JPS Australia

History

Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino 1

With shows that are as immersive, interactive, and mesmerising as they are entertaining, Childish Gambino lights up the stage like very few artists can.

In Australia to headline Splendour in the Grass, Childish Gambino played a handful of arena shows for those not lucky enough to get to Byron Bay.

FOH Engineer Kevin Brown has been fortunate to work with some very talented artists over the years, which include Toni Braxton, American Authors, Chris Brown, OutKast, Joi, Nicki Minaj, and Cody Simpson.

He has been with Childish Gambino for only four months after he was approached by Tim Colvard, the artist’s previous FOH guy, to take over after the first weekend of Coachella.

Kevin was mixing on a DiGiCo SD7, saying he has tried to use the SD Platform exclusively for quite a few years. “At the time it was the only desk that didn’t make me feel restricted by its workflow,” he added.

The SD7 has a very powerful engine and you can do almost anything, whenever you want. That type of flexibility is paramount in allowing us to be creative as mixers.

Kevin was using a Neve 1073 and Avalon 737 for the main vocal, remarking that the 1073 is a great mic pre, and if you combine that with the smooth EQ of the Avalon, you start off in a great space for your vocal. For effects processing he was using an Eventide H3000 along with various UAD and Waves plugins for reverbs, delays and some chorusing.

Kevin describes Childish Gambino as a solid performer and dynamic with the microphone; there are times when he projects and others where he forces you to listen.

It’s all about dynamics, the ups and down are what create the journey,” he added.

This is a very exciting mix, especially from a mixer’s position. There is six-piece band on stage that consists of drums, bass, two guitars, keys, and percussion.
On top of that, you have playback tracks and five choir members. This puts us in the ballpark of 110 channels. There are so many layers that allow you to create a dynamic mix with lots of depth.

Childish Gambino 8

JPJ Audio provided gear and crew for the Australian leg of the tour and Kevin found himself using a Clair Brothers CO12 PA system for the first time. The system comprised of 16 CO-12 in the main with six CP-218 subs flown. For side hangs there were 14 CO-12 plus eight CO-8 for front fills and 16 CP-218s on the ground.

The first word that comes to my mind is powerful!” commented Kevin.

In the air the PA looked smaller than some other systems, but they sound big, and the subs sound huge. I was really impressed. It’s not every day you get that type of energy moving from an active speaker.

Kevin remarked that there was nothing special going on with microphones. There are a few Shure 57s, 58s, 98s, and AKG 414s on stage whilst Childish Gambino is on a Shure Axient Digital 58.
As Kevin concludes, the main ingredient is the group of talented individuals on stage. It starts at the source!

Childish Gambino_5A touring comms package included a Riedel Artist comms system, 2300 Series Smart Panels with David Clark headsets, and Bolero wireless comms for the stage, all interfaced into Big Picture’s comms system for seamless integration with cameras and directors.

Tour radios were also supplied by JPJ Audio with D2N also supplying a Hytera radio solution for the tour.

Charlie Izzo, who has mixed monitors for Childish Gambino the past 18 months, says everyone in the band has really good ears and expects a higher level of fidelity in their mixes. He ran a Solid State Logic (SSL) L500, with a Lexicon Pro 480L and a Bricasti M7 outboard, and Shure PSM 1000s for IEM.“I just really like the sound of SSL’s live consoles,” he added.

The preamps, EQs and summing have a real analogue feel to them. I use a Waves package as the flexibility and quality of Waves plugins really makes a huge difference for me.

Childish Gambino_7Charlie utilised an ELI Distressor to control vocal dynamics and a Lexicon 480L for the vocal reverb, saying it has been a standard in recording studios for years for a reason. “In the IEMs it really shines,” he said.

I also have a Bricasti M7 for verb. It is a really solid reverb unit that produces very clean, rich verbs. I use the internal SSL buss compressor. There are so many companies that emulate it with plugins, but having it straight from the source is spot on.

I use the Shure PSM1000’s because they simply sound great. They have a super quiet noise floor for IEM packs and they really translate what I’m doing on the console well.

Charlie commented that it really is a pleasure to mix for Childish Gambino, adding that aside from everyone being incredibly talented musicians and performers, they are also really great people to work with.

Photo Credits: ©Troy Constable

 

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine September 2019. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search their archive www.cxnetwork.com.au

 

Florence + The Machine

Florence Machine 1

Florence + The Machine returned to Australia in January for a string of national headline dates. Having released their fourth album, High As Hope, just last year, fans were clearly eager to catch these stunning tunes live, with almost every show on their Australian tour having sold out months in advance.

FOH engineer Brad Madix is currently on his first tour cycle with the band having started rehearsals last March. Brad, an award-winning, Grammy-nominated live, broadcast and recording engineer, has had an illustrious career working with artists such as Linkin Park, Rush, Jack White, Beck, Van Halen, Shakira, Alanis Morissette, Jane’s Addiction, Shania Twain, Def Leppard, and many more international acts.

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JPJ Audio were the audio supplier with the tour utilizing a Clair Cohesion Series PA assuring uniform coverage in all venues regardless of acoustic challenges or sightlines. This was certainly put to the test in Australia with the show being held in arenas, outdoor venues, as part of a festival and also a Day on the Green.

I would say a typical set up would be 16 x CO12 deep, left and right, and then six subs per side with 12 CO8s for outfill,” said Brad. “However, that changed day to day on this tour due to the variety of situations we were in.

Brad describes the Clair Cohesion Series as simply a great sounding PA, from top to bottom, that provides really nice clarity and is easy to put up.

I’m very happy with the sonic characteristics of the Cohesion Series,” he added. “Their sub system is particularly great, even though this is not a sub heavy band. I also have a great working relationship with Clair and continuity of people and equipment is important to me as we travel around the world.

Brad was mixing on an Avid VENUE S6L with no outboard gear and only the plugins that come with the console in use. He was recording on a Diablo Digital x MacPro Server Pro Tools recorder.

I use the Pro Compressor plugin a lot as well as the BF76 and for effects I use Mod Delay III and ReVibe II and that’s pretty much it,” said Brad. “I try to keep it simple. Florence is an excellent singer but can be tricky to mix because her voice is extremely dynamic. The main thing I have to do is compress her in a way that it doesn’t sound compressed whilst keeping the level in a certain ballpark. I use two instantiations of Pro Compressor, one is a really hard compressor but it is blended back and second one is a DeEsser because that can also be tricky with her. Effects on her include a warm, dark reverb (ReVibe II) and a little delay which we actually feed back into the reverb instead of the PA resulting in a long tail reverb.

Brad remarked that his main challenge is getting a lot of dynamic range to fit into a large scale performance. In Sydney, Florence + The Machine played to 28,000 people in The Domain and everyone needed to hear everything. No mean task, but as every performer is a great musician and singer, Brad could really focus on the levels of Florence’s vocals and the quality of the vocal sound.

All performers were on Sennheiser IEMs mixed on a DiGiCo SD5 by Annette Guilfoyle.

JPJ were great and it’s weird to say this but it was seamless, you didn’t really notice the change from venue to venue as everything was handled with no hiccups,” added Brad. “The guys were really friendly too so I was very happy.

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All Photos ©Brad Madix

 

David Byrne’s American Utopia

David Byrne band

The most talked about and critically acclaimed concert this year has to be David Byrne’s American Utopia, which had the critics raving.

Not only was it a visual feast, it also sounded pretty damn good, thanks to FOH engineer Pete Keppler (who has mixed tours for music’s biggest icons, from David Bowie to ZZ Top) and JPJ Audio.

JPJ Audio’s Clair Cohesion system was out with the tour using an almost identical set up to the rest of the world tour.

We’re using all CO-12s here in Australia”, commented Pete, “as opposed to the Co-12/Co-10 rig we were using in the USA. I had never brought Clair on a tour until I worked with Katy Perry starting in 2010, and she was a Clair account. Her production manager told me ‘you can use any sound company you want, as long as it’s Clair!’ And I’ve hardly used any other company since!

When the Cohesion series became available, I was blown away at how well it performs, and how easy a system it is to set up and rig. I myself was one member of a group of engineers invited out to Clair a few years back for some lengthy questioning about line arrays, hardware, electronics and all kinds of stuff, and the information gathered was used to help design and create the Cohesion system.

At Sydney’s ICC Theatre there were 16 x CO-12 per side on the front hangs and 12 x CO-12 per side on the side hangs. Because of the simplicity of the stage setup, Pete was not allowed to have any of the usual front-fill on the downstage edge, so a stack of (4) CO-8s was put on each of the two downstage corners, aimed in at the center 3-5 rows of audience.

I use them as near-fill mostly to cover the very front rows in the center where the main PA doesn’t quite reach,” added Pete. “Also, I have 6 drummers on stage and no other instruments with any acoustic output, so the mix I send to the CO-8s is separate and has very little drums in it, and the CO-8s really cover that space and fill in the rest” And as for far-field coverage. “We’ve found with the CO-12 that the smaller angles (1 and 2 degrees) will exponentially increase the high-frequency throw. We did some outdoor shows where the Co-12s covered 400 feet with no trouble at all. Arrayed properly physically, this PA will save you a lot of work.

In keeping with the clean stage design, the entire show is wireless and Pete says this show would not have been possible without the Shure Axient D, saying it’s hands-down the best RF system he has ever heard. “We did a shoot-out last year against a wired mic and an analogue RF system and I swear I could not tell the difference between this and the wired microphone,” he said.

Pete was running roughly 44 inputs of wireless from drums and vocals, another twenty or so inputs from keyboard interfaces, guitar amp modelers, etc. and the IEMs use 16 outs of Shure PSM1000. It’s an RF challenge for sure, but Clair’s Jamie Nelson ensured smooth sailing. “She’s our secret weapon,” says Pete, “Especially at festivals when the RF coordinator you were promised never shows up!

FOH Pete uses a DiGiCo SD10 console, a surface he says he knows like the back of his hand. His one piece of outboard gear was a Lexicon PCM41 for use on just a few songs. “I’m a minimalist, and I like a small footprint.

To cut down ambience and spill from all the live percussion into the vocal mics, Pete uses the Waves F6 Dynamic EQ plugin.
I’m using the six bands of the F6 to really make the most of all the gain I have available on the vocals,” he explained. “I’m not a fan of permanent EQ on many sound sources, particularly vocals. I have the F6 plugin inserted via MultiRack on all the vocals, and I externally key one band of the F6 to act as a high-frequency downward expander, in addition to using several of the other bands as normal dynamic EQ.

As the musicians rapidly change instruments throughout the show, the microphone systems have to be robust. The vocal mics are all DPA 4088s, DPA 4099 on most of the drums, Audix D6 on bass drums, Shure Beta 98s, Sennheiser e904s and Audio-Technica AE2300 for snares and high hats.

The setup at monitor world is a DiGiCo SD5, and SD rack, an SD Mini Rack, and two Soundcraft real-time rack units, in addition to all the RF transmitters and receivers. In Australia, Dan Matthews ran monitors as the tour’s original monitor engineer, John Chadwick, took a dive off the stage and injured himself.

Pete remarked that the other key piece of gear used was his ears and that he doesn’t look at sound if he can possibly avoid it! “Some folks spend their time focusing on what they’re seeing on metres and other visual indications, but I’m old school that way,” he laughed.

David Byrne Crew

Tony Szabo, Pete Keppler, Tim Jones

To the audience, this show appears to be very simple but no one sees what is behind the success of the show – a very significant amount of technology. Pete commented that JPJ have been great and that his techs, Alex McCormack and Tim Jones, did an amazing job.

 

WWE Super Show-Down

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WWE, in partnership with TEG Dainty, returned to Australia with WWE Super Show-Down, an historic event that took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and featured the largest collection of WWE Superstars and Legends ever to appear in the country.

JPJ Audio provided the audio for this prestigious event including a Clair Global Cohesion 12 Line Array PA that was located in the centre of the MCG firing outwards. Also supplied were a flown monitor system inside the ring, all the RF requirements, consoles, patch equipment and of course, an excellent crew.

The design was based on twelve boxes of CO-12 per hang with two hangs at each corner of the stage,” said Alex McCormack, JPJ’s Crew Chief. “However, despite what appears to be a small amount of boxes, the coverage was great all the way to the very back of the grandstands.

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For the FOH mix there was a DiGiCo SD10 along with a fully redundant SD9. Monitors also used an SD10, added in case there was a live band thrown in at the last minute. Our experience with WWE is you need to be prepared for last minute additions based on the direction of the live event, this set up allowed us to deal with any such situation.

The entrance stage at southern end of the ground featured a ramp down to the ring for the wrestler and host entries. The stage and ramp housed monitors and wedges but no control gear as they were covered by the monitor system.

A full, cutting edge Shure Axient RF system was positioned at front of house with wireless workbench monitored by the FOH engineer and JPJ RF tech monitoring the spectrum. Despite the MCG having significant challenges with multiple TV channels clashing in the middle of the stadium, it ran very smoothly.
The channel count was kept relatively low compared to what we were prepared for,” added Alex.

WWE’s Lance Vardis did FOH and Clair Global’s Daniel Laveglia executed all of the prep work in consultation with JPJ’s Mats Frankl to ensure a successful event. This was no mean feat as the event was nothing like a typical WWE arena setup.

Despite being held in Melbourne, there was not a single drop of rain during the six days our gear and crew were exposed to the elements!

 

Paul McCartney 2017

Paul McCartney 2017

Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, 21-time Grammy Award winner and recipient of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Sir Paul McCartney brought his acclaimed long-running One On One Tour to Australia this December, his first Australian tour since 1993’s The New World Tour more than 24 years ago.

The show featured nearly three hours’ worth of the greatest moments from the last 50 years of music, dozens of songs that have formed the soundtracks of our lives. FOH engineer Paul Boothroyd – known more commonly in the industry as Pab – has been with Sir Paul for a fair portion of this journey.

I first started working for him in 1989,” said Pab. “As well as being on stage for three hours, he also does a one hour sound check every day. With line checks and system checks as well, I’m probably behind the console twiddling knobs for five hours so it’s quite an extensive day technically.

That FOH console was an Avid Venue S6L which Pab has used ever since it was released and he describes it as one of the best consoles on the market. Pab’s S6L carries dialed-in snapshots for more than 100 songs.

It’s very powerful and has massive capability,” remarked Pab. “My vocal chain for Paul is fairly straightforward; I’m using a Sonnox Oxford EQ and Avid Pro compressor. For effects there are some general reverbs (short, medium and large), a little bit of delay ADT and that’s it. There’s no playback or inputs from anywhere else, it’s all live.

Plug-ins that are used sparingly include Smack!, ReVibe II, ReVibe I on drums and Mod Delay III.

JPJ Audio supplied the crew and gear for the tour including their Clair Brothers’ Cohesion Series for PA. At the Sydney show indoors at Qudos Bank Arena, Pab had sixteen CO12 L+R, fourteen CO12 LL+RR, twelve CO12 LLL+RRR, six CP218 Subs flown per side, three CP218 Subs per side ground stacked and twelve CO8 for front fill.

It’s absolutely the PA of choice for me,” said Pab. “I find it very flexible, light, and simple to manage. It delivers great results and is very accurate.

The stage is fairly loud with only Wixy (musical director/multi-instrumentalist Paul “Wix” Wickens) wearing IEMs. The rest of the band opts for Clair R4 sidefills with ML18 subs and SRM wedges. Monitor engineer John “Grubby” Callis uses an analog Midas Heritage H3000.

It’s very old-school rock and roll,” says Pab. “It’s loud sidefills and wedges up there because he likes to rock out.

Microphones were a mixed bag with Pabs never swayed by fashion or freebies preferring to apply the correct microphone to suit the job.

I like Audix on the drums and Shure for the vocals,” he added. “Paul’s very happy with the SM58A because he’s used to it – there may be a better microphone to suit his vocals these days but he is very used to what he has had for the past thirty years. So why change?

Having not toured Australia for a good few years, Pab says he was very pleased to be greeted with such a professional JPJ team, a very happy team who just dealt with anything that was asked.

Thanks JPJ for the fun and hard work, greatly appreciated,” he added.

One On One Tour Crew

Paul McCartney crew
Back row: Joel Larson, Alex McCormack, Tim Seconi, and Andrew Dowling SE from Clair Global
Front row: Tech Sean Baca, FOH engineer Paul ‘Pab’ Boothroyd, monitor engineer John ‘Grubby’ Callis, and monitors system engineer Paul Swan.

 

Ariana Grande

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The world’s biggest pop sensation, Ariana Grande, bought her Dangerous Woman Tour to Australia this September and JPJ Audio joined her on the road!

Ariana Grande may be tiny, but her voice is big enough to drown out a stadium packed with thousands of screaming fans …. with a little help from a Clair Cohesion PA and her FOH engineer Simon ‘Si’ Thomas.

Toby Francis, Ariana’s usual FOH engineer, asked Si to replace him at the helm of the DiGiCo SD7 last May as he left to work on Katie Perry’s new tour.

Ariana Grande 4The Clair Cohesion PA has been utilized for her entire tour, unless unavailable in a country and then an L-Acoustics K1 or d&b J series stepped in, and it’s a system that Si is more than happy to have inherited. In Sydney, Ariana played the ICC Sydney Theatre with sixteen CO-12 per side in the main hang, twelve CO-12 per side in the side hang and three CP-218 flown per side in cardioid. Another six CP-218 per side were ground stacked in cardioid. Infills were Clair CO-8.

It’s very compact and light weight compared to other line arrays in its class and it’s got lots of headroom,” commented Si. “It has a really good high/mid which is very smooth. With this kind of music there’s a lot of odd sub content that goes down really low with which the CP-218’s do a really good job. The CP-218 sub is particularly good, it’s very powerful.” Si described the ICC Sydney Theatre as an ‘interesting’ venue but at the end of the day, he was happy with the result.

No one had flown subs in there like we did and I believe that made a lot of difference because if there’s too much down on the floor, it’s pointless,” he said. “Once you get some sub higher up, it works really well. I had heard horror stories about the venue but it was fine and quite decent sounding. Although getting in and out of it is a pain in the arse!

Ariana Grande 2FOH there is a fair amount of analogue involvement, with Si using the SD7’s subgroups to route out through Lake Processors which convert the digital to analogue. “I then have a Neve Portico 5059 Satellite 16×2+2 Summing Mixer and within that I’ve inserted various types of compression – Smart C2 for the drums, Crane Song STC-8 for the music, backing vocals a Tube-Tech SMC 2B multiband optical compressor and for Ariana’s vocal a Rupert Neve Shelford Channel,” explained Si. “The various compressors are on the A Channel side of the Portico summing mixer, which are then all fed to the B side of the summing mixer to create a master mix which has a Portico II Master Buss compressor across it. Then that would then output and come back into the Master Buss return insert point of the SD7 with yet another Lake, converting to AES. Basically it’s a like one big insert chain.

Added to that were a couple of TC M5000’s used for drum and vocal reverbs. Si readily admits that it took him a bit of time to get his head around what was going on but concludes that the system works very well.

Ariana Grande 4Ariana uses a Sennheiser MD 5235 dynamic microphone capsule with a Lake inserted across her channel so all of her vocal EQ’s are done in the Lake and not the console. In fact a lot of the serious work is not done in the DiGiCo which is basically being used as a big router! The Digico channel expander was used on the vocal to keep the noise floor down so when Ariana is in front of the thrust and is not singing, you’re not hearing the room noise or PA.

I’m using a Telefunken M82 kick drum mic which is really, really nice,” added Si. “I also have Telefunken M81’s for the snare drums but the rest of the mics are fairly standard.

Vish Wadi also used a DiGiCo SD7 to run monitors with everyone using Sennheiser 2050 IEMs plus there are flown sidefills, some CM-22 stage monitors on the floor for the dancers and CP-118’s providing sub onstage for the band.

The Australian tour was good fun and we really enjoyed it,” said Si. “To be honest, it was quite easy …. partly due to my system tech Jerrell Evans and the JPJ crew of Tim Seconi and Alex McComark, who were good lads.

Clair Cohesion Series makes Australian debut with Keith Urban

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All photos ©Troy Constable

Although the venue is equipped with a d&b audiotechnik PA system, Keith is a long time Clair account and so JPJ Audio provided their new Clair Cohesion PA system, purchased just in time for Keith’s Australian Ripcord Tour. Seamless integration within the Cohesion Series, assures uniform coverage in multiple venues regardless of acoustic challenges or sightlines. The Series provides higher output, reference quality sound within a smaller footprint; in truck space and in the air.

Keith’s FOH engineer Kirk Kelsey has mixed for a wide variety of acts including Live, Creed, Three Doors Down, and The Smashing Pumpkins. He readily admits that he has been blown away by the Cohesion Series. “The new Cohesion system is a totally different animal to anything else Clair has produced,” commented Kirk. “It’s also totally different to anything else that I have mixed on such as d&b, Meyer or Adamson. Whilst all of those systems are high quality, Cohesion just keeps going – it never compresses itself, has tons of headroom and it throws a very good distance. The clarity and vocal intelligibility of it is outstanding whether you’re in a theatre, arena or stadium.

Keith Urban 14Kirk reports that as there is a large amount of low frequency in the hanging PA, he doesn’t have to fly subwoofers. “There’s not a lot of processing in the Cohesion as I believe that Clair wanted to give engineers raw power,” he added. “One thing I learnt with the Cohesion PA is that you have to build your show in this system for it to be able to work. I can’t just come in after an L’Acoustics or d&b show, and plug into the system. The Cohesion system will show all the flaws in the mix so you have to undo everything.

At the ICC theatre there were twelve Cohesion CP-118™ self-powered sub bass loudspeakers run in a cardio pattern of two blocks of six onstage. Kirk reports that they are really, really efficient and that they deliver tons of output, in fact he actually has to run the subs at -10 compared to the rest of the system.

The main hang comprised of sixteen Cohesion CO-12 cabinets, Clair’s next generation of versatile, reference quality concert loudspeakers, with a further twelve CO-12’s for side hang. “The side hang is a 120° splay and the main hang an 80° splay,” Kirk clarified. “We also have a centre hang which consists of four Cohesion CO-8 cabinets and that covers the thrust that comes out from the centre of the stage. We also have CO-8’s stacked in various places across the subs or the stage to fill out little gaps.

Kirk revealed that they had just played Canberra’s GIO stadium with the same configuration of sixteen Cohesion CO-12 cabinets and they were able to reach back of stadium with no problem.

Keith Urban 5Out front Kirk was mixing on an Avid Profile with a large number of inputs including eight inputs for Keith’s electric guitar alone. For this, Kirk uses many different microphones, blending them to try get the sound as big as possible, as one microphone would not do justice. “Danny Raider our stage right guitar player also plays a lot of auxiliary instruments and then Nathan Barlow upstage right, is the EDM factor to Keith’s new album which has electronica influence,” added Kirk. “Nathan has built this thing that he calls The Phantom that consists of four iPads triggering different types of samples as well as keyboards and pads plus a guitar. There’s a lot of talent of stage and they’re a really tight band. I got lucky with this band – I didn’t have to come in and fix anything!

Kirk describes mixing Keith’s show as like mixing a rock show and that he just follows his lead. Initially he built snapshots for every song but discarded them after the first show as Keith is very much a free spirit on stage.

Although Kirk wasn’t using any outboard effects on this show, typically has eight RF vocal mics active for Keith as he can pop up anywhere on stage or out front at any time. “It didn’t seem cost effective to build money channels for each one of those RF microphones and as a result I came up with a scheme so next year I can go ahead and route them through their own separate mixer. I use a lot of Waves as well as Brainworx, SPL Transient Designer and Echo Farm.

Monitors were mixed by Phil ‘side fill’ Wilke on a couple of Midas H3000 analogue consoles with a bunch of outboard effects. Keith and his band use both IEM’s and wedges, with Keith typically using just the one IEM as audience microphones don’t give him the same feel as wedges.

The Ripcord tour has been on the road for several months and fans regularly post to Keith Urban’s facebook page and there is rarely any mention of audio quality, which we all know is a good thing!

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