Ain't Nothing Like It In the World

Posted on by Larry


David Pogue, New York Times, has written an excellent followup article with Apple’s response to missing features in Final Cut Pro X.

Read it here:

– – –

Apple released Final Cut Pro X this morning at 5:30 AM LA time. You can read Apple’s announcement here —

You can visit Apple’s new webpage here:

In three words – speed, power, cutting-edge.

The first time I saw Final Cut Pro X, back in February, this quote from the title of Stephen Ambrose’s book on the transcontinental railroad flashed into my head.

Just as the transcontinental railroad permanently changed 19th century America – in a wide variety of ways – Final Cut Pro X has the same capability.

During the last several months, I’ve had extensive discussions with engineers and product managers at Apple, read virtually all the Help files and, more recently, been running the software itself.

I’m knee-deep in a long newsletter which will provide a lot more detail when it comes out next week (subscribe for your FREE issue here:, so here, in this blog, I just want to provide a bigger picture approach.

In every conversation I’ve had with Apple, each person stressed: “The easy thing would be to just create an incremental upgrade. But, we felt that while the current version of Final Cut held up well for the last ten years, it wasn’t ready for the next ten. We needed to design something from the ground up to take us into the next ten years.”

With this release, Apple made four significant changes in direction:

* For the first time, two different versions of FCP can coexist on the same system. I’ve been running FCP 7 and FCP X on the same system for months.
* Maxing out performance to take full advantage of current hardware
* Almost exclusive support for tapeless workflows
* Distribution via the App Store


To me, this is one of the highlights!

Installing FCP X does not remove FCP 7. So you can take your own sweet time deciding when to make the switch. And, in fact, you can use FCP 7 where it makes sense and FCP X when that is a better choice. For the first time ever, we can have two different versions of FCP on the same system at the same time, without partitioning hard disks and jumping through hoops.


Its no secret that Final Cut Pro took forever to accomplish some tasks. (I have it on good authority that many families were significantly augmented while waiting for the render bar to complete its measured progress.)

Plus, the 4 GB RAM limit caused projects to corrupt, files to mysteriously disappear and spawned a new breed of tech: the Final Cut guru, who, with an apparent laying on of the hands, could bring nearly dead projects back to life. (That last may be a dramatic overstatement, but I like the allusion.)

This new version flies. Whenever Final Cut needs to think, it does so seamlessly, in the background, with a little indicator that tells you how its doing and a complete dashboard for the curious who want to monitor their system.

It allows editing files natively, but prefers to convert them to ProRes – a decision that I agree with, for both performance and image quality reasons.

Once you edit with the magnetic timeline, you’ll never want to go back. And, while the concept of connected clips is a bit weird initially, the benefits these provide are so well-thought out and obvious that I stopped worrying about them after the first couple of days.

Nesting is improved. Audio filters are amazing and first-rate. There is much tighter integration with Motion and Compressor.

There are as many ways to edit in the new version as the old and more ways to trim. Trimming can even be in real-time or slow-motion. Old barriers such as clips in the Browser, still image sizes, clips in a project, and tracks have all fallen away.

The context-sensitive nature of the Viewer window, and the speed it responds, make me completely comfortable editing with only one image window.

The whole system is designed for speed.

And, when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, there are already hundreds in the system and the new process for creating shortcuts is just amazingly powerful – and easy to use.

NOTE: Remind me to mention how much I like the new audio meters – big, fat, large, readable, and adjustable.

Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, and Color are not in this release. (LiveType was discontinued when FCP 7 came out.)

We all have our favorites, but I will miss Soundtrack Pro the most.

HOWEVER, keep in mind that if you own this software now, you’ll still be able to use it with FCP X. But it is no longer available.


Much ink has been wasted and many pixels have died in the flame debate that FCP X is just a larger form of iMovie.

Yes, they share a similar approach to the interface.

Yes, FCP X imports iMovie projects and media. No, it doesn’t import FCP 7 projects. Yes, Apple should figure out a way to provide an FCP 7 translator. It can’t be that hard.

However, think about this for a minute. iMovie has been out for, what, eight years with ZERO ability to upgrade to Final Cut? Doesn’t it make just a little bit of sense to provide an upgrade option for the millions of future editors out there?

Of course it does.

There’s such in increase in power stepping from iMovie – which I’ve never liked – up to FCP X, that it would be like moving from a bike to a motorcycle. Yes, they both have two wheels and a handlebar, but there’s a huge difference in power in the seat!


If tapeless media is your life, it will take you a week to stop giggling once you fire up FCP X.

However, FCP X has only limited support for tape. Tape ingest is from FireWire-attached devices, and streaming-only, no timecode controlled positioning of ingest or output to tape.

I’m reminded of the hand-wringing that occurred when Apple dropped floppy disks for optical media “back in the day,” now that Apple has decreed that tape is dead.

In this case, though, I side with the “tapists.” Apple controls the eco-system of the Mac. They don’t control the eco-system of Hollywood; then, again, I’m not sure anyone does. I have clients today that are using 3/4″ Umatic cassettes for sound design and music composition, and EDL lists are used daily for conforming major feature films. Both those formats were declared dead AGES ago!

While FCP X can ingest from a Firewire-attached deck, its output options to tape are limited to live streaming.

This lack of support for layback to video tape using RS-422 control protocol with timecode accuracy gives the perception that Apple is not meeting the needs of professional output. It remains to be seen if companies like AJA, Matrox, or Blackmagic Design will step into the breech. If they do, great. If not, this will cause many of us problems.

However, if you are shooting tapeless, this new software is designed for you. Easy ingest, background transcoding, background rendering, background analysis… Very cool. And, best of all, you can stop or cancel a background process at any time.

Plus, if you are someone that likes to organize their files, FCP X supports that. If you HATE organization, FCP X will organize your files for you. Now, we have a choice.


This is a real biggie, as Apple explained it to me. Because no physical media is involved (think packages in an Apple Store), Apple can push out updates faster and at much lower cost because they are using the App Store.

In the past, Apple used a 18 month, or so, cycle between updates. Now, Apple is telling me they are hoping to do an update once or twice a year.

This ability to respond faster to the market and deliver economical updates has already born fruit with the new low prices for Final Cut, Motion, and Compressor.

This gives me lots of hope for the future.


Writing software like this is not easy, not fast, and not cheap. Its taken Apple several years, dozens of millions of dollars, and an engineering crew big enough to fill a small cruise ship.

You don’t go to that effort to meet the needs of a market you aren’t interested in.

Apple tells me they are committed to quickly improving this version and building on it. They tell me they are committed to making changes quickly and bringing them to market. They tell me they are interested in hearing our reactions to the software.

I believe them and look forward to them fulfilling their promises.


Final Cut Pro X is very impressive, but it isn’t perfect. There are a variety of design decisions that I disagree with – and I’ve shared these many times with Apple.

There’s no multicam support.

The audio capabilities in FCP X are far superior to FCP 7 in terms of technical specs and filters. But a completely unintuitive method for adding audio cross-dissolves and lack of support for track-based audio mixing leaves me fondly missing the power of Soundtrack Pro.

The process of adding an audio cross-fade is dangerous, unintuitive and dumb.

Worse, there’s no native way to export a project to send it to either Soundtrack Pro or ProTools for sound mixing.

I’ve already mentioned there is no native ability to layback to tape using timecode control.

The autosave is great, but what we need is the ability to freeze specific project builds so that the client can review and approve a version and KNOW that if the project is opened in the future that nothing will be changed.

Preferences need to include the ability to use frames, not just hundredths of a second for all timing decisions.

A clip needs to remember the In and the Out when you deselect it.

There needs to be a way to remove a project from the Project List without having to resort to the Finder.

There needs to be a preference setting so that all new projects default to Stereo vs Surround.

There are others, and I’m sure you’ll have your own list.


Look, you and I both know you’re going to buy it regardless of what I say. So here’s my main point. I think that within the next 18 months virtually all of us will be running FCP X and wondering how we lived without it.

It’s that good.

Is it perfect? No.

Whether this is right for you depends upon what you are doing. Here’s a list to help you decide:

* If you are exclusively shooting tapeless and outputting to the web, this product was designed with you in mind. However, some vendors – Sony comes first to mind – need to update their drivers to work with FCP X. Be sure to check the Sony website for updates before moving to FCP X.

* If you are shooting tape and sending XDCAM SR tapes to the network, you should stay with FCP 7 and complain to Apple to add improved support for video-tape output.

* If you are shooting (H)DSLR cameras, you’ll love the automatic transcoding, auto-image correction, and blinding speed built into the new system.

* If you shoot on DV or HDV and export your files for the web, Final Cut Pro X can make your life a lot simpler.

* If you shoot tapeless and distribute your files on DVD, you can use FCP X for your edit, export your footage, compress on Compressor (either old or new) and use DVD Studio Pro to create your DVD.

* If you simply need to burn your project to either DVD or Blu-ray, the new Final Cut makes this easy. If you need to author a DVD, or Blu-ray, you’ll need to use either DVD Studio Pro or Adobe Encore.

* If you are working in iMovie, you should step up to the new version and put some power in your pictures.

* If you are doing projects with complex audio mixes, stay with FCP 7 until Apple gives us improved audio mixing and audio export support.

* If you live for speed and high image quality, you have a new love in your life.

* If you are in the middle of an FCP 7 project, you should stay there. Don’t even think about trying to port your project into the new system. Finish your project. FCP X will be here when you are done.

* If you are responsible for meeting incredibly tight deadlines, stay with your current system. Buy FCP X – learn it. See what you like and what you don’t. Then, as it makes sense to you, roll it into production.

In other words, consider that your job is telling stories with pictures. Final Cut Pro X is another tool in your toolkit that can help you with your story-telling. For some of us, its perfect now. For others, it needs to mature a bit.

But, when the credits roll, it isn’t the power of the tool, its the power of your story that makes people care.

I’ll have much more in my newsletter next week. In the meantime, let me know what you think.


P.S. I’ve spent the last six weeks creating training for Final Cut Pro X. 88 movies, over eleven hours of in-depth training. All ready, right now, for you to discover the power and capability of this new software. Visit:

214 Responses to Ain't Nothing Like It In the World

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  1. Andy says:

    I don’t believe there will be huge sales of “Final Cut X” by some mysterious “Mass Market”.

    1st, students “liked” Final Cut because it was the editing software of choice for many professionals and learning it could perhaps open future doors in the business. If Final Cut X is not used by pros it will not be used by students or budding filmmakers.

    2nd, it will not be used by the typical family editor because Dad’s software budget is closer to $99 and unless he already owns a Mac Computer, he’s certainly not buying one to run this software.

    3rd, “Prosumers” won’t use it because “Final Cut X” will just push them back or to Adobe 5.5 and save them the extra $$ they were fretting losing by investing in that iMac” or Macbook.

    So let’s see, no Mom & Pops, no Students, no Prosumers, no Professionals. What’s left are the minority of folks who don’t fit into an above category yet currently own a MacBook Pro. Oh, but wait, not even them because they’ll just stick with their Final Cut 7.

    Apple’s Mac Computer sales are going to nosedive because of Final Cut X.

    I for one was expecting a great new Final Cut and was preparing to buy a fully loaded iMac to use it. Now I’m simply going to invest in Adobe’s Creative Suite and call it a day.

  2. David Stacy says:


    Thank you for the support. Good tag teamwork with referrals to other links and other people’s blogs! I am not as hurt during this software transition period because I am just a year out of film school at Orange Coast College in California where I was taught Avid and FCP. I’m new in the job market and its tough to apply and compete with 200 other people looking for the same job posting. New all new FCP X means a new opportunity to learn the program and be the best from the ground floor up. But during this transition period of uncertainty it also seems wise to do extra duty by being able to do whatever the employer or client wants and needs: Avid, FCP 7, FCP X, or Adobe.

    It was only three years ago when I toured Fox Studios in Hollywood just after they converted most of their editing stations from Avid to FCP. There were their Emmy award winning editors complaining because they didn’t know how to use FCP. Change comes tough for everyone especially those who have been cashing in on the goose with the golden egg. But just as a reminder to all the hotshots, people make big dollars because they are fast at doing something few others know how to do. Now is the window of opportunity to teach and use the newest greatest and latest.

    I believe when all the other loyal Apple fans think about it they will recognize that Apple prides itself on being cutting edge. It is impossible to believe that they didn’t have their check list of previous features and decided to hurt the professional industry. They just weren’t ready but needed a fresh supply of blood: U.S. dollars. The give away price point makes everyone a beta tester. I seriously doubt that 90% of the people would have complained if Apple called the program iMovie Pro. Its all about expectations and fear. Granted, Apple didn’t take a needed review course in 101 psychology for dummies. But lets face it look at all the talk and press this release is getting and it is not going to stop for a very long time: that equals more opportunity.

    It is only a matter of time before Apple finishes what it started in this new release and again blows its horn as the best program with the best features at the best price. Clearly getting consumer dollars must be their strongest motivation by splitting the package. I am sure they did a statistical study and found that few users ever did more than open the other programs so split the program to stimulate dollars with a lower price and maximize the new generation of editors, tomorrow’s market. Still, I do hope that they are as smart as those that put together Maya who bought out the best related software and made one monster state of the art program that is so deep that I have never heard anyone mastering all its features. Consumer buying habits prefer one stop shopping at lower prices.

    Adapting to this new program sort of makes me think its emotionally like going back to using maps after being dependent on GPS. There is nothing like being lost to give you an opportunity to really find your way around the new program because you are forced to learn!

    A little knowledge and understanding goes a long way. Thanks to you I’ve calmed down from the knee jerk initial panic. Everything is going to be alright!

    Thank you for your support for everyone who writes,


  3. Nivardo Cavalcante says:

    Hi Larry,

    We do not want to relearn how to edit, we want to keep working and keep our families with our work. Apple has betrayed us. Whenever we ask is that improved FCP 7 will not have him killed.

  4. David Stacy says:

    Larry and fellow readers,

    The real question for crystal ball readers is what are Apple’s intentions. According to Apple Product Managers reported that “Apple concedes that some complaints will likely go unrectified. For instance, Final Cut Pro X can’t import old Final Cut Pro projects and there’s reportedly no plans to address the matter. Instead, editors will need to keep both programs — Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X– on their hard drive, and edit the old projects in the old program.”

    Does Apple intend to develop FCPX as state of the art editing software to better any other competition and be top editor’s number one choice? That question remains to be addressed.

    Below is a copy of a comment posted on David Pogue’s, New York Times blog I added here because it clearly defines the production or any other multi-user workflow which is not supported by FCPX:

    “FCPX is NOT cross-platformed. By killing FCP Server and forcing media to be saved to the local machine, FCPX becomes 100% unusable in a professional editorial and post-production facility. The way FCP7 has been incorporated into most post-production/editorial facilities, is the local machine is connected to an X-san server, which is a network that connects all machines to a central server via fibre. This ensures the quickest transfer of data as your machine accesses files from the server.”

    “This way, you maximize editorial muscle by having multiple editors work from the same source footage without having to duplicate them onto your local machine. Not only does it free up harddrive space, it speeds up editing time exponentially as you can have multiple editors work on multiple projects that require the same footage. It also means that if footage is updated, it can be applied across the board to all machines and edits that are using it.”

    “FCPX is a closed sandbox environment meaning that users are forced to work only on their local machine.”

    “That and the fact that OMF/EDL/XML support in the current version is “missing” means that even after an edit is complete in FCPX – you can not send it to a 3rd party post environment to finish the video at high-quality. That means you can’t send project files to a sound studio for sound design or to a visual effects environment to do composition and color correction.”

    “By killing the import/export functionality of EDL’s/OMFs/XML — Apple has blown up the bridge connecting FCP to the rest of the post-production workflow.”

    …end quote.

    With a current customer ratings for FCPX of only 2.5 my prediction is that Apple has a very narrow window to restore confidence and fix this problem or loose its professional support base. The needs for companies to purchase additional workstations continue but FCP7 has been pulled off the shelves to force the issue for which Apple presently owns no solution! Whereas Avid has a solution that is tried and true and thanks to Apple has become much more affordable. There is an old saying in sports: “Never change a winning game and always change a loosing one.”

    This scenario reminds me of the blunder Coca-Cola made when it came out with the New Coke. It immediately received highly negative reviews but quickly brought back Classic Coke as part of a comparison contest. The interesting question is, how will Apple adjust to this negative media blitz?

  5. Terry S. says:

    Hi Larry,

    If anyone out there is a Final Cut Guru, it’s definitely you! Congrats on your collection of Training Material for FCP X, probably the only resource for FCP X that’s currently available. Thank you for your efforts to keep us on the know about these new products and how we can make the most of these powerful creative tools.

    I bet it was so frustrating for you these past six weeks, learning the new Final Cut Pro app, and not being able to speak a word of its real capabilities. I can imagine you wanted to just share some of the cool features or point out its flaws to your colleagues. At least now you can speak and share it with the world, thank you.

    Take care and safe journey home from London, if you have not yet returned.

  6. Terry S. says:

    I certainly agree with what you told Alex. The dust has to settle and hopefully with all the feedback Apple receives, they will fix a lot of the issues we editors will find with FCP X.

    One question, I noticed that the space requirements are quite leaner compared to previous versions. Do they still provide a content library with the apps or does it just tap into the previous content library that was installed off the DVDs in the Final Cut Studio bundle of apps? They seem to suggest that they do provide a refreshed or new content library with Motion 5. My conclusion with at least Motion 5, is that they have converted most of the effects to vector-based graphics, hence the reduced space requirements.

    • Larry says:

      Apple provides two content libraries – one for FCP and the other for Motion. Both are about 1 GB in size.

      Both are available via Software Update after you install Final Cut Pro X.


  7. Kilroy says:

    Does anyone think before speaking anymore these days….

    The FCP X dev. team has said for some time that X would not be ready for the switch from its release… That’s why you have the ability to use FCP 7 (They actually mention that the ability to use FCP 7 at the same time as FCP X was developed specifically for the purpose of easing things during the transition period, and would have otherwise been a feature left out).

    As always with Apple products the first release is more like a beta. Clever way to make money and test a product, as many people fail to catch on to this almost decade long trend…

    BTW wasn’t it like two weeks ago that Premier and Avid were the black plague compared to FCP 7? Where are all the complaints of Premiers poor programming, or failure to run on case-sensative drives (BTW many professional environments use case-sensative drives for a multitude of reasons, so I fail to see how switching to a software that will not even install on one’s drive trumps hit or miss software in those situations)? Where are all the complaints of Avid’s poor integration and support?

    As always those who produce drama for a living, seem unable to stop there. Listen to the emotion and the passion, but unfortunately you’ll find little logic or reason for the high stress and anger levels. The fact is Apple has been surprisingly transparent for a very long time that Final Cut Pro X would be released while still being developed. They told us all that FCP 7 would be usable at the same time long before the release, and that they were abandoning an easy upgrade for a new program that takes things in a new direction. For more than 6 moths it’s been know that FCP X is the 1.0 of a whole new beast and should be approached accordingly. They have also been very clear that updates will come in 6-8 month increments, once again to ease the transition period by decreasing the amount of time between updates that respond to the needs of the users.

    You all sound like a bunch of 12 year olds who don’t get what they want for Christmas, so they don’t appreciate what they have (Whats more ma and pa warned you not to get your hopes up either…). It’s been known that Apple’s new FCP X was going to hobble in some areas at the release, but does anyone talk about the amazing power the program is capable of due to its programing efficiency and its from the ground up real time development frameworks. The program, in as much as it is a computer program, is far superior to FCP 7, it’s just lacking some functionality.

    And thats what it really comes down to… Instead of listening to the surprisingly transparent information for Apple about what FCP X was going to be, everyone decided to instead make up their own unrealistic expectations of what FCP X would be.

    All the evidence you need is in the posts that precede mine. Full of anger, emotion, and disappointment they map some surprisingly unintelligent reactions from what I would hope are otherwise intelligent people. Reducing oneself to such irrational arguments only shows a weakness of oneself. I see virtually no large scoped negative reactions that maintain rational reasoning.

    Think not of what you lack, but rather focus on what you have.
    Try not to tear a thing down, spending energy on regression is unwise.
    Reject a tool and you reduce yourself, Apply a tool and you expand yourself.

    I know I , for one, will be doing all I can to learn everything about FCP X (The same way I spent time learning Avid and Premiere despite all the previous poo poos they received) so that I can produce the highest quality material with the best tools for the job, no matter which tool that may be.

    In this ever changing production/editing industry my knack for adaptation and my “always keep your options open” attitude has opened some really big doors for me. At the same time most of the people I left behind were the ones that would use any excuse they could to reject a new product. Something like, oh IDK no multicam support… All I’m saying is if 6 months from now Apple updates FCP X and its all of the sudden the best tool for you to use, will you know how to use it? I will, and so will everyone else on my design team, you can be Goddamn sure of that. And if that happens can you be sure it won’t be my firm or one like it, one familiar with the product at hand, that won’t start taking some of your jobs? I’ve found that knowing a product that many others are new on the scene to can be a great trump card in landing a job. And you can be Goddamn sure I’ll use that trump card if it takes your work and makes it mine.

    Whether for better or worse, FCP X is here, it’s a brand new beast, and it has serious potential of being a front running program in the industry for a decade or so. I’d suggest at least giving it a try.

  8. Kilroy says:

    Just an after thought…

    At the programming level the new X-san2 and the continued growth of the use of case-sesative drives in certain environments may also provide glimpses into the dev. teams thoughts… Could it be close sandbox until X-san2 to prevent having to code for two conventions? If X-san2 provides even further advantages for the use of case-sensativity, and such environments become more prevalent, FCP X would almost certainly crush Adobe (Which cannot run or even be installed on case-sensative drives), and respectfully control Avid as far as the Mac market share would be concerned.

    Perhaps the team was concentrating on the core programming with such zest for political reasons as well. Maybe they are hoping to leverage core design advantages over the other suites in the long term. In a sense it would be the only way to truly do something the other guys can’t.

    IDK just a couple thoughts…

    I wish everyone the best, and be prepared for whatever hits the ground next.
    -Kilroy was here-

  9. Kilroy says:

    Oh yeah, and as always thanks to Larry for ALWAYS thinking before he speaks (writes).

    Pretty out of control emotion in some of the posts, amazing composure on your part my friend.

    I think I speak for everyone rational when I say THANKS LARRY!
    -Kilroy was here-

  10. Alex says:


    You didn’t answer any of my questions (and gave me the same line of defense you give to anybody that has a point), but that’s ok.

    I couldn’t make it to the LAFCPG meeting. And I know you cannot print that letter you got from Apple. But can you give us the general lines? thank you.

    What get people emotional is not the software. As I said before, everybody can get used to that. Plus, we’re all geeks. We learn softwares on the week-end for fun (I do). What’s getting people emotional is the fact that despite their years of expertise and trying to point out the weaknesses of a new product, they’re called whiny kids by people who clearly are not professionals and have no idea what they’re talking about. Larry mention David Pogue’s blog, well Pogues’s blog was downright, wrong, badly researched, misleading, and condescending. And after the avalanche of comments reminding him that he has no idea what he’s talking about, his line of defense was even more condescending.
    It’s like we’re being told shut up and just drink the Cool-Aid already!

    And I’m not being emotional about it, but pragmatic. The fact is that no one can work in the broadcast world as long as ANY. AND. ALL of the missing features are not being reinstated. And How long is that gonna take? You’re talking about transparency but Apple, aside from saying that they’ll release update every 6 to 8 month (to slow in regard to the lack of feature in FCPX), hasn’t given us some sort of timeline, or even just a statement that they’re aware of the problem. And as David mentioned, we now know that FCP7 project will never open in FCPX. If you’re a true Pro Kill, you probably keep using projects that you created 5, 6 years ago. So 5, 6 years from now you’ll still have to have that old FCP7 on your machine to open projects you created this year on FCP7? That is just unacceptable Killroy. Plain and simple.

    And then you say: “Focus on what you have.” Well what I have In FCPX doesn’t change the way I edit much. But what I am missing prevents me from doing my job. So there is really no reason to focus on FCPX much.

    And again, this is not a V.1. It would be if they had called the software Beta and kept FCP7 on the shelves.

    Dust will settle yes. But if FCPX is better tomorrow is because we are pointing its flows today.

    • Larry says:


      The general outline of the letter is that FCP X is a work in progress and that Apple is already at work adding new features, such as multicam editing, that are highly requested by users.

      I did not read David Pogue’s original article, but for him to write such a mea culpa in the article I DID read indicates that he was pretty much off the mark.

      I don’t agree with you that ALL missing features need to be restored – however, I do agree with you that we need more than we have currently.

      As I have said before, FCP X is not ready for everyone – for many it does meet their needs, but for the professional market, in many cases, it does not.


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