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Round Table – Mass Effect: Andromeda

posted by simonunger March 22, 2017 0 comments

“Criticize their work, that’s fine- as creators we often welcome critique as a way to better ourselves and the product we provide to gamers.”

With so much attention being paid in the last week to the animation issues seen in the previews leading up to Bioware’s next big release, Mass Effect: Andromeda, we thought it would be interesting to get a few experienced animators together to discuss the challenges animators face when dealing with these types of projects. Also, a special thanks to Daniel Floyd for moderating this round table for us. So, let’s get to the introductions!

Dan Floyd: I guess I’ll start things off, since I’m mostly here to moderate and ask the smarter people questions. I’m Dan Floyd, I co-run a YouTube channel called Extra Credits and make a show on that channel about game animation called Extra Frames. I’m also an animator with film and game industry experience, but not nearly as much as my counterparts here.

Simon Unger: Hey! I’m Simon Unger! I’m an animator at Phoenix Labs working on a new game called Dauntless. Prior to that, I was a lead animator at Electronic Arts, Square Enix, and Robotoki. I’ve also taught at schools such as Gnomon, iAnimate, and Vancouver Film School.

Gwen Frey: I’m Gwen Frey. I’ve been in the industry for a decade now. Most recently I formed a small indie studio in Boston and shipped The Flame in The Flood as the sole animator and FX artist! Prior to that I worked in technical animation on Bioshock Infinite and the various DLCs, and before that I worked on MMOs such as Marvel Heroes Online. I speak publicly about game development, have a podcast (The Dialog Box) and a YouTube channel (GwenFreyTheTA)

Tim Borelli: Hello! I’m Tim Borrelli. I’ve been doing some form of something with animation in games since 1998, working on more failed projects than not. I’ve been at Volition (from Freespace 2 to the beginnings of Saints Row 3), 5TH Cell (where I learned more about being a good leader than anything), and am now Animation & VFX Director at First Strike Games working on the secret sauce.

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GDC 2017 Videos

posted by Mike Jungbluth March 14, 2017 1 Comment

All of the 2017 GDC Talks have been added to the GDCVault and 6 of the #GDCAnim talks have been made free!

Animating ‘Dauntless’: Slaying AAA Animation on the Indie Scale
Animation Microtalks
Animation Tricks of the Trade
Cuphead Process and Philosophy
First Person Animation of ‘Overwatch’
Realistic Performances in Games

I have updated the 2017 GDC Animation Bootcamp Talks post to have each talk listed link directly to their video, to make that an easy one stop shop for everything animation related!

And on top of that, all of the 2015 GDC talks are now also free! So relive all of the amazing talks that year or catch them for the first time if you missed them before!

Between GDC and the Animation Exchange, 2017 is going to go down as one of the best years on record for animation sharing! Here is to an even bigger and better 2018!


Animation Exchange 2017 Recording & Feedback

posted by Mike Jungbluth March 7, 2017 2 Comments

The first Animation Exchange is on the books and what an absolute blast it was! My mind is still racing with all of the ways we can grow and adapt the experience to best serve the entire community.

If you missed the stream, or want to watch it again, below are the times and links to each segment. And if you would like to give feedback (PLEASE DO!) you can let us know your thoughts on the forum or anonymously on the question form. And if you would like to see some shots from behind the scenes and general good times had by everyone on the stream, #AnimX is your place to go.

Thank you so much to Twitch, everyone on the stream, everyone on the chat and everyone watching it now that it is recorded. This feels like the future of knowledge sharing and wider community involvement for the animation industry, and it is just getting started!

Time Type Title Link
00:02:53 Panel Live Q&A         
00:33:08 Interview Jeremy Yates (Naughty Dog)    
00:41:42 Presentation What Schools Aren’t Teaching You    
01:12:40 Interview Gabriela Aveiro-Ojeda (Dames Making Games)
01:19:17 Presentation World to the West Animation Process
01:53:19 Interview Young Vo (Sparky Pants)
02:09:17 Panel Animation Flashback: Spider-Man 2
02:37:07 Interview Almudena Soria (Naughty Dog)
02:47:10 Presentation An Intro to Animation in Unreal Engine 4
03:32:29 Interview Matthew Russell (Amazon)
03:40:09 Presentation Animation Flashback: Assassin’s Creed Combat
04:13:41 Interview Jake Clark (Studio MDHR)
04:26:00 Panel MOBA Animation: LoL, HotS, Paragon
05:21:40 Interview Jeremy Collins (Blizzard)
05:30:49 Presentation Back to Basics: 2D Animation for Games
06:00:13 Interview Steven Dickinson (The Coalition)
06:06:20 Panel Animation Programming in 2017
06:53:06 Interview Zach Lowery (Boss Key)
07:02:56 Presentation Interactive Cinematic Sequences in Uncharted 4
07:30:56 Interview David Gibson (Blizzard)
07:41:10 Panel Fine, god-dammit! We’ll review it live!

Animation Exchange Schedule

posted by Mike Jungbluth February 23, 2017 0 comments

Here is the full Animation Exchange Schedule! On Tuesday, February 28th, from 2-10 PM Pacific, you can join in on the fun at The entire event will be free to watch and the recordings will be available on the same channel! As you can see, there isn’t a moment throughout where we won’t have animators, technical animators, animation programmers and designers talking shop and sharing their process. And throughout it all, we will have people manning the chat to take your questions. You can find descriptions of each talk here.

And during the stream, we will be accepting donations for the IGDA Foundation. Their dedication to empowering future game devs across all disciplines and backgrounds made them a no brainer to partner up with. Sharing knowledge and opportunities, with a focus on diverse participants, is core to what #AnimX and the IGDA foundation is all about.

So make sure to watch the stream, and engage through the chat and #AnimX. See you there!

30 mins Live Q&A Tim Borrelli (First Strike), Gwen Frey (Molasses Flood), Mariel Cartwright (Lab Zero), Matt Boehm (Blizzard)
5 mins Mike Interviews Jeremy Yates (Naughty Dog)
30 mins What Schools Aren’t Teaching You Lana Bachynski (Blizzard), Simon Unger (Phoenix Labs)
5 mins Tim Interviews Gabriela Aveiro-Ojeda (Dames Making Games)
30 mins World to the West Animation Process Aslak Helgesen (Rain)
5 mins Mike Interviews Young Vo (Sparky Pants)
30 mins Animation Flashback: Spider-Man 2 James Zachary (Zynga), Ryan Duffin (EA DICE), Yoshitomo Morowaki (Hyperkinetic Studios)
5 mins Tim Interviews Almudena Soria (Naughty Dog)
60 mins An Intro to Animation in Unreal Engine 4 Jay Hosfelt and Laurent Delayen (Epic)
5 mins Mike Interviews Jeremy Collins (Blizzard)
30 mins Animation Flashback: Assassin’s Creed Combat Kristjan Zadziuk (Ubisoft)
5 mins Tim Interviews Jake Clark (Studio MDHR)
60 mins MOBA Animation: LoL, HotS, Paragon Alex Lehmann (Riot), Lana Bachynski (Blizzard), Jay Hosfelt (Epic)
5 mins Mike Interviews Matthew Russell (Amazon)
30 mins Back to Basics: 2D Animation for Games Mariel Cartwright (Lab Zero)
5 mins Tim Interviews Steven Dickinson (Coalition)
60 mins Animation Programming in 2017 Bobby Angeulov (WB Montreal), Laurent Delayen (Epic), Geoff Harrower (EA Vancouver), Dan Lowe (Visceral), Brett Pascal (EA), JC Delannoy (EA)
5 mins Mike Interviews Zach Lowery (Boss Key)
30 mins Interactive Cinematic Sequences in Uncharted 4 Jonathan Cooper (Naughty Dog)
5 mins Tim Interviews David Gibson (Blizzard)
30 mins Fine, god-dammit! We’ll review it live! Gwen Frey (The Molasses Flood), Kristjan Zadziuk (Ubisoft), Dan Lowe (Visceral), Jalil Sadool (Steamroller)
10 mins Wrap Up Mike Jungbluth (Volition), Lana Bachynski (Blizzard), Tim Borrelli (First Strike)



Animation Exchange Twitch Stream

posted by Mike Jungbluth January 16, 2017 13 Comments

I am super excited to announce that on Tuesday, February 28th from 2-10 PM PST, Animation is taking over Twitch!

The Animation Exchange takes the knowledge sharing and powerful community of art and development conferences and makes it accessible to all. Bringing together developers in both AAA and Indie, and leveraging the open platform of Twitch, this event will shine a light on different approaches to character animation — From highlighting the most recent tech, to examining traditional animation skills and revisiting classic games, this digital convention will illuminate the animation experience in game development. For 8 hours, our stream will be dedicated to interactive experiences with animators, programmers and technical artists. This event will have talks to inform and to entertain, whether you are an experienced developer, aspiring student, or simply an avid player wanting to learn more about how life is brought to your favorite characters on screen.AnimXBanners_07

This is something we have been building towards for a couple of years now in our effort to further democratize the sharing of knowledge across the industry. And with Twitch sponsoring us on their official channel, this free event is about as open and available as we could ever dream! So make sure to mark your calendars and spread the word, because this is the next step in how we grow and make knowledge available to the entire animation community.

And here your #AnimX Lineup with animators and devs from Blizzard, DICE, Epic, Naughty Dog, Riot, Ubisoft and more!

Live Q&A
We start the day with a panel of animators taking questions live from the Twitch chat. If you have a question about game animation, these are the people and this is the time to ask.
Tim Borrelli Animation Director at First Strike Games
Gwen Frey Co-Founder of The Molasses Flood
Mariel Cartwright Art Director, Lead Animator and Head of Story at Lab Zero Games
Matt Boehm Animator at Blizzard

What Schools Aren’t Teaching You
Schools are great for teaching the fundamentals of animation theory and workflow, but what about the stuff they DON’T teach?

Working in the industry takes much more than just animation chops. Get some insider info from two unique perspectives on the skills you can only pick up from spending time in the highly-competitive and fast-paced world of game development.
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Simon Unger Senior Animator at Phoenix Labs

Grim and Whimsy – Animating World to the West
This talk covers our effort to animate characters and creatures with contrasting moods and emotions, working within the tight constraints of a top down action game.
Aslak Helgesen Animator at Rain Games

Animation Flashback: Spider-Man 2
Spider-man 2 The Movie Game was the first in the franchise to emphasis the web-slinger’s unique methods of locomotion as well as one of the earlier open world superhero games. After it’s release in 2004, Spider-man 2 went on to become one of Playstation 2 Magazines “Top 100 PS2 Games of all time”, one of ScrewAttacks “Top 10 Movie Based Games” and one of the titles in the book “1001 Video Games to Play Before You Die”. During this Animation Flash Back Session, two of the animators from the team, James Zachary (Animation Lead) and Ryan Duffin (Animator) will reunite to dust off an old PS2, boot up the game and discuss the time they spent developing Spider-man and give a behinds the scenes look at what was needed to bring to life our beloved web-slinger.
James Zachary Animation Director at Zynga
Ryan Duffin Senior Animator at DICE LA

An Intro to Animation in Unreal Engine 4

Have you ever wondered how animators get their animations in game and make them part of an interactive character?  Have you heard about “state machines” or “blend spaces” but aren’t quite sure what it all means?   Watch Jay and Laurent setup an animated character in Unreal where they will cover these topics and more.
Jay Hosfelt Lead Animator at Epic Games
Laurent Delayen Senior Gameplay/Animation Programmer at Epic Games

Animation Flashback: Assassin’s Creed Combat
Assassin’s Creed has become one of the best known franchises in video game history since it’s original release in 2007, but very little is known how it became that. 10 years on, this flashback sheds light on a particular part of that development. As the Lead Combat Animator on the Original Assassins Creed, I will offer a unique insight into how the Combat System was developed.  By sharing the thought process, inspiration, conception, challenges and goals of the system that will appeal to fans of AC and developers alike.
Kristjan Zadziuk Animation Director at Ubisoft Reflections

MOBA Animation: LoL, HotS & Paragon

Do you like MOBAs? So do these three animators working on “Heroes of the Storm” (Blizzard, Lana Bachynski), “Paragon” (Epic Games, Jay Hosfelt), and “League of Legends” (Riot Games, Alex M. Lehmann). In this talk the three of them will chat about animating a few of the iconic characters in these popular games. Expect to hear some the behind-the-scenes “war-stories” from a couple of years of development on these titles. Oh, did we mention they’ll play their games while chatting about it? Grab a drink, prepare a question or two, and join us for an hour with your favorite MOBAs.
Alex M. Lehmann
Art Director at Riot Games
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Jay Hosfelt Lead Animator at Epic Games

Back to Basics: 2D Animation for Games
For both new and experienced animators, it’s always helpful to revisit the basics. This talk covers the founding principles of animation and in what ways they apply and work in games.
Mariel Cartwright Art Director, Lead Animator and Head of Story at Lab Zero Games

Animation Programming in 2017
This panel of animation programmers will discuss their relationship to animation and design, their impact on the responsive vs realistic debate and what their thoughts are on the newest animation technology making a buzz in the industry.
Laurent Delayen Senior Gameplay/Animation Programmer at Epic Games
Bobby Anguelov Animation Technical Lead at WB Games Montreal
Geoff Harrower Senior Gameplay/Animation Engineer at EA Vancouver
Dan Lowe Senior Technical Animator at Visceral Games

Interactive Cinematic Sequences in Uncharted 4
From initial idea to final polish, animation and design at Naughty Dog work in lockstep to pre-vis, prototype then assemble memorable and cinematic story sequences with the aim to keep the action as “on-the-stick” interactive and exciting as possible.
Jonathan Cooper Animator at Naughty Dog

Fine, God-Dammit! We’ll Review it Live!
Gwen and three other unfortunate animators are strapped to a couch. They are forced to drink cold beverages and chat about animation in games while watching a series of curated animation clips. Some clips will be from high profile games that have recently released, and some clips will be damning examples of game animation gone wrong. Gwen will be curating, and she will be the only animator with prior knowledge of what is being shown. The other animators are going in blind. Towards the end of the show we will invite the audience to link other clips for us to respond to. You can link us your demo reel (god help you), a clip of your favorite moment in a video game, or whatever else you would like us to talk about.
Gwen Frey Co-Founder of The Molasses Flood
Dan Lowe
 Senior Technical Animator at Visceral Games
Kristjan Zadziuk Animation Director at Ubisoft Reflections
Jalil Sadool CEO/Co-Founder at Steamroller Studios and Co-Founder of CGTarian Online Animation School

Final Thoughts

Thank you and parting words.
Mike Jungbluth Lead Animator at Volition
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Tim Borrelli Animation Director of First Strike Games


2017 GDC Animation Bootcamp Talks

posted by Mike Jungbluth January 9, 2017 1 Comment

Monday, February 27th will mark the Fifth Annual Animation Bootcamp at GDC!

What started five years ago to fill the void of animation knowledge sharing has grown into THE place to speak about all things game animation. And this year is no different! From Indie to AAA, we have the people working on some of the best animated games out there, breaking down the specifics of their animation processes. Be it communicating personality or design, if you love talking about what make interactive characters come to life, you won’t want to miss it.

We hope to see you there!

And without further ado, the talks and presenters are:

Animation Microtalks
After the success of last year’s microtalks, kick off GDC with their specific brand of fast-paced, high-energy talks. 1 hour, 10 professionals, all dedicated to educate, entertain and inspire with rants, raves, observations and wild musings on animation and the industry as a whole.
Lana Bachynski Animator at Blizzard Entertainment
Tim Borrelli Animation Director of First Strike Games
Gwen Frey Co-Founder of The Molasses Flood
Matt Conn CEO of MidBoss and Executive Producer for GaymerX
Gabriela Aveiro-Ojeda, Freelance Animator and Co-Director at Dames Making Games
Matthew Russell Senior Animator and Designer at Amazon Game Studios
Mariel Cartwright Art Director, Lead Animator and Head of Story at Lab Zero Games
Matt Majers Animator at Pixar
Shahbaz Shah Senior Animator at Telltale
Mike Jungbluth Lead Animator at Volition

Animating Uncharted 4 – A window into Naughty Dog’s animation workflow

This presentation uncovers the methodologies used by Naughty Dog to bring the characters of Uncharted to life. We will delve into the unique culture of Naughty Dog as well as uncover the animation pipeline from concept to console, including previs, our motion capture process, achieving seamless transitions, tracking assets, and communicating feedback.
Jeremy Yates Lead Animator at Naughty Dog

Animation Prototyping in Uncharted 4

This talk will show how animation prototyping can play a very important role in development. Instead of waiting for design or programming  to make decisions about a feature, we, as animators, can help to make those decisions easier by creating prototypes that help visualizing features. Prototypes from “Uncharted 4” will be showcased.

Almudena Soria
Lead Animator at Naughty Dog


Cuphead Process and Philosophy
An artist on the upcoming hand-drawn indie game ‘Cuphead’ explains his design and animation processes, as well as some practical ideas and tips.
Jake Clark Animator at Studio MDHR

The First Person Animation of Overwatch

Each member of Overwatch’s diverse cast of heroes has a lovingly crafted visual design and a distinct personality. How does one maintain this sense of character in a game primarily experienced through the first person? This talk dives into the artistic and technical challenges of creating personality in first person animation while staying true to the designer’s intent for gameplay. How would McCree reload a revolver and can you do it in 45 frames?
Matt Boehm Animator at Blizzard

Pushing Boundaries: Animating Expansion Packs for the Witcher 3 Wild Hunt
Sebastian will talk about the most important upgrades in our pipeline and workflow based on a few cool examples we did in the last year of the Witcher 3 production. He will explain how they delivered so many animations in the year with better quality and why he put so much weight on improving planning, communication between departments, character motivation and why “being the rebel” is the lifestyle.
Sebastian Kalemba Animation Director / Head of Animation at CD Projekt RED

Motion Capture Performance: An Actor’s Approach

Actors are learning motion capture performance on the fly and on the job which leads to wasted time and lack of communication.  This talk sheds light on how actors are trained and a technique I have developed over time that is specific to motion capture performance.  With the hope that it will better prepare the actor and help open lines of communication with animators to achieve the common goal of bringing a character to life.
Andrew Ray Certified Stage Combat Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors 

Animation Tricks of the Trade

After being last year’s #1 rated talk, the rapid fire set of talks returns to give you a bunch of bite sized tips to take away and start applying to your work immediately.
Kristjan Zadziuk Animation Director at Ubisoft
Young Vo Animation Lead at Sparkypants
Mariel Cartwright Art director, Lead Animator, and Head of Story at Lab Zero Games
John Paul Rhinemiller Lead Cinematics Animator at Vicarious Visions
Zach Lowery Senior Animator and Designer at Boss Key Productions
Almudena Soria Lead animator at Naughty Dog

A Study of Creature Animation in Film and Games
From VFX to Feature Animated Films to Games, the craft of animation itself is exactly the same. What is different though are the limitations and rules that each category carries. Achieving a similar end result in your animation can require a completely different workflow. During this presentation, we will study a few pieces of creature animation from films and games and share the variety of workflows behind creating each animation.
Jalil Sadool CEO/Co-Founder at Steamroller Studios and Co-Founder of CGTarian Online Animation School

And beyond the bootcamp on Monday, GDC has a bunch of other great talks lined up for the main conference!

2017 GDC Main Conference Animation Talks
Bringing Hell to Life: AI and Full Body Animation in ‘Doom’
Animating an Agent of Mayhem
Motion Warping in ‘Gears of War 4’: Doing More with Less”
Animation Roundtable 1
Huddle up! Making the [SPOILER] of ‘Inside’
Simple and Powerful Animation Compression
Realistic Performances in Games
EA Presents N-teract: Next Generation Multi-Character Interactions
Physics Animation in ‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’
Animation Roundtable Day 2
Player Traversal Mechanics in the Vast World of ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’
Animation Pipeline of ‘Overwatch’
Animating ‘Dauntless’: Slaying AAA Animation at an Indie Scale
Animation Roundtable 3
Cozmo: Animation Pipeline for a Physical Robot
‘Bound’: Emotions Through Ballet and Modern Art

And that won’t be all the animation sharing to happen during the week. Make sure you join us for the Animation Exchange on the following day, free and live on Twitch! February 27th – March 3rd is going to be an amazing and inspiring week!

And while we wait for the conference, why not go back and watch all of the 2013 and 2014 Bootcamps, which are free to view on the GDC Vault!


Weekly roundup

posted by simonunger December 2, 2016 0 comments

So much cool stuff this week! Let’s get into it…



Annie Awards announced their list of nominees. Check them out HERE!



James Benson published a fantastic demo reel of his work on Firewatch. A great example of how to present your work in an appealing way


New Pioneers showed off their fantastic new rigging and animation pipeline:


Teaser for a new short, Sonder, was released. It’s made entirely in Unity!



GDC has made the animation Tips and Tricks talk from the Animation Bootcamp available on their YouTube channel!


Brad Clark from Rigging Dojo put up a great tutorial video on using layers to clean up foot and hand plants:


A great talk by Laurent Delayen from Epic about the animation pipeline for Paragon. Check it out HERE!



The Game Awards were this week and showed a ton of great stuff. If you missed it, check out the recording:


On a selfish note, the game I’ve been working on was finally announced during the awards as well. Here’s the trailer we made for it:

You can also check out our website and forums HERE!



Gwen Frey continues to put out some fantastic podcasts, make sure to check in often for new episodes HERE!


I know I didn’t catch everything this week, so if you have something I missed you think is worth sharing, leave a link in the comments!



Weekly Roundup

posted by simonunger November 1, 2016 0 comments

Back again with some stuff you may have missed this last week in games and animation!



The much anticipated Battlefield 1 went live!

The SAG-AFTRA Foundation went on strike regarding voice over compensation and contract details. This strike has wide reaching impact on the games industry and even non-guild VO actors as well. Read more about it HERE.



Blair McNaughton

And a progression reel, also by Blair McNaughton…

And we missed posting this last week, but Jonathan Cooper put out a great reel of his work on Uncharted 4 along with some progression shots.



Dishonored 2 live action (fan made) trailer…

And Titanfalll 2…



Check out this awesome gallery of pencil tests HERE!



If you’ve ever dreamed of animating on a Star Wars project, you’re in luck! Dan Lowe tweeted a couple of positions that just opened up at Visceral Games…



Gwen Frey and Chris Slight posted a short but entertaining podcast!


As always, feel free to share in the comments or in the forums if you have anything else you’d like to share from the last week!


Weekly Roundup

posted by simonunger October 22, 2016 1 Comment

Some cool or interesting stuff that happened in the world of games and animation:


New Trailers

The long awaited Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer came out this week!


Interesting Articles

The always awesome JC Delanoy posted a great article about common game animation mistakes. Tons of great info packed in here. CHECK IT OUT HERE!

Jonathan Cooper posted a fantastic interview with Kristjan Zadziuk HERE. Be sure to check out the rest of Jonathan’s site, it’s a great resource for all things game animation.

Speaking of Kristjan, he started an awesome project where he does in-depth demo reel critique, discussing content, giving animation feedback, and general tips about what companies and leads are looking for in an applicant. Looking forward to the next instalment!


Demo Reels

Some inspiring new reels we came across this week…

Mike Safianoff:


Fernando Falero:


William Teo:



Ending it on some sad news. United Front Games, well known for Sleeping Dogs, announced that they closed their doors this week. We wish everyone affected all the best and hope everyone lands on their feet quickly! You can read more about it HERE.


If you have anything we missed that happened recently, feel free to add it in the comments or post it in the forum!


2016 GDC Animation Bootcamp Speakers and Schedule

posted by simonunger January 1, 2016 0 comments

The past three years of the animation bootcamp have been an incredible success, making GDC a place animators NEED to be each year. We have seen talks at the bootcamp rank as some of the highest rated of the conference and become industry touchstones for new approaches and advancements in the field.

And the 2016 GDC Animation Bootcamp is going to continue pushing forward as the most jam packed year yet, with more than 20 speakers presenting!

Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animation experts, across AAA and Indie, the bootcamp is a daylong gathering to rally developers from all over the industry, with a focus on deeper discussions into the needs of strong character performances and interactivity. There is no better place to learn and talk about game animation approaches, tech, and inspiration than at the bootcamp!

If you want to attend the show this March 14th, sign up before February 3rd for the best price!

And like the previous years, we hope to have an episode of the podcast with presenters about who they are and what the talks are going to be about.

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