Who’s Who in the Movie Credits

Who’s Who in the Movie Credits

Hi, John Hess from FilmmakerIQ.com. Have you ever watched the end credits and
wondered what exactly do all those people do? Well today, we’ll break down the credits
and explain who’s who on a major film production. First off, the jobs and titles we’re going
to cover today may change from one movie to another – we’ll describe the jobs that are
common but know that each movie is it’s own beast and each filmmaker may have a preferred
organizational structure. To begin, jobs are divided into two rough
categories based on the movie’s budget top sheet: Above the Line and Below the Line. The jobs above the line are the people that
get paid a negotiated set rate or a percentage of gross regardless of how many shooting days or scenes are ultimately required for the film. Think of them as fixed costs. Below the Line are the jobs that contracted
out depending on the needs of the production – variable costs depending on script changes. Above the Line jobs include but are not limited
to the Producers, Director, Writers and Actors while below the line is everybody else. So let’s start with the top boss, the Producer. People will often think that the Director
is the top dog on a production, but it is the Producer that hires the Director. So what does a producer do? That’s a big question. They can be involved with selecting the script
or the material to be adapted, picking the director and the cast, raising the money,
organizing the distribution – all of it or only some of it – the producer is basically
the person that champions a film from the beginning to the end – and that’s the reason
why the Producer is the one who accepts the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards. There are variations of producing credits. For theatrical films, the Executive Producer
is the person who secured at least 25% of the financing or played a significant role
in shaping the story and script. In Television, the Executive Producer is more
of the big upper boss, often the creator of a show. Associate Producer is a title given at the
discretion of the Producer to anyone they feel has played a key role in any part of
the production. A Screenwriter is the person that writes the
script. But not all scripts are created from scratch
by a solitary writer. There are essentially two kinds of writing
credits – there is story credit and screenplay credit. The story is the plot, characters and themes
whereas the screenplay is the execution of those ideas in an actual screenplay with scenes,
dialogue and transitions. When you see a “written by” that means
the person wrote both the story and the screenplay. When you see “story by” it means the person
either wrote a treatment – that is a prose version of the story of the movie – or wrote
an original screenplay that was completely rewritten only keeping the plot, characters
and theme. When the story is from a previously published work you’ll see a “based on the novel” or “based on the play” credit. Sometimes you’ll see “based on the Characters by” in sequels or in a long standing character like James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. Writing teams are designated with an Ampersand whereas writers working separately use the spelled out “and”. There are lots of rules from the Writer’s
Guild regarding rewrites for determining who gets credit for the screenplay and an arbitration
process for disagreements. But getting a name on the credits isn’t
just vanity, it is also a matter of the author’s moral rights and rights to residuals – that
means money. Once you have a script or sometimes even if
the script isn’t totally done, a producer will choose a director. The Director is responsible for all of the
film’s artistic and dramatic aspects visualizing the script and guiding the crew and actors
toward fulfilling that vision. Now the director may also go back bring in
new writers to alter the script and even rewrite the script themselves. Now DGA rules stipulate that there can only
be one person serving as the director on a film at a time which is why you see Joel Coen
credited as director on their older films even though he always directs with his brother
Ethan Coen. Now they have an exemption as a directing
team. Although we may give all the credit to the
director thanks to auteur theory – the relationship between the director and the producer is probably
the biggest influence over a movie as it can be where a lot of creativity really happens. When we think about the credits and billing,
we generally think of the names of the Actors in the production. The rules for billing are not as clearly defined
as they are for say the director or screenwriter so each film or television show can be negotiated
in a different way depending on the star’s contracts. But there are a few trends. A major star will get an Above the Title billing
– that means their name comes before the opening title of the film and above the title on the
poster. Then the cast is listed usually by the importance
of the character to the story with the leads first and the supporting roles following. In ensemble pieces, alphabetically or by order
of appearance. Sometimes stars will negotiate to be the final
listing and get a “with” credit or an “and-as” credit. These credits go to parts that aren’t exactly
leads but maybe filled by an actor with some status or a character that has just become
a fan favorite when we’re dealing with a television show. Now these lead and supporting actors would
be considered above the line although at this point the distinction may not be so clear. Below the line actors include Background Actors
and Day Performers. Background Actors are what you imagine – there
to fill the background of the scene. The most basic are General Background actors
for filling crowd shots, for the most part they will go uncredited. Background actors that have to perform a special
skill, stunts, or speak a line of dialogue will get upgraded to a day performer. The SAGAFTRA rules state that if the cast
of the entire production is under 50 performers, then all performers must be credited. If there are more than 50, it is up to the
discretion of the producer which 50 performers will get on screen credit. Stunt performers acting as doubles do not
need to have the name of the role their doubling identified. From here on out we will be discussing jobs
that are considered below the line – of course this distinction may change depending on the
movie or production we’re talking about. The engine behind every film is the production
office. The production office is in charge of making
sure everything comes together. At the head of the production office is the
Line Producer – the line producer is in charge of handling the budgetary needs – he or she
is responsible for every line on the budget and is involved with the logistics of everything
from production to post production including hiring crew members. One of the first hires is the UPM – Unit Production
Manager and sometimes credited as just Production Manager on independent films. The UPM is charge of overseeing the day to
day operations including time cards, reviewing the production reports and approving call
sheets. The UPM can hire assistants as well as the
Production Office Coordinators or POC. The POC handles the details of production
staff. Some larger production studios have a permanent
POC position who acts as a liaison between the individual production office and the big
overall studio. Depending on the size of a production, the
POC can have assistants called Assistant Production Office Coordinator. And of course in small productions all these
separate roles may be combined into one person. Working in the production office can be a
number of Office Production Assistants: Office PAs. who answer phones, make copies, do runs
and basically keep the office running smoothly. A big part of the logistics of a film is transporting
an entire company to and from different locations – here you’ll have an Transportation Office
Supervisor and Coordinators who oversee Drivers who move both people and equipment around. Because there’s a lot of money and paperwork,
you’ll see accountants and lawyers in the credits as they’re key to handling accounts
payable and drafting contracts for crew. Although those services are still needed after
the film is complete to handle sales and licensing deals as well as setting up royalties to those
who have a profit sharing contract. Before the cameras can roll, the Producer,
Director, and the Line Producer or UPM must plan out the production in preproduction. There are some specific roles to proproduction. Some directors like to Pre-visualize their
script – get an idea of what it will look like before actually shooting it… This is the job of the Storyboard Artist. If these storyboards are animated they’re
sometimes called Anamatics or Previz – and you can see credits for Previz artists and
even Previz supervisors and editors depending on how complex those sequences are. For the casting, a production will rely on
the work of a Casting Director. A Casting Director is responsible for finding
the talent to fill the roles in a production and this can include holding auditions and
working with talent agencies. Casting Directors can have assistants called
Casting Associates. To find locations and sound stages for the
production producers will use the services of a Location Manager which is sometimes called
the Location Scout. Location Managers must understand the production’s
needs and negotiate with the locations as well as making sure a film has all the proper
permits. THE DIRECTING TEAM When a production is in operation, the person
in charge of running the set is the 1st Assistant Director or 1st AD. This can be confused with Assistant to the
Director – a job which is exactly like it sounds – an assistant to the director. But 1st AD like a management role – they start
working during preproduction to figure out how to schedule a script. During production the 1st AD is in charge
of day to day operations, running the floor keeping things on schedule and safe so that
the director can focus on making creative decisions. The 1st AD is generally not everybody’s
friend, the job requires authoritative personality that can deal with the stresses of a major
production. Beneath the 1st AD is the 2nd AD – the 2nd
AD is usually charge of handling the background actors and often directs background action. a 2nd 2nd AD may be needed for film with a
lot of background people. Beneath the 2nd AD are the set Production
Assistants – or Set PAs One of the key jobs of the Assistant Director
team is to call the roll… that it, call out a series of specific cues before a take
to bring the cast and crew together including calling for quiet on set, and roll sound and
roll camera. Big productions may have multiple units – the
director may designate certain scenes often special effects, aerial shots, or even small
scenes to a second unit. Depending on what the needs are, a second
unit can have the same director team structure with a second unit director and second unit
AD. The head of the camera department is the Director
of Photography or DP. The DP is in charge of crafting the look of
the film in collaboration with the Director using lenses, lighting and camera movement. A DP may or may not actually operate the camera
so you may see a Camera Operator title as the person who actually works the camera. The first Assistant Camera or 1st AC pulls
focus and assists the operator and DP. The 2nd AC assists the 1st AC but also does
the film clapper, calls out the scene number and fills out the camera reports. Now productions will shoot from more than
one camera. In this case you can have Operators, 1st and
2nd AC for “A” camera, “B” camera and even “C” camera. If a celluloid film camera is being used you
will see the name of the film loader who has to make sure the exposed film is safely taken
and raw negative is loaded correctly in the camera. Digital productions are starting to use a
digital version of that – a Digital Imaging Technician that makes sure all the footage
is downloaded from the camera’s memory and safely backed up usually in triplicate. You will see some special camera credits including
Steadicam Operator who as you can imagine – operates a Steadicam or similar device,
Motion Control Tech for motion controlled dolly systems. On Set Photographers can be listed in the
credits as well, from photographers who are shooting behind the scenes imagery to Continuity
Photographers taking photos to ensure a set or costume looks the same over a period of
days. And in the same vein you have the Set Videographer
documenting the behind the scenes. For the Sound department, the Production Sound
Mixer serves as the department head and is responsible for recording all the location
sound in the production. Under the Sound Mixer are the boom operators
who are in charge of operating the microphone boom and Utility Sound Technicians who run
the cables and make sure everything is operating correctly The head of the Lighting department is the
Gaffer. This position works closely with the Director
of Photography to plan out the lighting of a film and in some productions is called the
Lighting Designer. Working under the Gaffer is the Best Boy Electric
– a non gendered term, even when a woman fills the spot she can be called a “Best Boy”. The Best Boy handles the day to day of the
management including the hiring, scheduling, and management of lighting crew; the renting,
ordering, inventory, and returning of lighting equipment. Under the Best Boy Electric are Lighting Technicians
who set up and operate the lights. The Grip Department, which is the department
for non-electrical components of lighting set-ups such as stands, flags, rigging, and
bounces as well as camera moving equipment, is structured similarly to the Lighting department. The head of is the Key Grip and below that
is the Best Boy Grip who manages the day to day operation and oversees the rest of the
Grips. If the grips are operating the camera dolly
they will be credited as Dolly Grips. The origin of the term Best Boy may come from
the studio days where the line between Lighting and Grip was not so rigid. When one department needed a temporary worker,
the department head of one would go to the other and ask for their “Best Boy” – essentially
the second in command. Best Boy may also have roots in early sailing
and whaling crews, as sailors often worked on rigging in theatres. With actors, cameras, sound and lights in
place, now we just have to figure out what to put in front of the camera – and that is
the job of the art department. The Art department is headed by the Production
Designer who works with the Director and the Director of Photography to figure out the
look of the production from sets to costumes to props. Under the General Art Department – is a sub
department called the Art Department headed by the Art Director. The Art Director oversees artists and craftspeople,
such as the set designers, graphic artists, and illustrators who work on the look of the
film and it’s marketing. Once the art department designs the set it
is the role of the Construction department, headed by the Construction coordinator who
manages all the construction needed to build sets. Reporting to the Construction coordinator
is the Head Carpenter who leads a gang of carpenters and laborers. This may also include crafting custom props. Construction is also responsible for breaking
down the set after the production is over. Once the set is created, it needs to be filled
in. This is the job of the Sets Department headed
by the Set Decorator. Working under the set decorator are Buyers
who purchase or rent pieces for the set, Leadman or Leadperson who oversees a set dressing
crew, often referred to as the swing gang. This swing gang is made up of Set dressors
who fill in all the stuff you would normally see on a set. If a set needs plants – you’ll see a “greensman”
who handles all the plant material, sometimes real and sometimes artificial. If a film has a significant amount of greens,
this may be it’s own subdepartment with it’s own organizational hierarchy. Items that the actors interact with that are
not part of the scenery are called properties or Props – and are under the jurisdiction
of the Property master who may have assistants below him or her.. Some projects will have a weapons master which
will work specifically with guns, swords and other weapons both in procuring for the set
and in training people on the safety, Not technically part of the Art Department
but related are Costume and Hair and Makeup. The Head of the Costume Department is the
Costume Designer. Under that position is the Costumer Supervisor
works on the day to day management of the costumes as well as overseeing the costumers,
buyers and renters that work in the department. The head of the Hair and Makeup Departments
are the Key Makeup Artist and Key Hair – both positions will work on the hair and makeup
for the leads and oversee assistant makeup artists who work on other actors. Special effects makeup artists may be brought
in as necessary. An off shoot of the Art Department is the
Special Effects Department. Special Effects are effects that happen in
the camera – the practical effects team. A special effects team can have a similar
hierarchical structure the art department in that it’s headed by a Special Effects
Supervisor, with a Gang Boss or Construction Foreman under him or her overseeing all kind
of Technicians from Pyrotechnicians to Sculptors to Model and Miniatures Technicians. Backing up the art department and actually
all the other departments as well is the Continuity Supervisor sometimes called the Script Supervisor. The role of the Continuity Supervisor is to
make sure that things that need to look the same, look the same from day to day – that
the sets, costumes, hair and and makeup stay consistent over a long shoot. Before we wrap up the production crew – let’s
not forget the craft services and catering positions. Napolean said an army marches on it’s stomach
and a film crew is no different. Craft Services or Crafty is small snacks,
drinks or coffee that is delivered to the different departments to have while they’re
working to keep them happy. Catering is a more formal meal where the cast
and crew take a break – union films are contractually obligated to have a meal every so many hours,
even on a the smallest budget non-union films, it’s best not to skip the meal because this
is where cast and crew members bond creating a better working environment. Once the production is done and all the shots
captured, the post production team comes in and a film is overseen by the Post Production
Supervisor. The editorial department is headed by the
Editor who will be assisted by several assistant editors who do a lot of the logging and organizing
the footage with the help of the camera reports generated by the 2nd AC. The Sound Department is headed by the Supervising
Sound Designer – under the sound designer are their is a dialogue editor who works on
cleaning up the dialogue tracks, an ADR editor who works on replacing dialogue that was recorded
on set with dialogue recorded in a studio, Foley Artists who create sound effects for
the film, Music Supervisors work with Composers who score the film, Orchestra Contractors
who bring in the Musicians who perform the score, Recording Engineers who record the
soundtrack and Sound mixers who bring everything all together. In Post Production we also have the Visual
Effects Department which can be a beast of it’s own. Visual Effects are effects not in camera – think
Greenscreen compositing and CGI. Now the organizational chart of a VFX department
can look a lot like a production crew with a Visual Effects Producer at the top working
with the Film’s Director and DP in deciding how shots will be done. Under the VFX Producer is the Creative Director
who controls the creative decisions – beneath that is the Visual Effects Supervisor who
organizes and coordinates a team of digital artists, painters, animators, programmers,
riggers, rotoscope artists (that’s a job that cuts out working plates frame by frame)
and compositors (the person who brings different visual elements together). Now a film will often use several different
visual effects companies for different shots so you’ll see many different positions listed. Once the picture is edited and visual effects
added, the last touch is to color correct and color grade everything. This is done by the colorist working in collaboration
with the director and sometimes the director of photography. So you can see why a big budget movie can
costs millions and millions of dollars. So hopefully now you have a better understanding
of who does what on a film. Some of the positions will be different from
picture to picture, but the next time you’re at the theater stick around and watch the
credits. And then assemble your own team and go make
something great. I’m John Hess and I’ll see you at FilmmakerIQ.com

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Awesome explanation! Finally I understand why so many people work on a film. Someone is missing: the credit list typewriter operator =)

  2. John, John, JOHN!!!!! Man you outdid yourself ! This breakdown really make it plain and more than easy to understand. AWESOME JOB!!!! Thank you again.

  3. Did i miss when you spoke about the cinematographer???? Can't remember seeing that. Huge kudos on this channel and how informative it is. Great job.

  4. I know the executive producer for the Smurfs movie (charlottes web)…I didn't realize EVERYTHING he has to do for his films…ridiculous how much he had to do.

  5. Wow! I was only looking to watch how to make a certain video and here I am subscribed and learning a LOT of other stuff for film making.

    Just WOW!


  6. This reinforces my idea that actors are sooooo overcredited for the movies they appear in. The problem is that so many poeople go to the cinema because of the face….
    BTW, awesome video. I have nothing to do with films, i am learning to use my dslr, but these videos are so informative that i started with one and this my seventh.

  7. I was taught as a child to stay and watch the credits with due respect to everyone involved in the making of the film I had just seen "Thanks Mum !!!! PS Love Your Page !!

  8. Can you also cover who's who in the beginning of the movie in terms of company  and studios? Let's take any movie like "About Time" for example – in the beginning you  are shown these three slides – Universal Pictures Presents – In association with  Relativity Media – A Working Title Production – How are these three entities related?   Who does what? All  I know is Universal is a major Hollywood Film company/studio. What about the other two? Thanks in advance –  I have to say I have been watching  these FilmkaerIQ and Mr. John Hess is a true genius – His depth of understanding  of the movies both in terms technical and artistic sense is phenomenal.

  9. A DIT does a lot more than Data Management. What you described is what a data wrangler would do. The DIT can do what the Data Wrangler does but will also control exposure, taking care of the lens aperture, do live grading, grade the rushes, transcodes the rushes for editing, and ensure that everything that is sent from the set complies with the post-production specs. So it's a lot more complex than just backuping the card to multiple disks.

  10. Thankyou so much for this video. It helped me alot for making a presetation for school about movies. Greetings from a guy from the Netherlands

  11. Just a little extra, a DP who operates the camera is usually called a Cinematographer, just in case somebody was wondering.

  12. We saw this when they shot some scenes of the movie "The Old Man and the Gun" here in Bethel, Ohio on April 4, 2017. Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek were in the scenes. I stayed home as my sinus was bad. There some videos of it posted by people who watched and news from the Cincinnati TV stations.

  13. Yesterday after seeing all those huge credits of Avengers: Infinity War, I couldn't wait anymore I needed to know what all these ppl were doing for the movie. Though watching the credits I always wandered what all those terms and abriviations means and what these ppl do? Great video and exellent explanations? now I see all the picture.

  14. Well… this kinda explains why in the movie The Revenant you only see 1 guy in the full movie and in the credits there is like 200 people…

  15. A bit complicated but very informative video for those who are not in it. Way to go!
    But there's a question that is still unanswered: when did the end credits finally transform into their current form of tiny white lines on the black background?

  16. What is a 'Cinematographer'…??? Is it similar to DP or different…??? Got all my questions answered but this one… 🙁

  17. So, what does the "Script Girl" do? This person is listed at times in the screen credits of old European films. (Especially French movies of the post-World-War-II era.)

  18. Makes me think of how the credits for Avengers Infinity War went on forever. All the effect groups, CG animation groups, multiple sets and locations and all those assistants to the actors.

  19. Honestly, this sounds like a lot of unionization Of titles to justify the high cost of filmmaking… as a Manager of multimillion corporate projects (i.e. projects that cost millions in salaries to gain millions in sales or savings) we have very little distinction between the roles the people play… often the same people switch from analysis, design, coding, testing, installation and post production support… with much smaller teams and, consequently, higher salaries because the skillset and experience must be far more comprehensive. I think the unionization of the industry – while those who are getting paid for minimal effort – may seem worthwhile… all this does it raise the cost, needlessly, to crowd out new production companies to protect established – well capitalized – production companies… and cut-out people who are not within the every smaller circles of people who form a “movie making clic” whereas, in non-unionized industries (the vast majority of small businesses) are under constant pressure by upstart companies that are smaller, faster and more agile in coming to market with a better product or service. Perhaps that’s why “feature films” are becoming an ever smaller, more generic, more easily marketable… watered-down result of a lot of make work jobs??? Anyone for “Avenger XXX?”

  20. I was really getting into this, but the chalk-writing sound effected put in to complement the graphics was murder on my misophonia, so I couldn’t finish the video.

  21. Why are there so many different jobs in the hierarchy? For example, why doesn't the director of photography also operate the camera and set up the lighting? Rick Steves (Travels Through Europe) makes all his travel documentaries with a crew of 3 people including himself.

  22. As a kid I remember my dad laughing at the credits of any American movie that was shown on TV, he said something like "do they list everybody that crossed the street at any given time during the movie?". Our movies used to show the director, the main actors and that was pretty much it, so the credits that went on for minutes were surreal and ridiculous for us.

  23. This is a pretty good overview look at the technicians, artists and others that make our filmed entertainment. The workers each put in 12 to 16+ hours days, 5 to 7 days a week. And are mostly unionized which means they are protected by a collectively negotiated wage structure, a full coverage health plan, a retirement plan & a set of workplace protections beyond the basic government minimums. Despite these benefits, the average film crew retirement period can be quite short before they expire, as the working conditions can be extremely stressful and overnight turn-arounds quite short.
    This is the "Hollywood Dream". Please honor these fine craftspeople and stay through the credits. Further, show favor to productions made in your country. These are your neighbors you are supporting!

  24. the Post Production sound segment was not correct-

    the Supervising Sound Editor (or Designer) has no control over the Composer, or Music Editors.

    there was also no mention of the Sound Effects Editors as well, who work under the Supervising Sound Editor/Designer in the manner that the Dialog, ADR and Foley Departments are involved- and speaking of which, the Foley Artists and mixers create the Foley (sound effects performed to picture) which are then handed off to the Foley Editors to refine their sync to picture-

    another omitted, and very important group is the Group ADR coordinator, and performers, who provide the background group voices that are required for the film or TV programme.

  25. All of the music information is incorrect. The Supervising Sound Editor has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the music. NOTHING. You also left out music editors entirely. The sound department doesn't edit the music. The music editor does that. The music editor is the equivalent of the supervising sound editor in the music department. Two completely separate departments whose work does not come together until the final mix.

  26. Great breakdown! A lot of people in production and on set don't know who is responsible for what role and should watch this before starting a film!

  27. Say I want to make a movie but I have a passion in writing as well, how can I ensure my movie will be exactly how I see it? Being a screenwriter or a director?

  28. 3mins into the video and I have learned so many details relevant to my profession. I definitely go fund you. Thank you for all your efforts @Filmmaker IQ !!!

  29. I love all of your content! As a SAG-AFTRA actor and stuntman. I’ve been transitioning into directing and all of this information is so vital! Thank you and keep up the great work.

  30. Okay, let's get through this for using 1997's "Men in Black" as an example

    COLUMBIA PICTURES presents (The main studio distributing the film)
    An AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT production (The secondary studio)
    In association with PARKES/MacDONALD Productions (A third party)
    A BARRY SONNENFELD film (The director got billing after making "Get Shorty")
    Starring TOMMY LEE JONES (The first billed star)
    WILL SMITH (The second first billed star)
    "MEN IN BLACK" (The title of the movie)
    LINDA FIORENTINO (Leading lady)
    RIP TORN (Lead boss)
    VINCENT D'ONOFRIO (Lead villain)
    TONY SHALHOUB (Secondary character)
    Casting by DEBRA ZANE and DAVID RUBIN (The casting directors who brought the actors together)
    Alien Make Up by RICK BAKER (The make-up artist)
    Visual Effects Supervisor ERIC BREVIG (The main head of special effects)
    Costume Designer MARY E VOGT (The person who designed the costumes for the film)
    Music by DANNY ELFMAN (The film's composer)
    Edited by JIM MILLER (The person who puts the shots together in the proper narrative)
    Production Designer BO WELCH (The person who decorated the set)
    Director of Photography DON PETERMAN (The person who is the Cinematographer)
    Based upon the Malibu Comics by LOWELL CUNNINGHAM (Giving credit to the person who came up with the original source material)
    Co-Producer GRAHAM PLACE (The personal friend of the director and in turn co-producer)
    Executive Producer STEVEN SPIELBERG (The person who came up with the idea, the person behind the studio backing the film or the person who got the funding of the film)
    Screen Story and Screenplay by ED SOLOMON (The writer who in this case came up with the plot, characters, themes, execution, dialogue and transitions)
    Produced by WALTER F PARKES and LAURIE MacDONALD (They selected the script, hired the talent, raised the money and organized the distribution)
    Directed by BARRY SONNENFELD (The person responsible for all the artistic and dramatic and/or comedic aspects of the film)

  31. When I watch one of your videos, I'm disappointed twice : first when I see a video from a subject I should be learning and have to say goodbye to some free time, and last when I've seen the video and it confirms that I've actually learned something so next time I'll have to watch your videos again. Anyways… They are useful.

  32. Please forgo the tapping sounds in future videos. Why go through all that trouble just to be annoying and distracting? (^_^)

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