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Night Lighting - Balloon VS Dino/Wendy's

Night balloon Dino lighting wendy

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#1 Simon Rowling

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 06:49 PM

Hi all,

 

I just wanted to know everyone's thoughts on using either a Helium balloon/ Sausage lights (attached) 

 

OR

 

A Dino (maybe x2, one either end of a set) Using them as back lights, & fill. 

 

(Firelight is the key light in most scenes)

 

Or maybe even Softboxes from cranes?

 

 

 

Which are better for moonlight?

 

 

 

I am filming a scene in the middle of an old medieval town centre (imagine Magnificent Seven gun fights)

 

I'd ideally like to use a balloon light as the ambient light and then the Dino's as backlights, but as its a low budget feature I have to chose between one or the other.

 

I'm leaning towards using the sausage light on a condor, and then just using some HMI's etc as backlights closer on the ground to the actors (so easily movable).?!?

COMPARED TO/

2x Dino's (on condor's) at each end of the town, so a back light whichever way they go. OR I could use Just x1 Dino as a side light, much like the balloon/sausage light.?!?

 

What are people's thoughts? 

 

 

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#2 John Holland

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Posted 24 March 2016 - 09:01 AM

I would go with the balloon light and maybe use something smaller as back light .


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#3 Guy Holt

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 04:09 PM

Which are better for moonlight?... its a low budget feature ... What are people's thoughts? 

 

 

If your shooting a low budget feature  and trying to create moonlight to contrast with firelight, then you are going down the wrong path by using Dinos or Tungsten Halogen Balloons.  Since HMI is a much more efficient light source (more FC/Watt) than Tungsten Halogen and closer to the color temperature you want to read as moonlight in contrast to firelight, you would be better served by using an HMI balloon or an HMI head in a condor. Since moonlight is a hard source (creates hard shadows) I would not use a soft source like a HMI Balloon.  Also, balloon lights are not cheap to rent because most renters of balloon lights require that you hire one of their technicians to operate it (that sausage light you picture probably costs a couple of thousand a day with an operator.)

 

The way this used to be done was to put a 18k HMI Fresnel in a condor.  It was expensive because in addition to the light you had to rent a diesel tow plant to power it, a grip truck to tow it,  a CDL driver to drive the truck, and a licensed electrician to pull the permit for the generator. Now-a-days you can put a 9kw ARRIMAX M90 in the condor (it has nearly the output of a 18K Fresnel and similar quality of light) and power it off a couple of paralleled Honda EU6500s or EU7000s (see picture below.)  Given the speed of cameras these days, what else you need can be plugged into the wall. You no longer need the big lights to get good production values

 

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                                       Paralleled Honda EU6500s power an ARRIMAX M90 in a condor (note 240V Shock Block used for ground fault protection since the streets were wetted down to increase the contrast of the shot.)

 

For example, a milestone of sorts was set on the north shore of Boston recently.  The feature film “The Last Poker Game” starring Martin Landau (Mission Impossible) and Paul Sorvino (Good Fellas) shot its’ principle photography with nothing more than a Honda EU6500is. 

 

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Martin Landau and Paul Sorvino in a scene from “The Last Poker Game”

 

It is a milestone because “The Last Poker Game”  is no low budget indie. It was produced by Peter Pastorelli, Marshall Johnson and Eddie Rubin. Peter Pastorelli’s credits include the Netflix film Beasts Of No Nation, which he produced alongside Johnson, and The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, which stared James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain. Johnson’s other credits include Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond The Pines with Ryan Gosling; Rubin’s credits include Love And Honor.

 

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Left: Honda EU6500is modified for 60A output. Center: 300ft cable run through the assisted living complex.  Right: ARRIMAX M40 head creating sunny look on a rainy day.

 

“Last Poker Game” follows Dr. Abe Mandelbaum (Landau), who has just moved into a luxuriant assisted living facility with his ailing wife. After forming an unlikely friendship with a womanizing gambler (Sorvino), their relationship is tested when they each try to convince a mysterious nurse, played by Maria Dizzia (Orange Is The New Black), that he is her long-lost father.

 

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60A HD Plug-n-Play Transformer/Distro powering ARRIMAX M40 and M18 on the set of the “Last Poker Game” 

 

The principle location for the movie was a sprawling new assisted living facility in Newburyport Ma.  At only 60% occupancy, the production was able to secure a whole wing of the facility, which was ideal except that the loading dock, where they could operate a generator, was on the other side of the complex.

 

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Paul Sorvino in a scene from the “Last Poker Game” 

 

Given the light sensitivity of the Red that they were shooting on, the production was able to get away with nothing more than one of our modified Honda EU6500is generators. To compensate for the drop in voltage over the long cable run, the production used one of our proprietary HD Plug-n-Play Transformer/Distros that enable you to step up voltage in 5% increments. This feature enabled them to maintain full line level even after running out 300’ of cable between the generator and set. From the Transformer/Distro on set the crew then ran out 60A Bates extensions through out the wing, breaking out to 20A pockets wherever they needed.

 

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Martin Landau and Paul Sorvino in a bar scene from the “Last Poker Game” 

 

This way they could run up to three 1.8kw Arri M80s, or a 4kw M40 when they needed a bigger source, without having to worry about tripping breakers. With ARRIMAX reflectors, these heads were plenty big enough to light scenes in the day room, dinning area, and lounge of the residence wing, everything else they could plug into the wall.

 

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ARRIMAX M40 powered by modified Honda EU6500 and 60A HD Plug-n-Play Transformer/Distro lights bar scene from the “Last Poker Game”

 

Using a small portable generator also enabled the production to save money by building out rental box trucks to serve as their electric and grip trucks since the trucks didn’t have to tow a diesel tow plant.  This proved to be advantageous when the production went out on location in the streets of Newburyport.  An old port city on the north shore of Boston, Newburyport is a warren of narrow streets through which it would have been difficult to tow a diesel generator. “The Last Poker Game” is, as far as we know, the first major film to take advantage of the combination of improved camera imaging, more efficient light sources, and Honda generators customized for motion picture production.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer

ScreenLight & Grip

Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston


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#4 Simon Rowling

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 04:49 PM

Thanks Guy!

 

That was my thought initially. And I know its often the go-to choice for moonlight. I would want a HMI either way (balloon or M90)

 

I would have the moonlight as a back 3/4 backlight and firelight as key.

 

 

My only concern with having One HMI as the moonlight is that when the actors turnaround I'd have to move the condor/crane around in order to keep back lighting them. My gaffer suggested Two Dino's or HMI's one at either end of set, to save moving the light around. 

 

What are your thoughts on that??


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#5 Guy Holt

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 05:07 PM

Thanks Guy!

 

That was my thought initially. And I know its often the go-to choice for moonlight. I would want a HMI either way (balloon or M90)

 

I would have the moonlight as a back 3/4 backlight and firelight as key.

 

 

My only concern with having One HMI as the moonlight is that when the actors turnaround I'd have to move the condor/crane around in order to keep back lighting them. My gaffer suggested Two Dino's or HMI's one at either end of set, to save moving the light around. 

 

What are your thoughts on that??

 

We live on a planet with one moon. The position of the light in your condor establishes the direction of the moonlight in your establishing shots.  For the close up coverage you can cheat the direction of "moonlight" to keep that cool back edge on your talent with a smaller HMI on a menace arm, but I would keep the direction of the moonlight in the  background consistent with your establishing shots. Nothing looks worse then looking down a street and seeing the sheen of the moon on the pavement and the deep shadows raking forward and then turning around to shoot the opposite direction down the street and seeing the same thing.  You can get away with it with street lights but not the moon.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer

ScreenLight & Grip

Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston


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#6 Simon Rowling

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 05:21 PM

Ok thanks.

I totally agree, using one big light for the wide shots as the moonlight.

 

I initially liked the idea of using a big soft light such as the Balloon, as the moon, so its more creating exposure and light from above (less of a backlight). Then just have smaller HMI's as Backlights.

 

I know having a condor with a Grid of spacelights Or Softbox underneath was used on Hateful Eight and James Bond for general moonlight. Rather than using a big hard moonlight source. ?!?!


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#7 Guy Holt

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 07:30 PM

I know having a condor with a Grid of spacelights Or Softbox underneath was used on Hateful Eight ....Rather than using a big hard moonlight source. ?!?!

 

If you are referring to the opening scene after the title sequence when Jango is freed, that was lit by Bob Richardson in his usual highly stylized fashion. To successfully light a night scene on a tight budget requires that you first have a clear concept for the shot. From there you can figure out an innovative approach to accomplish that look. What tools who need and how you deploy them will follow. A good example is a very similar scene I lit on a “low budget” feature called "Black Irish." It was a pivotal scene where the youngest son of an Irish American patriarch crashes his derelict older brother's car setting off an unfortunate series of events. For the scene we had to light 1000 ft of Marginal Street in Chelsea for driving shots on a process trailer and the scene of the accident. Our biggest challenge was to create through the lighting the feel of a car hurdling down the road at high speed.

 

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The problem was that even after lighting the equivalent of three football fields, the process trailer couldn't obtain a speed of more than 30 mph before it was out of the light. The traditional approach of under-cranking the camera to increase the speed was not an option because the scene was a pivotal one with extensive dialogue inside the car. So, we had to create the effect of speed through the lighting.

 

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I came up with a concept that was as beautiful in its practical simplicity as in its psychological complexity. To heighten the sense of speed of the process trailer shots we rigged 500w practical fixtures along a four hundred foot wall on one side of the road. We spaced the practical wall lights twice as close together as they would be normally. This way, as the car passed by, areas of light and dark would pass rapidly by in the background and exaggerate the speed at which the car was traveling. When it came time to shoot the static wide establishing shot of the car racing down the road, we dismantled every other wall practical in order to reinforce the effect. On an unconscious level the viewer's mind registers in the establishing shot the wider spacing of the wall lamps. So when in the close up process shots the pools of light in the background are racing past at twice the rate because there are, in fact, twice as many lights, the viewer's mind registers the car is traveling at twice the speed it is, in fact, traveling.

 

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In addition to the wall practicals, I simulated car dash board light on the actor's faces with a 12v 9" Kino Car kit. The play of the passing wall lights on the actor's faces were created by a revolving 650W Fresnel with diffusion on its doors rigged on the process trailer. To light the long stretch of road, I simulated the pools of light that would be created by street lights by rigging 6kw space lights under the baskets of 60' condors that were spaced about 200' apart over the road. In addition to the Space Light, each condor basket also carried a 4k HMI Par that filled the stretches of road between the pools of tungsten light with a cool moonlight. To continue the moonlight down the road there was yet another 4k HMI Par on a Mambo Combo Stand. Because this 4K was further down the road than was practical to run cable, it was powered by a Honda 5500W portable generator. A 12kw HMI Fresnel with 1/2 CTO through a 12x frame of Soft Frost served to pick up the deep background from the front on one end of Marginal Street while a 6kw HMI Par lit the other end.

 

BlackIrishfilmstrip5lg.JPG

 

To supply power on both sides of the road for a 1000' stretch was no small task. I used three generator plants strategically placed so that our cable would never cross the road in a shot. In addition to the Honda 5500W portable generator that powered the 4kw HMI Par light for the deep background, I used a 800A plant to power the 4kw HMI Pars and 6kw Space Lights in the condors, the 12kw Fresnel, and the base camp trailers and work lights. The 6kw Par, 12 - 500W practicals, and an assortment of smaller HMI's used to light the post crash scene were powered by a 450A plant on the far end of the roadway.

 

BlackIrishfilmstrip6lg.JPG

 

This example, demonstrates that once you have a concept you can come up with an innovative approach to accomplish it. The tools and how to deploy them follow. This example also demonstrates that the right tools, used in an innovative way, can create startling results on a low budget. Since “low budget” is a relative term it would be helpful to know what the budget is for  your movie and have more details about the sequence and location.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston


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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 08:29 PM

I'm not sure there's a planet in the cosmos where that's a low budget setup. That's an absolutely titanic setup.
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#9 Simon Rowling

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 04:49 AM

Thanks Guy, although a little off topic, its certainly a good point and I will certainly be taking note of the lighting setup you used should I be in a similar situation.

 

Budget is around 2 or 3Million pounds. I think we will probably end up using an M90 on a condor as its a harder light and we want shadows and bits of the set to be dark (as its a horror/creature feature/action film) Which we wouldn't with a big soft light.

 

The Fire and torches can act as the fill and key. The moonlight being the 3/4 backlight.

 

Cheers


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#10 freddie bonfanti

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 05:50 PM

I'm not sure there's a planet in the cosmos where that's a low budget setup. That's an absolutely titanic setup.

 

Phil, i understand this might look like a "Titanic" setup to you, but even for UK standards, it really isn't.

 

Two 60' machines and a few floor lamps are very straight forward, not expensive at all, even for a low budget film. I have seen similar setups on 1m pound films here in England, back in the day, and several tv dramas. 

 

A 60ft boom would cost 200 quid to hire for a night. Stand by riggers and ipaf electricians can operate them so there are no extra costs. 

 

Please, let's not exaggerate.


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 06:05 PM

As ever, perspectives on "low budget" vary.

 

But sure. Any of various lifting devices can be hired relatively cheaply if you are already a big-deal production. Then you've got to crew it, have it delivered, and hire those riggers and electricians. The cost to do this setup, including the vehicles to make it worthwhile, and their crews, is many, many thousands per day, and I think that's blindingly obvious. Most of the low-cost insurance providers won't touch anything involving this sort of overhead working or anything involving vehicles anyway.

 

And "back in the day" is right. There are no £1m productions in the UK and I doubt there have been more than a handful in a decade. There's £1 productions, and £100m productions, and there's practically nothing inbetween.

 

The only way I've ever done anything like this is just to go to Dale Hire and get a cherry picker. And I have done that, but the union would probably have roasted me on a slow fire if they'd noticed. 

 

Freddie, I mean no disrespect, but you are a massively successful international player in the film and TV game; your experience is not normal.

 

P


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#12 JD Hartman

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 06:58 PM

Phil, based some of the posts in the "Why LA" thread, this post in particular: http://www.cinematog...e=6#entry451935, your days of working on productions with no C-stands are over.  

 

Pack your bags.


Edited by JD Hartman, 27 March 2016 - 06:58 PM.

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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 08:10 PM

At risk of making this more about me than it already is, nobody's ever offered me a job in Canada.

But this isn't about me, it's about the thousands - probably hundreds of thousands - of other people who work in the part of film and TV to whom the setup detailed above is so obviously unavailable that we shouldn't even dream of it.

I repeat. The kind of production that can afford that sort of setup is the one per cent, or the less than one per cent. What I'm trying to do here is to stand up for the majority of people who work very hard, for almost nothing, who work themselves to the bone in pursuit of an impossible ideal they know they can never achieve, and who keep doing it anyway. That's dedication, and I'm not kidding.

And yes, okay, to an extent, I have an interest in this. We are judged by the same audiences to the same standard as that one per cent. Occasionally, we can convince someone, by application of hard-won and exquisitely-realised skill and, yes, a bit of luck, that we are a "real" production, and that's the payoff. On those occasions, who's the winner?

We don't want to do it on a shoestring - of course we don't. But don't stand there and tell 99-plus per cent of all the world's filmmakers that we could have all the toys if only we wanted it hard enough.

Many of us have worked in both worlds, and we know whereof we speak.

P
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#14 Amanda Eckle

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:38 PM

For the record- Balloon Lights don't cost an arm and a leg. You can easily rent a Sausage balloon light-secured to a condor and only have a tech setup and tear down (instead of a full 10hr rate)....for under $1,000 I know because it's happened recently (although this is dependent on how much output you'd like...things that are upwards of 32k HMI tend to cost more for obvious reasons).

I work for Airstar America; and I handle Low Budgets all the time-since everyone should have access to Balloon....not just big budget films/tv. I can work with whatever you need.


Edited by Amanda Eckle, 29 March 2016 - 06:48 PM.

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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 06:43 PM

Good to know Amanda-- Might have something this June/July where we'd be looking at some sausage.


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#16 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:20 PM

When I first looked into getting a balloon light on a job, it wasn't the lamp that was prohibitively expensive, it was the helium to inflate it.


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#17 Guy Holt

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:46 PM

For the record... You can easily rent a Sausage balloon light....for under $1,000 

 

That may be the case in major markets like LA and NYC, but in secondary markets like Boston it is another story. Rental houses here don’t rent balloons because they are a highly specialized piece of equipment that requires a qualified operator. What most productions in the Northeast do is to contract with either Available Light or SourceMaker in NYC for balloons.

 

The cost of lighting balloons gets very expensive by the time you add up everything. A 4k HMI Balloon alone costs about $900/day. To that you have to add the Helium which costs about $150/tank and usually four are needed. Balloon Technicians usually cost $500/10Hrs and their time is based on “door-to-door” or the time they leave their shop to the time they return and doesn’t include travel expenses or accommodations if a multi-day production.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer,

ScreenLight & Grip,

Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston.


Edited by Guy Holt, 29 March 2016 - 07:46 PM.

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#18 Amanda Eckle

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:01 PM

Adrian...definitely let me know when you do! my email's in my signature.

 

and Stuart-there are ways around helium costs (even in Los Angeles...which is one of the cheapest places now to get it); but they are not nearly as high as they were a few years ago. I understand a lot of peoples hesitation with the helium; but it's really not as scary or as costly as it sounds. If you ever want to use them again let me know and I'll make sure it works with whatever your productions budget is...

 

Guy- Actually we supply Available Light for their units (they are all Airstar product) ; -I know we have a few others in the Northeast, but currently our goal is to educate as many people as we can and train them so this is no longer a "niche"; but more available to the open market. I've actually flown out at my own expense and trained people for this specific purpose (mostly at grip and lighting companies, but also directly at productions as well).

Also you should never be paying $900/Day for a 4k HMI (especially for just the unit??). That's insane. I just rented out a similar unit (2,4k HMI 10' Round) out of state and outsourced a technician there-shipping + unit+ tech was under $1500...also we don't do Portal-to Portal anymore (unless Union...and that isn't always a guarantee anymore anyways-it is up to Production).

I know things in the "balloon lighting" business used to be run differently; but I've been with Airstar for about 7 months now and my main goal is to really get more education for everyone on this; and keep up with various productions needs and budgets.. Sorry I'm rambling now; but please shoot me an email if you want and I can get you more info if you'd like!


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#19 Amanda Eckle

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 08:06 PM

Also as a side note on this Topic-we do also have Air Filled Units (they don't accept helium); that run up to 4k HMI or 6k Tungsten..and some LED; that can easily be hung/rigged just about everywhere. Image for Reference below. They Don't require and operator and can be far cheaper than renting a balloon (if you have anywhere to rig). Anyways just thought I'd add that. Same Diffused Balloon Light w/o Helium basically. Version Pictured below is 1.2k HMI Units

 

 

HMI-Gaffair.jpg


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#20 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 12:13 AM

Thanks for pitching in Amanda, it's pretty difficult to source much info on balloons lighting online (since it's normally been reserved for larger-scale productions). So great to hear some actual facts from the source. 


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