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Unity Unity Announces Intent to Acquire Weta Digital

Discussion in 'Film, TV, Animation & Cinematics' started by AskCarol, Nov 9, 2021.

  1. AskCarol

    AskCarol

    Unity Technologies

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    Acquisition to put award-winning VFX tools and technology into the hands of millions of creators and artists.


    Today we have announced that we have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Weta Digital, specifically its award-winning engineering talent and artist pipeline, tools and technology. Ultimately, this acquisition is designed to put Weta’s incredibly exclusive and sophisticated visual effects tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once integrated onto the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity and shape the future of the metaverse.

    Weta Digital will join Unity’s Create Solutions focused on the continual evolution of their dozens of proprietary graphics and VFX tools, such as Manuka, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Barbershop, HighDef, CityBuilder, and many more. In the future, with our deep expertise in real-time, these world-class artist tools will be available to creators through an accessible cloud-based workflow. The Academy Award-Winning VFX teams of Weta Digital will continue as a standalone entity known as Weta FX and is expected to become Unity’s largest customer in the Media and Entertainment space.

    “The Weta Digital tools created unlimited possibilities for us to bring to life the worlds and creatures that originally lived in our imaginations,” said Peter Jackson, Chairman & Co-Founder, Weta Digital. “Together, Unity and Weta Digital can create a pathway for any artist, from any industry, to be able to leverage these incredibly creative and powerful tools. Offering aspiring creatives access to Weta Digital’s technology will be nothing short of game changing and Unity is just the company to bring this vision to life.” “We are thrilled to democratize these industry-leading tools and bring the genius of Peter Jackson and Weta’s amazing engineering talent to life for artists everywhere,” said John Riccitiello, President and Chief Executive Officer, Unity. “By combining the power of Unity and Weta Digital, the tools and technology that built characters and scenes from the world’s most iconic films such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Wonder Woman, will enable an entirely new generation of creators to build, transform, and distribute stunning RT3D content.” Weta Digital is the premier creator of VFX, delivering high-quality, ultra-realistic characters, objects, and scenes for a wide variety of award-winning movies and television shows, such as Avatar, Black Widow, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, The Suicide Squad, and more. Weta Digital achieves this superior level of performance with a world-class team of VFX artists and engineers, who helped build an extremely sophisticated artist pipeline and set of tools to conduct advanced facial capture and manipulation, anatomical modeling, advance simulation and deformation of objects in movement, procedural hair and fur modeling, and many more techniques that have been galvanized, developed, and perfected through hundreds of properties across thousands of shots for more than 20 years.

    “When you realize that Unity is exceptional at delivering world-class tools and technology to creators, this acquisition is a perfect match: we have the opportunity to get Weta Digital’s award-winning, high-end artist pipeline and tools, which are in a class by themselves, to a much broader audience of artists than what has been historically possible,” said Prem Akkaraju, CEO of Weta Digital. “Weta’s goal has always been to inspire and motivate a whole new generation of creators and it’s exciting to pass the mantle over to Unity. I see a future where more and more content shares the same level of visual fidelity as Avatar and Game of Thrones and Unity is the ideal company to lead us into this future.”

    With this transaction, Unity will acquire:
    • Weta’s world-class engineering talent of 275 engineers that are known for architecting, building and maintaining Weta Digital tools and core pipeline;
    • Dozens of industry-leading tools such as Manuka, Gazebo, Barbershop, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Koru and more, all integrated seamlessly into Weta’s industrial strength production pipeline;
    • A foundational data platform for interoperable 3D art creation, making it easy for hundreds of artists to work seamlessly together; and
    • A library of thousands of incredible assets that the Weta FX team will continue to accumulate as they create world class VFX in the years to come.
    Feel free to discuss and ask questions in the thread!

     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
  2. Gasimo

    Gasimo

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    Sounds like a great set of tools to rival Unreals set of utils and Quixel Library. However I am afraid I wont be able to afford any of this. My biggest curiosity is the pricing of the non-cloud things like assets and motion capture tools. Can we expect part of the tools being integrated into Unity to update the current tools like Terrain Editor, Path-Tracing and alike?
     
  3. TreyK-47

    TreyK-47

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    Hey hey! So, for pricing, we are not yet sharing pricing or timing. Our intention, however, is to provide these tools at price points accessible to a wide range of creators.

    These assets and tools will be separate from the Unity Editor, so that creators are able to use them in their existing toolchains. Our plans include building a great user experience with an integrated workflow for customers who use these tools with the Unity Editor.
     
  4. rz_0lento

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    Pretty sure many of the users share the same concern. Unity has track record of acquiring companies with cool tech but still pricing that tech out of reach of average engine user. It's kind of hard to get excited when you can pretty much assume the new acquisition won't benefit you in any way. I get it's business as usual though.
     
  5. sqallpl

    sqallpl

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    Would be great if (wishful thinking):

    1. Asset library is free for use with Unity projects.
    2. Different pricing points are suited for any customer, from individuals to biggest companies.
    3. Source content is processed and available for wide range of target platforms (different LODs of models, resolution of textures etc.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
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  6. TheOtherMonarch

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    Right now weta seems very focused on films.

    Integrating the asset library with Speedtree sounds good.

    Hopefully those 275 engineers can speed up development of Unity's new terrain system.
     
  7. akent99

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    I would love to hear about how this impacts roadmaps for current tools being created (Sequences, Live Capture, etc). The tools sound fantastic for high end production... but I can imagine overly complex for smaller players (including hobbiests like me!) to use, even if affordable. Understanding what parts of existing tools may go away can help with planning on projects.
     
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  8. Nest_g

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    Almost Unity users dont use it to make movies, this tools really not means a great change and possibly will be not free, while HDRP have realtime GI (not actual precalculate) high quality (movie quality) assets have not sense for cost reasons.
     
  9. Kamyker

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    Interesting but I wonder how many of these tools are optimized for real-time.
     
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  10. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    I would like to be able to bake explosions and the like using VFX and weta dynamics. To texture sheets, and have motion vectors as standard.

    Lovely acquisition, please don't leave poor indies behind though :)
     
  11. JayTay33

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    Congratulations Unity!
    I've been a diehard Unity user for years. Specifically, I've been using Unity for animation and film for a few years now. This news is really really exciting! Thank you! As I'm sure many people are.. I'm looking forward to what comes next...
     
  12. newguy123

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    This is awesome news!!!

    But pretty useless news for most of us also.

    If it's getting integrated, then great. But pretty sure its not and it will be just another Reflect, MARS, ArtEngine, Pixyz.
    You do realise as film makers and story tellers, we're not going to be paying these rediculous fees, but simply switch to Unreal, where software is free for filmaking.

    If you're the size of Weta, ILM and the likes, you can afford a gazzillion different tools, but for most of us we're 10 people or less and budgets are not unlimited.
     
  13. Metron

    Metron

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    First thought: W.T.F.

    While the acquisition sounds interesting, I highly doubt any benefit for lambda Unity users within the next 4-5 years.
     
    Edy likes this.
  14. _geo__

    _geo__

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    I think it's good news :D
    weta.jpeg
    (I did not make this meme, so full credits to whoever did. It's awesome.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  15. Nest_g

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    Many tools but one of the most important a 3D painter is not in the pack, Weta Mari 3D is now a Foundry product.
     
  16. Zimnel

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    As much as I would like seeing those marvelous tools available "For all creators", most likely they will be available only under Unity Pro. "All creators" means all of us : ) Literally ^ ^;

    It's big news all those tools will be there. Please also think in "All creators" that are indie. Indie plans or learning licenses could also be a good thing, right? ;)
     
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  17. MechaWolf99

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    Wil this affect the core Unity editor in any way? Or is the plan to keep it all completely separate?
     
  18. jeijei666

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    The proliferation of advanced technology is always a good thing, but a few questions from a game developer:

    1. I have a gamer graphics card (rtx 3070) and I know a lot of studios are accustomed to workstation cards. Will the technology in any way be accommodating the vast majority of indie game developers with consumer-grade cards? Say I wanted use that weta magic to see some advanced ai procedural animated horse muscles as it gallops in a scene. Will I get slow frame rates or long waiting periods when I'm testing out some animation?

    2. what's the game plan when it comes to learning weta? Is it a very straightforward user experience where a newbie can easily figure out the software, or will there be a steep learning curve that would require a lot of research. i quickly searched weta tutorial on youtube and didn't get good results.

    3. is this is going to be an open innovation ecosystem? will there be plans on user-created content/add-on for weta in the unity asset store? any notable asset developers who are planning on integrating or adapting their templates/toolkits/assets to work well with/compliment weta?
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2021
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  19. Enigma229

    Enigma229

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    I create offline cinematics to compliment our training apps developed in Unity so this welcome news. I just hope you make these assets free or very affordable like Unreal has with their assets.
     
  20. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    I honestly see no drawback in providing these tools under the similar pro/plus/personal conditions the Unity license itself has, because clearly there is no harm in letting personal users use these tools for free. Their projects may become successful and at that point they will need to pay once their company turnover reaches a certain threshold. As for pro users, they'd have to be in whatever plan Unity has for Weta content that's far beyond mortals :)

    But plus and personal? let them at it. Let them beta test.
     
  21. Mauri

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    So, in the end, it's just another acquisition that's not really of relevance for the average Unity developer. But congrats for acquiring yet another company, I guess...
     
  22. keeponshading

    keeponshading

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    Congratualtion Unity,
    Congratulation WETA,

    this was a good move and i hope the best in class on every level philosophy from WETA and the make it work for everything/everyone philosophy from Unity could greatly benefit from "eachotherone".)
     
  23. Tortuap

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    "The proliferation of advanced technology is always a good thing"

    I disagree. Those tools are not my concerns. I prefer have the tools I'm using everyday being updated, debugged and optimized rather than new tools I won't use being included.
     
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  24. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    ...today. But you don't know who you are next year, or really, what you'll be into. If you do then can I borrow your third eye?
     
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  25. GamesCraving

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    I have a suggestion that everyone will love: Make this free only for Unity Engine users! Yes, you can price it for non-Unity users though ..
     
  26. Sheriziya

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    I like this idea! This way indie developers will have access to great tools additional to what's already available in the asset store and will be able to deliver better quality to their future customers.
    This can also be an excellent solution for students to get a good understanding of tools they will no doubt find in their internships and possible future work place.

    This is a very valid question. One of the questions I have for my own game is where the threshold is in hardware for the game I'm developing. Preferably I'd like players with both high-end PC's and players with low-ish mid-end PC's to be able to play my game. Low-end PC's is.... very hard I think, to also include. When you have a gaming laptop for development (like I too have), the results are very different than when I would play it on my 1GB VRAM graphics card which is about 10 years old.....
    Where do we (have to) draw line, sorta speak? But also: Do indie developers have to suffer because we don't have the budget (I got lucky with a nice gift) to buy high-end hardware for development?

    I think both things are very important. Look at what Procedural Worlds, for example, already has developed, as well as other awesome developers. It would be great if we could use those great assets and the WETA tools in combination.

    I hope more will become clear in the coming months.

    I am looking forward to seeing it all in action, but for now, I have the feeling it will all be far out of my reach.
     
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  27. Lurking-Ninja

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    It is highly unlikely that it will be free for anyone (maybe for Pro or Enterprise users?) or that you can run it on your own machine. The press release talks about cloud solutions. Which probably means you will need to upload your work and let them do the heavy calculations on their cloud servers. Cloud servers aren't cheap, I doubt they would foot the bills for everyone.

    (Obviously it's only speculation)
     
  28. AcidArrow

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    I agree, all signs point to it being a cloud subscription service that will be free for no-one.
     
  29. dorusoftware

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    Wasted money. not sure what is the point of these outdated tools. There are already a lot of paid and free tools out there. What these bring new to the table?

    Put me as CEO.

    first thing with those money I would had created a game store similar with steam and epic store. 100 millions should be enough

    Then with 1.4 billion I would had improved unity. Adding hair shader to URP, and skin shader and eye shader. That would be the first step. Then I would had create a survey on the forums on what people want. Say user Y wants some new small functionality for the Animation panel. Done, 100k to a dev team to implement that in one week. Say user Z want some other improvement. 100K here they are.

    the remaining 100 millions would be my payment.

    ok

    I can settle for 50 millions if the shareholders insists

    you say unity will not make money if they throw 1.6 billlions fixing small unity issues? Yes, is true, but I don't see how they will get back the money by releasing the weta tools 5 years from now.

    by then epic games will have implement an indie gaming store, and most of devs will have abandoned the engine.
     
  30. GamesCraving

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    How do you know the tools are "outdated" when you didn't even see them? Can you please explain?

    I agree. Unity should make its own game launcher/store, not only to make extra gigantic money, but also to stand out its name in the market. And no, it won't be filled with "crap" games, "crap" games are usually cheap, and you can have a filter to filter "good" high priced games you're looking for.

    Not to even mention that there are very few game launchers/stores in the market(Epic Store, Steam, Battle.net), and it's always a good idea to make your own early so you pioneer in this field.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  31. dorusoftware

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    That software comes from a closed complex environment. So you have a team of artist creating special effects for movies and the like. Each project had different requirements and huge budgets to back it up. These special effects goals required creating these tools. BUT. They didn't create the tools to be super user friendly for everyone in the world but to be used by trained professionals which personally knew each other. They need to have the work done and they need it fast and cheap to make a profit. This allowed to cut corners and "hack" it to make it work.

    That is good and nice if you are working in that team and you are in the loop with everything. Not so great if you come out from outside.

    Understanding the tools with the same advanced knowledge they had internally will be a struggle. This means that after unity gets the tools a period of development will be required to adapt the tools for a more down to earth use. Make them available for the rest of us. This takes time. By the time the tools are ready the industry have moved on. Five years from now what those tools can accomplish will already be included in other software packages (if is not already included right now)

    They could also just dump the tools as they are right now, but apart some dude that have too much time and curiosity on his part, the rest of us will just check the tools, see they are too heavy/difficult to use and move on.

    The cryengine tell a lesson here. By the time they have released the engine for free, it was too late.

    With 1 and half billion they should had create a game store and compete with steam and epic games. Reserve a percentage of the funds to finance the development of promising game concepts, make them exclusive to the store. Easy money.

    As we are now I don't see it well for unity. This weta purchase may just be final straw.
     
  32. AcidArrow

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    At this point, almost 20 years after Steam launched and after multiple competitors (some of which are viable), if Unity launched a store now, I don't think they could be considered a pioneer even when really stretching the meaning of pioneer.

    The thing that Unity used to pioneer was to "democratize gamedev".

    I haven't heard that lately.

    From their actions, I'm guessing their new moto is "democratize access to subscriptions to help people throw their money way", but even here unfortunately they are hardly pioneers.
     
  33. GamesCraving

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    You actually have a point! But, let's just assume for the sake of argument it's difficult to use, I guess it's still not stopping developers to mess around with it. And I think it was the same idea regarding "game development" field when it was considered "hard" and "unapproachable", and when good and simple tutorials came out like "Brackeys" in YouTube it proved everything we believed was wrong, and started a new powerful and strong wave of game developers! That's why we can't know for sure until Weta tools' time come! :)
     
  34. GamesCraving

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    You are completely wrong. You said Steam launched 20 years, however you didn't mention its massive competitor that was released just 3 years ago, I'm talking about Epic Games Launcher! Look at how massive it is, it's just 3 old. That still totally doesn't prevent Unity from taking the same step. Awesome and good games are always coming/releasing. It's still never too late!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  35. AcidArrow

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    Yes, they could make another store, and it could potentially be successful (although, personally, I don't see it), but 20 years after Steam and multiple successful competitors, they can't be considered pioneers. (which is what I was objecting to, not whether they can do it or not).

    If they opened a PC games store now, they would be considered late to the party at best, or desperate trend chasers, or as someone else said "still never too late". You can come up with more charitable terms here but you still wouldn't reach "pioneers".
     
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  36. PutridEx

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    I don't see how it would be viable, opening a store that is.
    It's too late, epic has fortnite and made massive giveaways to get people to use their store. And due to fortnite, a ton already do. Even then it's still nothing compared to steam -- nothing close to profit so far on the store.

    Unity has nothing like that, it's very, very unlikely they will ever release a game as popular as fortnite.
    There's really no point in opening one at this point.
     
  37. GamesCraving

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    What I meant by pioneer is that they could become very successful since the competition is early "few stores" .. didn't mean they could become the next Steam or even close.. my bad if I used the wrong term :)
     
  38. AcidArrow

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    “Unity games store: from the company that brought you Collaborate”, yes I can see it now.

    In any case, we are getting off topic, the topic was the services we might get by the Weta acquisition. I think those have the potential to be roughly as well priced and well received as ArtEngine, maybe a bit worse.
     
  39. GamesCraving

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    No, ArtEngine isn't well priced, it's still expensive for most indie devs! It's totally unfair to even price it in the first place when know Unreal Engine bought entire Quixel and made it for free for everyone using the engine! If Unity wants to compete with Unreal Engine, they should make Weta tools and ArtEngine free of cost for all Unity plans including personal .. and yes, they may price it for non-Unity engine users as I already mentioned in this thread.
     
  40. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    I think the true acquisition is that the talent pool behind Weta Digital can also contribute freely to the rest of Unity's companies and staff, providing the necessary management and legal structure is in place.

    This alone has the potential to impact everyone under the Unity umbrella. It's not always about what you have done or what you serve.
     
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  41. dorusoftware

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    sorry for one last time kinda off topic. Looking from outside it make sense to me to create a game store, give financial help to game studio for promising games in exchange of exclusivity. From the pool of these future games the next fortnite or minecraft will show up. Is not a matter of if but just when. The world doesn't stop with fortnite, something else will show up.

    So I was thinking unity had no money for the above plan. I was quite surprised seeing they have/appear to have billions to purchase this company. But offcourse we don't have the data the company have so maybe they have some long plan that will bring them a lot of money. :)

    I doubt it. but I also have no billions to spend so not the most experienced voice here :)
     
  42. AcidArrow

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    You're confused, Unity wants to take money from promising developers, not give them money.
     
  43. dorusoftware

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    you first add some water, then after the tree has grown up you get the fruits :D (or cut him down for fast earnings)

    Is not free money for the devs, it will have string attached, unity could get back the money from future sales once the game is released. have the game exclusive. stuff like that.

    let us say that someone have the next fortnite. approach unity for financial help, unity see the potential, give dev money to complete the game, but asks for 2 years exclusivity and money back once the game is live. turns out is the next fortnite, 100million each month of sales. unity gets percentage because is exclusive, people make account on store, buy other games.

    so by the end "Unity will take money from promising developers"
     
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  44. AcidArrow

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    Your account is old enough to remember that Unity toyed with becoming a publisher in the past and how well that went.

    Also let's stop getting off topic, do you have any evidence of a store happening? What does it have to do with the Weta acquisition?

    Let's keep the discussion on how Unity will use Weta to create new great services along the lines of their existing services like Collaborate and ArtEngine and other dumpster fires.
     
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