats. Maybe OS XI will be fish or something, though I think insects would be better.

Here's a little doodle I did depicting two parasites from a dream I had a few nights ago (19th of November)

The dream itself was pretty short; I crashed a car in a flooded tunnel and when I got out I was covered in these things.
I can't remember how I got them off, but I ended up in the back of a police car in the middle of a junkyard throwing poisoned/explosive knives at people.
My dreams are weird, but wonderful. It's like watching a strange new film every night. I just wish I could somehow record them, because I tend to forget them very quickly, and even if I write them down the second I wake up, by the time I've written a few bullet-points, most of it becomes a blur.

I recently re-discovered this short film, Trichrome Blue by Lois van Baarle on DeviantArt.

It's a really beautiful piece. The line-less, block colour style and the use of colour is wonderful. The music is good, too.
I really like that multi-screen TV effect. When I first saw this I thought that it must have been near-impossible to do, but now, about a year later, it just looks like a simple AE mask. Done.
It's one of the few animated shorts that really inspire me.
Although she's said she won't be making films for the other colours (yellow and Red), I can't help but wonder what they'd be about.

I also found this a few days ago:

It's a lovely little video. Part of 'It Gets Better' , which is a sort of project help stop intolerance to the gay, bisexual, trans and a whole rainbow of other groups. (No stereotype pun intended. Well maybe just a little...)
Also, all of the people on this video look really easy to caricature.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

11 second update

Nearly there

I've done more since this upload, but it just gives the general idea of whereabouts along this animation I am.

Also, I've had a sudden change of idea for my experimental.
My plan is to use small pieces of ripped paper, and just make them all fly about eachother, in a similar way to a large flock of starlings, weaving and bending to form amorphous shapes. I want to take it one step further, though and have the swarm form actual objects, which will animate and for a couple of seconds before dissolving back into the noise of the swarm.

I like the idea of perhaps starting with a 'solid' paper object that explodes.

More details once the scans can be uploaded..

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

-eleven related pun-

I'm out of punny titles for this one.

Anyway - A work in progress of 11 second club:

The blue demon's slave chain is still in rough. I'll probably leave that until the end.
Might smooth out the red demon's pointing.

In other news, recently I'd discovered that someone had taken a flash cartoon I'd submitted on Newgrounds and stuck it up on YouTube.
The reason I never submitted it is because the flash file had an ActionScript camera, which works great when you play it back as a .SWF, but it doesn't work in Quicktime, because it doesn't understand the camera. I presume.
So I left it alone, thinking that the cartoon wasn't that great and that it wouldn't really get seen much on YouTube, anyway.
I was wrong.
So I search for a duck walks into a bar one day because someone told me about another stupid video about a duck asking for grapes (which makes no sense to me - why would a duck want grapes? Although, reality and logic stops being an issue when ducks can speak and no-one seems bothered by it) . So I search youtube and I'm taken back when I see a thumbnail of my duck cartoon. I'm even more taken back when it has 170,00 views, which is more than all of my videos combined.
One guy did a german translation, which was kinda funny, but some people had submitted 'english fandubs' which -by strange coincidence- sounded exactly like me.
So FINALLY, after about a year and a half since I submitted the original, I've stuck it up on YouTube.

I've cleaned some bits up, such as the intro, the scratches on the bar and the more detailed bottles on the back wall.
That's the way to best tell it's this version.

I'm still in the process of contacting youtube and the users who uploaded it to get them to take it down.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Stairway to eleven.

[EDIT 14/11/10]
Made a mock-up of how I want this to look:

The background is still under construction, but over all this is a good representation of how the finished animation will look.
I'm happy with the shading

In order to better capture poses, I've done a short reference video

My acting is bad to say the least.
I just realised that I forgot to account for the red demon only having one arm. Ah well, I think I can easily ignore the extra limb, as it's not really used.

and here's a character sheet for each ...well, character.
Blue demon:

Red demon

And one for the background

And unrelated to work, here's something Fentil related:

Tile tops are like trees, but not quite. They often form 'forests' like these:

They form a barrier that stops light from reaching the ground, and so anything living below them lives in perpetual darkness. Well, until one of the tile tops dies and collapses.

And now some cool videos:

Some pixilation of pixelation.

I really like the pixelation effect when the taxi is hit, finally crumbling into loose blocks. I just like the lowering of resolution in general, especially when the giant bomb goes off and the Earth becomes one big pixel.
The chamfered edge of each pixels was a nice touch. The slightly glassy shader makes it look even prettier.
I wonder how they got that amorphous pixel blob to be so fluid.

More pixels!

Trucker's Delight is pretty crude, but it's funny and the pixel art is amazing.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Cranking it up to elev-about 3ish

So, here's some sketches:

Initially I thought about having a drunk porter in a wine cellar being confronted by the king in front of other servants, or perhaps by extension of the 'theft' aspect; a man in the stocks.

Then I went more along the lines of perhaps making the object in question a little more personal, i.e. a body part.

I was quite inspired by this idea by this animation:

While I like the robot idea, I figured it might end up being too close to this short, so I went with the organic demons.

I quite liked using the demons again. I was thinking of using zombies, as their body parts would be easy to pull off and put back on again. The problem with using zombies, however is that they don't talk too much and I know it would end up being bloody. I wanted to make something a little more subtle for the 11 second club website.

A rough storyboard.

And HERE is an animatic:

I'm still thinking of maybe changing the characters, because I used a demon last time.
Maybe a pair of ragdolls, which also makes sense when one of them loses an arm, which also might help me shave off a few seconds. I want 2 seconds extra either way at most. I want to keep the extra to a minimum.

Speaking of ragdolls, I recently read a really interesting blog post by Media Molecule, in which they explained how Sackboy came to be.

Sackboy was initally going to be named 'Yellow Head' basing his design on the early program art (above)

Eventually they settled on the sort of shape Sackboy takes now

Some 3D renders of differentiated sackboys. That one on the top-left is just plain creepy.

In the end, Sackboy looks like this

It just makes you realize how different projects could have turned out completely differently based on slightly different choices. along the pipeline.

Full article is here.

And now, totally unrelated, here's a birthday card I made for a friend's 20th Birthday

She likes birds, red and black, and curly vines.
Everything was done in flash. The file is so big because I wanted to make sure that, when I printed it out, it wouldn't go all pixelated.

Finally, here's some stuff I've found:

Short, but sweet.

I'm not a massive HalfLife fan, in fact I've never played any. I do, however, like this guy's animation.
He usually does short action sequences using models/rigs from Valve games.
Watching this reminded me of a dream I had a while ago, part of which was in first person

Maybe I'll try something similar with this dream sequence in Maya.

While the animation isn't great, I do like this for the textures and reflections of the room. It's the sort of look I was going for when I made this:

I think the trick is not to make the 'white' actually white. In this animation, it has a beige tint.

Visceral have released another trailer for Dead Space 2. This one featuring a creepy rendition of Ring Around the Roses. They did something similar for the first Dead Space, but instead using Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

I really like that wobbling effect and the orange filter they use when Isaac sees the blue-lit hallucination girl. I hope it;s in the game.

Finally here's a cool cartoon I found on Channel Frederator's YouTube channel.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Digging a deeper hole


Tidied up the first bit of animation.
Next, the shocked part.


And, because of time, here's a neater looking, cut-down version:

I'll colour it in the near future.

Also found this piece on DeviantArt

Brushfire by ~Abiogenisis on deviantART

I've been looking at Pterosaurs a lot recently, because they are similar to Fentil shankbats.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Changing emotion and a tongue in slow-motion

For the emotion change assignment, I chose to use a character based on the block boy in the horribly addictive game, Minecraft.

It's REALLY addictive.

AND NOW the animatic (Blame YouTube's ridiculous processing time)

So here's the setup:
The guy is mining away, bored out of his mind.
Suddenly, his pick-axe strikes diamonds. He instantly perks up and starts digging enthusiastically.
Beaming with joy, he scrambles up his diamonds.
Just as he turns around to leave, however, he freezes, dropping the diamonds.
The camera pans out to reveal a creeper looming right over him. He is stricken with fear.
The screen cuts to black as the creeper makes its characteristic hissing noise....

Despite being a 3D, java-based game, I chose to make this in 2D, as it would have taken too long to model and rig a little block boy.
Also, I'm ashamed to say, I did make a custom skin of myself for this game.

Moving on;
I've been back at the ol' arrowtongue rig. I've been improving my rigging skills and made a NURBS-based control system, including a slider for the creature's eponymous striking tongue:

I also added the dorsal papillae

They seem to deform pretty well, although that one at the top is being tugged at by the right dorsal spike.
All down to weight painting.
Horrible, horrible weight painting -_-'

It still needs texturing and tweaking, but it feels like the end is, at last, in sight.

Some doodles including a more 'realistic' volumey sketchy style of a Fentil creature or two:

Lastly, some interesting animations I found while trawling YouTube

King of Magazines

I really like the style of this video, mixing FBF with some clever tweening to get objects to throb to the beat.


Based on a 9 minute beat poem by Tim Minchin, and Australian comedian/musician, Storm is about a dinner guest who repeatedly blurts out cliched lines about science not knowing stuff.
Tim Minchin has been doing quite a few videos with a guy called Fraser Davidson. They also collaborated on a video I posted earlier in the year called the Pope Song. They all share Davidson's flat, colourful, almost cut-outish style.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Arting it up and tarting it up

So I've given the blog a bit of a tweak and now it has a better look to it.
Nice little centre bar I think.

Experimental piece animatic

Mostly pixilation and stop-motion.
I need to do more tests with meat.

I finally have some sketches to show, I managed to find a working scanner to use.
So here goes:

Fentil sketches:

A small hunting pod of luminopticates seeing over a tile-top plain.

Left: body stance and common leg arrangement.
Right: A dorsoplacate mating pair feed on a young cloverhead, while their offspring play and fight over morsels of flesh.
Dosroplacates are hermaphroditic, so there is no 'male' or 'female'.
Further down: A snake-basket after just making a strike at a pump-fish. Also, some individuals of the colonial 'Bids', polar-dwelling dorsoplacates which secrete a black wax from their scutes to reinforce their tunnels.
Bottom: Various dorsoplacates and a head cut-away.

Tall-bodied Glassgut, a pair of Spear Droppers feeding on a swarm springer, with one fending off a cloud of inflatogastrate scavengers. Also, a parent Snakebasket resting, keeping a watchful eye on its playful offspring.
Don't know who the woman is. Don't know why she exists. And neither does she.

Loopers and vertebrate/dorsoplacate concestry

Keelfish, sea sparrows and a little (Earth) trilobite.

Pump-Fish and a SeaSparrow

Cloverhead designs and Electroheads

Chokers: Swarming flying octopoids which kill their prey by suffocating them. The individuals are bristly and extremely diligent. They fly into the spiracles of their prey, clogging up their intricate, gill-like lungs and eating their way in.
Vertebrates that frequently undergo these attacks have multiple defenses against them, some being valved spiracles and hair spiracle flaps.
Crescent Darters: parasitic inflatogastrates which use their siphons as suction cups and drink body fluids of their host. Vertebrates on Fentil have a special way of dealing with these air-borne predators.
Called 'chaffing', vertebrates release a dust from their upper vent (on their face). This chaff is used mostly in hormonal communication between individuals, but in the event of inflatogastrate attack, they release a muscle-relaxant into the air around them, which weakens the fundamental siphon muscles of these predators. Against large inflatogastrate hunters, it allows the vertebrate to escape. Against smaller parasites, it lets them scrape the little buggers off.

Some miscellaneous stuff:

A dream from a while ago that I sketched down. The individual bits aren't really in order, but it was a good dream nonetheless.

Misc doodles.

Now for some worky stuff:

So here's the initial sketches for my lifting animation, seen in this post. I was initially going to have a more humanoid character, but with a twist of having an extra set of lower arms.
After that, I wanted to perhaps move away from humanoid characters, opting instead for a robot.
The robot idea gave me another idea; to express the character's exertions in a way other than the traditional sweat droplets. In the robot, I chose a sort of wind up key, or some turning cogs.
In the end, though, I chose the little demon and his steamy cheek.

I can't help but think that he was inspired by that Berk guy from 'Trapdoor'

I wish there was a quicker way to embed these pictures, while also making them the right size.

Also,as a final note, I'm thinking of making a separate blog for all this Fentil business. I'd still rather have a proper website, but perhaps a blog will fill in for now.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Flies and walks

Some experimental stop motion with a cheap, sticky fly toy.


And a rendered walk of a tail feeder

Walk walk

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


My walk is complete.

He's a sad guy.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Weights, waiting and experimentating

Here's my weight lifting exercise:

I think over all the animation could be smoother, I did use a lot of double-frames to make the slower movements less 'twitchy'.
Another problem, after looking back at the finished animation, is that when he stumbles to the left while lifting the ball (numbering my frames on these videos would make doing this analysis easier) he doesn't seem to put enough weight on his right foot. I don't think it's too noticeable, but it bugs me. Might fix it.

When this guy strains, he doesn't sweat like other cartoon characters, rather, he vents smoke/steam from 3 volcanic pores on his face.
The smoke went really well. You'll probably have to watch it again and just concentrate on it, but I think I nailed it pretty well. I used a mix of single and double frames, and I tracked individual 'pieces' to make sure it all flows and decelerates properly. If you look carefully at the second plume as he picks the ball up, some parts are double framed but are overlapped by faster pieces.
It was quite difficult keeping mental track of them all, and while it was a completely unnecessary detail, I'm glad I got more smokey practice.
You can never have too much smokey practice. Crazy fluid dynamics.

There were some preliminary sketches; character designs, storyboard etc. But seeing as my (extremely expensive) scanner at home is busted, I'll have to wait to use a uni scanner.

Up next, the experimental stuff.
I made a quick storyboard in PS to fill in for the one in my sketchbook.

(The gullet sequence was inspired by this piece of work we were shown. I think everyone was inspired by it.)

I fell in love with this visceral idea straight away.
Seeing as my last pixilation/stopmotion outing was a lovely cute little thing, I want to balance it out.

Here's a quick test of the black arm veins.

I think it went pretty well. I quite like the untidy nature of the capture, it adds a sort of madness to it. It's just black biro, and I drew over it with every frame, so older veins got thicker. I'll have to stop my arm from rolling next time.
I'll have to try the bacon next.

Finally, my head model is close to completion.
It's also REALLY creepy.

The texture is a planar map of the reference photos. Once I finish the model I'm going to make a proper composite texture.
I hope the Dead Space head modeler does a better job than me.

Lastly, in case you haven't heard, Aardman did a miniscule little stop-motion animation called 'Dot'

The entire short was shot on a Nokia phone.
They used a new system whipped up, called 'CellScope' to help developing nations' healthcare.
The full article is here.

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