View Full Version : Uplift Universe - Video Entry: Mike McCain

03 March 2008, 05:15 AM
Mike McCain is entered in the "Uplift Universe Challenge" update: View Challenge Page (

Latest Update: Finished Video: Coffee Break - final cut (

04 April 2008, 09:09 AM
Hey guys! Glad to be entering this challenge. Our team is working on a simple story about an alien, a human, and some coffee. We decided not to set it in the Uplift universe, and just focus on alien/human interaction. Specifically, we're contrasting a human's simple & straightforward approach to a task, with an alien's complicated & technologically advanced approach to the same task, to show that sometimes, simple is better.

The story goes something like this:

A human is starting to make coffee in an everyday office breakroom. An alien co-worker walks in, scoffs at the human's primitive coffee machine, and beams in his giant coffee-tron 3000 contraption. He proudly goes to start his machine, and it makes some noises and does some things... then stops! He's puzzled and tries to get it to work. Continues to make more noises and such but does not give him coffee. This frustration escalates, with the alien trying more and more comical things to get coffee out. human is just chilling reading the paper, waiting for his coffee. finally until DING - the humans coffee is finished. Alien stops what he's doing and watches as the human casually pours his coffee and walks off. After the human leaves, alien hangs his head and then a piece of his contraption breaks off and hits him on the head.

04 April 2008, 09:11 AM

These are the initial ideas we explored for the design of our alien character. (First sketches & silhouettes at the bottom, iterations on those above.)

04 April 2008, 09:13 AM

04 April 2008, 09:26 AM

04 April 2008, 09:32 AM
alien personality:
always very impressed with himself
proud & aloof (but not in a really negative way).
but easily unsettled when things don't work as he thinks they should.
naive and childish.

alien physical:
much shorter than human
moves very zestily/enegetically
extremeeeeemly expressive
green or blue.
one or two eyes.
with head dongle/boppies/whangdoodles.
feet: either very big or very small.
short sleeve workshirt.
tie is too short and has flying saucers on it.
pants are a little too short.
probably has no shoes - alien feet.

04 April 2008, 09:33 AM (

This is the character design we've arrived at for our alien character.

04 April 2008, 09:46 AM (

Our alien character model sheet. Sorry about the previous duplicate posts!

04 April 2008, 01:16 AM

Our alien model so far. Seems like we're getting pretty close, shaders still need a bit of work though and he still needs his ear/antennae things.

04 April 2008, 01:43 AM
Hmmm.. the mouth looks a little tilted..might need to fix that. But other than that, the model looks great!

04 April 2008, 12:40 PM
such great modelling skills are so unfair :(
great design dude! awsome style, i like it!

04 April 2008, 11:58 AM

Here's our WIP model of the alien so far....I dunno..I think I still like the first version (above) better.... :\

04 April 2008, 02:06 AM (

model sheet for our human character! by songjong

04 April 2008, 02:43 AM
simply sweet concept art. Really a dream to work with if you need to model them.
The modeling looks pretty sweet as well.
Can't wait to see them rigged


04 April 2008, 09:12 AM (

This is a bit out of order since we're already modeling our human character, but I thought I'd put up the concepts we went through for him!

by:songjong - Will Nichols and CBian - Christine Bian

04 April 2008, 09:18 AM (

Some concepts for the hi-tech, hopelessly complicated alien coffee machine in our story.

04 April 2008, 09:24 AM (

This is the design for our alien coffee machine. It transforms from a ridiculously big machine to a ridiculously big AND complicated machine.

04 April 2008, 09:25 AM (

Here are some concept ideas we have for our environment - a typical office breakroom. from Christine (CBian) and moi.

04 April 2008, 09:32 AM
For those who are interested this is the complete beatsheet of our shots... almost done with a first draft of our storyboards in a reel format, so that should be up soon as well.

"Coffee Break"

Armature: simple is better.

TITLE100 top-down view of coffee machine. (this may be done in a 2d, shakey and/or image cutout style.)
the coffee machine occupys the left portion of the frame, and the title "coffee break" is spelled out in espresso beans to the right.
a hand opens the lid.
pours coffee into the machine, then closes lid.
cut to closeup of hand putting mug under the machine.
cut to closeup of hand hitting the start button

BREAK100 wideshot of breakroom.
human leaning against counter reading magazine, next to coffee machine.
hear audio of coffee starting.
couple seconds later: audio of hover segue approaching from left.
alien on hover-segue enters on left and travels completely across screen at a walking pace.
audio of segue going switching into reverse.
alien comes into screen backwards, from right, his head leading the way, towards the coffee machine.

BREAK200 closeup of coffee mug. Alien's face comes in behind it and shifts into focus, nose scrunched, eyebrow raised.

BREAK300 medium shot of human offering coffee. alien's head in foreground-right.

BREAK400 close upshot of alien. pfah!

BREAK500 Back to wideshot of BREAK100. alien going off screen-right, back arched, aloof.
Shot lingers on human as he shrugs and looks down at magazine again.

BREAK600 shot of alien jumping off segue. human is out of focus in the background.
as he's jumping off, he has remote in hand and he's excited as he presses it.

BREAK700 quick closeup of his finger hitting the remote.

BEAM100 wideshot from behind alien. alien is small in foreground as large coffee machine beams in in front of him.
epic light and audio as machine beams in and slowly lowers to ground.

BEAM200 alien reaction shot, pleased with himself, looks down at....

BEAM200 cut to closer up of door in front of coffee machine opening. coffee-receptacle & button part comes out & forward. stops.

BEAM300 cut again, door at bottom of receptacle area opens and coffee cup spins quickly upwards.

BEAM400 static shot of full machine, settling. smoke effect like it just landed.

BEAM500 cut to start button, blinking.

BEAM600 top down shot: alien takes two steps forward, rubs hands together eagerly, hits the button.

MORPH100 upshot of machine. the plates of the machine's shell start to move outward, causing light to come out of the cracks

MORPH200 profile view of machine. It transforms really quickly, all sorts of stuff moving (see concept)

MORPH300 the transformation completes - closeup of the "head" of the machine popping up
after the head is in place, it starts spinning really fast.
the whole machine starts making noise, shaking, and lots of lights flashing.
and we crane slowly down the height of the machine towards the coffee receptacle.

MORPH400 cut to downshot of alien's anticipation.

MORPH500 cut back to the downwards crane... which ends at the receptacle, just as the machine stops.
the coffee mug is still empty.
music derails.

BUTTON100 alien puzzled reaction.

BUTTON200 static, level side-shot of alien pressing button again.

BUTTON300 upshot at machine. machine revs up and then down again.

BUTTON400 (same angle as BUTTON100) alien's more aggravated reaction.

BUTTON500 he stabs at the button repeatedly.

BUTTON600 the machine stutters repeatedly in the same pattern.

BUTTON700 alien shaking machine.

BUTTON800 alien methodically pressing button again.

BUTTON900 machine revs up again

BUTTON1000 does more stuff

BUTTON1100 nozzle finally appears above the coffee mug.

BUTTON1200 alien is very excited at this.

BUTTON1300 back to static shot of nozzle. after a second it just puffs air.

ANGRY100 alien reaction shot..... annnngrryy!

ANGRY200 wideshot, profile view of his head falling into the button.
then again and again faster... then pounding with fists on it!
then grabbing at nozzle.
then propping feet up to pull at it harder.
finally slips off and falls backwards offscreen.

ANGRY300 see him angry, see segue on screen. looks at segue.

ANGRY400 grabbing segue....

ANGRY??? he's about to swing, when....sipping noise. totally surprised reaction, alien is frozen in his about-to-swing pose.

SHAME100 cut out: human in background. alien in foreground-right, slowly turning his head/eyes towards him.

SHAME200 shot of just the human, eyebrow raised and also looking kind of tongue in cheek.

SHAME300 back to alien, just staring, eye twitching.

SHAME400 human sips coffee and casually walks off left side of frame.

SHAME500 static wideshot of breakroom, alien still standing in his pose, frozen, we clearly see the contrast betw. the two coffee machines.

BLECH100 black. "brewed by 3 legged dog productions" fades in... audio of cacophony of him banging on the machine.

BLECH200 black. page of all our names. audio stops for a second and then... DING! sound of pouring coffee.

BLECH300 cut back to alien, profile view, excitedly grabbing the coffee.
savors it in his hands for a second then takes a sip

BLECH400 cut to his face, spewing out the nasty coffee everywhere.

BLECH500 rest of credits

04 April 2008, 09:43 AM
Thanks Juliano and Nothingness!

So far I feel pretty good about the pace we're setting - we should be moving into production this weekend and wrapping on preproduction work over the next week. Would love feedback on stuff if anyone has any.

Our next biggest obstacle looks like it's gonna be shading - establishing a good clean style of shading to fit our story.

...most importantly though, Christine drew a polar bear.

04 April 2008, 02:43 AM
nice drawings... it would look intresting if you could render the video like that...

my Uplift Universe (

04 April 2008, 02:13 AM (

Software: Photoshop

Here is the current version of our storyboard animatic! We are still working on nailing the pacing and trying to cut a bit of time, but any feedback is welcome!

Play Video >> (

05 May 2008, 08:21 AM (

This is a test render of our breakroom! We are going for a blank white environment, with clean, flat shaded props and fairly crisp lighting.

05 May 2008, 10:36 AM
Hey! nice envirenmont and I like your character style alot!
Btw I prefer a wallpaper instead of a blank white wall! you know!
Btw this scene looks really great and funny!
GL buddy, mim :beer:

05 May 2008, 12:14 PM
Your concepts are totally awesome. I am curious for the human model. Keep it up!

05 May 2008, 09:16 PM
awesome, the concepts are so wicked! keep it uP! :)

05 May 2008, 11:05 PM
thanks guys! more stuff soon hopefully : )

05 May 2008, 11:10 PM
Love the story... I like the clean, cartoony style... How many of you are working on it?

05 May 2008, 11:22 PM
RJofVFX - thanks! started with 6, about 10 now in our spare time

05 May 2008, 11:23 PM (

This is our first shot of animation - we're still working on the weights

playblast here >> (

05 May 2008, 11:23 PM

05 May 2008, 08:01 AM
Hey nice start guys!
Btw thought there is some skinning issue of his shoulder, you know I mean under his shoulder infact!
are you used some cloth simulation for it?
anyway really great work sofar, like this style! just keep it up!


05 May 2008, 05:38 PM
hey..nice characters...the aliens reminds me the lilo & stich movie....the human is great...nice job!:wip:

05 May 2008, 06:06 PM
thanks! yeah, our weight painting is still in progress. Using nCloth / hand animation for the tie depending on the shot but not doing anything else with cloth for this. should have some more test renders to post here in a few days.

05 May 2008, 07:52 AM (

close to done modeling... shading and render tests of this guy tomorrow!

05 May 2008, 09:06 AM (

allllllllmost ready to start rendering shots!

05 May 2008, 09:09 AM
Wow that's so cool! Looks like a painting!

05 May 2008, 12:11 AM
thanks tyson!

05 May 2008, 08:31 PM
That coffee machine is awesome!

05 May 2008, 02:29 AM
nice progress!.....your style is very cool ...i like it a lot.
tell me ...wich is your metod of work?:twisted:

05 May 2008, 09:05 AM (

Our human character model!

05 May 2008, 09:05 AM
melkao, what do you mean by method?

05 May 2008, 10:16 AM (

Hey, here are a couple of rendered shots and some of the animation we're working on! this stuff isn't in order right now after the first bit.

compression is probably killing all the colors : (

Play Video >> (

05 May 2008, 11:04 AM
Haha wow...the animation is great! I can't wait to see how this one goes!

05 May 2008, 01:28 PM
video looks very nice, good work!! i like this cartoonish approach, keep it up!

05 May 2008, 07:06 PM (

view video here: current renders (

some more post filtering (maybe a little too much now? thoughts?), some depth of field, fixed final gather flickering issues.

05 May 2008, 08:25 PM
nice job!...the animatic looks the character...very funny!:wip:

05 May 2008, 09:56 PM
it is very pixar-like which is something i like very much! great work, keep it up!

05 May 2008, 05:25 AM (

this one is just a static shot.... right before the alien goes crazy angry.

05 May 2008, 05:45 AM
thanks! pixar-like though... i don't think we can compare!

05 May 2008, 04:15 AM (

our current animatic & renders!

Play Video >> (

05 May 2008, 09:27 AM
Hey,realy nice story and action,and the render looks amazing!
Keep going!

05 May 2008, 07:41 PM (

This is another render. you can view it here ( Uh, so the purple might be a bit much.... I blame Speed Racer!

05 May 2008, 07:47 PM
thanks adib! yeah we just gotta pick up the pace a bit...... 24 days left eh

05 May 2008, 07:54 PM
oops, double post.

05 May 2008, 07:55 PM (

This is the shot right after the title screen.

play movie >> (

Still want to tweak lighting a bit here, and shading on the human isn't done.

05 May 2008, 08:35 PM
hey that looks pretty funny..i love the human animation...nice job

05 May 2008, 08:43 PM
i love your style!! Alien and his ESPRESSO TRON 3000 are amazing!! Animation and render look very well!! Great work! i'm waiting for the final!!! GOGOGO!!!

05 May 2008, 09:14 PM
ammmazing anims there!!

the alien is awesome..but the guy's anim has really come well. Loved his reaction to the alien..
One of the best entries i guess..
Keep posting guys!

05 May 2008, 08:07 PM (

A new render, some tweaked renders, and current animation for the long ending shot of our film!

the closeup with the coffee machine is gonna have a coffee drip effect comped in later.

Play Video >> (

05 May 2008, 08:19 PM
Haha that last reaction shot looks great!

05 May 2008, 12:08 PM
WOW Moljnir ! This piece is really going to come out amazing! Wonderful and concepts and models, nice renders, good timing and great animations! We are looking forward to this... keep up the amazing work ;)

05 May 2008, 03:23 PM
jajaja...thats so cool....funny expresions....the final video will looks so will be at my gallery for this challenge!:applause:

05 May 2008, 07:03 AM
Thanks! Just hope we can get done in time... hehe

05 May 2008, 04:20 AM (

Test render of our opening shot!

05 May 2008, 02:12 AM (

WIP of the part where the machine is workin'

Play Video >> (

05 May 2008, 06:20 AM
Your project looks great man! keep going on! :wip:

05 May 2008, 06:55 AM
edit - oops, uploaded the old file.

05 May 2008, 07:04 AM (

renders of the two parts where the alien coffee machine does it's thing

Play Video >> (

05 May 2008, 07:32 PM
THis is just looking great! Yours is the entry I'm most looking forward to seeing completed. In the latest clip, I especially like the 3-stage coffee-nozzle descending. How unnecessarily high-tech! Good luck with the rest... :thumbsup:

05 May 2008, 09:33 PM
Nice looks like is almost done.

05 May 2008, 10:16 AM
Nice colour work, keep it up!!:applause:

05 May 2008, 05:19 PM (

thanks all! crunchtime now... :argh: walrus, loved your image entry by the way

05 May 2008, 07:42 PM
Well, since i'm a fan of the cartoony stuff, this obviously hits home for me. Not to say the other entries aren't great as well, but this just has a good feel to it, and it's fun. Great job so far!!! Now, get back to work.:D

05 May 2008, 09:40 AM
Wow! You have got lots of great things going on in here. I'm watching the sprint to the finish line. Best of luck! :cool:

05 May 2008, 08:58 AM (

Testing the look of the big scene at the end : ) .... too much crazy color?

05 May 2008, 09:24 AM
No no ...I like the exaggerated colors!

05 May 2008, 09:33 AM
The secund one looks crazy,that with pink and red colors!Angry atmosphere-GREAT!

05 May 2008, 10:34 AM
No it's amazing! After all that could be some majour energy field coming from the angry alien!

05 May 2008, 07:41 PM
I don't understand, what is this "too much" you speak of? You've got a cartoony alien, you can get away with as much color as you're willing to push, so go for it!

(oh, and thanks about my entry, btw.)

06 June 2008, 10:57 AM
hehe good point, glad everyone likes the crazy color stuff : )

cgchallenge submit page doesn't seem to be workin, but here is the final shot --

06 June 2008, 11:04 AM
Looks great :D

The warping colors do a fantastic job at portraying the mood. I also like the extra detail you've added in, like the flapping tie.

06 June 2008, 03:57 PM
Wow, this is brilliant. I love the cartoony style in general, and you folks have nailed it!

I can definitely see this doing well come the closing time!

06 June 2008, 09:56 PM
the expresion is very good...and the color effect gives a pretty cool looking...nice job.

06 June 2008, 08:49 PM (

This is almost the whole ending sequence! And, thanks again for all the comments everyone. Mad dash to the finish...

Play Video>> (

06 June 2008, 10:27 PM
Hehehe...this is going to be just wonderful when it's finished!

06 June 2008, 09:03 AM (

just some more shots done, these of the initial interaction btw. human & alien. : )

06 June 2008, 11:01 AM
I like your animation-style!
My contribution to this challenge this time is compared to yours very small. But I learnd do work with XSI (my first steps with this software).
Good luck!

06 June 2008, 04:56 PM
Great Mike! Welldone man! I smell a winner here! :thumbsup:
Really like your last animation test man! great work and nice expressions!
I thought you're full time on it! isn't it?!
Anyway keep working bro! you have great chance! ;)


06 June 2008, 07:14 PM
Great work Mike love the characters

Chris Haigh

06 June 2008, 04:20 AM (

thanks everyone! hope we can deliver, hehe : )

another shot... alien turns around then the camera zooms back real fast to reveal his hover-segue.

06 June 2008, 08:42 PM (

kicks the machine causin' it to start up again : )

06 June 2008, 05:10 AM (

alien excited to get coffee after machine starts up again... will try to post .movs later of some of our recent renders too : )

06 June 2008, 07:37 AM (

test of the alien's reaction shots!
play video>> (

not sure about the gold bg... maybe.... do you guys think the rotating light across his face is too much?

06 June 2008, 01:14 AM
This is fantastic , I love the bright colors and the little alien is priceless :)

06 June 2008, 11:21 AM
<<It looks very goog! You are going to get a price, Im shure!

06 June 2008, 04:04 PM (

Hey guys! Very happy to be able to show the first complete cut of our film. We hope you like it : )

Play Video >> (
(65mb, streaming h264... I'll try to upload it to the cgtalk player later as well.)

Thanks to the extension, we'll be spending the next week tweaking and polishing. All suggestions welcome!

06 June 2008, 04:12 PM
(also... anyone know how we can compress this to be smaller & still look good?)

06 June 2008, 05:52 PM
That's perfect! great film guys!
Just my thought .. at 1:21 the alien's anger came a bit sudden.There wasn't any build up for it in previous secs.The anger cud be a lil more effective that way.
Just my thought :)

Nice film guys.Congratulations.

06 June 2008, 05:55 PM (

Software: After Effects

Here it is via cgtalk flash player... quality is probably gonna get eaten a bit.

Play Video >> (

06 June 2008, 07:45 PM
Great team here!!! :thumbsup:
This film is very nice and funny!!!:eek:
Goob luck guys!

06 June 2008, 12:41 AM
Looks great! I didn't see any technical issues during my viewing...and I thought the storyline was funny :D

Maybe my only comment is to make the "time to go back to work" bell a little more audible. Right now it sounds like the ding of a spoon hitting a wineglass, rather than what I'd expect it to be (more like a buzzer). Took me a minute to realize the signifigance of the shot where we see the human drinking the coffee over the angry alien's shoulder because of that.

06 June 2008, 03:10 AM
Looking good, Mike. I hadn't realized you had such a big crew working on this. Congrats to the entire team on some great work. The only crits I have are on the very beginnign and very end. I guess the rest of teh time I was too caught up in it to notice any missteps! :)

I'm not sure whether I buy the guy writing with the pencil in the beginning. The movement feels a bit fake to me. I'm not sure what to suggest... maybe morefinger movement (the fingers with the pencil in them) instead of arm/wrist movement, perhaps?

Secondly, the alien's last pose before the credits. It holds a while on that shot and it looks completely static. Perhaps just some subtle movement somewhere to keep it from looking like a freeze on a still... angradual shifiting of a leg or arm, some breathing? Anyhow, just an idea... Good luck with your polishing stage! :thumbsup:

06 June 2008, 05:42 AM
Hey thanks guys! Good feedback.

Tyson, good point, we acutally weren't thinking of it as a "return to work" ding, but more just a cue to bring the alien out of his crazedness... we were thinking it was to signal the human's coffee being finished. But that didn't read well at all in this cut. In the old version we used a loud slurping noise from the human as the audio cue, so I think we're gonna go back to that!

Thanks walrus! Yeah there are 11 of us now, in our spare time. Started with 6 I think. We're gonna try to polish up those two shots along with a few others.... it's very nice to have a "finished" product and now have this extra week to improve on it : )

06 June 2008, 06:03 AM
VERY WELL DONE! Congruatulations guys!GREAT WORK!Dont forget the making of,must be after the movie in the same flv.:buttrock:

06 June 2008, 10:42 AM
it is very entertaining, i like it very much, great work!!!

06 June 2008, 01:13 PM
Very good indeed! The characters and props are engaging and well animated. Nice motion and timing.

I think that I would have liked to see him surrender to the human's coffee, at the very end, in order to get his uplift. But that is just one of many possibilities.

Great all around project with enticing updates. I enjoyed watching it all come together.
Good luck!

06 June 2008, 02:18 AM
Thanks guys! And yeah, we gotta put together a making of piece still... glad we got the extra week or else that would have been a crappy string of images and text! hehe :)

06 June 2008, 08:27 AM (

Our making of piece! also testing FLV conversion quality.

Play Video >> (

06 June 2008, 09:18 AM

I dont have so much idea regarding this subject. Just I suggest you to take steps accordingly.

06 June 2008, 09:24 AM
huh? ...spam?

06 June 2008, 09:48 AM
exporting..... *twiddles thumbs anxiously*

06 June 2008, 11:34 AM (

Software: After Effects,Maya,mental ray,Photoshop

The final cut of our video entry, Coffee Break!

Thank you all for a very fun three months. This is the first CGChallenge we've entered, and it was a great learning experience. We're very proud of our finished product, and of everyone else's too.

Our story developed from the idea that even though alien technology may be more advanced, sometimes a simple human approach is better. We wanted to illustrate this in a fun and slightly abstract way, so we opted for an everyday office setting instead of a spaceship or a distant planet. Our alien protagonist thinks he's pretty hot stuff with all his hi-tech alien gadgetry, but today he just might learn otherwise...

We hope you enjoy watching!

- Three-Legged Dog Productions

Play Video >> (

06 June 2008, 03:09 AM
WOW!! High quality job!! Congratulations guys, you done very well. I laugh a lot with the alien expressions .. hehe

Congrats again and good luck :beer:

06 June 2008, 03:29 AM
Hahahahaha! Was he controlling that pen with his mind? Baahahahah....took like 3 double-takes to fully get that ;)

Awesome job you guys...a pleasure to watch! I hope you do well :D

06 June 2008, 04:55 AM
jajajaja...nice job....very funny short...i did jump a lot on my chair ...that was very nice detail with the making of...

06 June 2008, 10:24 AM
Great job! I am happy to see more "cartoon friendly" stuff in the challenge. Definitely not an easier job to do. I like how you folks effectiovely used colors and shaders. It can be fun to emphasize alien's anger even more. I dont really want to see alien guy beating the machine, but maybe to see him agresively run to the attack, before you cover it with black. But that is just my 2cents. Good luck!

06 June 2008, 07:36 PM
Thanks guys! And thanks for all the support throughout the challenge. It was really fun!

If anyone's interested, larger better quality version here: (h264, ~90mb)

07 July 2008, 04:09 PM

That's awesome, Mike! You really deserved the win for all your team's great work. Congrats to everyone who worked so hard on this short. It's a fine piece of work.

07 July 2008, 06:36 PM
Very smart and playful short. Congratulations!!

07 July 2008, 02:35 PM
oh yeah! fantastic
a great job!


07 July 2008, 02:58 AM
Great to see that you guy's got the recognition you deserve! I thought your piece was the funniest of them all :D

07 July 2008, 03:38 AM
Hey Mike,
Hearty Congratulations to you and your team.A well deserved win.

07 July 2008, 08:29 AM
It's being a really busy week so pardon us for being late on this, please...
Congratulations to you and all your team!!!
It's been an honour to be in challenge with you guys! Well done!

07 July 2008, 05:22 PM
Hey, thanks everyone!!! We're ultra excited about the award and really motivated to continue doing stuff as a group. (after drinkin' and celebrating!!)

Anyway yeah also thanks for all the support during the challenge too, it was a great experience and it was very cool seeing the final article... it's really amazing how much hard work everyone put into this challenge and the best part was being able to sit down and watch all the finished videos.


07 July 2008, 10:22 AM
hey guys, congratulations! everything looks top notch from concept to final :beer:

07 July 2008, 04:50 AM
Thanks Brajan!

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