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film vocabulary


undefined, object
copy deck
adaptation (G)
film based on work in other medium
usually play/novel
can be loose, faithful or literal
aerial shot (t)
variation of 'crane shot', restricted to exterior locations
usually taken using a helicopter
aleatory techniques (C)
filmmaking technique depending on element on chance
images are not planned in advance; composed on the spot by camera operator
usually used for documentary situations
Allusion (C)
reference to an event, person, work of art (usually well known)
angle (G)
Camera's angle of view relative to subject being photographed
high-angle shot = from above subject
low-angle shot = from below subject
animation (G)
form of filmmaking characterized by photographing inanimate objects or individual drawings frame by frame, each frame being minutely different from the one before
images are projected at 24 frames per second (standard speed) and objects/drawings appear to move, and seem animated
anticipatory camera, anticipatory setup (C)
placement of camera in a way that anticipates movement of an action before it occurs
often suggest predestination
Arcehtype, archetypal (C)
an original model or type after which similar things are patterned
can be well known story patterns, universal experiences or personality types
myths, fairy tales, genres, cultural heroes & the basic cycles of life and nature are generally *
art director (G)
individual who is responsible for designing and overseeing the construction of sets for a movie, and sometimes its interior decoration and overall visual style
aspect ratio (T)
the ration between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the screen
auteur theory (C)
a theory of film popularized by the critics of the French journal 'cahiers du cinema' in the 1950's
emphasizes director as major creator of film art, stamping the material with his or her own personal vision, style, and thematic obsessions
available light (G)
the use of only that light which exists on locations, either natural (sun) or artificial (house lamps)
when * is used in interior locations, generally a sensitive fast film stock must be used
avant-garde (C)
from French, meaning in front of the ranks
artists whose works are characterized by an unconventional daring and by obscure, controversial, or highly personal ideas
backlighting (G)
when the lights for a shot derive from the rear of the set, thus throwing the foreground figures into semidarkness or silhouette
back-lot (I)
during the studio era, standing exterior sets of such common locales as a turn-of-the-century city block, a fronter town, a European village, etc.
bird's-eye view (g)
a shot in which the camera photographs a scene from directly overhead
blimp (T)
a soundproof camera housing that muffles the noise of the camera's motor so the sound can be clearly recorded on the set
boom, mike boom (t)
an overhead telescoping pole that carries a microphone, permitting the synchronous recorsing of sound without restricting the movement of the actors
camp, campy (C)
an artistic sensibility typifies by comic mockery, especially of the straight world and conventional morality
* movies are often ludicrously theatrical, stylistically gaudy, and gleefully subversive
cels / cells (T)
transparent plastic sheets that are superimposed in layers by animators to give the illusion of depth and volume to their drawings
cinematographer / director of photography/ dp
the artist or techinician responsible for the lighting of a shot and the quality the photography
cinema verite (C)
method of documentary filming using aleatory methods that do no interfere with the way events take place in reality
made with minimun equip, usually handheld camra & portable sound apparatus
classical cinema, classical paradigm (C)
(vague but conventional term)
designates the style of mainstream ficition produces in the US roughtly from the midteens until late 60's
* is a movie stron in story, star, production values, has a high level of technical acheivement is edited according to convetions of classical cutting
visual style is functional and rarely distracts from the characters in action
movies in this form are structured narratively, with defined conflict, complications that intensify to a rising climax and a resolutions that emphasizes formal closure
classical cutting (C)
style of editing developed by DW Griffith
sequence of shots is detemined by a scene's dramatic and emotional emphasis rather than by physical action alone
sequence of shots represents the breakdown of the event into its psychological as well as logical components
closed forms (C)
visual style that inclines toward self-conscious designs and carefully harmonized compositions.
the frame is exploited to suggest a self sufficient universe that encloses all the necessary visual information, usually in an aesthetically appealing manner
close up, close shot (G)
detailed view of a person or object
usually inclused only his/her head
code (C)
in semiology, an organized system within which signs are related to each other and gain their meaning.
most films make use of multiple *s interacting in complex ways
continuity (T)
the kind of logic implied between edited shots, their principle coherence
* emphasizes smooth transitions between shots, in which time and space are unobtrusively condensed
convention (C)
a frequently used technique or device accepted by the audience as appropriate to a particular genre or style
ex, in a musical people burst out into song, in a western the hero wears white and the villain wears black
when worn out become a cliche
coverage, coveing shots, cover shots (T)
eztra shots of a scene that can be used to bridge transitions in case the planned footage fails to edit as planned
usually long shots that preserve the overall continuity of a scene
crane shot (T)
shot taken from a special device called a crane, which resembles a huge mechanical arm
crane carries the camera and the cinematographer can move in virtually any direction
day-for-night shooting (T)
scenes that are filmed in daytime with special filters to suggest nighttime settings in the movie image
deep-focus (T)
a technique in photography that allows all distance planes to remain clearly in focus, from close-up to intfinity
dialetical, dialetics (C)
an analytical methodology, derived from Hegel and Marz, that juxtaposes pairs of aposites- a thesis and antithesis- to arrive at a synthesis of ideas
diasporic cinema (C)
films made by members of communities founded by exiles or immigrants displaced from their homelands.
these films interact with the traditions of the national cinemas in which they are made but often share themes, motifs, and actors with films made by the same* groups elsewhere
diegesis, diegetic (C)
the fictional world presented in a film and its properties.
leads to type of sound is thus sound that has an established source within the *
digital (G)
refers to the eleectronic codin of information for use in a computer to create clearer and more manipulable sound and images than previous analogue techniques.
widely used for animation, special effects, and increasingly to film whole movies
direct cinema (C)
a term often used as a synonym for cinema verite. In france and Canada especially, it is used to designate an approach to documentary that stresses the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects. It is also applied to fiction films that use to equipment and techniques developed for documentary in the 1950's.
director's cut (G)
a version of a film previously cut or re-edited by its producer and supposedly representing the director's original intentions
dissolve, lap dissolve (T)
the slow fading out of one shot and the gradual fading in of its successor, with a superimposition of images, usually at the midpoint
distributor (I)
those individuals who serve as go betweens in the film industry, who arrange to book the product in theatres
docudrama (c)
a rather vague term often applied to various kinds of fictional reconstruction of actual events
dolly shot, tracking shot, trucking shot (t)
a shot taken from a moving vehicle. originally tracks were laid on the set to permit a smoother movement of the camera
dominant contrast, dominant (C)
that area of the film image that compels the viewer's most immediate attention, usually because of a prominent visual contrast
double exposure (T)
the superimposition of two literally unrelated images on film.
dubbing (T)
the addition of sound after the visuals have been photographed. * can be either synchronous with an image or nonsynchronous. foreign language movies are often dubbed by actors who lip-sync
editing (G)
the joining of one shot (strip of film) with another.
the shots can picture events and objects in different places at different times. in europe * is called montage
epic (C)
a film genre characterized by bold and sweeping themes, usually in heroic proportions.
the protagonist is often an ideal representative of a culture- national, relifious or regional.
the tone of most epics is dignifies, the treatment larger than life
establishing shot (T)
usually an extreme long or long shot offered at the beginning of a scene, providing the viewer with the context of the subsequent closer shots.
expressionism, expressionistic, expressionists (C)
a style of filmmaking emphasizing on extreme distortions, lyricism, and artistic self-expression at eh expense of objectivity
extreme close up, extreme close shot (G)
a minutely detailed view of an object or person. *of an actor generally includes only his or her eyes or mouth
eye level shot (T)
the placement of the camera approximately one and a half to two metres from the ground, corresponding to the height of an observer on the scene
extreme long shot (G)
a panormaic view of an exterior location, photographed from a great distance, often as far as four hundred metres away
fade (T)
the fade-out is the snuffing of an image from normal brightness to a black screen
a fade in is the opposite
fast motion (T)
shots of a subject photographed at a slower rate than twenty-four fps, which, when projected at the standard rate, conveys motion that is jerky and slightly comical, seemingly out of control
fast stock, fast film (T)
film stock that is highly sensitive to light and generally produces a grainy image
often used by documentarist who wish to shoot only with available lighting
film noit (C)
originally a french term -literally 'black cinema' - refferring to a kind of urban American crime film that sprang upo after WW2, emphasizing a fatalisitc, despairing universe, where there is no excape from mean city streets, loneliness and death. Stylistically, noir emphasizes low key and high contrast lighting, complex compositions, and a strong atmosphere of dread and paranoia.
filters (T)
pieces of glass and plastic placed in fron of the camera lens that distort the quality of light entering the camera and hence the movie image
final cut, release print (I)
completed movie as it will be released to public
first cut, rough cut (I)
initial version of a movie, often constructed by the director and usually much longer than the final cut
flashback (G)
an editing technique interrupts the present action by a shot or series of shots representing the past
flash forward (G)
an editing technique that interrupts the present action by a shot or series of shots representing the future
focus (T)
the degree of acceptable sharpness in a film image. 'out of focus' means the images are blurred and lack acceptable linear definition
footage (T)
exposed film stock
formalism, formalisitc, fomalis (C)
a style of filmmaking in which aesthetic forms take precedence over the subject matter as content. time and space as ordinarily perceived are often distorted. emphasis is on the essential, symbolic characteristics of objects and people, not necessarily on *s are often lyrical, self consciously heightening their style to call attention to it as a value of its own sake
frame (T)
the divding line between the edges of the screen image and the enclosing darkness of the theatre. can also refer to a single photograph from the filmstip
freeze frame, freeze shot (T)
a shot composed of a single frame that is reprinted a number of times on the filmstrip; when projected it give the illusion of a still photograph
full shot (T)
a type of long shot that includes the human body in full, with the head near the top fo the fram and the feet near the bottom
gauge (T)
the width of the filmstip, expressed in millimetres (MM). the wider the * the better the quality of the image. the standard theatrical gauge is 35 mm
genre (C)
a recognizable type of movie, characterized by certain preerstablished conventions. some common american * are westerns, thrillers, sci=fi movies, etc. a ready made narrative form.
handheld shot (G)
shot taken with a moving camera that is helf by the camera person and thus rather shaky compared to shots takend using a tripod or dolly. often used in fiction films to suggest documentary footage in an uncontrolled setting
high-angle shot (t)
shot taken in which the subject is photographed form above
high contrast (T)
style of lighting emphasizing harsh shafts and dramatic streaks of lights and darks. often used in thrillers and melodrama
high key (T)
style of lighting emphasizing bright, even illumination, with few conspicuous shadows. mostly in comedies, musicals, and light entertainment films
homage (C)
direct or indirect reference within a movie to another movie, filmmaker or cinematic style. a respectful, affectionate tribute
icon, iconic (C)
in film and cultural studies, a person or an image that has acquired a widely understood cultural significance. in semiology, a sighn that reseembles what is signifies (eg a painting of a tree)
iconography (C)
use of a well known cultural symbol or complex of symbols in an artistic representation. in movies, * can involve a star's persona, the preestablished conventions of a genre, (like the shootout in a western), the use of archetypal characters and situations, and such stylistic features as lighting, settings, costuming, props and so on
independant producer(g)
producer not affiliated with a studio or large commerical firm many stars and directors have been * to ensure their artistic control
index, indexical (C)
in semiology, a sign that has an actual link to what it signifies (eg smoke as signal of fire)
intercutting (T)
see cross cutting
intrinsic interest (C)
unobtrusive area of the film image that nonetheless compels our most immediate attention because of its dramatic or contextual importance
iris (T)
a masking device that blacks out portions of the screen, permititng only a part of the image to be seen. usually the * is a circular or oval shape that can be expanded or contracted.
Nonsynchronous sound (T)
Sound that is not recorded simultaneously with the image, or sound that is detached from its source in the film image.
Non-diegetic ©
Refers to a sound or image that has no source in the fictional world of the film (background music, symbolic inserts etc. )
New Wave, nouvelle vague ©
A group of young French directors who came to prominence during the late 1950’s. the most widely know are francois truffaut, jean-luc godars, and claude chabrol
Neo-realism (C)
An Italian film movement that produced its best works between 1945 and 1955. strongly realistic in its techniques, * emphasized the documentary aspects of film art, stressing loosed episodic plots, ordinary events and characters, natural lighting, actual location settings, nonprofessional actors, a preoccupation with poverty and social problems, and an emphasis on humanistic and democratic ideals. The term has also been used to describe other films that reflect the te4chnical and stylistic biases of Italian *.
Narratology (I)
The study of narrative types and structures
Multiple exposures (T)
A special effect produced by the optical printed which permits the superimposition of many images simpultaneously
Motif ©
Any unobtrusive technique, object, or thematic idea systematically repeated throughout a film
Montage sequence (T)
A transitional sequence of rapidly edited images, used to suggest the lapse of time or the passing of events. Often uses dissolves and multiple exposures.
Montage (T)
Editing technique that stresses the dynamic relations between shots, often associated with the Soviet filmmakers of the 1920’s and seen as an alternative to continuity editing. In Europe * is often used as a synonym for editing.
Mise en scene (C)
Arrangement of visual weights and movements within a given space. Cinematic * encompasses both the staging of the action and the way that it is photographed
Minimalism, minimalists (C)
Style of filmmaking characterized by austerity and restraint, in which cinematic elements are reduced to the barest minimum of information
Miniatures, model or miniature shots (T)
Small-scale model photographed to give the illusion that they are full-scale objects. Ex, ships sinking at sea⬦.
Mickeymousing (T)
Type of music that is purely descriptive and attempts to mimic the visual action with music equivalents⬦ often used in cartoons
Metteur en scene (C)
The artist or technician who creates the mise en sece, that is the director
Method acting (C)
Style of performance derived form the Russian stage director Stanislavsky, which has been the dominance acting style in the United States since the 50’s. * actors emphasize psychological intensity, extensive rehearsals to explore a character, emotional beleiveability rather that technical mastery, and ‘living’ a role internally rather than merely imitating the external behaviour of a character
Metaphor (C)
An implied comparison between two otherwise unlike elements, meaningful in a figurative rather than literal sense.
Medium shot (G)
Relatively close shot, revealing the human figure from the knees or waist up
Matte shot (t)
A process of combining two separate shots on one print, resulting in an image that looks as though it had been photographed normally. Used mostly for special effects, such as combining a human figure with animation;.
Master shot (T)
An uninterrupted shot, usually taken from a long or full shot range, that contains an entire scene. The closer shots are phorographed later, and an edited sequence, composed of a variety of shots, is constructed on the editor’s bench
Masking (T)
A technique whereby a portion of the movie image is blocked out, thus temporarily altering the dimensions of the screens aspect ratio
Majors (i)
The principal production studios of the golden age of the Hollywood studio stystem (rougly 30’s and 40’s) MGM, Warner Brothers, RKO, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox.
Lyrical (C)
A stylistic exuberance and subjectivity, emphasizing the sensuous beauty of the medium and producing an intense outpouring of emotion
Low key (T)
A style of lighting that emphasizes diffused shadows and atmospheric pools of light. Often used in mysteries and thrillers
Low-angle shot (T)
A shot in which the subject is photographed from below
Loose framing (C)
Usually in longer shots. The mise en scene is so spaciously distributed within the confines of the framed image that the people photographed have considerable freedom of movement
Long take (C)
A shot of lengthy duration
Long shot (G)
Shot that includes an area within the image that roughly corresponds to the audience’s view of the area within the proscenium arch in the live theatre
Location (G)
A place where a film or part of a film is shot (as opposed to a studion)
Lens, long lens (T)
A ground or molded piece of glass, plastic, or other transparent material through which light rays are refracted so they converge or diverge to form the photographic image within the camera
Kinetic ©
Pertaining to motion and movement
Key light (t)
The main source of illumination for a shot
Jump cut (T)
An abrupt transition between shots, sometimes deliberate, which is disorienting in terms of the continuity of space and time.
symbol, symbolic (C)
a figurative device in which an object, event, or cinematic technique has significance beyong its literal meaning. in semiology, a sighn that has an arbitrary relation to what it signifies
take (T)
one version of a specific shot. the final shot is often selected from a number of possible *s
telephoto lens, long lens (T)
a lens that acts as a telescope, magnifying the size of objects at a great distance
a side effect is its tendancy to flatten perspective
thematic montage (C)
a type of editing propunded by the societ filmmaker eisentsein, in which separate shots are linked together not by their literal continuity in reality but by symbolic association.
a shot of a preening braggart might be linked to a shot of a toy peacock for example.
most commonly used in documentaries, in which shots are connected in accordance to the filmmaker's thesis
three shot (T)
medium shot featuring three actors
tone (G)
the manner of presentation and the general atmosphere of a movie
tilt, tilt shot (T)
see oblique angle
tight framing (C)
usually in close shots
the mise en scene is so carefully balanced and harmonized that the people photographed have little or no freedom of movement
tracking shot, trucking shot
see dolly shot
two shot (T)
a medium shot featuring two actors
vertical integration (I)
a system in which the production, distribution, and exhibition of movies are all controlled by the same corporation. in america the practice was declared illegal in the late 1940's
viewfinder (T)
an eyepiece on the camera that defines the playing area and the framing of the action to be photographed
voice-of-god commentary (C)
in documentary, text spoken by an unseen, authoritative, and apparently all-knowing male commentary
voice-over (T)
a nonsynchronous spoken commentary in a movie, often used to convey a character's thoughts or memories
wide angle lens, short lens (T)
a lens that permits the camera to photograph a wider area than a normal lens. a side affect is its tendancy to exxagerate perspective
also used for deep focus photography
widescreen, CinemaScope, scope (G)
a movie image that has an aspect ration of approximately 5:3
some are more, up to 2.5 times longer on horizontal than vertical
wipe (T)
an editing device, usually a line that travels across the screen, pushing off one image and revealing another
women's pictures (G)
a film genre, often referred to as domestic melodrama, that focuses ont he problems of women, such as career versus family conflicts
zoom lens, zoom shot (T)
a lens of variable focal lenght that permits the cinematographer to change from wide-angle to telephoto shots (and vice versa) in one continuous movement, often plungin the viewer in or out of a scene rapidly
oblique angle, tilt shot (T)
a shot photographed by a tilted camera
whent he image is projected ont he screen, the subject itslef seems to be tilted on thediagonal
omiscient point of view (C)
an all-knowing narrator who provides the spectator with all the necessary information
open forms (C)
primarily used by realist filmmakers, these techniques are likely to be unobtrusive, with an emphasis on informal compositions and apparently haphazard designs. the frame is exploited to suggest a temporary masking, a window that arbitrarily cuts off part of the action
optical printer (T)
an elaborate machine used to create special effects in movies
ex, fades, dissolves, multiple exposures, etc
outtakes (I)
shots or pieces of shots that are not used in the final cut of a film
leftover footage
overexposure (T)
too much light enters the aperture of a camera lens, cleaching out the image
fantasy, nightmare
pan, panning, panning shot (T)
short for panorama
revolving horizontal movement of the camera from left to right or vice versa
parallel editing
persona (C)
from the latin, 'mask'. an actor's public image, based on previous roles, and often incorporation elements from his or her actual personality
pixillation, stop motion photography (T)
an animation technique involving the photographing of live actors frame by frame. when the sequence is projected at the standard speed of 24 f/s, the actors move abruptly, jerkily, like cartoon figures
plot (C)
the arrangement of story events in the order in which they appear in the film. ex, events in the past might be played at any point through dialogue/flashback.
point of view shot
any shot that is taken from the vantage point of a character in the film, showing what the character sees
producer (G)
an ambiguous term
reffers to individual or company that controls the financing of a film and often the way it is made

* can concern him self with only business, or put together a package deal (like script, stars, director), or function as en expeditor, smoothing over problems during production
production values (I)
box-office appeal of physical mounting of a film, like sets, costumes, props etc.
prop (T)
any movalbe item that is included int he movie
property (I)
anything with a profit-making potential in movies, though generally used to describe a story of some kind: screenplay, novel, short sotyr, etc.
pull-back dolly (T)
withdrawing the camera from a scene to reveal an object or character that was previously out of frame
rack focusing, selective focusing (T)
blurring of focal planes in sequence, forcing the viewer's eyes to travel with those areas of an image that remain in sharp focus
reaction shot (T)
cut to a shot of a character's reaction to the contents of preceding shot
realsim, realistic (G)
style of filmmaking that attempts to suplicate the look of objective reality as it is commonly preceived, with emphasis on authentic locations and details, long shots, lengthy takes, minimum distorting techniques
reestablishing shot (T)
a return to an initial establishing shot within a scene, acting as a reminder of the physical context of the closer shots
reverse angles shot (T)
a shot taken from an angle 180 opposed to the previous shot
that is, the camera is placed opposite its previous position
reverse motion (T)
a series of images are photographed with the film reversed. when projected normally, the effect is to suggest backward movement
rite of passage (C)
narrative that focus on key phases of a person's life, when an individual passes from one stage of decelopment to another, such as adolescence to adulthood, innocence to experience, middle age to old age, so on
rough cut (T)
crudely edited footage of a movie before the editor has tightened up the slackness between shots
kind of rought draft
rushes, dailies (I)
selected footage of the previous day's shooting, which is usually evaluated by the director and cinematographer before the start of the next day's shooting
scene (G)
imprecise unit of film, composed of a number of interrelated shots, unifies usulaly by a central concern - an incident or a minor dramatic climax - that takes place in one location or set
screwball comedy (C)
genre from 1930's in US, characerized by zany lovers, often from different social classes. plots often very improbable, tendancy to veer out of control. usually feature slapstick comedy scenes, aggressive and charming heroines, and assortment of outlandish secondary characters
script, screenplay, scenarion (G)
written description of a movie's dialogue and action, which occasionally includes camera directions
selective focus
rack focusing
sequence (G)
significant segment of a film's overall structure usually containing a completed line of action
often used synonymously with scene but may include more that one location or set
sequence shot, plan sequence (c)
single lengthy shot, usually involving complex staging and camera movements
set (G)
place where a film or part of a film is shot that is constucted in a studio
setup (T)
positioning of the camera and lights for a specific shot
shooting ratio (I)
amount of film stock used in photographing a movie in relation to what is included in the finished products
shooting script (I)
written breakdown of a movie story into its individual shots, often sontaining technincal instructions
used by director and his/her staff during the production
short lens
wide angle lens
shot (G)
in production, those images that are recorded continuously fromt eh time the camera starts to the time it stops, in other words a take. int he completed movie, an uniterrupted piece of film between edits
sign (C)
in semiology, a unit in a language system or code, consisting of a signifier (a word or an image for example ) and a signified (the meaning we attach to that word or image)
slow motion (T)
shots of a subject photographed at a faster rate than twenty four fps, which when projected at the standard rate produce a dreamy, dancelike slowness of action
slow stock, slow film (T)
film stocks that are relatively insensitive to light and produce crips images and a sharpness of detail
when used in interior settings, these stocks generally require considerable artificial illumination
star (G)
film actor of great popularity
star system (G)
technique of exploiting the charisma of popular performers to enhance the box-office appeal of films
system was developed in america and has been backcone of american film industry since mid 1910s
star vehicle (G)
movie especially designed to showcase the talents and charms of a specific star
stock (T)
unexposed film. many types of movies stocks, including those highly sensitive to light (fast) and those relatively insensitive to light (slow)
story (C)
all the events that we see, hear about, or infer in a fiction film in the order in which they are supposed to have happened
filmmaker constucts the plot from these events, spectator reconstucts the story on the basis of the information supplied by the plot
storyboard, storyboarding (T)
technique in which shots are sketched in advance and in sequence, like a comic strip, thus allowing the filmmaker to outline the mise en scene and construct the editing continuity before production begins
studio (G)
large corporation specializing in the produciton of movies
ex paramount, warner bros, etc
any physical facility equipped for the prouction of films
subjective camera
pov shot
subsidiary contrast (C)
subordinated element of the film image, complementing or contrasting with the dominant contrast
subtext (C)
a term used in drama and film to signify the dramatic implications benearth the language of a play or movie
surrealism, surrealist (C)
avant-garde mvmt in the arts stressing freudian and marxist ideas, unconsious elements, irrationalism, and symbolic association of ideas. * movies produced roughly from 1924 -1931, primarily in france, thought here are surrealistic elements in the works of many directors
swish pan, flash or zip pan (YT)
horizontal movement of the camrea at such a rapid rate that the subject photographed blurs on the screen
synchronous sound (T)
agreement or correspondance between image and sound, which are recorded simultaneously, or seem so in the finished print.
a person in a film who does not have a speaking part and who is usually part of the scene, for example, in a crowd

Comedy Bold
a person in a film who does not have a speaking part and who is usually part of the scene, for example, in a crowd

a person in a film who does not have a speaking part and who is usually part of the scene, for example, in a crowd

a person in a film who does not have a speaking part and who is usually part of the scene, for example, in a crowd

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