Vertical Video Goes Pro!

When most videographers think of Vertical Video, an image comes to mind of a clueless human with their phone (or worse — iPad) turned the wrong way, shooting video our eyes have no capacity to interpret. (Side note: our cone of vision is much, much bigger than your phone’s screen. The “my eyes are side-by-side argument? Doesn’t work here.)

Think about it though: Could you imagine the Mona Lisa framed as a Landscape composition?

Vervid Mona Lisa Vertical Video Portrait

Here’s something refreshing: There are a handful of professional videographers that are taking the format seriously, and it’s happening on Vervid.

These new-format creators are experimenting with Vertical Video, creating compositions that make sense for screens that are held upright 94% of the time. And the compositions are gorgeous.

When shooting in vertical, creators need to consider the way an image moves across the screen — where it enters, where it exits, and what subjects make the most sense in this orientation.

Check out some of the amazing work below, and tell us whether you still think video should be forever restricted to landscape mode.

 

“The Coffee Maker” by @borja

 

“Alyssa” by @lukaschmiell

 

“Highway 1” by @verly

 

“Todas Las Estrellas Están Muertas”

 

“A Day at Coolhouse” by @blake

 

“Born Hater” by @EpikHigh

 

“San Francisco” by @verly

 

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Announcing Vervid TV, Our Embeddable #VerticalVideo Player!

It’s a given that most of your audience and potential customers are discovering you on mobile. We also know video is an incredibly powerful conversion tool. Now there’s an approachable way to engage with your audience through mobile video, and it’s called Vervid TV.

What makes Vervid TV special? It’s the first-ever embeddable video player with profile pictures that come to life! (In the Vervid world, we call these “Bursts.”) Not sure what we’re talking about?

Tap John’s face below to find out! ⬇

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Tap the Embed button above! ⬆

Using Vervid TV is easy:

  • Shoot and edit a Vervid using our mobile app.
  • Once your Vervid publishes, tap the “Share” button to push your Vervid out to Twitter or Facebook.
  • Find that video wherever you posted it on the web, and click the “Share” button right next to the Vervid logo on the Vervid TV player.
  • Select “Copy Embed Code” and paste that code it into your blog as an embedded video. (This step will vary based on your blogging platform-of-choice.)

Two things to note:

  • Vervid TV is not embeddable on Medium quite yet; we’re still awaiting approval from Embed.ly, Medium’s support network for embeddable players. We’ll let you guys know once that’s ready to go!
  • If you’re viewing this on an iPhone, you won’t be able to view “Bursts.” (That’s just the nature of iOS, unfortunately. Apple defaults all web-based video on iPhones to their mobile player.)

Let us know what you guys think, and definitely reach out if you have any thoughts or feedback for us. In the meantime, embed away and enjoy!

— Team Vervid

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Human Behavior, not Snapchat, Drives Vertical Video Trend

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Last month we got a call from the LA Times. Their Snapchat beat reporter had stumbled across one of our blog posts on Vertical Video and reached out to get a better understanding of Vervid. We talked for about 45 minutes as I caught him up to speed on the discussion around vertical video. A month later, this article published with the headline, “Snapchat Drives Trend Toward Vertical Videos.”

This past Sunday, a reporter from the New York Times called. We had a great conversation about the history of vertical video and why we’re doing what we’re doing at Vervid. We discussed human behaviors being the driving force behind the vertical video trend. The reporter seemed to not just understand, but totally agree with the fact that it’s the way we hold our devices that’s causing the shift toward vertical video.

Despite our chats, both reporters would lead you to believe it’s Snapchat that’s driving the trend toward Vertical Video. But it’s not. It’s not Periscope either. And — you guessed it — it’s not Vervid. It’s smartphones. It’s ergonomics. It’s the fact that we hold our phones vertically 94% of the time. We tend to naturally not turn our phones to shoot video because it requires us to change our behaviors. We live in the era of personal video, and we’re capturing video the same way we capture most of our photos — vertically. We just fit better into the frame that way.

But the majority of us aren’t using Snapchat as the place to document our lives through video. Doing so would be working against our efforts, since our creations would disappear. Instead, the majority of us are using our native cameras to record video (and we’re doing so vertically) because there’s a quick-access launcher on our lock screens. It’s our go-to for capturing quick moments that happen spontaneously.

The problem is, the video content we’re capturing with our native camera app while holding our phones vertically has nowhere great to go, since most video platforms are built with horizontal content at their core.  To add to the problem, there’s no great place to edit vertical video (Snapchat’s editing tools are extremely limited) and no place to publish it to that allows us to sensically archive those videos in high resolution and store them somewhere other than our camera rolls.

Whether it’s horizontal or vertical, video captured on our phones is extremely heavy and takes up a ton of space, so it’s problematic to have these meaningful, keepable moments trapped on our devices with nowhere great to store and share them out to.

According to our studies, the average user that shots video with one hand

  • a) shoots with their native camera app,
  • b) lets that content sit on their phones, never to be shared,
  • c) never edits those clips because there are no editors built for vertical video, and
  • d) if they do share outwardly, it’s to Facebook.

The issue with the latter behavior is that those videos remain unedited, so people are uploading 3- to 5-minutes videos when only 30 seconds is really worth watching. Or they’re uploading multiple videos because they simply don’t have a great way to stitch those moments together into a story. And since Facebook isn’t a great place to archive, users feel the need to keep a copy on their phones.

Vervid solves all of that. For the first time ever, users can import HD video that’s been shot in portrait mode into an editor that’s built for easy, one-handed use that makes video editing as easy as texting. They can stitch together related moments, share them with friends on Vervid, and then share out to Facebook and Twitter. We’re enabling the average user to tell more meaningful stories with the personal video content they’ve captured, and we’re making it easier than ever to archive those moments.

While we’re ecstatic to be mentioned alongside Snapchat and Periscope, we cringe every time a reporter assumes it’s these apps that are driving user behavior. It’s not. It’s human behavior around our handheld devices that’s driving the trend toward vertical video.

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Snapchat vs. Vervid: Who Will Reign King of Vertical Video?

Don’t believe Vertical Video is the future of mobile? Just ask Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, who announced on Tuesday the company’s new “3V” branded content agency, Truffle Pig.

Periscope Meerkat Vervid Snapchat Vertical Video App 2x

Over the past few weeks, Spiegel has been pushing the Vertical Video agenda hard. Jon Steinberg’s Medium article stating that vertical video ads have up to 9x the engagement of traditional horizontal video ads seems to have triggered Mr. Spiegel’s very vocal quest to convince Snapchat’s ad partners to make the switch to portrait-shot media. (Welcome to the discussion Evan.)

His message, interestingly enough, has taken on a very consumer-facing twist of late, with Spiegel focusing on the fact that more and more of us are shooting video the way we naturally hold our phones — vertically. Though Snapchat boasts impressive numbers in terms of daily active users (roughly 100 million) and quantity of portrait-shot content shared daily (roughly 700 million), only a small percentage of its users are shooting video — and there are a few reasons for that.

Users have pictures to fall back on as a crutch.
Snapchat is, afterall, a peer-to-peer messaging platform, and pictures are much quicker to snap and send.

You can’t edit Snapchats.
In order to stitch together moments into a story, users must capture one clip at a time, click to add it to “My Story,” tap the Camera button again, capture another clip, and so on. It’s cumbersome to say the least. And once a story’s been added to, you can’t edit it.

All Snapchat user-generated content has an expiration date.
Since all content is disposable, there’s no reason for users to spend the time crafting quality, immersive content.

It’s natural to compare Vervid to Snapchat because we’re both on a campaign to usher in the era of vertical video. But to make this comparison would be to miss the bigger picture.

Unlike Snapchat, all of Vervid’s content is publicly discoverable (though we will be adding private channels in a future update.) And rather than thinking about Vervid as a “Snapchat that Sticks Around,” it’s really much more of a “YouTube for the Selfie Generation.”

Vervid is the self-broadcasting platform for the mobile era, with an audience that rarely — if ever — rotates their phones. It’s the platform that lowers the bar to video editing by providing tools that are easy enough to use one-handed and on the go, yet robust enough to create compelling, immersive content. Our goal is to become the biggest media company in the world, starting with the screens we carry in our pockets.

We’re not only mobile-first; we’re video-first. Unlike Instagram or Snapchat, we do not allow photos of any kind. (There are plenty of apps for that.) And unlike YouTube or Vimeo, we do not allow horizontal video (though you can import horizontal video and crop it to vertical.)

We’re providing a place for users to continue shooting video the way that feels most natural, despite cinematic tradition. We’re enabling self-publishing that goes against the grain of the “television” era. Nowadays, what’s shot on mobile generally stays on mobile. Rather than correct for vertical video, we’re providing tools to make it better.

The perception is that Snapchat is doing the same. However, unless they completely overhaul the experience that defines their platform, Snapchat will remain a private, peer-to-peer messaging platform that treats vertical video as disposable content. And some users will continue to enjoy that.

We’re here to establish a sense of permanence for vertical video in a way that’s never been done before. Fortunately, Snapchat is helping pave the way for advertisers and agencies to start creating ad content in portrait mode, which is helping us out in the long run.

So we welcome this discussion. We welcome Evan’s new-found rhetoric on vertical video, an oft-misunderstood format that needs advocates. We welcome it because we’re on the same mission, and we have a bulldozer ahead of us helping to clear the way and make room for a platform that’s speaking a similar language, but targeting a more permanent (and potentially much more diverse) audience.

Vervid launches in the App Store on July 15th. For more information or to request a demo, hit us up here.

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Vervid is What YouTube Would Look Like if it Was Designed Today.

Doug Harris at Slate is giving YouTube a few pointers. His key message? Start adapting to Vertical Video, because it’s here to stay.

“Watch out YouTube,” Harris writes.

Vervid is what YouTube would look like if it was designed today.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the mass behavioral shift of our generation toward video shot in portrait mode. Equally and oppositely, there’s a huge pushback from videographers and video “purists” that see Vertical Video as an absurd, invalid aspect ratio.

As Harris points out, “The problem is the viewing experience when you’re not watching on a phone.”

So can YouTube find a way to elegantly integrate both vertical video and horizontal video, both on desktop and on mobile? Doug’s solution, shown visually through a few mock-ups, suggests that YouTube should display vertical videos in their native format (i.e., sans bars) in both the browsable gallery as well as in the full-sized preview.

No matter how much they redesign, however, Vertical Video will just never look great on a laptop.

Here’s a visual comparison of YouTube‘s desktop-first preview gallery with Vervid’s mobile-first preview gallery:

YouTube:

Courtesy of Slate.com

(Image courtesy of Slate.com)

Vervid:

Vervid Vertical Video Slate YouTube

There’s a huge difference here. Because we’re dealing with portrait-shot video and ONLY portrait-shot video, we were able to build Vervid’s UI around a consistent, predictable form factor. The gallery scrolls side-to-side rather than up-and-down, which immediately makes sense when you get your thumbs on it.

YouTube, like Facebook, is full of visual compromises. Their content type is all over the place, and it’s hard to predict what people will upload.

But Instagram and Vine, on the other hand, are great examples of platforms that have embraced one form factor and normalized it to create a consistent viewing experience. They both serve up square content, and nobody complains because it’s been done really well (despite never being “full screen.”)

This is precisely why we invented Vervid. Focusing on users that want to view full-screen, immersive video the way they’re ALREADY holding their phones is providing an opportunity to engage with an audience that increasingly has its phones locked in portrait mode.

To add to this, mobile video consumption is set to outpace desktop video consumption very, very soon. And according to Cisco, 2/3 of the world’s mobile data traffic will come from video by 2017.

No matter how you look at it, there’s clearly an opportunity here lying in plain sight.

We’re spending more time on our phones than ever before, and watching more and more horizontal video with our phones on portrait lock. To ignore the opportunity of video shot by users while holding their phones upright, delivered back to other users in the same format, is to miss an incredible opportunity. It’s a behavioral shift not everyone’s ready to embrace, but it’s inevitable. In Harris’s words, “Deal with it.”

Scroll down past Harris’s article to the comments section and you’ll encounter a slew of people who are just not ready to “deal with it.” Captain Cuttle (an anonymous commenter) writes, “Vertical videos are a bigger threat to humanity than global warming, income inequality AND bird flu.” Really now. (Makes us wonder if portrait photography ever got the same hate.)

This inexplicable negativity is, believe it or not, a good thing for us at Vervid. It’s proof that NOW is the time to be innovating in the mobile video space. There’s friction, which is a clear indicator that a major shift is taking place.

 

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Small Screens, Tall Tales: 4 Criteria for Crafting Your Consumer-Facing Message

As a new brand, it’s often difficult to distill all the bells and whistles of your new product into one concise statement that resonates with your target audience and differentiates you. But there’s a process you can go through to get to that tweet-worthy moniker, and it’s best to not do it alone. Call upon your colleagues, get them into a standing room, define your key criteria (see below), throw your ideas on a board (without judgement!) and get to the meat of what your product is all about. In the active brainstorm, everyone has ownership. It’s not a place for critique, it’s a space for constructive “yes, and” thinking. (This is a simple idea that we’ve all heard, but it’s an important one to remember.)

As we get closer and closer to our public launch here at Vervid, our communications strategies are shifting from investor-facing to 100% consumer-facing. When we started this project nearly a year ago, it was essential that potential investors, advisors and the general startup community *got* what we were doing from a strategy perspective. Donning the “YouTube of Vertical Videos” moniker was our way of staking claim on a space that has yet to be developed for: Immersive, user-generated Vertical Video worth keeping. And those who heard it understood our approach immediately.

But we’re growing up, and we need to start converting our investor-facing pitch to a consumer-facing story. We’re no longer the X for Y. We are Vervid, and that’s a unique thing that has never existed before — so how do we define it?

Vervid recently joined Coolhouse Labs, an accelerator designed to help turn ideas into companies, and provide a foundation for growth. The real reason we joined Coolhouse? Jordan Breighner, Founder of Coolhouse. He gets what we’re doing. He’s young and scrappy, and willing to take risks. His investors believe in him. And Jordan believes in Vervid.

Vervid Founders John and Daniel doing a knowledge share at Coolhouse Labs. It's all happening this summer on ‪#‎MitchellSt‬!‬ ‪#‎CoolhouseLabs‬ ‪#‎VerticalVideo‬

Vervid Founders John and Daniel doing a knowledge share at Coolhouse Labs. It’s all happening this summer on ‪#‎MitchellSt‬!‬ ‪#‎CoolhouseLabs‬ ‪#‎VerticalVideo‬

Beyond the impressive roster of mentors Coolhouse offers, Jordan’s in-house product team consists of designers and developers who are excited to get down and dirty building new startups. We called an interdisciplinary brainstorm yesterday focused purely on distilling our message down to a statement that would meet a few criteria:

  • Does it clearly describe the space we’re in?
  • Does it contain an element of mystery without sounding fluffy?
  • Differentiation: Does it pass the “could-other-brands-claim-the-same” test?
  • Most importantly, will it resonate with our end user? (i.e., does it speak their language?)

We started with a word-dump on a white board, slinging phrases and statements that colloquially evoke tall things, portrait framing, behavioral shifts around video, etc. At heart, Vervid is mobile video built for the way we naturally hold our phones. But what’s the catchier, more succinct way of saying that? First, we had to dissect our messaging strategy:

How could we describe the “mobile-first” category without sounding too clinical? What’s another way to say “Vertical Video” that allows us to still own it as a category? What’s the clearest way of depicting a YouTube-style user-generated platform without mentioning another brand?

Elise Lawley, a UX Designer from the University of Michigan, presented an interesting thought: The Vervid experience is really about small screens connecting us to real life events. Those moments are big, full of life, and meaningful.

“Small Screens, Big Moments.” That’s where we were. There was something to it, but it was still missing a punchy element. We needed to dust off the fluff.

Drew Koszulinski, a web and motion graphics designer from Grand Rapids, recommended we find another word for “big.” I shot out the word “tall,” and for good reason: Another common way to describe “Vertical Video” is “Tall Video.” If you Google either phrase, you get essentially the same thing — but “Tall” is less apt to be confused as a business term than “Vertical.” We were on to something here.

“Small Screens, Tall Moments.”

Blake Owens, Head of Product at Coolhouse, chimed in: “We need another word for Moments.” Everyone agreed. It was too generic. “How about Tales?”

“Small Screens, Tall Tales.”

We now have alliteration and a double-entendre. A Tall Tale, as we all know, is a story that’s loosely based on the truth, filled with embellishments and exaggerations, skewed to tug the ear of the listener. In other words, the story is edited. It’s at least partially fiction.

Thinking about the way I edit my Vervids, my visual “stories” are never entirely factual. I shift around scenes, and I delete others. If I wanted to be entirely truthful, I’d just upload everything I shot, but that’d be no fun to watch. Sharing is all about weaving stories. With Vervid, it’s all about telling stories visually — partially true, partially skewed. Essentially, every story we tell on social media is a “Tall Tale.”

We quickly cross-checked it with our initial criteria for a good moniker:

Does it describe the space we’re in? Check. “Small Screens” = “Mobile.”

Does it contain an element of mystery or intrigue that might pique the curiosity of a potential new user? Undoubtedly. The allusion toward tall tales evokes storytelling and entertainment as a passive viewer. It’s fun without sounding childish. And it has hidden meaning, since “Tall” also refers to the format itself.

Could another app claim the same? Not entirely. Instagram’s mission statement is, “To capture and share the world’s moments.” We could claim that. Facebook could claim that. Snapchat, Meerkat, Periscope, and virtually any other social media-based platform could claim that. Instagram is well established, so they no longer need to rely on a moniker to offer differentiation, so it’s okay that their mission statement is fluffy and generic.

As a new brand establishing ourselves in a noisy industry, we do not have that luxury. So could Instagram don our moniker? Nope. “Tall” is the operative word here. Could Facebook? They’re not mobile-first, so “Small Screens” doesn’t quite describe their product target, and their pool of media is all over the place. The only brand that potentially could claim the same is Snapchat, but the app is only partially a storytelling platform. Privately-messaged disappearing photos is really a peer-to-peer experience that ends when the photo disintegrates — and then the memory fades. It’d be more appropriate for Snapchat to don, “Small Screens, Fading Moments,” which doesn’t have quite the same punch.

So there you have it. We’re excited to run with our new moniker and test it with users. We’re pretty convinced our target user base doesn’t care to define what they’re doing as “Vertical Video.” Journalists care. Video purists and cinematographers care. But the consumer doesn’t care. What we call “Vertical Video,” they simply call “Video.” They’re doing what they’re doing, and we want them to continue doing it. What’s shot on mobile stays on mobile — they just happen to be holding their phones upright while documenting their lives through video.

But most of all, our user will come to Vervid to be entertained; to be told delightfully visual stories that offer a window into someone else’s (most likely embellished) lives.

Need help crafting your consumer-facing message? Reach out and let’s do a Google Hangout! We’d love to help you brainstorm. And if you haven’t already, be sure to add your name to our Private Beta List at www.vervid.com so you can follow along on our (possibly embellished) journey at Coolhouse Labs!

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Snapchat: “Vertical Video Crushes Horizontal by 9x”

Periscope Meerkat Vervid Snapchat Vertical Video App

Jon Steinberg, CEO at Daily Mail, North America just blew our minds with a statistic we ourselves here at Vervid have had trouble finding. According to Snapchat (cited in Steinberg’s article on Medium from March 31, 2015) “…vertical video ads have up to 9x more completed views than horizontal video ads.” That’s astronomical. And it totally makes sense.

We hold our phones vertically 90% of the time. Thanks to Snapchat and now Meerkat and Periscope, this behavior is becoming even more normalized as more and more content is being shot natively in portrait mode. So rather than having to constantly switch between how we naturally hold our phones (vertically) to the way most media has traditionally been formatted (horizontally), users are now able to enjoy content the way they’ve secretly always wanted to — upright, up close and personal. Steinberg goes on to state that, “The whole notion of turning your phone on its side to watch a video is awkward and a bit of a hassle.” (See, we’re not the only ones.)

“…vertical video ads have up to 9x more completed views than horizontal video ads.”

The issue of vertical video has been a heated once since PSA’s started popping up from groups eager to dismiss Vertical Video as a valid medium. We’re constantly in Twitter riffs with video purists (mostly professional, desktop-driven, cinema-focused videographers) who are having a hard time recognizing this shift toward mobile-first, vertical video experiences never intended to make the jump to the big screen. Granted, Snapchat‘s probably a little young for this particular demographic, and the emergence of Meerkat and Periscope are still relatively new, but sooner or later even the video pro’s will have to admit that vertical video is indeed a valid medium that deserves a space of its own. (We’re proud to say we’ve even been able to convert a naysayer or two.)

If you think about it, we’re in the infancy of mobile. These screens, 3.5″, phablet or otherwise, have only been in our pockets a short eight years. Every possible claim has been staked in horizontal and square, but there’s still so much to be explored in the vertical video domain. Meerkat and Periscope are eating up live-streaming vertical video (though, to be fair, both accommodate horizontal as well), Mindie has tackled vertical short-form music videos, and Snapchat owns disappearing vertical content. (Fun fact: 700 million vertical photos and videos are shared on Snapchat per day according to Business Insider.) Vervid is staking its claim on the space by creating a permanent, curated platform for all of the vertical video content that’s being shot out there (most of which, it turns out, is being shot using native camera apps since that’s proven to be the most quick-trigger way of capturing moments.)

The Vertical Video format is so new, however, that impactful statistics like Steinberg shared last Tuesday are almost entirely unavailable. You simply can’t Google how many vertical videos there are on YouTube, because it’s not yet considered a thing. Luckily Steinberg was able to share this profound tidbit of data from Snapchat, and we’re compelled to say the least. As the first to create a YouTube-style space for Vertical Video content, we’re glad we saw this coming nearly a year ago and followed our instincts. There’s still a hefty debate to be had and a ton of people to be won over that are sticking by their desktop-first experiences. There’s a time and a place for both, but one thing’s for certain: Vertical Video is here to stay.

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Vertical Video is Exploding

But don’t take our word for it. Listen to those with their fingers on the pulse.

vertical video meerkat vervid

According to Owen Williams’s article on TheNextWeb, “YouTube reports that over half of its visitors are now on a mobile phone. Facebook says that 65 percent of people watching a video are using a mobile device.”

That’s a whole lotta mobile!

In other words, the days of cuddling up with our laptops are dying. We’re mobile-first, and so is our community. (I know, this is a hard pill to swallow for cinematographers and video traditionalists, but times they are a’ changin’!)

Meerkat. PeriscopeSnapchat. Mindie. They all serve up vertical video, but none of them aggregate it or offer robust editing tools. They’re great for what they are, but we need a way to make our vertical videos more immersive, and a place to store and share them once we invest the time to edit them. (Note: the place to store and share them must be built with vertical video content in mind. And that place is most definitely not YouTube.)

#VerticalVideoSyndrome

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Vervid Walkthrough: Alpha Mode!

Beta’s still over a month away, but here’s a quick tour of Vervid as it is now! Our mission is to bring validity to Vertical Video by enabling users with better tools to shoot, edit, discover, curate and share. Be sure to sign up at www.vervid.com to get your hands on it early!

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#VerticalVideo of the Day (er, night…)

Stumbled upon Estimulo last night broadcasting on Meerkat and LOL’d ourselves to sleep. Here’s a Tale of Two Cities, as told by Estimulo himself (if he can stay awake.)

Side note: See those black bars? YouTube was never built with vertically-filmed content in mind. This is the problem we’re solving for (in case you’re still trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing with Vervid.) Vertical Videos look bad on YouTube, but that doesn’t mean the medium itself is bad. Our mission is to create a place for all this great content to live. Forever. ‪#‎VerticalIsValid‬ ‪#‎MobileFirst‬

 

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