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Archive 2012 · Color Management Issues
  
 
JimKied
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p.1 #1 · Color Management Issues


Hello all. I'm a long time lurker and I have made a few occasional posts, but I mostly am in awe of all of your's knowlege and talent as it comes to photography and post processing. I am slowly accumulating the tools to take my skills to the next level, but right now the tools are leading the skills.

I am mostly self-taught, learning from books, magazines, and hints that some of you drop from time to time. I'm a Nikon shooter and I currently am running CS6 (for about two months now) having moved up from PSE. I have a Dell 2410 monitor and it is color calibrated with Huey Pro that a friend gave me. The 2410 has several preset modes. I am using the standard mode, even though it also has a aRGB mode. I tried the aRGB mode and I was not happy with how it saturated the colors (looked unatural to me).

I am using the aRGB color space, try to do as much processing in ACR as I can, and load into PS as a smart object. I save as PSD for a master file. When I am ready to share my images, either on the web or as prints I use the master file, flatten, change to sRGB, resize as necessary. Sharpening is a whole 'nother issue that I will adress in another thread later. Right now I need to figure out what I am doing wrong with color management.

As I mentioned, I process as aRGB. When I convert to sRGB, something happens. Full disclosure, I have tried the save to web option and I have tried the manual appoach. After converting to sRGB, the colors look the same on the editing desktop, but when I look at the image in the print module or on the web, there is a saturation shift (more saturated) AND a color shift (more warm) that makes the resultant image look unatural and too warm.

When I convert to sRGB, I use the perceptural method (I learned in a magazine to do that as being best for photos - but in all honesty, I really do not know, nor can I tell much difference between the different methods).

I'm sure there is something I'm leaving out. If so, please ask and I will do my best to answer. Just remember I am at a much lower skill level than most of you.

I appreciate any and all suggestions you may have.

Thanks,
Jim




Nov 12, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #2 · Color Management Issues


"When I convert to sRGB, I use the perceptural method (I learned in a magazine to do that as being best for photos - but in all honesty, I really do not know, nor can I tell much difference between the different methods)."

Wherever you read that was steering your wrong. When converting from Adobe RGB to sRGB, while you can choose Perceptual, there are no Perceptual tables, so you're really getting Relative Colorimetric. In theory v4 profiles allow for a real Perceptual conversion, but there are still too many other problems with them.

What you really have, it sounds like, is a problem of viewing your files through a non-color managed browser or other application. Make sure you embed the working space profile in your image and use a browser that has color management capabilities and that they are activated.



Nov 12, 2012 at 09:01 PM
JimKied
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p.1 #3 · Color Management Issues


Peter - I will definitely change to relative color metric. And I have heard about the non-color managed browsers, this problem manifest s itself within PS when it gives you a preview of the web image (when I use save to web and when I see the image in the print module. Also, if I print to my printer, and I use the PSD master file it prints what I see on the screen. But when I convert to sRGB and print to my printer, I get the saturated color shifted image.

I do expect there to be some shift when changing from aRGB to sRGB, but not as much as I am seeing.



Nov 12, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #4 · Color Management Issues


Jim, just to be clear, for conversion from standard working color spaces to other standard working spaces, whether you choose Relative or Perceptual, they're both really happening in Relative, which is why they look the same. Converting from an RGB working space to a printer space is another story though, and while Relative is usually preferred, there are some circumstances where Perceptual does a better job. Printer profiles use actual data for their "lookup" tables and the color engine inside Photoshop can use that data for different results in Relative, Perceptual, Saturation and Absolute. The first two are the only options you really need to worry about at this point.

When you're working in Save For Web, you have a few options that you may be missing. One is that you have the option to Convert to sRGB. If the document is not already in sRGB, then go ahead and check that box. Second, you have several preview options. You should choose "Use Document Profile". Lastly, you need to check the "Embed Color Profile" box so that sRGB is actually embedded in your file. Those steps, in conjunction with a profile aware browser, will display your images correctly and they will actually match what you see in Photoshop.

As far as printing is concerned, as long as you have an embedded working space profile in your document AND you are using a good, known paper profile that you choose in the print dialog box, then your prints should be good. You do have to make sure that you're not double color managing the file and follow the prompts in the print dialog to turn off Color Management in the printer manufacturer portion of the driver. That usually means choosing Photoshop Manages Color in the first print dialog box and then, under Print Settings, set driver color management to Off. The procedure is slightly different with different brands and models, but the principle is the same.

It sounds like your print preview problem might stem from trying to print a web image that has no embedded profile. In that case, Photoshop assumes the file to be "in" whatever RGB color space you have set in Color Settings. If that Color Settings setting is not the same as what your file actually is, then this will be cause of your problem.



Nov 13, 2012 at 08:11 AM
BobCollette
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p.1 #5 · Color Management Issues


Jim, I believe the 2410 monitor is a wide-gamut monitor. If you view sRGB images in a non-color managed environment, the images will look overly saturated. I suspect this is your problem. Photoshop is color managed, so images should (and do) look okay. You didn't mention what browser you're using to view your sRGB images, but if it's anything other than Firefox, it's likely not color managed. Firefox is (to my knowledge) the only fully color managed browser, although you may have to enable color management in the browser (not sure if it's enabled by default or not).

If you set your monitor to the sRGB preset, I suspect your problems will go away and everything will look correct. You'll want to recalibrate your monitor if you switch it to sRGB mode, and of course, you'll lose the extended color gamut. However, if you leave the monitor in wide gamut mode, you'll need to use color managed apps when viewing images, or you'll experience the overly saturated colors that you're now seeing.



Nov 13, 2012 at 01:02 PM
JimKied
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p.1 #6 · Color Management Issues


Peter and Bob - I am out of town on a job. I will check when I get back.

Bob - Yes the 2410 is a wide-gamut IPS monitor. This whole color managed set up confuses me. But let me get back to the computer and I will check some things out.

Thanks for your help. I really need it!!
Jim



Nov 14, 2012 at 12:55 AM
ecidi
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p.1 #7 · Color Management Issues


BobCollette wrote:
Jim, I believe the 2410 monitor is a wide-gamut monitor. If you view sRGB images in a non-color managed environment, the images will look overly saturated. I suspect this is your problem. Photoshop is color managed, so images should (and do) look okay. You didn't mention what browser you're using to view your sRGB images, but if it's anything other than Firefox, it's likely not color managed. Firefox is (to my knowledge) the only fully color managed browser, although you may have to enable color management in the browser (not sure if it's enabled by default or not).

If you set
...Show more


Safari is also a browser that is color managed. To test whether your browser is color managed or not, read this tutorial:

http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html



Nov 14, 2012 at 10:16 AM
BobCollette
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p.1 #8 · Color Management Issues


I believe that Safari is partially color managed. I don't recall the details, however I believe that there are some scenarios where Firefox is color managed and Safari is not. I don't use Safari, so I can't say for sure.


Nov 14, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #9 · Color Management Issues


Safari is always color managed. The only caveat is that it assumes untagged files to be Monitor RGB, which works fine for standard gamut monitors and untagged sRGB files, but not so well on wide gamut monitors. A better option, which Firefox can do is to assume untagged files to be sRGB instead. For color management to work, there always has to be two parts of the equation - a source profile and a destination profile. If the assumption for source profile is incorrect (in the case of untagged files) then the display will be off as well.


Nov 14, 2012 at 04:20 PM
JimKied
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p.1 #10 · Color Management Issues


When you're working in Save For Web, you have a few options that you may be missing. One is that you have the option to Convert to sRGB. If the document is not already in sRGB, then go ahead and check that box. Second, you have several preview options. You should choose "Use Document Profile". Lastly, you need to check the "Embed Color Profile" box so that sRGB is actually embedded in your file. Those steps, in conjunction with a profile aware browser, will display your images correctly and they will actually match what you see in Photoshop.

Peter - you have solved part of the problem. I was not using document profile and for some reason or another embed color profile was off. I think when I started playing around with the settings trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, I did this. I thought I had embeded the profile and was using document profile, apparently I was not. The results are a lot better now, but there is still too much saturation and color shift for my taste.

I am going to experiment with the monitor settings next. Changing from standard to first aRGB and then second, sRGB. I had done that when I first got the monitor and did not like the results. Maybe I was too quick..... And although I know that Bob said to change to sRGB - that just seems so counterintuitive to me. But hey, I understand absolutely nothing about this color management stuff, so I will try it.

BTW - I use internet explorer for my Windows machine. I will definitely try firefox when I get around to it, but I (at least I thought I was ) am trying to keep it simple. I feel like I need to figure out how to make an image look reasonably good for all those folks who don't color manage, so I am trying to figure out that part first.

And something for all of you that have responded. How did you educate yourself on this stuff? I am grateful that you are sharing your knowledge, but how could I have figured this out for myself? Is there a book or a website or something that teaches it?



Nov 15, 2012 at 02:40 AM
 

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Peter Figen
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p.1 #11 · Color Management Issues


As long as everything has a profile, and the applications are using them correctly, they should all display very very close to one another. I would not dumb down your monitor to sRGB, but would recalibrate on a regular basis - say once a month. I think Chrome might be color managed as well, but I'm not sure. There is a Safari for Windows as well. You'd think that Microsoft would have there apps together by now. Oh well.

I learned this little by little when I started learning Photoshop back in 1995. We didn't have profiles per se back then, but the early scanning software packages were using them. It was when I got my first drum scanner sometime around '98 or so that I really forced myself to learn it, buying a Spectrolino and CompassProfiler and later ProfileMaker and now i1Profiler. Like any of this stuff, you never try to tackle it all at once, but learn a little bit here and some more over there, slowly building on whatever foundation you've laid. Once you understand the basic principles it's not really all that hard. What is hard is figuring out what some of these applications are actually doing underneath the hood.



Nov 15, 2012 at 02:52 AM
JimKied
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p.1 #12 · Color Management Issues


Well I guess I must be getting closer. After using the aRGB setting on the Dell 2410 and calibrating, things look a lot better, although I get the sense that the 2410 might be a little on the warm side. I'm using D65 temp, 2.2 gamma. I have the brightnes down to about 30 (on a scale of 100), and it is pretty close to what I print brightness wise. As far as I can tell, there is nothing that tells me the screen brightness.

Here is another Q. I am running the 2410 off a dell laptop using the display port. I am not color managing the laptop, so it has the more cooler color renidition typical of most screens. I have the desktop displaying the standard scenes that come with Windows 7. This is where I am thinking that the calibrated 2410 is warmer. For example, one scene has a hay bale. On the laptop screen, it appears the way I would expect it. On the calibrated 2410, the bale has some traces in it that are more orangy/reddish. Is that normal since the 2410 is a wide gamut monitor?

FWIW - when looking at photo threads (not my photos) on FM, they (most of the time) look very good, or at least they appear like I would expect them to appear.

And back to the original reason for the thread. I still get a shift to more saturated (than I would like) and warmer when I convert to sRGB, although I think some of the shift occurs when I change from 16 to 8 bit also. I'm wondering if maybe it's my inexperience in post processing and not really knowing what I should expect. Maybe this shift is normal? If so, should I intentionally process to get a result that will be somewhat less vivid, know that it will get more vivid when converting to sRGB? And I guess I should throw in that my ultimate goal is to produce prints at an offsite photo lab (my printer is a HP cheapo all in one) and to post images on the web - both of which are predominantly sRGB domains.

Would appreciate any thoughts.....
Thanks again,
Jim



Nov 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #13 · Color Management Issues


How exactly are you calibrating? When you say that you have the brightness setting at "30", what does that mean? What's more important, as the brightness settings are completely arbitrary and have no correlation from one monitor to the next, is the luminance of the white point of the screen when calibrated - as measured in candelas per meter squared (cd/m2).

Are you using the Adobe RGB preset or are you using your Huey, or both?

I would not trust any factory preset to be close to accurate, or at least accurate enough for anything resembling critical color work. I would also not trust a Huey to work well with a wide gamut screen. If you're at all interested in accurate color, I would spend the $250 on a really good monitor calibration device - the X-Rite i1 Display Pro, and not look back. It will be the best money you can spend and will keep you from spinning your wheels over and over again.

You say that you are not color managing your laptop and you are on the Dell, and that they don't match. Did you expect them to? And how would you know, judging on a non calibrated low quality laptop display, if it's anything close to being right, just because image look somehow like you expect them to?

There should be no apparent shift in color when converting from one color space to another as the profiles themselves provide the compensation for the screen. If you're using a wide gamut screen and have an image that happens to use all of that wide gamut, then you may see a very slight change when converting from Adobe RGB to sRGB, but it would be a very slight desaturation, not a color shift. You will see a shift if you Assign profiles rather than Convert to said profile.

There is no change at all in color when converting from 16 bit per channel to 8 bit per channel. In fact there should be no discernible change at all in the image, as the monitor can only display 8 bits per channel anyway.

Again, as long as all of you apps are using the same profiles, there should be virtually no difference in how they display images. Jettison the Huey. Get an X-Rite Pro. Don't use monitor presets.




Nov 17, 2012 at 04:54 PM
JimKied
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p.1 #14 · Color Management Issues


How exactly are you calibrating? When you say that you have the brightness setting at "30", what does that mean? What's more important, as the brightness settings are completely arbitrary and have no correlation from one monitor to the next, is the luminance of the white point of the screen when calibrated - as measured in candelas per meter squared (cd/m2).

Peter - I have been thinking the same thing with the huey, and I had been researching monitor calibration devices. I had narrowed it down to the Datacolor Spyder4Pro and the Xrite ColorMunki Display 1. I suppose I could go higher to the Display Pro. Maybe you could chime in as to the merits between the Munki and the Pro? When I look at the features, I have no idea if I would ever use some of the ones offered by the pro and not the munki - and by saying that I probably have just displayed my inexperience in these things....

The Dell 2410 comes with a number of preset modes - standard, multimedia, game, warm, cool, aRGB, sRGB, and custom. There is nothing that I see that tells me if I should be in a particular mode when using a calibrator. I had been in standard, I just changed to aRGB.

As for brightness, I'm not certain the huey considers brightness in its calibration and it doesn't seem to tell me the white point. I have been operating on the premise that white point is manual - so I have been adjusting the screen brightness on the monitor itself. It has a slider that ranges up to 100 - I am using 30. My "test" if you will is to see if printed output is nearly the same as the screen in appearance. And it is at 30.

So with the monitor set to aRGB mode, I calibrated. In Photoshop, I set the edit, color management, working space to my calibration setting profile (huey).

You say that you are not color managing your laptop and you are on the Dell, and that they don't match. Did you expect them to? And how would you know, judging on a non calibrated low quality laptop display, if it's anything close to being right, just because image look somehow like you expect them to?

I do not really expect the two monitors to match, because I am not trying to manage the laptop. I was just trying to give an example as to why I thought the Dell 2410 was warmer. Just commenting on how the variance went - hoping that might give a clue as to something I am doing wrong.

You seem to be pretty sold on the Display Pro. How sold are you? Is it something you settled on after a lot of trial and error? Would be very interested in knowing your thoughts.

Thanks,
Jim



Nov 17, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #15 · Color Management Issues


Since most digital photographers over-rely on what they see on the screen and most never bother to check actual pixel values, what you're seeing on screen is quite important and hence, the quality of your calibrator and calibration is just as important. Unless you've got a dedicated system that pairs the monitor and calibrator, you have to use a third party standalone device. There have been several independent tests of a wide variety of calibration devices and there are two that stand out. One is the X-Rite that I've mentioned and the other, which is just slightly better, runs about $1300 - not worth it in my opinion. I can't find the reference to that comprehensive test right now, but I own both the dedicated Sony Artisan CRTs and have the X-Rite Pro for everything else. I get nothing from X-rite and they probably can't stand me because I point out all the flaws in their high end profiling software and never respond, and never sent me my rebate check for i1Profiler, but they still make the best value in calibrators.

You want to be able to calibrate an LCD screen to somewhere around 110-130 cd/m2. The exact number will depend on the calibrator being use (they don't all read the same) and more importantly, the ambient lighting in the room where the monitor resides. It often takes several attempts to arrive at the best setting for your exact conditions, but once you get there, you'll appreciate the effort.

I don't have a Dell screen, but I think you would probably choose the Custom setting when doing a third party calibration. There may be more information on Dells website.

"So with the monitor set to aRGB mode, I calibrated. In Photoshop, I set the edit, color management, working space to my calibration setting profile (huey). "

This is a mistake that a lot of people make, so don't feel bad. Your working space should be set to one of the synthetic RGB working space - sRGB, Adobe RGB , etc. and not to your calibrated monitor space, even though that might seem more intuitive. The reason is that your monitor is what's known as a "device dependent" color space. The profile that describes the monitor is dependent on that specific monitor and the parameters that were used to calibrate it. Those standard working spaces always assume that equal amounts of red, blue and green are going to be neutral - something that may not be true of your monitor. Photoshop uses both the RGB working space and the monitor profile to display your images correctly. If you have your images in a monitor space and not a standard working space, the files are then tied to that screen, color wise - the way we used to work back in the mid 1990's before all this color management stuff became popular and no one knew what the hell a profile was.




Nov 17, 2012 at 09:42 PM
JimKied
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p.1 #16 · Color Management Issues


Peter - I greatly appreciate the patience you have shown me in helping me through these color management issues. I have learned a lot. I hope that I'll get to the point where the "lightbulb comes on" and I will understand why these settings do what they do. I am back to aRGB for the color space and am working from there. And I have notified Santa that the only thing I want for Christmas is a X-Rite Pro. Until then, I guess I will need to be satisfied with the settings I have and hope the labs will be able to figure out what I was trying to do.

In the meantime your statement
Since most digital photographers over-rely on what they see on the screen and most never bother to check actual pixel values
intrigues me. Can you point me in the right direction as for "checking actual pixel values?" Is this a method to use in post to increase the quality of an image?

Thanks!!
Jim



Nov 18, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Peter Figen
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p.1 #17 · Color Management Issues


"Can you point me in the right direction as for "checking actual pixel values?" Is this a method to use in post to increase the quality of an image?"

In Photoshop, there is a palette called the Info Palette, which lets you monitor pixel values in RGB, Grayscale, Lab and CMYK. You can place up to four monitoring points in your image which you can move around, or just read the values under wherever your cursor is.

The Info Palette is particularly useful in helping you use the correction tools in Ps to set accurate black, white and gray pixel values.

The standard way of initial color correction, and one that fixes about ninety percent of problems before they become problems is to use the Info Palette in conjunction with Curves to set the pixel values for highlights, shadows and mid tones - and make them neutral if that's what you want or to impart a cast if that's your taste. If you shoot for values around 240-245 for highlights with detail and 10-15 for shadows with detail, letting specular highlights and absolute blacks go above and below those targets, you'll be optimizing the tonal range of the image.

Now, not every image is going to have an area of neutral highlight or shadow, or even a highlight or shadow with a cast, but most do and using these tools with a calibrated screen will get you closer to where want to be faster than any other method.

There have been entire books written on the subject. Maybe this will pique your interest.



Nov 18, 2012 at 06:07 AM
theSuede
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p.1 #18 · Color Management Issues


Using the information available by hard sampling is almost a must unless you're on a very competent system that you trust to 100%.
Getting to know what a "normal" skin tone and hue is in Lab or RGB/CMYK will fix many problems. Doing white balance by numbers in stead of by visual inspection is also a very good idea.

One of the major problems with image processing on a screen is that your brain is almost to smart for its' own best - it will correct many very apparent flaws over an adaption time of just a few tens of seconds.

Sitting and staring at the same image for a few minutes while working on it is even worse - it almost kills your ability to see what is "neutral". One good validation test for this is to open five or ten images from different sessions (that you've developed on different days, different scenarios) together, and then flipping between them. If they all are well balanced to the average of the images, and none of them seem to stick out from the others you're viewing - you're basically alright. Then you just need to make sure that the screen and your settings are ok, your workflow is good enough to be stable.
...........

A Dell 2410 usually works just as well on "Standard" as on "Custom" settings. I'd avoid the Adobe RGB setting if you're going to profile the screen. The "Standard" setting usually ends up at about 5600-5800K (set your profiling software to "native WB"!!!) which I would say is pretty optimal for most average users. 6500K gives other problems, and 5000K should only be used if you're in a truly managed print environment with calibrated light viewing boxes and so on. If you want warmer or colder WB's use "Custom" and the RGB controls.

Never compare to a laptop, unless it's a good one. Most laptops are way over 6500K, some go up to 7500K. More blue makes the image seem brighter, something many makers use to impress customers.



Nov 19, 2012 at 01:34 AM
JimKied
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p.1 #19 · Color Management Issues


I've been a good boy. Santa brought me a i1 Display Pro. I've set it up and I have noticed a marked difference in display colors from before. And the appearance is for the better. But I do have some questions about the software.

First some background - I am running a Dell Precision M4600 with an i7 processor and a NVIDA Quadro 1000M video card. I DO NOT calibrate the laptop screen. I have two external displays - a Dell 2410 IPS monitor and a Dell 2209 IPS(lower quality) monitor.

When I go through the calibration process the 2209 breezes through and it recognizes and uses ADC. However when I calibrate the 2410 (my main image processing monitor) the software says that ADC is not supported for this display, and I have to manually adjust brightness, contrast, and RGB gains. Then when I get to the ICC Profile phase, it is not able to display a sample picture. I can go ahead and save the profile anyway, but it doesn't give me warm fuzzy feelings that I have done everything right for the profile. FWIW, the system level box is checked, and the selected calibration matrix is set to wide gamut CCFL.

Does anyone who is familiar with the i1 Display Pro know if I have run the calibration correctly? In oher words, is what I described the way the calibration workflow should work?

Thanks,
Jim



Jan 04, 2013 at 12:45 AM
jchin
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p.1 #20 · Color Management Issues


JimKied wrote:
I've been a good boy. Santa brought me a i1 Display Pro. I've set it up and I have noticed a marked difference in display colors from before. And the appearance is for the better. But I do have some questions about the software.

First some background - I am running a Dell Precision M4600 with an i7 processor and a NVIDA Quadro 1000M video card. I DO NOT calibrate the laptop screen. I have two external displays - a Dell 2410 IPS monitor and a Dell 2209 IPS(lower quality) monitor.

When I go through the calibration process the 2209 breezes
...Show more

Can it be a cabling issue? Which monitor is hooked up using the old VGA cable? Or are you using digital connections DVI or DisplayPort?



Jan 06, 2013 at 10:24 AM
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