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How should I proceed?
Old 25th June 2002
  #1
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jeronimo's Avatar
How should I proceed?

I´m mixing my first "paid" project right now and I have a few questions.
Let me add that I´m working as a engineer only... I´m not producing them and everytime they ask how do I like the part or something similar I say "If you guys like it..."
There are some sloppy parts on the vocals and some wierd guitar tones (just some parts with effects, he insisted in using some cheap ass multi-fx board).
The question is, when you´re hired to record only (not produce), do you insist on getting the tones YOU want or do you sit down in front of the board and do what you´re told to?
Thanks...
Old 25th June 2002
  #2
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davemc's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I come from the school, that if I am not getting involved in producing, then it is there art they can paint it anyway they like.

I will of course tell them if I do not think it fits but let them make the final judgement. Of course if you have the spare tracks try to get a dry track for safety as well.

Then when it comes to mixdown and they say well that guitar FX sucks what can you do, Say I told you so and pull the dry track back up if I still have it and save the day.

If the vox are sloppy but they think it is cool, and you have told them, (a few times) then let them be. Just do not use it too much as your CD to get other gigs.

**** how many time I go through the bands I recorded CD's and play to incoming clients and have to say, well this band was cool apart from the vocals being 2 times louder etc etc.
Old 25th June 2002
  #3
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jeronimo's Avatar
Yeah Davemc, now I know how hard it is to deal with clients... sometimes I even think to tell them a different name to be on the credits on the CD
Old 25th June 2002
  #4
How etched in stone is this 'engineer only' title...

Is there someone acting as producer?

As engineer you can feel free to "recomend" stuff, but you have to not be too disapointed if your ideas are not taken up.... Traditionaly musical ideas arent the engineers realm, but you are part of the gang and should feel free to gently make your opinion..

A producer / engineer I ask that my assistant wispers any musical ideas in my ear rather that broadcast them direct to all in the room... So I can filter / take credit etc...

Help out as much as you can, dont forget you may have to mix it all!

Tell us more about the roles people play on the session and when & how they were defined..!

Interesting topic! I am moving it to my forum as it involves session politics!

Old 25th June 2002
  #5
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alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
if im just engineering.... and they ask my opinion i give it and leave it at that. they can do with it as they please. if im producing it, then they arent going to have to ask for my opinion... ill just stop the tape if i hear something get ****ed up and make em do it again properly or change it.

like a ****ty ass guitar tone:
engineering: "maybe you want to think about doing ______"
producing: "that guitar tone isnt working, we are going to try ______ instead"
Old 25th June 2002
  #6
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
As an engineer, I'd feel comfortable making suggestions about tones, pitch issues, and potential time/rhythm issues. I wouldn't repeat the same point twice, but I'd offer my ears and technical knowledge, as that's part of what I would be paid for. They might not know your monitors like you know them, or not be as discerning of sound. Sometimes an intentionally out bit of pitch or timing is what they want, but I'd ask to make sure they wouldn't prefer to retrack it. Basically, I consider the role of the engineer to be to maximize the sonic quality of the end product, so this stuff is IMO fair game.

Arrangements I generally wouldn't touch unless I was being given an acknowledged production role. If the band/artist has decided they don't want/need a producer, they probably won't be open to suggestions regarding their material. Help might be welcome in some cases, in others you will lose the cutomer.

Hope it works out for you.

Bear
Old 26th June 2002
  #7
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Renie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Some thoughts...It sounds like you're being asked your opinion so I would offer it honestly if I were you. As long as it's constructive and appropriate to the development of the session. The points you raise sound totally valid and important btw. It's interesting how roles in music can be defined as strictly or loosely as we like. There is an enormous amount of subjectivity and chemistry involved in the work, if they want more of 'you' it will probably be a good thing...and could develop into co-production or production.
As for
"The question is, when you´re hired to record only (not produce), do you insist on getting the tones YOU want or do you sit down in front of the board and do what you´re told to?"
as you're engineering, I would deliver the best sound I could, if they want artistic changes make sure they are aware of what they're rejecting and then accept their call if they want something else....if it's not gelling don't work with them again unless you're desperate. It helps to not be rigid and brittle about who has decision making power but at the end of the day someone does need to lead. Do you want to lead?

Renie
Old 26th June 2002
  #8
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🎧 15 years
One thing i've found is that after you've done several decent sounding records, people will start listening to you way more. Its funny because a year ago noone listened to me when I recorded them. But now when people have heard some decent stuff come out of my place that they like they take way more suggestions and people end up becoming more and more happy with what they're leaving with.

The only way that it can backfire is when you start getting a little too sure of all your 'brilliant' musical ideas. Then you end up going in a direction you're suggesting and spending an hour trying to make it work..... and the band hates it. You've just wasted an hour of their time and money, and now you look like a jackass. So once people do start listening to you, be careful. I ended up doing that with a band I recorded a couple weeks ago. Their was a part in the song that I thought would sound awesome if we lo fied it up a little so the next part kicked. Ended up wasting an hour of trying to get it like I heard it in my head and in the middle of it the band just said...."we dont like the way this is going". I never even got to show them how I heard it, and wasted their time. STuff like that makes you feel like an ass, especially when you arent technically producing them.
Old 26th June 2002
  #9
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Renie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
In this kind of line you've got to risk looking stupid to get on, like being a penalty taker,
'dare to lose to win'.......
Renie
Old 26th June 2002
  #10
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jeronimo's Avatar
Well, after reading all those posts I see I made a mistake leaving the guitar tone like that... well... it´s only one or two parts on 3 songs... so it´s not that bad... but I´ll talk to the lead singer and the bass player (they´re the main guys on the band) to get the guitar player back here again so we can re-track those few parts... no cost to them...

I´ll also try to control this kind of situation from now on... I don´t know how, but I´ll try.

One thing for sure is that I won´t try to change anything on the arrangement of a song when I´m not producing... I just don´t think it fits...

One thing that worries me is when you hear and DON´T think the tone fits in the song, you tell this to the artist or producer and he/she doesn´t hear you. Let´s say the tone did suck, and after the record is done, no one like that especificaly tone and now, YOU are in trouble... to most of the listeners that didn´t like the tone, it´s YOUR fault, do you guys understand what I´m trying to say?
Old 26th June 2002
  #11
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jeronimo's Avatar
Hey, didn´t I start this thread somewhere else?!
Old 26th June 2002
  #12
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Basically,
tone does not make a part valid,
the performance of the part makes the tone valid.

stop thinking that 'your' tones are that important to the end user,
performance and feel are, nothing more.

another thing, cheap assed effects are valid, ask U2, Daniel Lanois Peter Gabrial or Brian Eno.
Old 26th June 2002
  #13
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e-cue's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jeronimo
Hey, didn´t I start this thread somewhere else?!
lol, Deju Vu
Old 26th June 2002
  #14
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: How should I proceed?

Quote:
Originally posted by jeronimo
The question is, when you´re hired to record only (not produce), do you insist on getting the tones YOU want or do you sit down in front of the board and do what you´re told to?
Thanks...

do what I'm told .... only for A dfegad LOT OF MONEY .....


Just doing what your told is for people with a 9 - 5 job in a factory ..... HATE that.


music is art and art is all about creativity ..... how can you possibly mix something in a creative way if you don't let your mind and feelings work.

Even as an engineer not producing you have ideas and I definately think that the least you should do is give your opinion ..... be it to settle yourself at ease with a .... "see ... I told you .... "

the problem is where to draw the line .... if you want to end up being an engineer 'in demand" you better put your personal stamp on those mixes ..... it is the only way people will recognise 'your' sound.

Personally I have taken it to a point that even in "engineer only" situations I will try to give advice and find rarely situations where the client says no to everything I suggest.

some ideas get in there and some don't .... it is important for me that at the end of the day I can live with the mix and not be embarressed to say that I did it .... if that would be the case ... I don't think I would let it go outside the studio .....
Old 27th June 2002
  #15
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: Re: How should I proceed?

Chris L.

If the 57 fell off of the mic clip during a playback and was lying on the floor in front of the guitar amp, and you went for another solo and the guitar player absolutly NAILS it, would you erase and re do it because it didn't have your tone?
Old 27th June 2002
  #16
I did a take of a band we were all in sheer heaven with the Led Zep / Black Crows ness of it all - and no one could get over the SOUND! (hehehehe) Anyhow - after almost being carried aloft round the mixing desk on the bands shoulders for "genius engineering" - turns out the Langevan mic I had borrowed (and since bought) had slipped down from its position and was pointed at the cabinet (Hiwat 50w head & 1 x 12 ported) and the FLOOR!

RECREATE the 60's & 70's sound by never tightening the mic stands, let the mic droop to 'wherever' - collect Grammy, simple!

Etc...

yuktyy
Old 27th June 2002
  #17
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jeronimo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by loudist
Basically,
tone does not make a part valid,
the performance of the part makes the tone valid.

stop thinking that 'your' tones are that important to the end user,
performance and feel are, nothing more.

another thing, cheap assed effects are valid, ask U2, Daniel Lanois Peter Gabrial or Brian Eno.
Huumm, in my case the guitar tones are good, but the performance SUX! Then some parts, both suck! grudge

Yeah cheap fx are valid... in some cases right!? Would you use a cheap ass reverb on a solo?
Old 27th June 2002
  #18
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jeronimo's Avatar
Re: Re: Re: How should I proceed?

Quote:
Originally posted by loudist
Chris L.

If the 57 fell off of the mic clip during a playback and was lying on the floor in front of the guitar amp, and you went for another solo and the guitar player absolutly NAILS it, would you erase and re do it because it didn't have your tone?
If the tone fits the song... why re-do it?
Old 27th June 2002
  #19
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jeronimo


Huumm, in my case the guitar tones are good, but the performance SUX! Then some parts, both suck! grudge

Yeah cheap fx are valid... in some cases right!? Would you use a cheap ass reverb on a solo?
Well then it will never sound 'good' until there are good feeling performances (notice I did not say perfect). Slop can feel great!

For example:
People would always comment on the Zepplin drum sound.
The thing that was humerous was that many songs on the same album were recorded differently (micing, processing ect.)
What was the Zepplin drum sound? Why John Bonhem, of course!
You could'n't mic him wrong... even from 30 feet away on a staircase (When the Levee Breaks). Bonhem = feel


And yes, I have been known to use cheap reverbs, or even make my own with washtubs, water, and radioshak wall transducers.
Try living up to your sig...
Old 27th June 2002
  #20
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: Re: Re: How should I proceed?

Quote:
Originally posted by loudist
Chris L.

If the 57 fell off of the mic clip during a playback and was lying on the floor in front of the guitar amp, and you went for another solo and the guitar player absolutly NAILS it, would you erase and re do it because it didn't have your tone?

I know a lot of you will disagree ... BUT ..... if I wasn't happy with the tone .... yes I would .... a guitar player that can NAIL a performance should be able to NAIL it again .... just as an engineer that can NAIL a sound should be able to reproduce it again ....

I know .... it will not be the same ... but there is nothing like THE performance and neither is there THE sound .... as subjective as it can be .... there is only graduations between great and bad .... there can be multiple great NAILS and multiple great TONES ..... but they bothe have to go hand in hand .... one cannot be without the other

if he nails it and the tone sucks .... too bad .... won't make it on there ..... same goes for the other way around ....
Old 27th June 2002
  #21
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That is just wrong, my friend.
You don't respect the muse when she visits, and, no he will not nail it again as good as that 'one' was.
How much experience do you have working with good producers?

You talk about YOUR art and creativity... here is the challenge for it. Make the mic on the floor sound work in the mix...
You know something, this was a real situation and the engineer was a pretty big cheese, and you know what he said? 'I just found a new micing technique'! He knew that the performance was and always will be king...
Like I said to jeronimo... performance makes the tone valid, not the other way around. I doubt you will find anyone to say otherwise.

Lets go further, unintentional vocal distortion on James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gregg Allman, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, ect ect...
Did this stop their records from being huge? nope. If they redid the vocals again? quite possibly. If the performance is there thats all that matters.

Ever heard of A.I.R.? Always in record, because you never know when it is going to be the one.

Radiohead's Creep is a great example of this, and the engineer was tweaking sounds as it was being recorded because it was as far as everyone was concerned, just a run down. Can you hear the tweaks? Do you care? The cool guitar chunks before the chorus was the guitar player checking to see if his amp settings were on stun before his entrance... f-ing brilliant that playful little muse. She gives you a gift and you'd better recognise it. Or you know what she won't come and visit very much, and that would make very boring music.
Old 27th June 2002
  #22
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by loudist

How much experience do you have working with good producers?
plenty

Quote:
Originally posted by loudist
You talk about YOUR art and creativity... here is the challenge for it. Make the mic on the floor sound work in the mix...
You know something, this was a real situation and the engineer was a pretty big cheese, and you know what he said? 'I just found a new micing technique'! He knew that the performance was and always will be king...
Like I said to jeronimo... performance makes the tone valid, not the other way around. I doubt you will find anyone to say otherwise.
hmmm .... think you got me wrong .... not talking about MY art .... just MY contribution to something that hopefully becomes ART
and FWIW .... performances do not make the tone valid .... nor does the tone make the performance valid .... it is a combination of both ....

Quote:
Originally posted by loudist

Lets go further, unintentional vocal distortion on James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gregg Allman, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, ect ect...
Did this stop their records from being huge? nope. If they redid the vocals again? quite possibly. If the performance is there thats all that matters.

Ever heard of A.I.R.? Always in record, because you never know when it is going to be the one. .
things can indeed happen unintentionally and I've done plenty of NAILS by accident or experiment. nothing wrong with that .... good thing it exists ... yes I do know and use AIR .... all the time ... a classic in every producers book is ... hey ... let's run a rehearsal take ... see how it goes .... and record it anyhow ...; without the player knowing ....

All I'm saying is that as a producer I know exactly what I want to hear tonewise ... so if by accident something would come up ... a nailed performance and a different tone then intended ... I'll try it and if it works .... I'll use it .... BUT if the tone sucks .... NO WAY ... not going to end up in the mix.

here's a nice example for you .... classical music ...; about the most difficult people if you talk about vibe and performance and blah blah .... well ... in classical music they record stereo 2 tracks and EDIT the **** out of it .... they will cut in the middle of a good phrase and continue with another good phrase .... result .... still a good phrase .... sure .... not realy played that way but still a good phrase .....

Well .... in 2001 I assisted an editing for a record that ended up winning a grammy for best opera recording of the year ..... EVERY single professional classical music magazine praised the recording for it's musical quality ..... if only you knew the number of edits and different takes that were puzzled together ..... like it or not .... that's the way it is .... music is not performance only .... it has become an artform where musical performance and technique go hand in hand .... and the true magic lies in finding the right balance between the 2 ..... that's a producers task .... and what makes a good producer.

Performance and tone go hand in hand .... period.
Old 27th June 2002
  #23
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by C.Lambrechts


here's a nice example for you .... classical music ...; about the most difficult people if you talk about vibe and performance and blah blah .... well ... in classical music they record stereo 2 tracks and EDIT the **** out of it .... they will cut in the middle of a good phrase and continue with another good phrase .... result .... still a good phrase .... sure .... not realy played that way but still a good phrase .....

Well .... in 2001 I assisted an editing for a record that ended up winning a grammy for best opera recording of the year ..... EVERY single professional classical music magazine praised the recording for it's musical quality ..... if only you knew the number of edits and different takes that were puzzled together ..... like it or not .... that's the way it is .... music is not performance only .... it has become an artform where musical performance and technique go hand in hand .... and the true magic lies in finding the right balance between the 2 ..... that's a producers task .... and what makes a good producer.
And there it is... editing decisions based on performance.

As for tone and performance going hand in hand.... in a perfect world this is what we all want and hope for, but it is not exclusive. Tones that suck is subjective.
For example:
Led Zepplin 1 had a drum sound that would have been considered 'bad tone' in engineering concept, and when it was first released was criticized a bit in engineering circles, the thing that made this boldly exaggerated approach work was... I don't think I have to tell you, you know. Now it is a popular emulated approach.


For me it is a 50/50 blend of a concieved direction and 'of the moment' awareness. You said something about an engineer being able to nail the same sound every time, well you must be a much better engineer than me, as I can't nail the exact same sound every time, and let me tell you that I have tried to match sounds for a punch in on a track after a few days with a sucess rate of about 50%.

BTW, the 57 on the floor story... the same guy who recorded Led Zepplin 1.
Old 27th June 2002
  #24
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by loudist
You said something about an engineer being able to nail the same sound every time, well you must be a much better engineer than me, as I can't nail the exact same sound every time,

nope ...; can't do it either .... not the EXACT same sound .... but a similar good one yes ..... and that's my whole point .... there are multiple good performances and multiple good tones ... everything is subjective .... I like what you might dislike and so on and so on ....

I stick to the fact that a good performer who does a "nail" should be able to do it again .... as a good engineer who can create a good sound should be able to do it again ....

I think we pretty much agree on the balance thing ....
Old 27th June 2002
  #25
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by C.Lambrechts



I stick to the fact that a good performer who does a "nail" should be able to do it again .... as a good engineer who can create a good sound should be able to do it again ....

'should' is not what usually happens.
Real world... performances usually degenerate after a great one happens to fall out of the one in the spotlight, at least that has been my experience. I have learned the hard way that chasing a better one after a great one has been played, sung, whatever, is usually wasted time, but has to be done once or twice for all concerned to be sure, just so long as you don't go over the great one.

As for tone, the engineer gets it into the ballpark, the player picks the seat with their performance.
Old 28th June 2002
  #26
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Hi there.
I'm sorry, I know that I'm not nearly as experienced as most of you here but I felt like I should jump in on this one...

Chris, no disrespect, but can I ask you a question? Are you (or were you) ever a performer as well as being an engineer/producer?

The reason I ask is this: As a performer you know that sometimes, at some point, when the stars align just so... you hit something that's, for lack of a better word, perfect.

Sure, maybe the pitch is wrong. Maybe it's out of time. Hell maybe you've accidentally played the wrong note or sang the wrong words (god forbid that you might even be the engineer and drop a mic...) but it's got the vibe.

And so it's been sung wrong, played wrong or recorded wrong but guess what? It's got the magic.

Sometimes that MAGIC just can't be repeated.

That's the beauty of the moment.

Yes there's beauty in perfection. But sometimes it's the imperfections that add to the beauty.

We all strive for the perfect tone, the perfect take, but life isn't perfect and I at least love having the opportunity to savour a moment of magic within this lifelong, and often futile, quest for perfection.

(God, how crap is that? I sound like a school boy... Sorry if I've come across twisted, I've been in the pub all night! rollz)

R.
Old 28th June 2002
  #27
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
yes I am a performer ... have been since I was 9 years old and will be till the day I die ....

I am a percussionist, played in symphony orchestra's for years, have a classical education, turned towards jazz and fusion jazz and even to free jazz at some point ... so believe me ... I know all about the vibe and that very special moment when chemistry happens on stage and the four of us get into a routine where we just read each others minds and play the stars from heaven ....

been there and done that .... and to get it straight one more time ... I do know that those special moments cannot be repeated .... but they are NOT unique.

I have knows MANY special moments in my performance on MANY different occassions.

And come to think of it .... I even have some tapes lying around where we would record a gig at a local pub with some of our best improvisations on it ever. But soundwise they suck and I hate to listen to them.


OK, that said back to the basic discussion which was RECORDING a star alligned performance.

What I was trying to say from the beginning is that ... if the performance is star alligned and the sound of the recording went for whatever reason wrong ..... the whole thing is wrong. OK ... the performance might be a gift from heaven but the balance between performance and tone is broken.

I'm the first to admit that the performance comes first .... no good record without a good performance. and yes .... without a good sound the recording will still be unique what the performance concerns .... but the overall result will not be satisfying for me.


When I produce ... I need a balance between performance and sound. performance is THE most important thing but not the only thing that counts.

if the guitar player plays a solo from heaven and I screw up the engineering part because I didn't screw the mic on tight enough and it fell off .... kick me in the balls because I know that I screwed up but I will not let it get in the final mix JUST because it is a good performance.


For me a good record needs a good performance ..... but ONLY performance is NOT enough. period again.
Old 28th June 2002
  #28
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I just realised something... you are a studio owner/operator so everything that comes from your place reflects on your facility, so you are motivated in it having to sound perfect no matter what.

This explains much.

and whats with the 'period again' thing?
Old 2nd August 2002
  #29
Jax
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🎧 15 years
B - o - n - h - a - m

Quote:
Originally posted by loudist
What was the Zepplin drum sound? Why John Bonhem, of course!
You could'n't mic him wrong... even from 30 feet away on a staircase (When the Levee Breaks). Bonhem = feel
No offense to you loudist, but because John "Bonham" (not "Bonhem") is among my top three drumming heroes of all time, I can't even take seeing his name misspelled. Sorry to reply to such an old thread, but I felt obligated.

My other two top drumming heroes of all time?

Max Roach

Elvin Jones
Old 2nd August 2002
  #30
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loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My apologies, Jax
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