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Hearst Television covers the Winter Games

Remote team uses laptops equipped with Adobe Premiere Pro to edit and package athlete stories

Since the beginning of the Winter Games, Hearst Television has been on site in Sochi delivering general coverage, as well as profiles of individual Team USA athletes. Hearst relies on a tapeless workflow and reporters in the newsroom and out in the field use Adobe Premiere Pro CC, part of Adobe Creative Cloud, to assemble and edit their stories.

The broadcaster moved its news operations to a file-based pipeline four years ago. As part of the transition, the broadcaster partnered with Adobe for its editing platform combined with a Bitcentral production system.

“We brought people from the stations into the transition process very early, so it worked out well and they were really pleased with it,” says Joe Addalia, director of technology projects for Hearst Television. “In our creative services group the team immediately wrapped their arms around the Adobe workflow. When the creative people start saying how much they love Adobe tools the news people hear them and start becoming champions too.”

Today, 19 of the 25 Hearst stations that produce news use Premiere Pro for day-to-day cutting of news stories. In the field crews are equipped with HP or Dell laptops running Premiere Pro and sometimes Prelude.

This month, the remote workflow is being put to the test, as a team of eight people, including a mix of photojournalists, reporters, producers, and a technical lead work on site in Sochi putting together human interest stories on athletes from the communities where Hearst broadcasts. The team is covering U.S. athletes in their local markets, with additional material delivered to Hearst’s 10 NBC affiliates.

“It’s my job it is to make sure everyone’s laptop does what it is supposed to do in a foreign environment,” says Larry Vancini, Hearst’s technical lead on the project. “Once the crews and teams acquire the news and create a package, I get the finished packages back to the stations and handle any necessary embargoing. If something is shot only for NBC, and only for Louisville, the correct metadata must be present when that package is uploaded.”

Vancini uses Adobe Media Encoder to output the proper file formats, including presets he has created for standard definition and high definition H.264. Of the 19 stations that have Premiere Pro, 17 also use Bitcentral as their production system. Metadata is entered within Bitcentral whenever content is uploaded. Once the material is ready, the network of Bitcentral stations are alerted that the content is available and the remaining stations have access to the content via a web browser.

In order to handle the amount of content that the Hearst team is tasked with creating in Sochi, many stories are prewritten. This helps the team organize their time well, so they are always ready to jump on stories that develop in the moment. Reporters may use previously shot content of local athletes and edit that together with fresh Sochi footage. Producers laying out the plans have a seven hour time difference in their favor so they can work a day ahead and get direct feedback from the stations, when needed.

While reporters don’t have the luxury of working a story right until the moment it goes to air, in Sochi only one news package each day is date and time sensitive. All other stories can be completed and uploaded a day ahead of time, so the stations will have plenty of time to bring them to air. Despite distance and bandwidth constraints, the team is excited to be working on site at the games and delivering high-quality content back to local stations hungry for coverage.

“We’ve dabbled with the system since the election and also used it for localized coverage of the Zimmerman trial,” says Vancini. “In that case we were in the same time zone and all content was edited locally with Premiere Pro and encoded using Media Encoder. We pushed the files back on a high speed pipe and it worked flawlessly. We’ve taken this model and applied it to our Sochi workflow and it’s going well.”

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 20, 2014 at 1:31:01 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Graham Elliott puts creativity in motion

Fearless filmmaker and innovator explores the world of creativity with help from Adobe Creative Cloud

Growing up, Graham Elliott desperately wanted to become a pilot and devoted himself to learning about flight. At 17 he received a scholarship to the RAF in London and within a week he was flying solo. Although Elliott ultimately decided he didn't want to be in the Air Force, he took away a simple life lesson: all you need to do is apply yourself. His natural artistic abilities led him to Manchester University, where he graduated with a degree in graphic design. He then went on to the Royal College of Art to earn a Masters in Illustration, a program that touched on multiple artistic disciplines.

Elliott’s dedication and never-ending curiosity have fueled a career spanning multiple creative endeavors: animation, illustration, photography, writing, multimedia, and film. In 2011, he created New York in Motion, a documentary about the motion graphics industry in New York. Inspired by his experiences creating New York in Motion, he’s now working on World in Motion, a new documentary film series that examines how environment and cultural context strongly influence designers and their work in different countries around the world. This post offers an introduction to Elliott, and we’ll continue to check in with him as he works on the new series to hear more about his experiences with creative professionals around the world.

Adobe: How did your career begin?
Elliott: When I graduated from the Royal College of Art, I got invited to speak at a big American illustration festival in New York and met several influential industry people, including Steve Byram, art director at CBS/Sony Music. He told me to tack my postcard up on this enormous 24-foot-long wall crammed with business cards, tear sheets, and postcards. He called a few months later and said the U.S. band Living ColourLiving Colour wanted me to design their record cover. After that, I started to get a lot of work in the music industry doing record covers, stage designs, posters, and so on. I got known for a specific digital illustration style and was soon going to New York every few months.

Adobe: How did you get into film?
Elliott: When I got a body of work together, people started saying it would be really great if I could animate it. At that point, I had only toyed around with moving imagery. I asked the band if I could direct a music video and they were dubious. I didn't have a reel, or any experience. A few months later, they came to me and said they had a song they weren't quite sure what to do with called “Glamour Boys.” The next thing I knew, I was on the set of directing a music video. It was outrageously scary. I pretended I knew everything the first day, and then realized I was such a rookie and started asking everyone in different departments for guidance. It was a great way to learn, almost like going to film school for two years within two intense days.

Adobe: How did you wind up in New York?
Elliott: I moved to New York because there was so much more work. I was very excited by Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the children’s TV show so I went to its production company, showed them my work, and they took me on as a director. I worked there for two years directing commercials and music videos and learning the basic strategies of how to make a commercial, produce animation, and work with clients. Eventually, I started my own company with a producer. We worked for Nickelodeon, MTV, ESPN, Coca-Cola, and other big brands. I've been doing commercials and music videos ever since.

Adobe: You’ve taught at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) for some time. How did that come about?
Elliott: When I first came over to the states I met Richard Wilde, Chair BFA Advertising and Design, at SVA and he asked me to come in every semester and do a show and tell for about 150 kids just entering the visual arts program. He liked that I had done a lot of different things. For newcomers to the creative scene, it can be difficult to choose a career path. I wanted to let them know they could acquire basic knowledge in one area and then learn and evolve during a professional career. Richard asked me a few times if I’d teach there, and I felt like I wasn't ready. About 10 years into doing the seminars, he offered me a job teaching a music video class and I finally took him up on it. I've now been teaching that class for 10 years and expanded into teaching motion graphics. It’s been amazing. I've really enjoyed it.

Adobe: How did you start creating documentaries?
Elliott: I made a documentary in Cuba and it got me really excited about producing my own content. With commercial projects you get a brief from clients and the material is already pre-determined. With the documentary, it was my content and I had ownership. It was so exciting for me. Then I went on to produce other documentaries. I made New York in Motion in 2011 and now I’m in the process of making another documentary: World in Motion.

Adobe: Tell us more about New York in Motion.
Elliott: When I was teaching motion graphics at SVA, the students seemed to be taking the class because it was trendy, but they didn’t totally understand the topic. At one point when I was doing a lecture, I was trying to fully explain what motion graphics is and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to make a documentary so that my students and I could understand it and its application better?” I went to SVA and asked if, for part of the curriculum, I could work with the kids to make a film of the motion graphics scene in New York. The school agreed and gave me some backing. We thought we’d make a 12-minute film for the graduation screenings, but it began to evolve into a full 60- to 90-minute documentary. We had about 53 names of companies and freelancers in the motion graphics industry, and 52 responded. It was really amazing: we interviewed people from places like Comedy Central, MTV, and NBC. It taught me more about the industry and the opportunities for students when they graduate.

Adobe: What were some of the most challenging aspects of New York in Motion?
Elliott: The first rough cut was two-and-a-half hours. The hardest thing was trying to edit it down to 60 minutes. And I didn’t want it to be like a portfolio where you just watch a bunch of clips; instead I wanted it to be about creativity and inspiration, and living in New York as a base and catalyst. People working here in motion graphics come from all over the world, from Brazil to South Korea. There’s a huge juxtaposition of different cultures, people, views and I found each person’s formative environment really affects his or her creativity.

Adobe: Has New York in Motion been a success?
Elliott: Yes, it’s been huge. I expected it to be successful with the design community. But then I entered it into more mainstream festivals like the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam. My rep didn’t think it would get in. They usually accept mainly “big cause” films, but we got in and the screenings were sold out. For the first time, we put a face to the genre and brought it to the general public. There was real interest, and people were so engaged by how motion graphics are made and who does them, whether the graphics are delivered on a handheld device or on a huge billboard on the side of a building. We ultimately went to 12 festivals around the world and were even in the first International Motion Festival in Cyprus, where I was the keynote speaker. It was great to get a sense of what was going on with designers around the world.

Adobe: How did World in Motion come about?
Elliott: I was traveling around the world and meeting with design communities in different places. I was talking to a designer in Mumbai who spent a lot of time stuck in traffic behind trucks all hand painted in unique ways. His commute ultimately affected the way he thinks and his amazing color palette. I was awestruck by how culture, religion, history, landscape, and visual legacy affect the way we design. That is the genesis for World in Motion.

Adobe: How are you using Adobe software?
Elliott: I use Adobe Creative Cloud. I’ve used After Effects for everything I’ve done throughout my career, even before Adobe owned the software. I now love Creative Cloud and the integration among all the different components. Working with Lightroom takes me back to my early love of photography. I take a lot of stills and it’s so easy to go into Lightroom and do color correction and then save the calibration and use it on other images. My partner Roswitha Rodrigues at Magical Monkey has been creating all the posters, flyers, and other collateral for New York in Motion in InDesign CC. Photoshop CC is of course another go-to tool for us. We’re also learning Premiere Pro CC for video editing.

Adobe: As you progress on World in Motion, what’s the workflow?
Elliott: We’re getting content from artists, gathering commercial, experimental and spec pieces from their show reels. We’re showcasing their cutting-edge work that often doesn’t get seen. We thought we’d be doing it in one big shoot, but it’s coming together more in segments, which is fine. For World in Motion, we’re expanding into different fields as well as motion graphics and talking to photographers, dancers, architects, musicians, graffiti artists and others and exploring how their environment affects the way they create.

Adobe: What can we expect the next time we check in with you?
Elliott: We are starting in Brazil and then checking out Southeast Asia, South Africa, Europe, Turkey, the UK, and other areas of the world. I look forward to sharing what I learn from the design communities in these locations and will hopefully include some behind the scenes content to give even more context. As you can tell, I’m super excited to embark on the World in Motion journey.

Visit the Fovea Films website

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:57:07 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

Swiss Radio and Television produces stunning Sochi opener

Broadcaster uses Adobe Creative Cloud workflow to create opener promoting the winter games

The Winter Games are a chance for us to witness magic moments of incredibly artistry and athleticism performed by the amazing athletes competing there. But in order for us to do so, broadcasters around the world spent months preparing for that short period of intense coverage. For Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), a publicly funded broadcaster serving the German speaking part of Switzerland, the preparations included creating a stunning opener that builds excitement for audiences tuning in to the games. Patrick Arnecke, head of design and promotion, leads the creative team responsible for design and production of the on air campaign.

Adobe: Tell us about the Swiss Radio and Television.
Arnecke: The SRF is a publicly funded broadcaster that serves the German speaking part of Switzerland. We maintain two full blown 24/7 TV channels, a TV repeat channel for news programs, seven radio channels, and an extensive online portal.

Adobe: What teams do you work with at the SRF and what do they produce?
Arnecke: I’m the head of the design and promotion team. The design team consists of 25 designers who do all corporate design, motion graphics and interaction design for SRF. Creatively they are responsible for channel brandings, campaigns, image clips and labels as well as show packagings. We also do all of the 2D and 3D animation used for our TV magazines and news shows. The promotion team has 11 editors and promo producers who work on traditional on-air trailers as well as cross media campaigns.

Adobe: Tell us about the work you’ve done for the Winter Games?
Arnecke: Last year during the summer we started to rethink our overall sports design. We have various sports programs on air and wanted to repackage the whole set of shows for SRF zwei, our main entertainment and sports channel. We regularly cover huge events like the Winter Games for the Swiss audience, and we needed to come up with a solution for those events as well, and tie that into the overall design.

We decided to center our redesign around the core idea of the “magic moment” – these rare moments when extraordinary athletic performance seems almost supernatural. We then spent five days shooting all the necessary plates using RED Epic and Phantom Flex cameras, special camera rigs with a high speed camera carousel, and a huge 15m x 9m x 7.5m green screen area. Among others we staged ice hockey, alpine skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, ski jumping, and cross country skiing. Everything was conceptualized, directed, and pre- and post-produced by four in-house designers. From that footage we produced a 28-second opener for our Sochi coverage along with the show packaging, and the promo teasers that we used to ramp up the campaign in January.

Adobe: What products are you using to produce your content?
Arnecke: Right now we have a mix of Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 software. On the design team we use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Our main tool for 2D animation is After Effects, and we rely on CINEMA 4D as our main 3D package. The closer relationship between Adobe and MAXON and the strong connection between CINEMA 4D and After Effects comes in very handy for our pipeline.

At the beginning of 2013 we started using Edge Animate to create small, interactive HTML5 elements to give our online news articles more depth and interactivity. For our video content, we started to work with SpeedGrade to give content from different sources a uniform look. During the last months we switched to Premiere Pro as our main editing tool, which replaces Final Cut Pro.

Adobe: What was the workflow for creating the Sochi opener?
Arnecke: In pre-production the responsible designers Martin Bernhard (director) and Simon Renfer (co-director) used Photoshop, with Wacom tablets and screens, to create the storyboards. On set and after the shoot was completed, we used SpeedGrade to convert the Phantom material and then edited the content in Premiere Pro. Lead 3D Artists Jürg Dummermuth and Simone Nucci did all of the 3D CGI with CINEMA 4D. In addition to using After Effects for previsualization and animatics, it was also used for 2D animation, keying, rotoscoping, retouching, compositing, and grading. We’ve done a lot of smaller projects such as show openers and image trailers using Premiere Pro, but the Sochi opener is one of the biggest projects we’ve done to date with the new workflow.

Adobe: Why did you make the switch to Premiere Pro?
Arnecke: After Apple didn´t continue Final Cut Pro, we were looking for alternatives. The pipeline efficiencies that let us easily switch between Premiere Pro and After Effects are important to us. Premiere Pro is especially useful if we shoot on RED cameras because thanks to the Mercury Playback Engine we don’t have to convert and we can edit right away. We usually like to edit on set to see if what we’ve shot is exactly what we need.

Adobe: Tell us how you’re using Adobe Edge Animate CC?
Arnecke: We have a small team of designers who work on infographics for our daily news shows. We use graphical content created for on air programming, add interactivity and repackage that content for our news articles online. For example, for the election of Pope Franziskus or the 50th anniversary of the President Kennedy assassination we created interactive explanatory pieces with Edge Animate. These interactives give more depth to our news articles online and typically take us one to three days to produce—last year we did more than 150 of these.

See examples of the infographics here

Adobe: What is next for your team?
Arnecke: We’re planning a seven day shoot that will take place in March for our summer sports. With the success of the winter sports workflow, we’ll be using a similar setup.

Read more about the use of MAXON CINEMA 4D

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 14, 2014 at 10:29:34 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Charting a course for the filmmaking future

Prolific young filmmaker adopts Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Creative Cloud

Blake Simon is a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University studying Film Production and he’s already making his mark on the filmmaking world. So far, he has written, directed, and edited 11 short films on his own, and ultimately plans to direct features. His short western, Delarosa, won the Audience Choice Award for Best Student Short Film at the 2013 International Bel-Air Film Festival. Since switching from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro back in high school, he’s become a stalwart advocate of Adobe software, a Certified Expert in Adobe Premiere Pro, and self-prescribed Adobe evangelist.

Adobe: When did you become interested in filmmaking?
Simon: I knew I wanted to make films from the time I was in fourth or fifth grade. I have a newspaper project from fifth grade where I pasted a picture of my head on a celebrity holding an Oscar statue. I started making films as part of the filmmaking club at my high school when I was 14. Of course, you don’t start with a crew of people so I wore all the hats: writing, shooting, editing, even acting. It was great because I got to experiment with all the jobs and learn a little bit about everything. Ultimately I want to be a director, but I really like editing as well.

Adobe: You've made a lot of short films in a short time. Can you tell us more about them?
Simon: I’m interested in psychological thrillers, movies like Memento and Inception, but I've dabbled in many different genres. Delarosa is pretty ambitious. The goal was to be historically accurate. I have a friend whose family does historical reenactments so they supplied the clothes and props. We shot the film in the desert in Malibu Hills, California. I did all the editing and color grading in Premiere Pro, the sound editing in Audition, the output through Media Encoder, and created Blu-ray discs using Encore.

Adobe: You've been editing for several years. Why did you decide to use Adobe Premiere Pro?
Simon: We didn't have a film program at my high school, and the one film class taught Final Cut Pro 7 so that’s what I used. Then a few years ago, I shot a short on the RED EPIC camera and I started doing some work for RED, too. At this point, Premiere Pro CS5 was the only program that offered the ability to edit native RED footage. I decided to give Premiere Pro a try because I could jump right into editing without converting or transcoding the RED footage first. It was fabulous and I haven’t touched Final Cut Pro since.


Adobe: We rarely have the opportunity to interview young filmmakers who have just left high school and entered college. What do you think of what’s being taught in terms of editing software?
Simon: When Final Cut Pro X came out, schools did one of two things: switched to Premiere Pro or Avid or stayed on Final Cut Pro 7 in denial. I think Avid is the least user-friendly software, but the worst option is staying with Final Cut Pro 7. There haven’t been any updates in three years so it’s very outdated. These days, most people are very open to moving to Premiere Pro, and the transition is easy. My high school is now looking into Premiere Pro, and I’m glad to hear it.

Adobe: Are you using Adobe Creative Cloud yet?
Simon: I am and it’s fantastic. The great thing about Creative Cloud is that users get constant up-dates and the ability to try all the great video tools they need. The entertainment industry grows so rapidly, that if you can’t afford to replace all your hardware and software every couple of years, you’re outdated. Creative Cloud solves that problem.

Adobe: You’ve become a strong supporter of Adobe Premiere Pro. What is it about the software that you like?
Simon: It was so easy for me to become fluent in Premiere Pro. I started using the software to edit RED footage natively, and I've now tried many different cameras and it is amazing to be able to throw virtually any format on the timeline and get right to work. Premiere Pro is always pushing the limits as far as reading and processing different media. When I talk to other students, the idea of not having to convert footage is amazing. Some more experienced editors have an established workflow and like the offline editing process. I understand that, but Premiere Pro is the only software that gives you the option to edit natively, even 4K and 5K sequences, if you want to. I like options, and nothing else gives me close to as many options as Premiere Pro.


Adobe: Are there any other newer features that have helped with your workflow?
Simon: The first time I saw Hover Scrub in the Media Browser in Premiere Pro I was blown away. It saves so much time, especially when you have many takes of the same scene. I love that you can Hover Scrub and set in and out points in the thumbnails. Adjustment Layers also are amazing, because you can apply an effect not just to one clip but to layers of clips. I’m also a big fan of the Export Image feature, because it makes freeze frames a lot easier to accomplish.

Another reason that the Adobe workflow crushes the competition is because it has Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and After Effects and Direct Link between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade. It’s so amazing to see the changes instantly update without waiting for everything to render.

Adobe: What do you see other students wanting to do?
Simon: Many are interested in directing feature films in Hollywood. A lot of people are also interested in the web—Vimeo and YouTube. That’s another thing I love, the built in Media Encoder presets to format for YouTube and Vimeo, so the process of publishing to those sites is streamlined.

Adobe: What are students’ perspectives on what editing software to use?
Simon: Students are very open-minded. Many will learn whatever their school is teaching. But I do see more and more people using Premiere Pro. It is becoming a major contender for the industry standard among aspiring and experienced filmmakers.

Adobe: What are you working on next?
Simon: I’m always working on something. I’m currently in preproduction for a short currently titled Catalyst, which is scheduled to shoot in June of 2014. I've also just completed writing my first feature and hope to produce it in the next two years.

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 13, 2014 at 10:49:25 am Creative Cloud, Customers

“Red Obsession” weaves intoxicating story

Freelance video pro relies on Adobe video workflow to edit documentary about Bordeaux wine

Paul Murphy studied writing in school, but his first job was with a publishing house overseeing the production of promotional videos for new books. He was instantly intrigued so he bought a copy of Adobe Premiere Pro and started creating the videos himself. Eventually he left publishing to focus full time on editing and motion graphics design. Murphy recently completed work on Red Obsession, a documentary about the Bordeaux wine industry and the impact of China’s overwhelming demand. The film recently earned the Australian Academy award (AACTA) for best feature documentary.

Adobe: Can you tell us a little more about Red Obsession?
Murphy: Warwick Ross, the film’s co-director and co-writer, was approached by an Australian Master of Wine who told him that something interesting was happening related to the supply and demand of wine in Bordeaux. Warwick took a crew to Bordeaux and captured 50 hours of footage that revealed more than just a basic “behind the scenes of the wine industry” story. The wealthy Chinese had decided that they didn't want to drink traditional Chinese alcohol anymore; they wanted to drink the best Bordeaux wine and were willing to pay for it. Ultimately, Warwick decided to use the wine industry as a microcosm to show what was going on in the global economy. Bordeaux used to sell most of its wine to the U.S. and U.K., but when the economic crisis cut consumption, the Chinese came in and started buying.

Adobe: How did you become involved in the project?
Murphy: Previously, I had worked with Warwick on a short documentary about World War II, and we developed a great relationship. Warwick asked me to work on this new film, and I was eager. We agreed that we didn't want it to feel like a wine documentary with boring “chocolate box” shots of vineyards and Vivaldi playing in the background. We wanted it to be visually stunning, edgy, and interesting. Ultimately, the film became a story about two very different cultures—French and Chinese—coming together over wine.

Adobe: What did you do with the first 50 hours of footage?
Murphy: I started going through the footage with the directors and figuring out what was going to work and what wasn't. Our first task was to create a six-minute trailer with the themes of the story set to music to attract private investors. While we were working on the trailer, the story was still playing out in Bordeaux. The French had pushed up the prices but then the Chinese became fickle about what they wanted to drink and stopped buying. The prices of Bordeaux wines crashed 45% overnight. The crew made three or four more trips to France as well as to China, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and we wound up with 100 hours of footage shot over about a year. At that point, I relied on my roots in writing and storytelling to find the arc of the story and cull everything down.

Adobe: Why did you select Adobe Premiere Pro to edit the project?
Murphy: I have used Premiere Pro since the beginning of my freelance editing and motion graphics career. I’ve dabbled in Avid and Final Cut Pro, but I love the Premiere Pro interface. I know it inside and out, and it allows me to work quickly and confidently. For this project, there was some debate about what software we should use because some people thought Premiere Pro couldn't be used on a feature-length film. I showed them how I could go into the timeline and locate a frame in the source file. I also demonstrated using Premiere Pro for speech analysis. We had 70 40-minute interviews and we used speech analysis on half of them, which made editing much faster. Red Obsession also has some complex motion graphics, so the integration between After Effects and Premiere Pro really helped to pull it together. It was definitely the right choice for the film.

Adobe: Tell us more about the motion graphics in the film.
Murphy: We were editing for about 10 months before we moved on to our motion graphics work in After Effects. In the film, we make visual references to news articles, and fly in and out of scenes. In one instance, we fly out of a scene and at the end the viewer is looking at a 3D image of a label on a wine bottle. The opening title sequence was also created in After Effects, with names of the people working on the film floating in space within a huge, expensive winery. It involved a lot of beautiful track shots, and I was grateful for the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects.

Adobe: What other Adobe technologies were involved?
Murphy: I used a lot of InDesign for the end title layout, which I imported into After Effects for animation. I also used Illustrator for titling, as well as Photoshop for graphics. I always use Encore to create DVDs or Blu-ray disks for sharing and review.

Adobe: What’s happening with the film now?
Murphy: It debuted at the Berlin Film Festival and has also been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and others. It’s done very well, and is available in theaters in Australia and on video-on-demand and iTunes in the United States.

Adobe: Did you edit this project using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Murphy: This project occurred before Creative Cloud was available, but I will be moving to Creative Cloud soon and I’m looking forward to it. I am anxious to try Prelude CC to manage my footage, metadata, and comments in one place. I had my own database for this, but would welcome the Prelude option. I’m also very excited to try After Effects CC. The fact that you can now bring Cinema 4D files directly into After Effects without rendering is amazing. I’d also like to try SpeedGrade CC for color grading. A good portion of Red Obsession was shot on ARRI Alexa cameras and after editing the footage, I showed rough cuts to the directors in a kind of milky, un-color-corrected state. I would have loved to use SpeedGrade CC to show them something that would look more like the final color. Overall, I’m excited to move to Creative Cloud because I like the idea of getting continuous updates, rather than waiting a year or longer for a new release.

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Watch the trailer

Watch Paul’s tutorial explaining how he created the titles for Red Obsession using InDesign Pro

Red Obsession is now available on DVD and VOD in US and Australia.

Posted by: Adam Spiel on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:02:48 am Adobe Creative Cloud, Customers

HP Sundance House hosts Dustin Grella and his unique chalkboard animations

Adobe Creative Cloud workflow helps artist create daily animations at Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is a haven for independent artists, each showcasing their one-of-a-kind voice. Dustin Grella is one such artist, invited to the Sundance Film Festival by HP, a sponsor of the festival. Grella is best known for his Animation Hotline videos, which combine audio recordings with chalkboard animation to create interesting, human works of art. From the HP Sundance House, Grella animated hotline videos live throughout the course of the festival with help from video and audio tools in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe: Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?
Grella: I actually started a bit later in the game. I attended a school that didn’t have an animation program so I studied humanities. I’m fascinated by the human condition and human stories are what drive my work. I also took some art classes and computer classes, basically combining my studies into a “choose your own adventure” liberal arts degree. When I finally figured out what I wanted to do I attended the School of Visual Arts and received my MFA in Computer Art.

Adobe: How long have you been dong chalkboard animation?
Grella: I started eight years ago with a painted blackboard, drawing with chalk and recording everything in camera. The setup was very simple and I didn’t really know what I was doing. The exposure on the camera was not set correctly, but I still captured something interesting enough for me to want to keep exploring the medium. Since then, I’ve done a couple of short films and I established the Animation Hotline.

Adobe: Tell us about the Animation Hotline.
Grella: I have a public telephone number, 212-683-2490, and people are welcome to call and leave a message. I go through the messages on a regular basis and choose one to animate. To date, I’ve done more than 140 animations from the Hotline. I’ve had lots of friends call, and a homeless shelter asked clients to call and tell their stories. The rest of the messages are from people I don’t know who have called and told interesting stories. The more stories people tell, the more interesting the project becomes. The finished pieces are typically 10 to 40 seconds, but I’ve done one that is more than a minute long.

Adobe: How do you decide what stories to tell?
Grella: I try to stay as open as possible. Some are abstract pieces with no real story, while others are very touching and real. I tend to go for the real, human stories first. I prefer to hear something that is true but I also enjoy a good abstract message, poem, rant, anything really. If I’m listening to a recording and it hits me and I feel it, or if it is something that is visually compelling, I’ll try to animate it.

Adobe: How do you create the animations?
Grella: Every animation starts off with the audio. The story is the most important part. If I was telling my story over and over again, people would get bored. Telling other people’s stories keeps it fresh and exciting.

I use Adobe Audition to edit the audio files down to what I need. Next, I storyboard to get a rough idea of the sketches to include. It’s pretty much regular animation from there. I do drawings on slate by hand with pastels, and then create the stop motion animation using Dragonframe stop motion. I capture everything with a Canon camera, export the MOV files, and take those into Adobe Premiere Pro to clean them up and edit them down to the clips I need. By staying in the Premiere Pro timeline I can sync the animation with the audio and then export the video very easily.

Adobe: How did you end up at the Sundance Film Festival?
Grella: HP asked me to come and animate on site as part of the HP Sundance House. We built five Hotline Hotspots that have a small, 10-inch television with a telephone on top. People were able to watch some animations on the screen to get an idea of what they are, then they were able to pick up the phone and leave their own messages. The Hotline Hotspots were connected to a server, so all of the messages were captured on a computer. HP basically took my studio in New York City and duplicated it at Sundance, down to my exact table. Our goal was to complete one animation for each of the 10 days in Park City and we achieved it!

Adobe: Do you use Adobe After Effects for any of the animation?
Grella: When I first started I was a purist; I thought every frame had to be drawn by hand. Eventually I realized that the story is the most important part, and if I’m just drawing the same thing over and over again for the sake of drawing I’m wasting time. So I do use After Effects for some of my work, and I often hire an After Effects artist to help with commercial jobs.

Adobe: What type of commercial projects have you done?
Grella: I recently finished a remembrance piece for the New York Times about Nadia Popova, who was part of a Soviet all-female bombing regiment. Another piece I did for the New York Times was about a bike share program.

Adobe: What is your favorite part of the animation process?
Grella: I like the beginning, when I’m first in the moment of creating and problem solving and I can go in any direction. I storyboard very loosely just to get an idea of what the animation will be. Seeing the final product is also very exciting, as well as sharing it with other people.

Adobe: What is your favorite feature in Adobe Premiere Pro?
Grella: I’m not really tight on storyboards or frame count, I just draw an image that I like and it’s usually too long. The best thing is being able to adjust clips to fit the length of the audio.

Adobe: How was your move from Final Cut Pro?
Grella: Switching from Final Cut Pro to Premiere Pro took me an afternoon. It was an amazingly fast transition.

Adobe: How do you like working with Adobe Audition?
Grella: I used to use QuickTime to do quick audio cuts, but I recently started working with Audition and it’s much easier. I like being able to see the whole audio wave, and I can do much faster, cleaner audio cuts.

Adobe: How long do the animations take to create?
Grella: I tend to say that I can do 15 seconds of animation in a day, but it does vary. For commercial jobs it is 15 seconds or less because there tend to be more revisions and changes. If it is a personal project I can often complete it in a day, especially if I’m interested and have the visuals ready to go. Even if I make a mistake, I’m okay with it.

Adobe: What is your favorite animation?
Grella: My favorite one is a short, seven and a half minute animation about my brother Devin Grella, who was killed in Iraq by an IED. It is very personal and done in black and white pastels on a slate chalkboard, with just a few highlights of color. It was my first attempt at a beginning to end narrative.

Adobe: What’s next after the Sundance Film Festival?
Grella: I’ll be working on an animated landscape painting that is more of a gallery piece. I have one test done and I absolutely love it. I just moved my office from downtown New York to a larger studio in the Bronx, where I’m able to spread my wings and do bigger wholesale projects that I couldn’t do before. I hope to still get some commercial animation work, and the Animation Hotline will continue.

See Dustin's videos from the Sundance Film Festival

View the entire archive of Animation Hotline videos

Check out more projects from Dusty Studio

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:46:35 am Creative Cloud, Customers

Malaysian-born filmmaker debuts short film at Sundance

Short film shot on RED in 4k edited on Macbook Pro using Adobe Premiere Pro software

Diffan Norman is not just a filmmaker, he’s a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and designer. His nine minute short film Kekasih, which won the Audience Choice Award at Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Norman credits his Adobe workflow with helping him realize his vision for the film.

Poster by Iman Raad

Adobe: Tell us about your background.
Norman: I’m originally from Malaysia. I earned my bachelor of fine arts degree at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. I started out directing music videos and short films. My first short film, Wanita Cosmos, was about a Malaysian woman who is chosen to travel into space. It was shown at ResFest, The International Film Festival of Rotterdam, The 27th Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Fest, and The New York Asian American International Film Festival.

I eventually moved to Los Angeles and became absorbed working with boutique studios, including Brand New School and National Television. I initially worked as a freelancer, but ultimately took a full-time job as senior animator and designer at National Television. We produced commercials, print ads, and other motion graphics work for clients. I like to think this was where I earned my Master’s degree.

Adobe: When were you first introduced to Adobe software?
Norman: In 1994, a friend and I played in a band that never existed and we wanted to make an album cover for our cassette recordings. He had Photoshop on his computer and we were completely blown away by the facet/cell filter. When I got to college I learned After Effects. I didn't know anything about motion graphics and was very attracted to what After Effects could do.

Adobe: How did you decide to make Kekasih?
Norman: I started out in DV filmmaking and animation. After Otis I worked for about five to six years in boutique studios in and around Los Angeles that mainly produced live and animated commercials, and music videos with a particular appreciation for motion graphics. After my father’s passing, I realized I wanted to get back to what I originally set out to do. I wrote the script for Kekasih a few years ago, and my father and I would discuss the theme of the film, as well as details such as whether it should be animated or live action. After he died, I cleaned out his office and found a copy of the script on his desk. That’s when I decided to make the film.

Adobe: What was your process?
Norman: I needed financial help to make the film, so I applied for and received a multimedia grant from The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS). The organization gives out two grants, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end of the year, and the requirement is that you make a short film. In addition to the funds I received from the FINAS, I also helped finance it myself. We got two veteran actors, Nasir Bilan Khan and Fauziah Nawi, who don’t usually do short films, to participate in the project. They liked the story so much that they jumped on board.

Adobe: How were Adobe tools used in the production of Kekasih?
Norman: We shot the film on a RED camera and edited it using Adobe Premiere Pro. I’d used Premiere Pro on Wanita Cosmos, which was drawn in Photoshop and animated in After Effects. I hadn’t edited anything in a few years, but I wanted to use Premiere Pro for the film because of the intuitive RED workflow.

Adobe: What did you like most about working with Adobe video tools?
Norman: Premiere Pro let me watch 4k footage without losing quality, easily add sound, and output the film quickly. Being able to edit RED footage on a Macbook Pro using Premiere Pro was really fascinating.

Overall, the Adobe products allowed me to take ideas that I had in my head, such as the animated inspiration sequences in Kekasih, and make them happen. I’m most attracted to the immediacy that Adobe products enable. I have the ideas, I have the tools, and I can do it. For Kekasih, I created everything in Adobe products – the graphics, trailer, postcards, animated sequences, Instagram teaser, and the film itself. I cannot imagine doing all of this without Adobe products. I've also just joined Adobe Creative Cloud, and I’m looking forward to working with even more tools to explore different looks, styles, and creative directions.

View the trailer
Visit the website
Instagram: #diffannorman

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:39:22 am Creative Cloud, Customers

“Dig” explores what it’s like to be a kid

Short film edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC delivers big impact at the Sundance Film Festival

When you’re a kid, even the most mundane things can spark your curiosity. That’s the premise for Dig, a short film directed by Sundance Film Festival veteran Toby Halbrooks. After successfully producing a string of feature films with his partners, Halbrooks decided to take his turn directing a short film based on a story he’d written. Shot in just three days, Dig was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and was one of 15 short films selected by YouTube to go online concurrently with the festival.

Dig Premiere - 2014 Sundance Film Festival

Adobe: Tell us about your background.
Halbrooks: I was in the rock and roll band the Polyphonic Spree from 2000 to 2006. I started working for an editor in Dallas in my spare time when I wasn't on tour and found that I had a knack for it. I really enjoyed it, so I started making films with my friend David Lowery and we became partners and have been working together ever since.

Adobe: Did you know that you wanted to be a producer?
Halbrooks: My role as a producer came about organically; I never even knew that’s what I was doing. I formed a company, Sailor Bear, with David and James M. Jonathan and we produced David’s first feature, St. Nick. David and I wrote for television for a while, then moved back to Dallas and decided to make Pioneer, a short film directed by David that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. After that, the universe kind of opened up for us and James and I were selected as Sundance Creative Producing Fellows with David’s feature script Ain't Them Bodies Saints. With the help of some partners, we made that movie to great critical success. We recently produced another feature in the fall of 2013, Listen Up Philip, by Alex Ross Perry.

Toby directs the kids, Mallory, Myles, Kaitlyn and Kelsey.

Adobe: What was it like to be selected as Sundance Creative Producing Fellows?
Halbrooks: Undeniably it launched our careers. David had brilliant script, and James and I submitted and got to go. Once you’re in that family, and that’s exactly what it becomes, there’s just a huge support group. At the Sundance Resort there’s an actual lab and four other producing fellows that you get to meet. You’re there for a week talking with mentors about the project, figuring out solutions for making the movie, and just learning more about being a producer. From there they shepherd you through your whole process and give you feedback. It’s not a free ticket, though. I still had to submit to the festival for Dig, but when they found out that I got in they all wrote separately to say that they were just thrilled.

Adobe: Where did you shoot Dig?
Halbrooks: I shot Dig in my backyard in Dallas over the course of three days and edited it during the fall when we were producing Listen Up Philip. Fortunately for all of us, Dig and Listen Up Philip both premiered at Sundance this year.

John, Toby and Joe discuss a scene minutes before filming it.

Adobe: What was the genesis for Dig?
Halbrooks: The genesis was that I wanted to do my own thing. Knowing how many different projects I had coming up I knew it wasn't going to be a feature, and I wanted to do something simple. David and I have a lot of kids in our movies and I wanted to tell a story about the adult world from the perspective of children. No matter what an adult is doing it seems like it has some higher purpose behind it, it seems magical, you’re always curious, no matter how mundane the task is. In Dig, the dad is just digging a hole in the backyard and doesn't directly answer why he is doing it, which causes much curiosity as his daughter tries to figure out what he’s doing and make a connection with her dad.

The official poster image for Dig, feature Mallory Mahoney.

Adobe: What Adobe Creative Cloud tools do you use?
Halbrooks: I started out using Final Cut Pro, but as I got more into producing I found that I was doing less and less editing. Everyone in the Dallas filmmaking community uses After Effects and Photoshop. When Final Cut X launched everyone started switching to Premiere Pro. Rob Wilson and David Maddox did the editing on the film, and they had already made the switch so I purchased Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I don’t edit that much but I needed to be able to access the files. Any time I wasn't directly in the room with them they would send over the project file when changes were made. We all had the media and could see changes immediately in Premiere Pro, make tweaks or suggestions, and send it back.

Adobe: Did you learn Premiere Pro CC for this project?
Halbrooks: It wasn't much of a learning curve from Final Cut to Premiere Pro CC. I didn’t really have to learn anything, I was able to just start using it.

Adobe: Were any other Adobe tools used on Dig?
Halbrooks: Photoshop and After Effects were also used on the film. There are two shots that absolutely used After Effects. In one we had to composite something on the TV. In the other, we parked a regular car on the street because we couldn't get a police car, and the visual effects artist used the Roto Brush tool to transform it into a police car.

Adobe: What’s next for Dig and for you personally?
Halbrooks: Dig will be live on YouTube during the festival and I imagine a lot of people will get to see it that way, which is exciting. We’re being invited to a ton of festivals, which is really great. Any time you make a short the idea is to get as many people as possible to see it. Personally, James and I just won the Indy Spirit Producing Award, which comes with a $25,000 grant and David and I are writing a Disney movie based the studio’s Pete’s Dragon title. It is a whole different concept than the original. So lots of great things to come!

Watch the short here: 

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 24, 2014 at 3:32:09 pm Premiere Pro, Customers

Motion graphics and visual effects work shines at Sundance Film Festival

In the lead up to the Sundance Film Festival we had the good fortune to talk with a number of creative professionals involved in creating some of the great films premiering in Park City. From animated and live action shorts to feature-length documentaries and dramatic premieres, these films display a dizzying range of creativity and talent, as well as inspiring uses of motion graphics and visual effects. Me + Her, Hits, and The End of Eating Everything are three films in which Adobe After Effects played an important role.

Me + Her
Joseph Oxford started making Me + Her in 2009 when he was working as a production assistant. After creating characters from some pieces of cardboard, he started writing a script to tell their story. He developed the script and created the characters and set pieces by hand in his spare time. In 2013, he was finally able to shoot the live action short featuring animatronic rod puppetry.

The puppets that appear in the film were designed in Adobe Illustrator and mass produced so duplicates were available if needed. Oxford used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to develop early color concepts to help determine the visual style before capturing the majority of content in camera.

All visual effects shots went through After Effects at some point, and the time-lapse sequence of the tree growing at the end of the film was the most labor intensive. While some elements were created in Maya, composting the live action and 3D content made it all feel like live action. Oxford and his team used the Roto Brush in After Effects to fill in missing sections of the sky and the 3D Camera Tracker to turn on 200 light bulbs in one scene. Overall, the six page script took 18 days to shoot, resulting in a whimsical short film about love and loss.

For more information, read the recently published Studio Daily article.

See more at

Viewers who attend the screening of Hits aren't expecting to be wowed by visual effects. In fact, most would never guess that all of the YouTube screens that feature prominently in the film were built using After Effects. The production studio Final Cut worked on both editing and visual effects for the film by Screenwriter and Director David Cross.

Phil Brooks, a graphics and visual effects artist with Final Cut, was given free rein to recreate the YouTube site so he would have more control over the animation and camera moves. First, he used Illustrator to rebuild the user interfaces and buttons as vector graphics so they could scale as needed for shots. The screens were then taken into After Effects, where Brooks created most of the layouts and pages.

The magic of Photoshop enabled him to crop, prepare images, and remove people from backgrounds as needed. By creating invisible visual effects, Brooks effectively helped tell the film’s story without stealing the show.

The End of Eating Everything
The End of Eating Everything by Wangechi Mutu is a visually stunning short film that follows a creature through a vast atmosphere. Digital Artist Joaquin Jutt joined Mutu’s team mid-way through the project as an editor, applying his background in 3D modeling and animation to add more dimension and scale to the fine art film.

Using Adobe Photoshop, Jutt took existing screenshots from the project and composited textures and colors to adjust the overall feeling. Various elements in the atmosphere, such as smoke and birds, add depth and interest. Jutt rendered one bird, animated it flying and diving, created a loop, and then used Particular in After Effects to create the swarm of birds. Animation techniques were also used to make the tentacle on the creature’s head and the internal organs move, pulsate, and change as she moves and spins.

Editing the eight-minute short took eight months. By tackling each challenge individually, from matching the model’s skin tone to mapping the spinning actress to the animated model, Jutt and the small team of editors and animators helped create a film that was true to Mutu’s vision and point of view.

Watch the visual effects breakdown

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 22, 2014 at 2:03:44 pm After Effects, Customers

Sundance veteran offers up lyrical documentary film

Film about American music history comes together beautifully with Adobe video workflow

The feature-length documentary This May Be the Last Time doesn't only detail the history of the Seminole community’s ancient songs of faith and hope, it also explores their connection to Director Sterlin Harjo's own personal history. It’s his first documentary project, but not his first time premiering at the Sundance Film Festival or his first experience working with Adobe software. Together with his filmmaking partner Matt Leach, Harjo is fully immersed in the Adobe video workflow and the duo are happy to share how it has supported their efforts and fueled their creativity.

Photo credit: Sterlin Harjo

Adobe: Tell us about your backgrounds.
Harjo: I’m from Oklahoma and I’m a member of the Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) tribes. I’ve been making films since my early- to mid-20s. I was invited into the Sundance Feature Film Program when I was 23 and received a lot of support through the Sundance Institute. My first short film Goodnight Irene premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and I've had two other films—Four Sheets to the Wind and Barking Water—that also debuted at the festival.

Leach: I studied film at Oklahoma University and when I graduated I started doing music videos. One was on MTV and another was shown at South by Southwest. I also worked in news and advertising for a couple of years, working on a variety of projects, until I met Sterlin.

Photo credit: Royce Sharp

Adobe: How did you two connect?
Harjo: Matt and I went to school together but we never met. We were both living in Tulsa and working in the film industry, so we got together and started trying to figure out how we could combine our talents. There was a new company in town called This Land Press that was publishing a magazine featuring long form journalism. We pitched them on creating some online video work and ended up doing some online documentaries and videos with the same journalistic style. We had been using Final Cut Pro, but we were shooting with DSLR cameras with a more “run and gun” style and fast turnaround times, so we made the switch to Adobe Premiere Pro.

Leach: We ended up doing a 12 episode TV show called This Land that was all edited on Premiere Pro. With just a two man operation, it was the only way for us to work quickly and deliver the quality we wanted in the given timeframe. I originally learned Premiere Pro in 2000, so going back to it was familiar, and a lot better. It enabled us to do more of the work we wanted to do quickly and affordably. Premiere Pro has made all the work we've done in the last three years possible.

Photo credit: Jessie Harjo

Adobe: How did you decide to make This May Be the Last Time?
Harjo: It was a story that I had always wanted to tell, so I pitched it to the team at This Land Press and they were excited and wanted to do it. Originally, it was just about the songs of the Seminole community and their story and history. As we made the film it became obvious that one of the main stories that needed to be told was my story and my connection to the songs. I feel like the finished film is part musical and part documentary.

Adobe: How did the process differ from your past films?
Harjo: It wasn't actually that different. We shot the film in just six months and we were editing the whole time. This was the first really personal film I’d done about me and my family. Most documentaries take at least two years to shoot. But because I’m a narrative filmmaker I took a fiction storytelling approach and it went much more quickly. It also helped that I knew the material and most of the people we interviewed were people I know personally so a level of trust was already established. I felt like I’d been researching this film my whole life.

Photo credit: Shane Brown

Adobe: What other Adobe products do you use?
Leach: For This May Be the Last Time we used Premiere Pro, Audition, After Effects, and Media Encoder. The poster for the film was created using Photoshop and Illustrator.

Harjo: The poster is really beautiful. It was made by a friend of mine, Ryan Redcorn, who does really amazing work.

Adobe: When did you begin using Adobe Creative Cloud?
Leach: We started this project just before Creative Cloud was announced, so we were hesitant to switch in the middle. We ultimately ended up making the switch so we could use After Effects CC for a lot of the graphics shots. We also used the latest versions to finish up the last tweaks to graphics and photo animations. The Detail Preserving Upscale Effect in After Effects CC was particularly useful for the archival footage in the film because it helped us keep everything sharp.

Harjo: We shot the film with a Canon C100 and there were a lot of handheld shots. Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro CC really saved us on some shots.

Photo credit: Shane Brown

Adobe: What do you like about Creative Cloud?
Leach: It’s really helpful just to be able to have access to everything online through Creative Cloud. If we’re out in the middle of nowhere and someone sends us a file we can easily download the relevant application in just a few minutes. Creative Cloud isn’t just for low budget filmmakers. When we started working on the film there weren’t many people using Premiere Pro, but now almost all of the editors I talk to are using it.

Harjo: The efficiency we get from Premiere Pro alone is worth the cost of Creative Cloud. The ability to bring files into Premiere Pro without spending an extra five hours converting, combined with the hard drive space we save is really amazing.

Watch the trailer:

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Posted by: Adam Spiel on Jan 20, 2014 at 1:19:21 pm Creative Cloud, Customers

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