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Short for Analogue / Analog to Digital Converter. Changes a continuously varying electrical signal into a stream of binary data. Found in computer soundcards, MiniDisc & CD Recorders etc..
A.L.D. / ALD
Association of Lighting Designers.(UK)
A0/A1/A2/A3/A4/A5/A6 PAPER SIZES
A range of standardised paper sizes used worldwide in publishing and printing.
The sizes are part of the ISO216 standard.
A0: 841 x 1189mm (33.11 x 48.81 inches) [large scale drawings / plans]
A1: 594 x 841mm (23.39 x 33.11 inches)
A2: 420 x 594mm (16.54 x 23.39 inches)
A3: 297 x 420mm (11.69 x 16.54 inches) [twice an A4 page]
A4: 210 x 297mm (8.27 x 11.69 inches) [standard photocopy / document size]
A5: 148 x 210mm (5.83 x 8.27 inches) [half an A4 page]
A6: 105 x 148mm (4.13 x 5.83 inches) [quarter of an A4 page - used for postcards / small booklets]
In the USA, the Letter size (216 x 279mm / 8.5 x 11 inches) is used instead of A4.
Lighting Industry Forum code which identifies the (original) recommended usage of different lamp types. A1 coded lamps are for use in projection. See also CP, T, P2, K.
Assistant Sound Operator/Engineer (Audio 2)
A technique used to record in stereo. Two (identical) microphones are placed next to each other, parallel to each other, and pointing in the same direction. As you're looking at the action, the one on the left is panned hard left on the mixer and the one on the right is panned hard right. There are some problems with this technique, such as reflections off each microphone, leading to comb filtering and also a narrow coverage. Some sound techs try to overcome the coverage problem by spacing out the microphones, although this can lead to 'muddy' sounds due to delays. See COMB FILTERING and XY.
See PHANTOM POWER.
Association of British Orchestras.
An actor move upstage (e.g. Clive moves above the chair).
The ability of a surface to absorp sound. The absorption coefficient of a material is a figure between 0 and 1, representing its degree of absorption.
A scenic or other design which is nonrepresentational and suggests the situation rather than simulating it.
(UK) The Association of British Theatre Technicians, which was formed in 1961 as a charity, to provide a forum for discussion among theatre technicians, architects and managers of all disciplines, and disseminate information of a technical nature, to all its members.
Short for ALTERNATING CURRENT. An AC cord or cable is used to connect between a mains power socket and a piece of equipment.
A range of different connectors are used to connect to the equipment. The 3-contact IEC cable is common in Europe, and is sometimes known as a Kettle Lead. A figure 8 cable is used on smaller equipment which is double-insulated and has just two connections. Powercon is used on heavier duty equipment and locks into place to prevent accidental disconnection.
A sung performance which is not accompanied by musicians. (From the Italian A CAPELLA, meaning 'as in the chapel')
Lighting on a particular item or area on stage, to make it stand out or for aesthetic reasons, rather than to light an actor or functional area. Examples include lighting on specific architectural features on the set or in the theatre to make them 'pop' or because they're particularly significant.
A flammable solvent used in some prop/costume-making processes. Used by make-up artists to remove skin adhesive from the netting of wigs and moustaches by immersing the item in an acetone bath, then removing the softened glue residue with a stiff brush. Also one of the primary components of some nail polish removers.
ACL / A.C.L.
Acronym for AirCraft Landing Light. See AERO.
Advanced Control Network. A new (2003) ethernet-based control protocol between control desk, dimmers & moving lights. Developed by ESTA and Strand Lighting. DMX nodes are used to communicate with non-ethernet devices.
See PICK UP
The behaviour of sound and its study. The acoustic of a room depends on its size and shape and the amount and position of sound-absorbing and reflecting material. The quality of sound in a given space, measured and analyzed by its clarity, loudness, liveliness, reverberance, echoes, dynamic range, envelopment, spaciousness, warmth and silence or noise control rating.
1) Subdivision between sections of a play. A short play is a 'One-Act-er', a play with one interval has two Acts etc. Acts are subdivided further into Scenes.
2) The thing Actors can do which makes them different from Techies (!!).
A change of either scenery, lighting, costume, props or other technical elements between acts of a play or musical. Theatres with little backstage space may have to reconfigure scenery stored offstage during the interval so that the next act runs smoothly.
Victorian stretched framed and painted canvas. Used as a visual stimulation during scene changes, and to indicate that there was more to come (the end being indicated by the HOUSE TABS). There are believed to be only two operational today - an original one at Gaiety Theatre, Isle Of Man, and a 1996 reproduction at Her Majesty's Theatre, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
Term now used to refer to any front cloth or tabs lowered during intervals. Especially pantomime / musicals.
In ballet, the act drop permitted pre-interval curtain calls to take place.
Her Majesty's Theatre
ACT NUMBER INDICATOR
An indicator board visible to the audience on the proscenium arch of a theatre used for variety performances which showed the Act Number so the audience could tell who was on stage (after referring to their printed programme).
One type of board used replaceable numbers which were replaced by hand, another type used a paper scroll containing the numbers which was advanced either mechanically or electrically. The most popular type used an array of light bulbs which were illuminated in patterns to depict the numbers.
That area within the performance space within which the actor may move in full view of the audience. Also known as the playing area
This term is also used to describe the smaller subdivisions of the main stage area which are lit separately by the lighting designer (e.g. 'The stage is split into 6 acting areas, 3 downstage and 3 upstage').
(Also the name of an early Strand down-lighting floodlight - it was called an Acting Area Flood, and was colloquially known as 'Ack Ack' or 'A.A.').
Published copy of a script containing notes for the actor and technicians, often credited to the design team of the premiere production not necessarily the playwright.
A hand-held practical prop used by an actor for combat or for a specific purpose.
A car / van / bus / other vehicle that takes part in a stunt during a film / TV shoot. See also PICTURE CAR.
In electronics (particularly audio), an 'active' circuit operates with an external power supply and is usually low power, while a 'passive' circuit operates directly on the signal using the inherent power of the surrounding circuitry.
This is why an active crossover is usually placed before the amplifiers, with integrated circuits and line level signal processing (100 Ohms impedance or greater), while a passive crossover acts after the amplifiers where the power level is much greater (16 Ohms impedance or less). Amp to speaker level is generally between 2 and 16 Ohms, while preamplifier electronics are generally 100 to 100K Ohms.
Submitted by Bruce Trotter
Person (male or female) whose role is to play a character other than his/her own. Although the term 'actress' is sometimes still used for a female actor, many women prefer to have the same title as men.
ACTOR AUDIENCE RELATIONSHIP
There are many different theatre shapes and styles, but the most important factor when designing a space for performance is the relationship between the audience and the actors on stage. The audience should be able to clearly see and hear all of the actors on the stage, in order to have a connection or relationship with them.
A space where the audience is close to the stage (or feels close to the stage) is known as an INTIMATE auditorium.
If the space is too big, it's harder for the audience to feel involved in the performance.
From Latin Ad libitum meaning "at one's pleasure".
The presence of mind by an actor to improvise when;
1) another actor fails to enter on cue
2) the normal progress of the play is disturbed
3) lines are forgotten
4) It may also be a bad habit developed by some actors whereby unnecessary "gags" are introduced into the dialogue.
In the past, any business or words that were not in the scripted act 'as known' would be seen as a breach of contract by some No.1 Managements.
Acronym for Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990. It covers similar ground to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which became law in 1995 in the UK. Both Acts are designed to outlaw any kind of discrimination against people with any form of disability.
The acronyms ADA and DDA are used also to describe the amendments that are made to procedures, buildings and resources to comply with the Act.
See DIGITAL RECORDING.
1) Connector which allows two or more electrical devices to be connected to a single power outlet. The connection is normally parallel, that is, each device is fed the same voltage, but the current is divided between them. Sometimes known as a 'Twofer'. A three-way splitter is known as a 'Threefer'. A Series splitter is also available where a voltage is shared equally between two loads.
2) Also an ADAPTOR can be the same as a JUMPER.
See SERIES SPLITTER, JUMPER and GRELCO.
See DIGITAL RECORDING.
(Manufacturer) Belgian manufacturer of lanterns, control desks and dimming equipment. Named after the initials of it's founder, Adrian de Backer.
Near-obsolete digital lighting control protocol developed by ADB. Uses a 5 pin XLR connector but is NOT compatible with DMX512
ADDITIVE COLOUR MIXING
See COLOUR MIXING.
(LIghting) Each item of equipment controlled by DMX512 has an address, which is the first DMX control channel to which it will respond. A dimmer rack requires 1 DMX channel per dimmer. A moving light requires many DMX channels.
For example, in a situation where you have three 6-way dimmer racks, the first should be addressed to 1, the second to 7 and the third to 13. Moving lights requiring 16 DMX channels each might be addressed to 120, 137, 154 etc.
The address is either set via pushbuttons (up / down) to get to the correct channel, or via a menu screen, or via small rotary selectors where you can set each digit of the address.
Advanced Dimmer Network. Networking protocol developed by ADB.
Stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement. Also known as "looping" this is the post-production process on a film / TV shoot where actors re-record their lines after original filming, either because the original production sound was not up to standard or due to external factors (aircraft noise in a period piece) which weren't noticed at the time of filming.
(UK) Lighting bar positioned just downstage of the proscenium arch. Also known as ANTE PROSCENIUM (from Latin 'Before' or "In Front').
More commonly known as a wind machine, this is a specialist musical instrument / sound effects generator used to produce the sound of a gusty wind.
Cable or rod used to send and receive radio signals (connected to transmitter and receiver or tuner).
A gobo projected from a moving light or profile which is focussed into the air above the stage or audience, in order to add atmosphere and dimensional texture through smoke or haze in the venue.
A type of high intensity Par lamp that derives its name from its use as an aircraft landing lamp. The true Aero is 28V and 250W (type 4596), although there are many variations. The lamp has a very tight beam.
Audio Engineering Society / European Broadcast Union. Digital audio transfer standard, similar to S/PDIF. Uses 3 pin XLR connectors.
What is AES/EBU
Aesthetic distance refers to the gap between an audience member's conscious reality and the fictional reality presented on stage. If the audience member becomes fully engrossed in the illusory narrative world of the drama, the director has achieved a close aesthetic distance. If the director then jars the audience member from the reality of the story, essentially reminding them they are watching a play, the director is said to have "violated the aesthetic distance."
Arts & Entertainment Technical Training Initiative (UK).
Automatic Gain Control. Circuitry within recording equipment which compensates for differences in volume in the incoming sound signal by adjusting the gain automatically. Helps to reduce wild swings in volume.
The original sense of agitprop was "agitation and propaganda on behalf of Communism", or "a government agency or department responsible for agitation and propaganda". The main current sense of the word is simply "propaganda, especially socially or politically motivated propaganda appearing in literary works, films, etc."; though the word often refers to political propaganda, it is not restricted to communist doctrine.
The word agitprop is first found in English sources in the mid 1930s.
From the Random House Word of the Day website.
Audio Interchange File Format. Uncompressed Audio file format used on Mac systems.
Digital Audio File Formats
A passage through seating.
An organic polymer which is a viscous gum found in the cell walls of brown algae. The commercial variety is extracted from seaweed. Supplied as a powder, when mixed with water it becomes a fast-setting mould-making material which is used to make casts of body parts or delicate prop items. The resulting mould is very detailed and strong. Dental alginate is used to make casts of teeth and gums. Take care to store the powder in an air-tight container as it's very absorbant and will 'go off' very rapidly if left open to the air.
(Trade Name) Portable 3 way dimmer pack manufactured by Zero 88 in the UK. Integral faders to control the 3 dimmers. Maximum 6.3A load per dimmer.
Zero 88 website
Alternative name for an Understudy who is hired to understudy a main role but also contracted to play that role in certain performances. See also STANDBY, SWING, UNDERSTUDY.
An electric current that reverses direction in a circuit at regular intervals. Abbreviated to AC. UK mains electricity is AC and changes direction 50 times per second (that is, the frequency is 50Hz).
See also DIRECT CURRENT.
Member of a theatre company which is not professional.
A phenomenon seen when tungsten halogen lamps are dimmed which results in the light output becoming warmer (lower in colour temperature) as it becomes dimmer. LED lights maintain the same colour when dimmed, unless they have been designed to emulate the amber drift of tungsten light sources.
The light in a venue with no stage-lighting sources switched on. Background light.
The sound heard in a given room with no sound sources. Each space has a particular sound which aids our identification of the kind of space we're in.
Short for Amateur Dramatics.
Abbreviation for ;
The standard unit for measurement of electrical current passing through a circuit (usually abbreviated to AMP). Written as 'I' in equations. Cables, fuses and switches are designated by their current carrying capacity.
(Following phrase refers to UK standards). Square pin plugs are rated at 13 Amps maximum and Round pin plugs at either 5 Amps or 15 Amps maximum, depending on the size of the pins. If a cable rated at 5 Amps is used with a load of 15 Amps (for example), the cable will overheat and possibly catch fire.
Circular or oval open-air theatre with a large raked seating area (often semi-circular) sloping down to the stage. Originates from ancient Rome where vast amphitheatres were built for spectator sports and games.
Sound equipment that amplifies/boosts the low voltage, low current audio signal from a computer, mixing desk etc. into a higher current signal suitable for driving speakers.
As a general rule, each speaker in a sound system requires a separate amplifier. Each amplifier unit usually contains two amplifiers (for the two stereo components (left and right) of the sound signal), so with a single amplifier box, you can drive two speakers.
See POWER AMPLIFIER, CROSSOVER.
The strength of a vibrating wave; in sound, the loudness of the sound.
Powerful programming language with allows you to control a wide range of audio-visual equipment using simple interfaces (push buttons or touch screen). Widely used in complex audio-visual installations.
See MULTIPLEXED SIGNAL.
A scenic item, prop or costume which is from a different time period than that being portrayed on stage. Usually, it's a modern item that shouldn't be seen in a period piece.
Anagnorisis is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery.
A continuously variable signal that can have any value over a given range.
1) In lighting: an analogue voltage within the range 0 to 10 Volts can have values of 0, 2, 8.785 or any value between. Most dimmers require an analogue voltage in order to operate (from 0 to -10V or 0 to +10V depending on the manufacturer). Most lighting control desks produce a digital multiplexed output, which is converted by a demux box to an analogue signal for the dimmer. See also Digital dimmer.
2) Sound: An analogue recording will record the exact waveform of the original sound, simply converting it to an electrical signal at the microphone, and back into air movement at the speaker. See DIGITAL.
One who privately finances a production, usually often with several other backers; their identity is traditionally kept private. May be an individual or a company.
See also PRODUCER.
Unit of measurement of length (e.g. for wavelengths of light). 1 Angstrom is equal to one ten billionth (1 x 10-10) of a metre. The unit is named after the Swedish physicist Anders J. Ångström.
A type of deep penetrating natural dye originally made from coal tar. Water-based or alcohol-based dyes are available. As the product will stain anything it comes into contact with, protective gloves and eye protection should be used.
(From French) Facilitator of a community, education or group event (social, cultural or artistic). The Animateur may be a group leader, or may have initiated a project. She or he is responsible for running the event.
Originally Audio-Animatronic™, this term describes a robotic figure, particularly in a theme park environment or on a movie set, which is able to repeat a limited range of pre-programmed functions, typically in synchronisation with a pre-recorded soundtrack. The term now describes a character controlled either electronically by radio remote control, or by cable/lever controls.
In seventeenth century theatre and street performances, the Announcer would greet the audience, and give the play some context, either in terms of political or social background, or just to fill in some background detail to help the audience understand.
ANSI / A.N.S.I.
American National Standards Institute. Three letter ANSI codes are used in the US to identify lamps.
The opposite of the PROTAGONIST in a drama.
Originally Ante Proscenium, meaning in front of the proscenium.
See ADVANCE BAR.
The act of modifying furniture or props by shortening the upstage legs etc. so that they can stand level on a raked stage. Known as COUNTER RAKE in the US. See also Raked Stage.
A movement which insisted on historically-accurate scenery and props on stage. The more stylized sliding wing flats were replaced by more detailed box sets including architectural features, props and furniture appropriate to the time period in whcih the show was taking place. Antiquarianism moved into theatres in the late eighteenth century in Europe.
The second section of an ancient Greek choral ode or of one division of it.
APOLLO DESIGN TECHNOLOGY
(Manufacturer) US-based manufacturer of gel, gobos, effects and scrollers.
Apollo Design Technology Inc. website
Applause (Latin applaudere, to strike upon, clap) is primarily the expression of approval by the act of clapping, or striking the palms of the hands together, in order to create noise. Audiences usually applaud after a performance, such as a musical concert, speech, play or a performance to mark the sign of enjoyment and approval. Audience members clap their hands at random to produce a constant noise; however, it tends to synchronize naturally to a weak degree. As a form of mass nonverbal communication, it is a simple indicator of the average relative opinion of the entire group; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval. (from Wikipedia)
A small strong wooden box used as a temporary step or to lift an item (or actor) up to make it visible. Named after the standard-sized fruit packing crate. Used in the motion picture industry.
More about Apple Boxes
The Apron is a section of the stage floor which projects towards or into the auditorium. In proscenium theatres, it's the part of the stage in front of the house tabs, or in front of the proscenium arch, above the orchestra pit. Also known as Forestage.
If an apron stage extension is added to an existing traditional proscenium arch theatre, this often results in poor sight lines from seats that are higher in the auditorium, leading to audience members having to lean forward in an attempt to see.
German: vorbühne (literally, forestage).
US equivalent of CRADLE in a counterweight flying system.
See DISCHARGE LAMP.
(Trade Name) A coloured plastic tube containing a number of small strobe units which, when triggered, flash in sequence down the tube. Many tubes can be connected together.
Arc-Line in the Backstage Heritage Collection
A type of linear filament lamp with contacts at 90 degrees to the filament which can gives the appearance of a continuous line of light (similar to neon, but dimmable).
Form of stage where the audience are seated on at least two (normally three, or all four) sides of the whole acting area.
See END ON, THRUST, IN THE ROUND.
A solo performance in an opera used to highlight the emotional state of the main character(s).
The Department in a large producing theatre which deals with the maintenance and storage of prop weapons.
The arrangement of a piece of music defines how it will be performed, and how it will sound. It covers which musical instruments will play each part of the melody and harmonies. The score for a piece of musical theatre may have arrangements for a small (school) band, or a large Broadway orchestra.
A set of loudspeakers flown in a performance space. See also CLUSTER.
(Manufacturer) German/US manufacturer of film lighting and cameras (Arriflex). Founded in 1917. Previously, Arri made a range of lighting desks (including Imagine, Impulse, Mirage, Microlux) which were early versions of desks now produced by ETC. ETC took over the lighting control side of Arri in 1995.
Ethernet-based lighting control protocol, developed by Artistic Licence. ArtNet can carry up to 256 DMX512 universes on the ethernet saving on cable runs. With the development of wireless networking the possibilities are endless.
Art Net website
Short for Articulated Lorry. Lorries of 40 feet length (or more) are used to transport sets, costume, props and sound & lighting equipment from venue to venue. A number of companies specialise in moving theatrical and musical tours around the country / world.
Known in the USA as a SEMI (short for Semi-Trailer, where a trailer box with a rear axle only is pulled by a tractor unit).
(Trade Name) Moving light control console made by Vari*Lite.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is a not-for-profit performance rights organisation that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly.
Lines spoken by an actor to the audience and not supposed to be overheard by other characters on-stage.
Assistant Stage Manager.
A ratio which defines the relationship between the height and width of a movie frame.
The Academy ratio is 1:1.375 (i.e. if the height of the image is 1 unit, the width will be 1.375 units).
Silent movies were shot in 1:1.33.
Cinemascope is 1:2.35.
A traditional TV picture is known as 4:3 (width:height, which can be expressed as 1.33:1). A widescreen TV is 16:9. (or 1.77:1)
Assistant to the Director - works on specific tasks, sequences etc. to lighten the workload of the Director.
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER
Usually shortened to ASM, the assistant stage manager is the most junior member of the Stage Management team, and is often in charge of sourcing and running Properties during the run of a show. She or he is also a member of the stage 'crew'. See also STAGE MANAGER and DSM.
ASSOCIATION OF SOUND DESIGNERS
UK & international organisation representing the interests of sound designers and technicians.
Association of Sound Designers website
(US) Stage direction at the start of a play text which describes the stage appearance / layout when the curtain rises (which is where the term comes from), who is on stage, and what they're doing.
ATAEA / A.T.A.E.A.
Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association. Union for Australian theatre technicians, now part of MEAA. See BECTU and IATSE for the UK and US equivalents.
The normal background sound at any location.
Atmospheric sound can be used to define a location or to help the audience to understand the world of the play better.
MORE TO BE DEFINED
To reduce the intensity of a sound signal. This is what the 'PAD' switch does on a sound desk.
The controllable parameters of a colour-changing or moving light are known as the ATTRIBUTES.
All moving lights will have PAN and TILT, with many having COLOUR wheels, GOBO selection, gobo rotation etc. as additional attributes.
LEDs can operate in a number of modes, based on the number of colour sources they have, as well as whether certain parts of the beam can be separately controlled. A basic LED fixture might operate in 3 channel mode, with the 3 controllable parameters being RED, GREEN and BLUE. More complex fixtures might add AMBER and/or WHITE, and the latest LED fixtures may have LIME as well.
Person(s) attending a performance. The audience sit in the auditorium or arena with a view of the stage.
Process where the director or casting director of a production asks actors / actresses / performers to show him/her what they can do. Sometimes very nerve-wracking, but auditions can be a fairly painless process if handled properly. Performers are often asked to memorise a monologue from a play they like to perform for the director. Books full of suggested monologues are available. You may be asked to do a 'Cold Reading' which tests your own response to a piece of text you've not prepared. Some audition processes have pages of text available outside the audition room for actors to familarise themselves with before the audition.
The part of the theatre accommodating the audience during the performance. Sometimes known as the "house". From the Latin Audio - "I hear".
Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.
Industry-standard CAD program for architects and designers. WYSIWYG contains a cut-down version of Autocad, along with visualisation tools.
See MOVING LIGHT.
Many reel-to-reel tape players for theatrical use have a facility that stops the tape mechanism when a piece of clear leader passes a detector adjacent to the erase head. This can be used to cue the tape up ready to start the next effect.
1) Facility available on larger sound mixing desks allowing channel muting or even fader moves to be taken under the control of a computer to ensure accurate and repeatable mixing.
2) Describes the method used instead of stage crew for moving bits of set around shows with a big budget. See MOUSE, SPADE.
Scenic Automation on Theatrecrafts.com
AUXILIARY INPUT or RETURN
A route back into the sound desk for a line level signal sent to a piece of outboard equipment (usually effects processor / EQ unit etc.) via an auxiliary send.
AUXILIARY OUTPUT or SEND
An additional line level output from a sound desk which can be used for foldback or monitoring without tying up the main outputs. Each input channel will have a path to the Aux buss. Also used for feeding a signal to an effects processor. See Auxiliary Return.
Short for Audio-Visual, referring to projected or screened video or textual material.
Swedish lighting equipment manufacturer.
Also, AVAB can refer to a digital lighting control protocol developed by the company. It's slower than DMX512 but still in use. It often uses a 5 pin XLR connector, but is NOT compatible with DMX512.
French term used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative (literally, 'ahead of the guard'). As experimental techniques have been adopted by mainstream theatre, the boundaries which define the avant-garde are constantly shifting.
AVISTA / A VISTA
A change of setting / scenery unhidden from the audience. This technique is increasingly popular due to modern advances in scenic automation, where entire set changes can be accomplished in seconds.
(Manufacturer) UK-based manufacturer of lighting control consoles (Azure, Pearl, Sapphire, Diamond) and dimmers.
American Wire Gauge. US system for measuring the thickness of wire. The lower the number, the thicker the wire.
Australian Writers' Guild.
(plural AXES). An individually controllable moving element controlled by a scenic automation or powered flying system. For example, a system controlling three flying pieces will have three axes of automation.
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