Getting ready for Thunderbolt editing onto FCPX

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After ordering my Pegasus R6 12TB Thunderbolt Raid solution from the Apple store it arrived three days later.

Firstly what they don’t tell you till you open the box is that this will self configure itself in Raid 5 but will take ten hours to do so, fortunately I am not using it with my Thunderbolt enabled MacBook Air so I switched it on pressed the orange button and it very quietly chuntered away to itself with all 12 blue LEDs flickering till the small hours of the morning.

Once it’s happy with itself it switches off…job done. My dilemma was do I have to attach it to a Thunderbolt port in order for this to take place but you don’t.


My new Thunderbolt iMac is being “processed” as I write and my Blackmagic Ultra Studio Express is on it’s way from Holdan via H Preston Media.


This editing setup using FCPX is a third of the price I payed to CVP over twelve years ago for a Digisuite NLE using Matrox technology running an editing program called Speed Razor and 8  SCUSSI 25GB hard drives in a tower (200 GB of storage) remembering I was editing DV footage at that time.

I have a major project to edit at the end of January so I have no option but to go down this route, one I am looking forward to, my only dilemma is my video monitor, will it be a Hi spec 32″ LED (HDMI only) or one with SDI and HDMI at three times the cost.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Reviewing the JVC GY-HM650

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This was one of the few mornings that the rain stayed off to allow me to film outside with the new JVC GY-HM650. I am also producing a review of the Canon C100 and used the JVC 650 to film the studio shots.


This is as natural a skin tone you could wish for out of a camcorder and the new settings that JVC have implemented to reduce noise are stunning for a 1/3″ camcorder, when I talk about this camera you would think I was working for JVC but the pictures speak for themselves.


This is an interview we did with St Mirren goalkeeper Chris Smith with the JVC GY HM650 in the boot locker, I had 2 LED lights, one behind Chris with a 3200K gel and on in front with 5600K diffused.


One of the main differences between the 650 and the 600 is the ability to send a WiFi signal out of the 650 onto an iPad, it’s not real time but for surveillance or wildlife this may just sway you towards the 650.

You really have to view the pictures on a 40″ screen to appreciate just how good this JVC camcorder is, I will be editing the C100 Review this weekend and you will be able to see for yourself in 720p HD the pictures from the JVC GY-HM650 camcorder.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

My predictions for 2013

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So far we have had a semi pro glimpse at full frame video sensors, I predict Sony are working on a full HD 1080 50p spec camera with a full frame sensor, one that will allow a far better shallow depth of field, possibly an EA70.


Sony spent most of last year supplying camcorders for almost everyone but need to get back in touch with their core market and produce low noise full spec camcorders for the NX70 users who are delighted with AVCHD 1080 50p using SDHC cards. Sony need to supply an NX5 style camcorder with a 20x constant aperture manual/servo lens with 1/2″ CMOS low noise chips with 2 card slots getting away from SxS and 50Mbps.

A camcorder not unlike the EA50 with the LCD/VF on the side running at 35Mbps and fast frame rates like 240FPS.


Panasonic must be looking at re-introducing a more professional large sensor camera with Sony on their seventh since last year Panasonic have a long way to catch up. Panasonic are also introducing the micro P2 card adapter this year along with SDHC and SDXC cards, this will definitely help P2 sales like the HPX-250 camcorder but some say a year too late.

I would like to see Panasonic add 35Mbps via a firmware update for the 160 AVCCAM models the same as the JVC GY-HM600 camcorder.




JVC will be looking to build on their GY-HM600 success with new CMOS shoulder mounted camcorders and hopefully be able to upgrade with a firmware update the 600/650 to 1080 50p. JVC are one of the most promising manufacturers for 2013 and seem to be staying well clear of the large sensor race and applying all their knowledge to what they know best, the conventional video camcorder.

It would be nice to see JVC bring out a 1/2″ 3 sensor CMOS camcorder dropping the S/N even further and giving the PMW-200 a run for its money.


Canon I feel will re-introduce a new XF camcorder this year as the XF300 range is very long in the tooth and very much due for an update, I do hope they stay clear of 1/3″ sensors as the XF range suffered from poor noise levels from 6dBs and above.

I also hope we get a redesign on the C300 camera with XLRs on the body itself and the LCD at the back its hard to see how they can improve the sensor but any improvement would be a bonus.

Canon need a camera to run alongside Sony’s FS700 with high FPS like 240 or better at full HD. Canon also need to bring out cameras with 1080 50p if they are to stay in the competition.


Blackmagic Design will start supplying their Cinema Cameras mid January and at the price point of just over £2000 should sell bucket loads, I have no doubt BM will have version two on the drawing board and lets hope will be a bit more end user friendly with frame rates of 50p.

Following on from BM we could see a camera from AJA or the Chinese at NAB 2013, Arri are looking at a 4K Alexia this year to try and compete with Sony’s 4K PMW-F55 though I do think Sony have a clear edge on size alone, Arri have had a good two years but the F55 is this years drama camera for both size and specifications.


With Sony and Canon having the lions share of the large sensor cameras I think it’s time to improve on the conventional camcorder this year with lower S/N and constant aperture lenses. Lets also get away from “sales damaging” expensive media certainly for their core customers, video manufacturers must stop thinking “Broadcaster” as they are a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds of customers all over the UK who update about every two years and make up the majority of camera sales.

It may be time for the older 2/3″ chips to see their way into the prosumer camcorders this would give older technology new life and give the handheld camera a fantastic S/N and low light to die for.

I get fed up listening to manufacturers beefing on about the broadcast market who usually get camcorders at a “good rate” to buy 25-30 cameras every 5-10 years !

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

“A year with the Canon C300”

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I don’t think I have owned a camera for as long as a year recently so it’s a testimony to Canon that the C300 has not been part-ex’d with H Preston Media ! Up until the Canon C100 I always thought my second camera had to be a standard video camcorder but my thoughts have since changed.

The restriction with having one Super 35mm camera is the time it takes to change from one lens to another, especially outdoors, I am not happy swapping lenses with the sensor exposed to the elements. If on the other hand like photography, you have two bodies then lens changing becomes less of a problem.

My Canon C300 is undoubtedly the best pictures I have had from any camera to date, having the shallow depth of field (SDOF) is an asset but not as important as it used to be, SDOF can destroy a good interview so must be used with caution.


During the year we have been commissioned to produce a 45m DVD about Type One Diabetes for the Scottish Government this has taken us from Aberdeen to Abernethy in the Scottish borders. The C300 has been invaluable with interviews and if we take 8 doctors and NHS staff, 20 patients and 5 carers plus more to film it’s been a joy having the continuity of the C300 throughout the shoot.


Every time without exception I still get a kick watching the footage back and the camera has come down almost £4K since I bought my C300.


1. Love the picture from the C300 it has a cinematic texture all of its own, especially good in low light.

2. The hand grip is one of the cameras strengths having so many controls to hand is a joy to use.

3. 50Mbps onto compact flash makes it relatively cheap compared to the competition.

4. Very user friendly menu system especially custom picture settings.

5. Dedicated Canon EF lenses give you such a wide scope

6. 3 ND filters plus clear gives you far more control over depth of field


1. Don’t like the LCD attached to the XLRs, makes sound recording very cumbersome.

2. Would prefer a dedicated switch on the side of the camera for ISO like the C100.

3. The CF flap doors can be fiddly to open.

4. The LCD can get stuck if you tighten the knob too much.

5. The two umbilical leads are messy and quite stiff to remove.


I have a lot of soul searching to do over the next few weeks as I decide on a new partner for the C300, I had set my mind on a JVC GY-HM600/650 till I saw the C100 pictures. The C100 is a perfect “B” camera to the C300 as it matches the C300 in both colour and noise.

The lesser price of the C100 is also a major bonus and the lighter body is also an asset for hand held filming.

So that’s my year with the C300 now it’s not all been a bundle of joy, having one camera body is very restricting when doing corporate work and can lead to missing shots or re takes due to having the wrong lens attached. The lack of servo zoom is also a pain but the solution certainly for corporate work is a second body or a more conventional camcorder.

The only problem with a conventional camcorder is the “look”, the C300 produces such a unique smooth cinematic punchy picture its very difficult to mix and match though not impossible.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Canon C100 with Hoodman Loupe and 4″ hood riser

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This is the best £100 you will spend for your Canon C100 a 3″ Hoodman Loupe with a 4″ Hood Riser. The one thing that had me in a tiz using the C100 was focusing, the C300 has a decent viewfinder but the C100 comes with a VF that quite frankly is a joke.

Add the Hoodman with a hood riser and you have cracked it, the 3.5″ LCD is more than capable of allowing critical focus, this brings the C100 into a different league adding a cracking second camera to the C300 and an all in one solution.


As you can see the Hoodman loupe can be used in this upright position for lo-angle filming it comes with a flexible sheath that contains the 3″ loupe and the 4″ riser you will have to cut a section out of the sheath in order to get it to fit round the LCD.


Took the C100 out for a further spin today using it as a B camera just to satisfy my curiosity, as you can see both cameras match very well together and thats on a C300 @ 720p and the C100 @ 1080 50i.

I would have no second thoughts using the C100 as an A or B camera, Canon may have downgraded the camera to 4:2:0 @ 24Mbps but take it from me back in the edit suite taken onto a 720p timeline you cannot “see the join”.


I now have a dilemma I was going for a JVC GY-HM600/650 for run and gun but the success of pairing the two Canon’s together has made me re-think what avenue to go down. I love the C100’s lighter body for hand held use…the far better use of XLR’s on the handle…the 3.5″ LCD on the back of the camera and finally the IOS button on the body of the camera.

Having dug out my Hoodman and hood riser has given me a far better feeling towards the C100 as it gives you the ability for critical focus something thats sadly missing from the standard C100 configuration. I also have the Zacuto EVF but that needs arms, batteries and adds weight…no thanks.

I hope to film a scenario with the C100 on new years eve just to give you a flavour of the run and gun performance and low light capabilities, this should be edited the next day and uploaded for all to see during this coming week, have a Happy New Year and a great 2013.

Update (September 2013) : Since writing this there is not any cheaper alternative for the Canon C100, The Hoodman is not perfect but works, especially if you are using it with the LCD in default mode (resting against the camera body).

Zacuto have this loupe called the C100 Z Finder Pro but at a cost of £311 from CVP.




For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Canon C100 “First impressions”

Categories: Miscellaneous 2 Comments


Having been a tad negative about the Canon C100 I gave it a spin today on a paying job and discovered it was far better than I was expecting.

Loosing a lot of the features I have come to expect from the C300 I was some what surprised to find a few new surprises, on the switch side of the camera Canon now include an ISO/gain button, very useful, the ND buttons have been changed for a rotating filter switch, far more positive.


Before shooting I set up the “Custom Picture” to AC Neutral which was concocted by Alister Chapman before he sold his C300. I didn’t have time to check it against the C300 so off I went to film a 2 month old baby near Edinburgh. My first small disappointment was the lack of HD SDI socket but the full size HDMI was fine for my Sony 740 monitor.

I did the main work with the trusty C300 then decided to take the C100 out for a test drive, to my surprise it matched the C300 perfectly. A great feature is the carry handle with its onboard XLR connectors and adjustments on the other side not to mention an inbuilt microphone, so much better that the C300.


Here is a frame from todays shoot and the shots were indistinguishable from my C300 even shot at 1080 50i. I brought the 24Mbps footage into FCPX to allow me to get a few frames, I must take my hat off to Canon the C100 is a great wee camera.


These are not C300 4:2:2 50Mbps pictures but C100 4:2:0 24Mbps pictures but were equally stunning.

The only side of the C100 that I didn’t take to was the LCD for focusing but I used peeking which helped and I will use my extended Hoodman on Sunday when I will be taking it out for a further spin.

At just over £4,400 the C100 is a delight to use especially the lighter body, you can get better handheld shots far more easier with this camera and is a must for anyone using a C300 who needs a “B” camera.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

16 Cameras in 2012 “Two more than last year”

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The race is on…”How many cameras can we produce in one year” well it seems like this as once again we have been presented with 16 cameras mainly from Japan.

April the month of NAB was the start of the new camcorders…Sony NEX-FS700, JVC GY-HM600, GY-HM650, Canon C500 and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

The NEX-FS700 was the latest Super 35mm camcorder from Sony to take the world by storm having Full HD 200 fps slow motion via a 9 second burst, everyone wanted one of these camcorders but delivery was slow and the backorders diminished as other equally interesting cameras were announced.

The FS700 also added three positions of ND a new more robust carry handle and a very unexpected 4K ready CMOS sensor, the price was another bone of contention at £2500 more than the FS100 it was a fair hike that many decided to see how the competition would react.


Canon also announced the 4K C500 but spoiled it by taking off the hand grip one of the best features when using the Canon C300. Canon also decided to make the C500 2K recordable internally leaving you the expense of having to buy an external 4K recorder, this in my opinion is the sole reason for the C500 sluggish sales.

Lastly during April we also got a sniff of a new camera from a manufacturer famous for low cost fantastic value for money known for its computer IO cards…Blackmagic Design.

The 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera was to set the heather alight but was soon extinguished with poor sensors leading to a January 2013 proposed delivery, 6 months from the scheduled delivery date.

At just over £2000 a camera this has to be the snip of the decade with a 2.5K sensor, 5″ touchsceen, SSD memory slot and cinematic pictures to die for. Having the ability to record RAW or to ProRes is adding to the giant pre order list. 13 stops of dynamic range in RAW mode also helps with a FREE copy of Blackmagics Resolve LE to boot.


Panasonic were to announce their 2/3″ HPX-600 shoulder mount camcorder and a new micro P2 card system allowing cameramen and women to finally rid themselves of expensive P2 cards but sadly the micro P2 adapters were still over a year away playing havoc with dwindling sales of the fantastic HPX-250 and the HPX-600 camcorders.

Sony were also to announce a further two camcorders in April, the PMW-100 and the HXR-NX30.

The Sony PMW-100 was Sony’s first hand held camcorder to achieve 50Mbps but the single sensor and general malaise like the hanging plastic lens cap did nothing to warm people to this camcorder.


The Sony HXR-NX30 was strange in looks but having a floating gyroscopic lens that really acts as good as any professional steady-cam gave this camera a sales boost and word of mouth soon spread. Not having any control over the gain was a major minus but the ability to view your rushes on any white wall via the inbuilt micro projector was it’s saving grace.

April was a month full of new camcorders in fact 8 at the last count, three models stood out for me and that was the Sony FS700 the Blackmagic camera and the JVC GY-HM650.


Not a hoot till June then Sony were forced to announce the PMW-200 a three chip version of the dwindling 100. The PMW-200 was a different animal altogether having a 14x constant aperture lens, 4:2:2 50Mbps recording to SxS a far better spec camcorder all round.


Basically this was an EX1r in a new body plus 4:2:2 50Mbps, sadly the camera also sported a new recording format called XQD and at 125Mbps was certainly up to reading and writing anything the 200 was to throw at it but Sony’s message was clear “Only use XQD cards in 50Mbps mode in an emergency situation”. This was in my opinion a marketing ploy to make sure you always bought into the SxS card system which apart from expensive works fine.

Over the last two years Sony have lost a ton of sales to the Australian MxR adapter system allowing XDCAM EX users to enjoy Full HD 35Mbps onto a £25 SDHC card so Sony were gunning for a way to stop the sales haemorrhage of SxS cards and 50Mbps clinched it.


We had three new cameras during August, the Canon C100 the Sony NEX-EA50 and the Panasonic AC90.

The Canon C100 was very much a cut down C300 but with many of the bells and whistles removed, not having 720 50p was in my opinion a step too far and the included viewfinder is far to small to be of any use.

One of the C100s endearing features is the carry handle with the XLRs and built in microphone, many C300 users would swap this at the drop of a hat as the C300 has the LCD attached onto the handle making it very cumbersome to use.

Fortunately Canon kept the hand grip on the C100 which for technical reasons has been left off the C500, you also get the lesser 4:2:0 AVCHD recording onto SDHC cards but if you add an external HDMI recorder you can get the full 4:2:2 signal making it equal in quality to the C300 but not in frame rates.


The Sony NEX-EA50 is the one stranger to me, I have seen very little footage from this camcorder though I did get a glance at on during BVE North to see it was a slim longish camcorder, a shoulder mount with some beef taken off.

The EA50 suffers from having an APS-C sensor which is known for its moire and severe rolling shutter not to mention the lack of ND filters, records onto MPEG-4 AVCHD 2.0 format and sadly only one SDHC card slot.

The plus points are the side mounted LCD with loupe, shoulder mount extendable pad and an 18-200mm servo zoom very useful for those looking to use this camcorder for weddings.


Lastly the Panasonic AG-AC90 once again I saw this camcorder at BVE North and was pleasently surprised by the picture quality using three (RGB) backside illuminated 1/4.7 type MOS image sensors.

Many people think Panasonic reverse engineered the HDC-Z10000 3D camcorder but I am reliably informed that the AC90 was built from the ground up recording onto 2 card slots using cheap SDHC cards with AVCHD and 1080 50p.

The AC90 has a 12x optical zoom with manual aperture ring on the lens, 2 channel XLR connectors and full remote functions of both lens, iris and camera start/stop functions at just over £1300 it has to be the snip of 2012.


September brought us two camcorders the Sony VG900 and the Sony PMW-150.

The Sony VG900 is the first Sony camcorder to include a full frame 36x24mm sensor its a bit of a dark horse as I have not seen one and little footage online. Once again recording onto AVCHD at 1080 50p, one card slot offering Memory stick duo or SDHC.

Choosing the right lens a SELP-18-200 E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Power Zoom lens you have the facility for servo zoom on the VG900, at £3,500 body only this full frame camcorder is not cheap.


Also in September Sony decided we must have a camcorder to fit in between the PMW-100 and the 200…enter the PMW-150 a further 50Mbps camcorder with 1/3″ CMOS chips once again a bit of a dark horse but noisy compared to the Panasonic AC90 or the JVC GY-HM600.

With a 20x Fujinon lens and recording onto two SxS card slots once again Sony have restricted the 50Mbps recording to SxS and 35Mbps to SDHC via the Sony MEAD adapter.


October 2012 was to be the last month this year for a major camera announcement and for many Sony’s best.

Enter not one but two camcorders the PMW-F5 and the PMW-F55 both cracking Super 35mm camcorders but very individual when it came to specifications.

The PMW-F5 is basically a 4K camcorder with the ability to record 2K internally onto SxS cards while the PMW-F55 has the capability to record 4K onto special SxS cards internally and has that all important global shutter.

Having a global shutter means a large sensor camera that does not suffer from rolling shutter or as they call it the Jello effect.


Both cameras use the same optional viewfinders the DVF-L350 £2,400 or a higher resolution DVF-EL100 £3,300 as you can see these cameras are not a cheap option as the body’s alone cost F55 £22,800 and F5 £12,300 respectively but at a serious 16bit 4:2:2 RAW output these cameras are the best within their price range as you can get.

So there you have it 16 cameras in one year two more than 2011 the question is are we getting camera-overdosing, can you suffer too much of a good thing ? What about 2013 what have the manufacturers got in store for us next year ?

I think things will settle down a wee bit next year, Panasonic will have their micro P2 card allowing a few of us to enjoy P2 without the ongoing expense of £500 a pop for a 64G card, I think Panasonic will also show a new P2 Super 35mm large sensor camera.

Sony have had a fair run this year with 9 camcorders, one for every conceivable pocket but I hope they can review their policy of giving us 50Mbps camcorders that only use SxS cards.

JVC have had a great year with their HM600 range of CMOS camcorders and I predict this will now evolve into the shoulder mount 700 series next year.

Canon must update their XF300 camcorders this year as their getting long in the tooth and a tad dated, as for the EOS Super 35mm range a re-design of the camera would finally see the XLRs on the body of the cameras and a move over to 10bit.

Blackmagic have enough on their plate getting their camera out and delivered by January but as all good manufacturers they will have version 2 on the drawing board ready for an August announcement.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Sony PMW-F55 Review 2012

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The camera that caused the most interest at BVE North 2012 was the Sony PMW-F55, finally Sony produce a large sensor camera that not only looks the part, is fit for purpose but is a major threat to both RED and ARRI because they appear to have taken note of all of their rival’s key features and combined them all to create what appears to be the most versatile and capable mid-market digital cinematography camera. I say mid-market because Sony are making it very clear that the F55 is positioned below their flagship F65.


Here are the key and enhanced features of the F55

  • Full HD & 4K
  • Super 35mm 4K CMOS Imager
  • 4,096 x 2,160, 11.6M total pixels, 8.9M effective pixels, Bayer Pattern
  • High sensitivity (ISO 2000) and low noise (S/N 57dB with noise reduction off)
  • High Frame Rate of up to 120fps
  • Internal Recording to SxS media
  • Modular Design
  • RAW Recording capability to a new modular “dockable” external recorder, the AXS-R5
  • 50Mb/s / 4:2:2 Broadcast Friendly HD
  • New XAVC Codec for efficient 4K
  • Shoulder Pad & Class-leading OLED HD viewfinder & mount options to provide a genuine shoulder-mount camcorder
  • Dual lens mount as standard – Arri PL & Sony FZ
  • Higher frame rate of up to 240fps (Full HD RAW or 60fps (4k RAW) with optional  AXS-R5 recorder
  • Internal recording at up to 180fps onto SxS media using XAVC Codec (HD / 4K)
  • Simultaneous XAVC and MPEG 2 recording capability – onto the same SxS media card
  • Slightly reduced sensitivity of ISO 1250 when compared to F5
  • Global Shutter (Eliminates rolling shutter effect)
  • F65 Colour Gamut


At £22,800 the F55 is for a small number of specialist DP’s in both drama and well paid commercial TV work, this is the Super 35mm 4K/2K camera of 2012 it beats the competition hands down. Sony dragged their heals with various large sensor camcorders the F3 being the first but eventually caught up and overtook the competition though you need a hefty bank balance to fully kit yourself out with an F55 plus 4K recorder though unlike the F5 you can record 4K direct to SxS with the F55.


For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

The Queen’s Speech in 3D ? “BBC HD NOT IN 3D”

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Only Sky with a heavy investment in 3D HD would even consider filming the Queens speech in 3D. With less than 2% of the UK population having invested in 3D capable television it beggars belief that Sky decide to film the Queen in 3D.

As we all know, certainly within the video industry that 3D once again has been a passing phase. Mr Cameron and Mr Jackson are a handful of directors who keep the 3D flame burning along with the Hobbit being the most recent major title to be filmed in 3D.

3D at this years production trade shows like IBC and BVE North was almost non existent with no camera manufacturer showing off any 3D capable camcorder.

I don’t understand why anyone would entertain 3D till we get true 3D with no glasses, I have a Panasonic 3D TV and I have watched less that 1 hour in total of 3D TV. 3D was a phase once again and the next time it will raise it’s head will be true 3D TV with no need for flickering, light reducing glasses.

UPDATE : OK so 3pm arrives and hey presto BBC HD decide not to give us a signal in 3D so I had to find a Sky channel showing it in side by side mode…joke !

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

A Merry Christmas to all my readers and my sponsors

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It’s Monday the 24th of December 2012 the night before Christmas, I hope you all have a great Christmas with your friends and family over the festive period and I will be back on boxing day with another camera review of 2012.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

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