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Author Topic: Cutting edge  (Read 6784 times)

Eric Chancey

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Cutting edge
« on: May 08, 2004, 11:22:45 pm »

A lot of churches these days have great A/V departments.
Do you think the church needs to be or should be on the cutting edge of technology? Should we be ahead of other "worldly" venues technically? How do we be leaders without mimicking the world. or how do we be leaders without being followers?
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Eric Chancey

Tom Roche

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2004, 12:45:42 am »

So true.....some churches can afford awesome A/V technology, while others can only afford hand-me-downs.

Do churches need to be on the cutting edge?  It's likely the responses you might receive are relative to the posters' situations and experiences.  My generalized answer is "no."  However, when used in the proper manner the latest technology certainly can be beneficial.  Consider whether the new technology meets a specific purpose or if it's used just for the sake of having it.  Also consider format, especially for video and/or multimedia.  The reality is these technologies evolve quickly.  To minimize their cost and maximize their value some churches recognize the sooner they get onboard, the more use they will get from it.

If a church is pursuing the latest technology for the sake of being a techno-gear leader, then I think that church has lost its focus.  Perhaps there are a few exceptions, but I'd guess the overwhelming majority of churches don't operate with this goal in mind.

Lastly, I'll say we should give God our best.  If that means we can buy the latest and greatest and it better serves us, then why not?

Tom
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Rich Bruchal

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2004, 11:01:08 am »

Echancey wrote on Sat, 08 May 2004 23:22

A lot of churches these days have great A/V departments.
Do you think the church needs to be or should be on the cutting edge of technology? Should we be ahead of other "worldly" venues technically? How do we be leaders without mimicking the world. or how do we be leaders without being followers?


You have to be careful not to put the cart before the horse.  The first thing to do is to take a step back and look at (or formulate) a set of goals or priorities.  What exactly do you want to accomplish with regard to music in your church?  Then design (or better yet, have a professional design) a system that meets those goals.

Of course sometimes economic realities necessatate revising those goals, but then your design should meet those revised goals.

That being said, I've found in many technology applications that it's better to spend the extra money for higher qualiy stuff, as it's less likely to cause trouble down the line or become obsolete. (i.e. don't be penny-wise but pound-foolish)
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Tom Young

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2004, 08:22:51 pm »

I think a church needs, or is justified, to be adequately equipped.  

A small and poor church obviously cannot afford nor can they justfy having a SOTA (state-of-the-art, and in this context I mean "top dollar") sound system, assuming they must pay for it and it is not donated.  I also see no point in a large and prosperous church having a top dollar system while their natural acoustics are a mess and acoustic/mechanical noise is an issue.

I gotta say, though, that there is *far* more money wasted by those churches who spend foolishly low amounts of money on what appears (to them) to be acceptable bargains and with no consideration for what is really required to deliver adequate sound. Far too often the concept of 'good stewardship' is misapplied in this regard and the result is that the accumulative cost of equipment, once a useable system is finally achieved, is far in excess of what it would have cost if done right the first time.

Getting back to your original question:  in my work while on staff at churches and as a design consultant (not to mention in my many years of secular sound) I have on occasion justfied buying or spec'ing certain top-dollar pieces of equipment because the benefits were tangible.  But in these cases (systems) I also researched and found good bargains for elsewhere in the system that saved money but did not compromise the sound or show evidence of being poor long term investments.

Hope this helps shed some light.....

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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
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Kevin Maxwell AKA TheMAXX

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2004, 09:46:28 pm »

I think “cutting edge” and “state of the art” are not the greatest terms to describe what we are talking about here. The other term for “cutting edge” is “bleeding edge” because it is usually not yet a proven technology. The same definition is usually applied to “state of the art”. I know the marketing people try to use the terms differently but to the die-hard technical people it usually means using a technology that is still getting the bus worked out of. I used to do A LOT of shows for a major computer forecasting company and the analysts used to joke with me that I could do their presentations because I had heard them so many times. When I first started doing their conferences I was only confused by the TLAs and the ETLAs.

I am all for the church buying quality so as not to waste money on junk and then have to buy again. But the biggest problem that I have seen is the lack of talent amongst the people trying to run any sound system in a church. I have had the church leadership call me in because of the lack of quality and consistency of the sound and I find one of the problems to be the people can’t mix. The hardest part of this is that there is usually one person who thinks they know everything and this is the person that the leadership is telling me is their worst problem. Then this person is the most resistant to being taught.

I agree with what Tom said – especially about the other issues (acoustics/mechanical) that some churches have but they seem to try and fix it with electronics when a D9 is what is really needed. Well maybe not a D9 but some other remodeling technique.  

BTW Tom are you the same TY from JH or are you the other TY?
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Kevin Maxwell
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Eric Chancey

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2004, 10:29:38 pm »

Let me explain a little bit...
Do you think the church should, or needs to compete with other productions,ie, concerts etc. In terms of quality and skill.
Are the congregants expectations higher now and are they disappointed if we(the church) don't meet their expectations. Or is it all marketing?
Essentially what I'm getting at is, how obligated are we to "compete" so that we are not seen as second rate?

Also, what I consider cutting edge, would be new proven technology. Bleeding edge for me would be new unproven technology. An example would be, yamaha's pm1D to me is proven technology(cutting edge), on the other hand, Digidesign's new live console will be bleeding edge when it comes out. make sense?
Just an opinion. (I need to quit posting late at night).
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Eric Chancey

Karl P(eterson)

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2004, 11:57:01 pm »

It depends on what you (the part of the body in your location) are trying to do, who your trying to reach and how you want and plan to get there. A subset of that would be the skill level possessed by your team and operators, and if there vision correlates to that of the leaderships.

As to the expectation, it really does come back to who you are trying to minister to.

The expectation of a person in there mid to late 70's is quite a lot different than that of a person in there mid to late teens.

The catch I have found, and come to believe relates to those in the middle..... they closer they are to one of those two age groups, they tend to err on that side... through the 20's and 30's they err closer on the side of the teens, whereas from 50s and 60s they err closer on the side of the elderly..... that being said though, every day people who are used to this level of quality are growing older, and still expecting it..... so while this statement holds true in some cases, its slowly starting to fade out as well.



To try and give some tangible examples, let me try and relate this to real world situations.

I know a church who have a mostly elderly demographic, and all they have is an organ, a voice reinforcement only system, and house lighting controlled by single pole switches. For there needs, for there demographic, anything more would be overkill.

On the other hand, I know a church which is youth centered, and doing there best to be relevant to this generation, which means they have upwards of (I believe) 300~350 thousand in there youth center (not talking about there main center) and includes full video, sound and lighting facilities. While these aren't grossly overspeced systems, they are all of a high enough quality that they support there need and leave room for the rest of there vision as well as support an upgrade path for them should they need it.

In the middle is a third church which falls somewhere in the middle, not needing the latest and greatest technology and systems to support there vision and needs, but also using quality lasting equipment for there needs and use.

And there are churches that fall in-between all the other fields and go past them in one way or another.

A church I work with a lot is just about ready to complete the last major phase of there project, and for a building with a 300 person capacity will have over 110k$ equipment...... Is this wrong? Some may think so, but then some may not. In the end it comes down to where God is leading your particular section of his body, and to whom you are instructed to reach out to.


To sum it up:

Build to accommodate what God would lead you to do.

If your trying to reach out and be relevant to people of this day and age. A day and age where we are living in the generation of MTV, surround sound systems in base car packages, multi million dollar advertising campaigns on every street corner and where 90 to 120 minutes of sit down entertainment can cost upwards of a hundred mil to make. Then be prepared to break out the checkbook (and dig deep, at that), pray for good volunteer talent, and (possibly) be prepared to hire the rest.

From there, scale down to fit your needs.... But never try to save money to such an extent that you cut corners. Rounding them off is ok in circumstances where money just isn't there, but the only thing you get by cutting corners is bloody hands. Every Sunday.

Karl "Don't mind any errors, its late" P



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Tom Roche

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2004, 12:07:39 am »

Echancey wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 03:29

Let me explain a little bit...
Do you think the church should, or needs to compete with other productions,ie, concerts etc. In terms of quality and skill.
Are the congregants expectations higher now and are they disappointed if we(the church) don't meet their expectations. Or is it all marketing?
Essentially what I'm getting at is, how obligated are we to "compete" so that we are not seen as second rate?


To me it's not a matter of competition, but of sharing the same goal.  And in my experience I have discovered that congregations are fairly forgiving people.  I'm not convinced they expect a top-notch production with heavenly sound and professional musos.  I don't think the idea even crosses their minds, at least for 99% of them.  Maybe the mega-church congregations do, I don't know, but not the small ones.

Our congregation is appreciative of the musos and the people who run sound regardless of their skill.  They appreciate that these people volunteer their time to partake in those ministries.

Tom
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Tom Roche

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2004, 12:23:14 am »

Tom Young wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 01:22

I think a church needs, or is justified, to be adequately equipped.  

A small and poor church obviously cannot afford nor can they justfy having a SOTA (state-of-the-art, and in this context I mean "top dollar") sound system, assuming they must pay for it and it is not donated.  I also see no point in a large and prosperous church having a top dollar system while their natural acoustics are a mess and acoustic/mechanical noise is an issue.

I gotta say, though, that there is *far* more money wasted by those churches who spend foolishly low amounts of money on what appears (to them) to be acceptable bargains and with no consideration for what is really required to deliver adequate sound. Far too often the concept of 'good stewardship' is misapplied in this regard and the result is that the accumulative cost of equipment, once a useable system is finally achieved, is far in excess of what it would have cost if done right the first time.


As always, nicely said.

I tried to convey to our church leaders the importance of doing it right the first time before we transitioned into our new facility.  "We don't have the money," was the usual response.  At least I received a budget to work with; albeit, an inadequate one.  We are experiencing the acoustic mess you spoke of.  Yep, upgraded most of the sound system, but now we're dealing with obnoxious echo that makes the serman a bit unintelligible.  Sad  

Tom
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Kevin Maxwell AKA TheMAXX

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2004, 12:57:24 am »

I have always thought that we should be striving for excellence in the church. Not that we have to do anything is a wiz bang fashion. There are more examples in lighting and video of the possibility of show for show sake, then I can think of that kind of thing in sound. I think if the sound is done properly we become invisible. My father was an Engineer at NBC-TV in NYC (audio specialist). He used to say if you do your job right then no one notices, do your job wrong and everyone notices. He also believed that we should do our best in the church.  Now how far do you take that? Do we put Neumann KM150s or KM105s on all of the praise singers? That would probably be overkill. But it might be nice to have a couple for solos. How about a couple of KM 184s for the choir?

Now can the people hear the difference? I think a lot of people do not consciously know when it’s not as good as it could be. But as long as cues are hit and there is no feedback and they can hear and understand the preacher then everything is just fine for them. But then there are some who can tell that the tonality of the system isn’t quite what it should be. When the leadership wants it improved then you know it needs to be better. If everyone is happy except for me then it may be time for me to accept it as it is. And if I am the one steering the changes I need to be sensitive to is it good enough.

One of the problems is that cost of sound equipment almost seems to be logarithmic. To get a piece of equipment that is twice as good as another can cost 10 times as much. I now this is a little bit of an exaggeration but it’s sometimes not that far from the way it really is. So is it worth spending that much more money.

The Church that I am a member of is actually over 150 years old. The present building was originally built, around 1965. It seats about 550 with a balcony. The speakers were Bozak columns that were made to look like the lights that hung along the left and right aisle. The columns hung about 16-18 feet high and about 4 feet upstage from the edge of the stage. When you talked into a mic it was heard clearly throughout the room. A picture of the interior of the church showing the speakers was featured on the cover of a Bozak brochure of that time.

Now when they started doing music that was a little more modern (late 1970s) the speakers couldn’t take it. Then sometime in the 1980s they installed a new system. The speakers were mounted on the beams (left and right) about 9 feet off the ground and about 10 feet from the stage with no delay on them. So if you were sitting in the first 2 rows the speakers were behind you. They had a set of speakers over the balcony and a set under the balcony all on the same delay.

We did a bunch of technology upgrades at my church a few years ago. Included in that was a new EAW speaker system with XTA DSP and QSC amps. Just for that part of it we spent about $20,000. I have overseen about $70,000 in tech upgrades in the last few years there. The speakers were ordered as plain wood and we had them stained to match the interior wood and I covered the metal grill with grill cloth. I can go into more detail of the system some other time if anyone wants but this is probably way to long already.

Now we are going to be tearing the whole place down and building a whole new facility shortly. With a sanctuary that seats about 1200-1800. The number keeps changing. I hope we will still strive for the excellence in the new facility including the HVAC and the acoustics. I don’t think we will be getting a PM1D but maybe a PM5D or some other digital console.





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Kevin Maxwell
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Phil Ouellette

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2004, 06:22:36 pm »

This is a tough call.  It really depends on your churches vision and what they see as important.  

My church has a high energy contemporary worship, we broadcast a 30 minute service on TV every week, plus we do 3 major theatrical productions a year.

The theatrical productions are a major part of our outreach to our community.  Our longest running production (The Witness) has been seen by over 200,000 people and we have had 20,000 people make a commitment to Christ at these productions.  As you can imagine this emphasis on theater requires a significant investment in infrastructure to support it.  Is our system cutting edge?  No, our new 1700 seat sanctuary has a DM2000 for FOH console and our speakers are a D&B 5.1 surround sound system (Ci7 central cluster, B2 subs plus a pile of Ci80s).  This was not cheap, but it is hardly cutting edge.

Phil
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Bruce Burke

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2004, 08:02:20 am »

Phil Ouellette wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 18:22

This is a tough call.  It really depends on your churches vision and what they see as important.  

Phil


And that vision usually changes with each new pastor.....

-Bruce
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Vince

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2004, 01:13:47 pm »

Bruce wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 07:02

Phil Ouellette wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 18:22

This is a tough call.  It really depends on your churches vision and what they see as important.  

Phil


And that vision usually changes with each new pastor.....

-Bruce


It's really a shame when it happens that way. If a church needs to select a new pastor the vision of the church should be strong enough that they choose a pastor who agrees with and can execute that vision ...

Vince <><
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Tom Young

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2004, 08:15:52 am »

I prefer to keep "cutting edge" separate from "bleeding edge", as the first applies to proven new technology and the latter is (as you said) unproven. I generally use cutting edge and SOTA interchangeably. Yes, it's semantics.

I resigned from Jaffe Holden Acoustics back in February and am now on my own, designing primarily for HOW.

Got gigs ?   Wink
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
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Bruce Burke

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2004, 11:47:54 am »

Vince wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 13:13

Bruce wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 07:02

Phil Ouellette wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 18:22

This is a tough call.  It really depends on your churches vision and what they see as important.  

Phil


And that vision usually changes with each new pastor.....

-Bruce


It's really a shame when it happens that way. If a church needs to select a new pastor the vision of the church should be strong enough that they choose a pastor who agrees with and can execute that vision ...

Vince <><


Depends on the denomination. The United Methodist church, for example, "assigns" pastors, they aren't "called."

-Bruce
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Stirling Flynn

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2004, 09:25:39 am »

Here's my take on this... We had to decide if we are a seeker-based church or a teaching church. I think we're a teaching church that is seeker-sensitive. In other words, our weekend worship services are directed primarily at a body of believers BUT a newcomer would feel at home.

That said, our AV design has to be attractive to today's society that is seeing and hearing higher quality AV in their everyday lives. Face it: if I were to walk into a church that was using overhead transparencies and a bull-horn, I would probably think "isn't that cute" and walk back out. However, if I can design a system that feels and sounds warm, high-quality and inviting, I may get one of those visitors to stick around long enough to hear someone who would like to meet them where they're at.

Secondly, there is nothing evil about technology. I do, however, believe that some churches jump the gun as to what they are really able to steward well. They'll get some donor to jump up and buy them a bunch of really cool stuff that they don't know how to use and is thrown in the face of an unexpecting congregation. Then they start getting comment cards about how it's not working and the pastor ends up having to deal with a congregation that wonders why they ever moved away from hymnals.

I believe that my job is to keep up on technology behind the scenes and when I think that we can use a technology to reach people, I need to generate a plan and steward it's implementation well. If you keep stewardship in mind, it's much harder to waste the congregation's giving on something that will not serve the body.

One of my recent upgrades was to replace our entire speaker system with all new EAWs in January. Most of our body has no idea what changed but we've had so many comments about how much better things sound across the entire room. Also, it's freed me up more. The system has become so much easier to drive that I can now turn it over to volunteers for most of the services.

Along those same lines, we try to replace our projectors with newer, brighter models every few years. After all, we can usually do this for less than we spent on the original installation. Again, the congregation might not know what happened, but they are not straining as much to read the words.

Hope this helps.
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breese

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2004, 09:56:51 am »

I'll add my $.02...

Although the extend of technology use will vary across various churches, the church needs to do everything to the best of their ability.

Hmm.. Let me see if I can make this make sense. One night after Bible study our group got to talking about "Christian" movies in hollywood and why the Passion was so well received while others were not. We also began to talk about the college ministries we had been involved in and why we didn't ask our friends who were not Christians to come.

With these movies, if they are not produced as well as one is expected for a hollywood movie, they are not going to bother with it. Ex. Left Behind was abissmal from an average movie goer experience, Extreme Days was horrindous ect.

Like wise in our campus ministries, it had nothing todo directly with technology. We do need the technical systems to back up the "program", but if the video team makes cheesey middle school grade videos, the lost will not respond well. If parts of the meeting didn't seem to serve a purpose it detracted from the meeting. If something wasn't done well it detracted to the meeting.

I think we have a responsiblilty to make sure the technology we are using does not hinder the presentation. I also think that some churches go over board and could probably make do with less cutting edge technology and be just as effective.

Brian
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Chuck Augustowski

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2004, 12:13:47 pm »

I believe the best investment a House of Worship can make in being "State of the Art" is to use an experienced consulting firm.  Upon being told the objective and budget, they should be able to provide the best recommendations and designs for the install.  The biggest risk in  spending money on "cutting edge" technology is it is sometimes used to  satisfy someones desires (ego)rather than fill a real need or solve a problem for a facility.  Using a qualified consulting firm hopefully will prevent this from happening and invest money where it would have to most benefit.

Chuck Augustowski
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Brian Granaghan

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2004, 12:41:16 pm »

I wouldn't say that they need to be on the cutting edge, but in many ways, it can be beneficial. Sometime, however, new technology may be very, very helpful. The High School building at my churc has a Yamaha O2R96(I get to run this baby). So many things go on in the one biulding that it is quite useful. We have the college meeting right after high school, so it helps alot to be able to save the scenes. Then, later that night, we have Dteams(small group Bible study, but we all meet for worship before we break into the groups). During the week, there's some men's ministry thing that meets in there and turns one mic up and due to their lack of knowledge about how to use the stuff and the fact that they meet at 6am so nobody is there to help them, they end up turning everything down, including the monitors. You can just imagine how happy that made me when we had an analog board. We also have some IEM's because the onstage monitors were way too loud. Not only did they completely overpower the house mix, but the neighbors would complain about us being too loud since we are currently in a temporary building(one of those white buildings with vinyl-like walls).
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soundman

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Re: Cutting edge
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2004, 03:04:29 pm »

Just like everything else the Lord has provided for all of us, cutting edge technology is one of them.  We will be judged by how we us that technology.  If we use it to uplift his name then we will be in favor, but if we don't we will not.
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