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PBC Podcast | A Moment with Lam - The Original Team Member!


G

Welcome everybody to episode two or three of the Paper Boys podcast. Today we have a very special guest. One of the very OG's of this group, we have Mr. Lam Vu, everybody, in the building. Lam is actually a team member even before I was. So he's been in this longer than me. He's had quite a lot of experience. And I'll let Lam talk about who he is and what he does as well. So over to you, Lam.


Lam

Hi, I'm Lam. I did photography with Alvis back in the days. I'd say, a long time ago.


Alvis

Wait, were you here before Norbert?


Lam

Yeah.


G

He was here before you?


Lam

I was here when...


Alvis

He was my very first hire.


Lam

I was here when you started shooting with the a6300.


Alvis

That was the very first year.


G

What are we seeing in 2017/16?


Alvis

20 something? 2017?


G

Jesus Christ!


Lam

Yeah, something like that. That was like, right when you just switched to Sony. And then I think the first time I saw you shoot was at that friendship bell, remember?


Alvis

Oh, was that the shoot for Thien An?


Lam

And that's when we caught up on the whole photography thing, how you'd been doing, and stuff like that.


Alvis

Thien An is a Vietnamese lion dancing and drumming group that we used to be in and then I did a photo shoot for them. And I guess that's how we kind of reconnected. And this is still at the very beginning of my photography career, and I really wanted to kind of dove in to the videography side of it, but I didn't have anyone. And then Lam was the only person I knew that knew how to work a camera, so I asked him if he wanted to work a wedding with me. Which wedding was your first wedding?


Lam

I don't remember, but I think it might have been one in that building similar to the White House.


Alvis

Oh yeah, yeah. The white house is literally called the White House venue.


Lam

Yeah, and that's when you first decided to do a quick video for them that was free of charge, because we were getting into video. Because at the time, we were doing stricly photos.


Alvis

Yeah, so I just gave him a gimbal with the a6300 I think the 18 - 105 f4, and then we just started collecting B-roll. We gave the couple of free video, which they loved.


G

Yeah, I think there's one day we're hanging on and we saw that video too. I think it's still on YouTube or something.


Alvis

It's hidden, but it's still on my Youtube.


Lam

Yeah, that's quite a long time ago. That was the beginning of the journey, right? And then after that, more people came on board and you started getting a lot more inquiries. And then what else? One of the cool thing was what, you had you had to shoot a wedding that had a Ferrari in there? Or something like that?


G

Early days of feeling cool.


Alvis

Which shoot was that?


Lam

I don't remember, but I just know that you were shooting a Ferrari that was nice, and it was the first, big thing, you know? Like before, nice venues and stuff like that.


Alvis

Oh, I think I remember, was it the groom that had the Ferrari? Yeah, I don't know which Ferrari it was, but he really wanted to take pictures with it.


G

We're about to have a Ferrari soon! I think I met Lam... it was one of my first initial Diamond Seafood weddings bro, I think that's where I met Lam for the first time. I remember you wearing that Adidas black jacket dude, and I'm like, okay, this guy is pretty casual like me with the Polo there.


Lam

Wait, did G come on before Norbert did?


G

No, Norbert is the one who brought me on!


Lam

Ah


Alvis

Norbert was here three years before G?


G

Like two, three years, yeah.


Alvis

Yeah, something like that.


G

This is tell us more about you, Lam. Like what's going on in life right now?


Lam

Oh, so for school, I'm studying mechanical engineering and I recently just got a job at an aerospace company. So, yeah, so I just do that and then hopefully will be more free on the weekends to, you know, come out, shoot some weddings.


G

This guy's been MIA for quite some time in the group for sure.


Lam

Quite some time.


Alvis

He's always been busy on the weekends.


Lam

Yeah, having a regular job working the weekends sucks!


Alvis

So when do you start your new job?


Lam

December 6th, so that's coming right around the corner. So hopefully, you know, weekends will be more free.


G

So what kind of got you into this whole creative photography scene?


Lam

Honestly, when Alvis was showing me some photos, it was really cool. And I normally go on trips a lot with friends and stuff like that, and it'd be nice to have those like, you know, great looking photos that are like professional. So then at the time, I had a Canon T2i. That was a long time ago. And then when I met Alvis, he talked about Sony's and the mirrorless cameras, and then I made a switch to a mirrorless. I think my first camera was...I think it was an aR?


Alvis

I think it was an R2, an a7R2.


Lam

Yeah, that was the first Sony I had.


G

I think while travelling, you snowboard, right? I see it on your stories all the time. You're like in Mammoth every week or something.


Lam

Yeah, just went to Mammoth a couple weeks ago.


Alvis

Oh, how is it up there?


Lam

It's pretty nice. Weather is good right now. The snow is pretty good, but not like a LOT a lot, it's kind of choppy because it's only the beginning, so they haven't had much snow to work with. But yeah, snowboarding's pretty fun. We should go on a team snowboarding trip.


G

Is it right you guys were in high school? Where'd you guys meet?


Lam

We've actually known each other since elementary, so a very long time.


G

Jesus Christ, it's the GG connections.


Alvis

Do you remember that one wedding where we fully can... it was like our first or one of our first real video weddings were like we actually got paid for the video? Do you remember what happened? It was at Diamond Seafood! It was the disaster wedding.


Lam

No, I don't. What happened? Was it just me?


Alvis

It was me, you, and Arman.


(Norbert Off Camera)

No it was me, you, and Arman.


Alvis

Oh Lam wasn't there? Oh, never mind.


Lam

Oh my gosh, Arman! Dude!


Alvis

Oh wait, I'm thinking about another wedding, it was...


Lam

Dude! I haven't heard htat name in forever!


Alvis

You worked when Arman worked for the very first time!


Lam

Yeah, yeah. When he just got on. Yeah, yeah. And then. I think Davin was on for a little bit too.


Alvis

Yeah, and that one was in Mission Viejo, I think? How's that for you?


Lam

That was a fun wedding. I feel like that was one of the first weddings where we started on doing aerial?


Alvis

Yes, it was the first one we had the drone.


Lam

Yeah. So then like that was like a new point of view for photos and videos, so that was pretty sick to experiment with and have in our videos which was pretty cool.


G

These guys kind of started out doing cool stuff way before like I did. I'm not going to lie, like the drones and what not.


Alvis

We are total gearheads! Whenever we make money we just reinvest back into buying gear!


G

100%!


Lam

Every time I was hired, we had a new lens or something, you know?


Alvis

What are your plans now? I know you have this new job. Are you planning on pursuing the arts or anything like photography on the side too?


G

Do you NEED to pursue it on the side?


Lam

Well, honestly, I don't necessarily need to, but I do miss that side where you know, the end product of your photos and stuff like that, like before, you know, going on trips and stuff, I had time to edit and send it out to your friends and they post it. It's very cool to see that your work is being shown around, you know, on social media and stuff. So like, yeah, I definitely would want to get back into it because it's nice to see your work being shared like that. When people really like it, you know, even if it blows up somewhere.


Alvis

So you want to work on more personal projects?


Lam

Yeah, personal projects would be cool. You know, weddings would also be cool because the end product is an important thing, but also the experience, because I feel like every time we shoot weddings, there's always something that happens and it's like a memorable thing and that's fun!


G

It's always fun.


Lam

Yeah, exactly. So yeah, like every wedding is different and it's also fun!


Alvis

When was the last wedding? You worked, I think, one wedding this year.


Lam

It was the one near Laguna, near where Norbert bikes. There was two weddings going on.


Alvis

Oh yeah, ok I remember. Yeah, that was recently.


G

Before that, the last time I saw you was like 2019 at a wedding, you know?


Lam

Yeah, I know, I've been MIA.


Alvis

I know you've been travelling a lot, any crazy travel stories?


G

Or places you've been.


Lam

I'd say Vegas.


G

Vegas is always a story!


Lam

Yeah, Vegas was crazy. I think my last trip to Vegas was for EDC.


Alvis

Oh, OK. How was that? Did you see Zedd's set?


Lam

Yeah, Zedd's set was so fun! That was that was one of the best sets. And I think what's cool about it, so this year was they had a drone show. Not sure, you guys've seen it yet.


Alvis

Yeah, I've seen clips of it.


G

We saw clips of it for sure.


Lam

It's so cool because like when we were at the main stage there was like an owl that's just there. And then all of a sudden you see the lights of an owl just flying up. And at first, it just looked like a screen, the wings started flapping like, it's a real thing and that was pretty sick, that was pretty cool!


G

And does it kind of correlate to like, what do you do too or not necessarily? LIke have you worked drones and whatnot?


Lam

Yeah. So I don't know if you guys know, but there's this thing called like FPV drones.


G

VR kind of.


Lam

So I think DJI kind of stepped into that.


Alvis

Oh yeah they just made a new one.


Lam

So I have those, but they're actually racing drones! But you can build ones for like cinema and photography.


G

So you build those?


Lam

Yeah!


G

They're the ones they've been shooting, like Porsche, has been using FPV's in their advertisements, and a lot of movies has been using FPV drones recently. But I think the most recent film I saw FPV being used was the Bond film. The Bond film used FPV and I was surprised. I was like, Wow, they really made their way into film.


Alvis

Yeah it's a new perspective.


G

Yeah, 100%.


Lam

It's cool now because I mean, like now that I guess any time when there's like car racing or something like that.


G

It's always FPV!


Lam

Exactly. Yeah. Better than, you know, like a camera with a car just following.


G

And I think that credit kind of goes a lot to creatives too, I think the FPV world kind of came into light through these small time then, but big time Instagrammers now too. I don't know if I can remember the top of my head, like, I think his name is like Ben...Benoitfinck. I've been following this guy for like two or three years. And he did the Porche commercial recently, and I think he was the person whose shots were in the James Bond film as well. So I think, you know, there were these certain people who were kind of like the forerunners of these FPVs, and you kind of see their passion at the time because it wasn't a successful business at the time. So to be coming to such a high scale production level is like pretty insane.


Lam

Oh yeah, I think it's definitely ramped up in the past year.


G

Like really fast, really fast.


Lam

Before, they should just have DSLR's or they would just record with Go-Pros.


G

Now they're mounting Red's on FPV's man!


Lam

They have Red Dragon's and stuff like that on!


Alvis

Jeez! On an FPV!?


Lam

Yeah these rigs are built and they cost 10's 15's thousands of dollars.


G

So you build those?


Lam

Not the ten grand ones, but like I built the ones that you throw Go-Pros on and stuff like that. That's the one thing that I wanted to try out, you know, photography or cinematography but with like, you know, sports in terms of like dirt bike riding, off roading and stuff. I recently went on a trip with a friend, out camping and he had his dirt bike and he was just riding it back and forth.


G

And you would FPV that.


Lam

Yeah follow him. And it's honestly pretty sick, like it's a new level of drones shots.


G

100%. There's so much control on there, too.


Lam

Yeah, I dude like, I think one of my favorite shots from a FPV drone that a regular drone can't do is a mountain dive.


G

You've got to go up?


Lam

Follow up the mountain and you dive down and you just surf it.


G

So I think it kind of reminds me of this one funny story when we were shooting at Occasions with… what was his name? And, you know, with FPV, you're kind of looking at the screen you’re not looking at the drone and this guy, you know, he was just looking at the drone and not at the screen. He crashed the drone because he just looked at the drone and not the screen. And I was thinking of FPV at the time and I'm like, dude, it's hard to kind of crash FPV because you're pretty in the moment with it, right?


Alvis

Actually, an FPV is a lot harder to pilot.


Lam

Yeah, so I guess like the best way to compare is FPV drones would be like a manual transmission car.


G

Yeah.


Lam

Whereas a DJI drone would do everything for you and by everything, I mean, you know, how it has those gestures where it like circles around you?


G

Yeah, it has a collision avoidance system and stuff.


Lam

Yeah you don’t have those.


Alvis

FPV’s are fast!


G

They're fast, too! I mean, they keep up to Porche’s dude!


Alvis

They change direction so fast, yeah!


Lam

And I guess the hard part is learning how to turn, honestly, because there's so many controls where it's not just turning like to the right or left, but there's also rotation…


G

Like a full 360.


Lam

Exactly, and your gas is not automatic either. So you got to constantly give it a little bit of gas just to hover at the same spot.


G

That’s some pretty cool stuff!.


Lam

Yes, most of the time you kind of just bump it a little.


G

It's evolving fast.


Lam

Yeah, it's still evolving fast, but I think one of the coolest things that I feel like we can do for this team that may make us different, make our product and the end product of our wedding photography different from others is that if we can somehow incorporate FPV drones into weddings. That would take us to another level!


Alvis

That would be sick!


Lam

Because nobody's done it yet. That would be really cool to have a cinematography built drone that would go through buildings and, you know, go slowly.


G

Right, right, right.


Lam

So we can do shots , like we're at a reception where we…


Alvis

Fly through the window!


Lam

And fly from the outside to the venue, down into the entrance, just as if, they were walking down the aisle.


G

Yeah.


Lam

That would be cool! It will be something new that we could try!


Alvis

It'll be you that has the pilot that! I don’t trust myself with something like that!


G

This goes to show the potential of what it can be used for, for sure!


Lam

And it's pretty awesome!


G

I think I kind of want to dove into like because you guys like, you know, mechanical engineering and now you're in aerospace, do you lean more towards the hardware, like the building of the stuff? Or do you also tap into software? And, I think my question also goes as far as to, you know, when you're building something like FPV, do you code for it too? How do you kind of go about that whole thing?


Lam

So building an FPV drone is kind of like… well actually to answering your question I like more of the hardware side, but typically with hardware, you do have to do a little bit of software here and there, right? Because not everything is just like plug and play, you know? But on the hardware side, most of the time you just need the brains. You need a controller to control the motors and you need a power source, which is like the battery and obviously a communication device, like a remote or something and something to connect everything. And so you basically just connect everything together and then you have your drone. And then for the software side, it is a little simple. You just have to run it through one single software. But the only hard part is you have to edit that software in terms of what your drone is built for. So you can control you know, how fast the acceleration of your drone is, and there are drones that are rated for more power, and there's drones are rated for like less power and the more powerful drones are rated for like, you know, the Porche commercials and stuff like that, or whereas a lower rated drone would be for indoor flying and more silent. Because these drones are pretty loud, you can hear them coming.


G

I think I even saw a lot of FPV uses in some recent real estate videos has been using a lot of FPVs in their videos.


Lam

Yes! And I think that's what I mean by like it can be used for weddings. Because now that instead of, you know, people going through pictures looking at, you know, the rooms or windows and stuff like that, they have one full fluid video, as if they were going through the houses. And it's a whole new perspective using this new tool, I guess, which is pretty cool.


Alvis

How long does a battery last on FPV’s?


Lam

So that's the one thing that is different with FPV is that these batteries last like two to 3 or 4 minutes. Whereas DJI like a 20 or 25 minutes.


Alvis

Because the power output is a lot faster?


Lam

Exactly! So it pulls a lot more amperage out of the battery, so it's draining a lot of energy quicker. But you're getting, you know, better response in terms of controls and stuff like that. So it makes sense. But yeah, these batteries don't last long. So you got to make sure that you can probably run like 2 courses of footage, of video, or like a path that you want to run for the video, probably on one battery. You just got to switch it out and then run it again.


G

I think this conversation kind of leans towards, you know, just to put it out there, get your drone license! You know, learn how to FPV, it might open some job opportunities, potentially like for studios or even real estate you know? I think it's a pretty big potential market. Especially like coming up right now.


Lam

Yeah, because if you really have the drone and use it for weddings, on your free time, you can go shoot real estate or even shoot like somebody’s car racing.


G

Especially in OC, I mean, with all the cars in OC?


Alvis

Yeah, how do you land an FPV drone? Do you just crash into the ground gently?


Lam

Yeah. So in a way, yes. What's pretty cool is that there are some pilots out there who are very, very skilled and they would just fly at themselves, and then as soon as they get within a certain vicinity, they pull the goggles off and then they just disengage the engine and it would just be like a drone dropping right into their hands. But most of the time, like in the beginning, I swear it's just crash landing because you just get near the ground and you just shut the motors off and it’ll just plot right on the floor.


G

No wonder they only put a GoPros, Jesus Christ!


Alvis

And the parts are from what I understand, the parts are built to be interchangeable because you crash these drones a lot, right?


Lam

Yeah. Typically, these drones are hard to control, so obviously crashes are a big thing, so the parts are definitely interchangeable. Everything you put together is all soldered together. It's like liquid metal kind of. So essentially, if something breaks, you figure out the problem, like if it's the motors or it's the controller or, you know, your radio signal or something like that, and you just simply replace it and then you're back in the air. But what's also cool is that the tools that they also add for these drones is like, for example, if we were shooting in the mountains and you crash land somewhere like the peak, like, how are you going to go find it? So they also have tools like GPS, buzzers and stuff like that; tools that all the commercial drones use. But you just got to buy it and put it on your drone.


G

So a more customizable way to go about drones?


Lam

Exactly!


Alvis

It's like building a PC!


Lam

Yeah!


G

Trial and error.


Lam

It's probably the best way to describe it. However, the only thing that DJI wasn't able to do was, you know, make the parts interchangeable.


G

Not easy, quick fix.


Lam

I feel like with DJI, the main unit board is like, if you break anything, you just have to replace the whole unit board. But what's really cool with their drone is, I guess they did kind of like an in between because with their FPV drones, they were able to install a software where the drones would act like the typical commercial drones, instead of a regular FPV.


G

Like automatic movements of the drone.


Lam

Yeah, so then you kind of had the best of both worlds where you have an FPV drone, but you also are able to get the shot that the typical commercial drones are going to.


G

From your perspective, being a person who quite literally built this, what's your take on DJI as a company? What kind of outlook do you have towards a brand like that?


Lam

I feel like they're doing a good thing with, you know, going where the technology is going. But I feel like there's some areas where they still need improvement in terms of FPV. But I mean, again, they're really big company. They have a lot more money to do research and stuff like that. So obviously they'll come out with the newest tech, things like that. But eventually, hopefully they'll be able to work with like FPV community more and work out the kinks that they had before, but I'm pretty sure they're going to go somewhere well with this technology.


Alvis

Would you rather get the DJI FPV or keep building your own?


Lam

I'd honestly say, keep building my own. But again, no matter how good the technology is, no matter how good your camera is, it's always the user. It's always about the experience you have.


G

The customized and personalized experience you have.


Lam

Exactly! And if you build your own drone, then you know what kind of tools you have.


G

You’ll know what you need.


Lam

Exactly! So I feel like building your own is more personal, but also at the same time, you know what the limits of your equipment are.


G

Right. So diving into, you know, if a person like me wanted to build a drone, what kind of cost are you looking at to build your own FPV?


Lam

So to build your own FPV drone is definitely going to be a lot cheaper than a typical DJI drone.


G

Really?


Lam

Yeah, WAY cheaper. It can vary from 100 bucks to $500 or $700, whereas the new FPV drones...


G

$1400 - $1300?


Lam

Yeah, and the thing about the DJI drones is, if you crash, which I'm pretty sure you will, if you don't buy the DJI insurance, then you don't have a replacement. But if you do buy the DJI insurance, you know?


G

It’s just more bucks!


Lam

So I guess there's a tradeoff, if you do build your own, obviously you can fix it yourself and the parts are a lot cheaper, but you don't get, you know, the high end technology that DJI is offering. So it's kind of like a give or take on what you want to do, but also with your own FPV drone, you gotta learn how to, you know, with the equipment, build it yourself. But at the same time with DJI, if you don't know how to use the equipment, you still going to learn their interface as well. So I guess it gives or takes on how much time you have and if you're on a budget or not.


G

I think our previous podcast we were kind of diving into importance of college and education, as well as the difference in the STEM versus the arts where I brought up the point of, you know, why is it not STEAM, you know, like, why is art so, so pushed away from like STEM? So do you have any take on that and a your personal college opinion?


Lam

It kind of depends on you what kind of education you're looking for. So like nowadays, kids are forced to go to college, just to go to college, and they don't even know what they want to do yet. But once you do know what you want to do, in terms of like your question about STEM and arts and stuff like that, where they're pushing STEM more than art, I do see that they do push a lot stem work because they want the science field to be the big next thing in the future. But I feel like art is also important because with STEM, people who know technology and stuff like that, if they do have a little bit of artistic vision in themselves, they're able to bring new technology to art. To create or maybe not even to create but show a different perspective of art that they see that not a lot of other people see using science itself, so I feel like it's not that it's necessary, but I feel like these two do go well hand in hand together. You know, if you put in the correct person's hand, that's kind of the same with FPV. It gives us like a new perspective, like new videos.


G

Or visual arts.


Lam

Exactly! And so with this technology, it gives us that. So I feel like there needs to be STEM and there needs to be art.


Alvis

Speaking of arts, have you guys seen the art style for the show Arcane? The animation for that show is like, mind blowing-ly good. It's like out of this what you think? Attack on Titan was good? Watch Arcane!


G

Who’s it done by?


Alvis

It’s done by a French animation company.


G

Dude the French do everything well!


Alvis

But Riot as a company make really good like animations, cinematics, so they have experience in that filed. Another thing; they have experience in music! For a video game company, they have a lot of really good music! Like usually games have, oh, soundtrack here and there. These guys use Imagine Dragons for a lot of their songs, and all their songs are bangers, and these songs are like hits! They get like hundreds of millions of views, not like a couple hundred thousand, like hundreds of millions of views. And all of that culminates into like one, I would say it's, the most perfect animated show I've ever watched.


G

Hot take!


Alvis

It's perfect. It's not good. It's perfect.


Lam

If you haven’t watched it, you have to watch it!


G

If you’re diving at shows in terms of animation as well as storytelling, if you haven't watched it, Love Death + Robots?


Alvis

I’ve seen Love Death + Robots!


G

Like, I personally, call me a bandwagon person, but I think I watched that show right after Black Mirror released and they kind of went about different animation styles with each episode. So like a very, very interesting take on the series. I mean, it's not a continuous series, but you're looking for a show to watch, an animated show to watch, which is not an anime Love Death + Robots, for sure.


Alvis

Oh, that's funny. The animation style for Arcane kind of looks like it's similar to some of the episodes from Love Death + Robots, it gives off the same vibe.


G

Like Cyberpunk-ish?


Alvis

Yeah, definitely.


G

I mean, it sounds pretty cyberpunk – “Arcane.”


Alvis

The story's amazing! The characters are amazing and when they just announced the show, I was like, “Oh, this is going to be exciting.” You get to see your League of Legends characters on screen. But you know, in the past shows or movie adaptations for video games have never been good. And it wasn't just good and like, it's the highest rated show on Netflix of all time. It's like that good. They really…


G

Pushed the edge on that.


Lam

I think they starting the season two.


Alvis

They are starting season two. That's pretty quick. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. 9.5, IMDb, 98% user ratings!


G

That's pretty high for any show, for that matter.


Alvis

So if you guys haven’t watched it yet, watch the show!


Alex (Off Camera)

Did you guys hear that someone got killed for smuggling Squid Game into North Korea?


G

Really, what??


Lam

I just saw that they gave it out in my flash drives or something like that.


G

Alex just mentioned that someone got shot?


Alvis

They got sentenced to death!


G

Sentenced to death in North Korea for smuggling in Squid Games!


Alvis

I mean this is North Korea we’re talking about you can get sentenced to death looking at someone weird!


G

I mean, we never know what's going on with Kim. I mean, I think we're kind of going towards the end of this podcast. Anything you'd like to say, Lam? Closing statements? Tell us about your philosophy.


Lam

My philosophy in life… What guides me or what keeps me going?


G

Especially being a mechanical engineer, man. Like, I barely survived school being, you know, not an engineer.


Lam

I'd say, like the one thing that keeps me going is learning something new in terms of with your hobbies or with whatever you do, you know, because like if you're excited or you do love something you have passion for something, you just kind of genuinely want to learn more about it and kind of like testing the new features about that hobby.


G

Endless possibilities!


Lam

Exactly! So I feel if you do like something where you have any interest in anything, just go for it because we're all still young, you might as well try it, you know? Rather try it than say you’ve never tried it, you know?


G

That being said, don't do drugs, kids! Don't try drugs.


Lam

Definitely do not do drugs!


Alvis

Don't do drugs.


G

That kind of wraps up our little FPV intro kind of podcast. I hope this was kind of informational. Big thank you to Lam for coming back on. Hopefully, we'll see him more in the vlogs.


Alvis

Hopefully we’ll see him more than two times this year!


G

And I think it was a pretty informative podcast. I kind of learned a lot just from speaking to Lam about FPV’s and the technology in general. I hope you enjoy this podcast. Stay on the lookout for more podcasts and vlogs! With that being said, I have a good night or good morning and take it easy. Oh, and before we go, like comment and subscribe to our channel down below. It's been your boy, G and the homies, until next time!







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