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Recording live music in a small room w/ DSLR Video cam
Old 5 days ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
Recording live music in a small room w/ DSLR Video cam

hello all - apologies for a pretty noob question with a lot of possibilities to it.

I work in music and my company frequently has musicians coming in to the office to perform live showcases for us. These are usually stripped-down acoustic performances with limited production / backline, although occasionally they plug in and use small amp's or PA's. They perform in a pseudo-conference room, more like a lounge that has couches & carpeting, and it's a corner office in an otherwise typical office building that has a lot of cubicles and such. The dimensions are about 20'x10' - I bring this up in regards to the room acoustics - which I'm not sure is an issue I should be focused on at this point, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself…

We are looking to start doing something like the NPR tiny desk concert series, where we record the showcase and then put it up online. We'll be filming using a DSLR camera and I'm trying to figure out how to best record audio in a simplified way without a lot of post mixing & engineering. No-one here is an expert audio engineer and we're not trying to mic every single instrument - in fact we're not trying to do a lot of audio mixing at all, if we can avoid it. But this is basically the gist of my question - what is the easiest way for me to capture decent audio in a room like this with SOME control over it, without having to mic every single thing and then mix every channel. Each act that comes in is different - yesterday we had a solo singer that played 3 different guitars. We have also had a 9-person bluegrass band that all played their own instruments and did a lot of harmonizing, so it varies.

I'm also going to shoot some interview footage with the bands and will be editing the final project to be portions of the live performance interspersed with interview footage, so I'm also open to any suggestions on how to capture good interview audio.

My budget is flexible but I'm shooting for $1,000-2,000, and I also have some random equipment that might be useful for this. For example, a Sony PCM‑D100, and some MacBook Pro's. If I have to pay more I can, or if there is a compelling reason to pay more, I can, I just need to make a case for it.

So if I have to summarize, my question is what Mic's, interfaces, and other gear would you recommend I use for this, keeping in mind I'm not a pro audio engineer and we're looking to produce these somewhat quick & dirty style. Should I worry about room acoustics?

Thanks in advance & for reading.
Old 5 days ago
  #2
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Lenzo's Avatar
I would keep it simple at first. Use what you have. My Canon mic isn't great...the auto limiter built into it is what really kills it. If you use your Sony on a stand near talent but out of camera view, you would have camera audio as reference and it's not hard to sync it up to the Sony audio. A hand clap just before talent starts gives you a audio cue to sync to. Have someone come in and do a test run. I'm using a Tascam DR-60 with the Canon 5D. It has xlr inputs and phantom power. Not too expensive. In a office you can power it via usb from a laptop, as it eats batteries like crazy. If you don't like the sound of the Sony, then you could bump up to that and have a couple of boom stands with Shure SM58's left and right out of the shot. Again, not too pricey or complex and that should improve it somewhat. From there it's more a matter of mics and placement, which can go so many different directions. For interviews, a lav or two would be useful. If it's just in your office you can buy wired lav's fairly cheaply. The extension cables can sometimes be noisy, so it's good to do a test run. I use newer Sennheiser wireless systems. I find them reliable and quiet, but that might not be in your budget. Good luck.
L.
Old 5 days ago
  #3
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

It's all about give and take - the more mics you use, the more mixing you have to do, but the more control you will have. The less mics, less mixing, less control. You're not really going to find a solution that allows you to use less mics and have more control.

NPR strikes a good balance in their TinyDesk series I think. They use a single, stereo Mid-Side shotgun mic (the Sennheiser 418). It's one mic, so it's relatively easy to set up and record, but the MS signal gives you some control in post. You can use it mostly mono (primarily mid signal) if you want to focus on just one performer, or widen the stereo image (by increasing the relative volume of the side channel) if you have a group of multiple performers.

-Mike
Old 5 days ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
NPR strikes a good balance in their TinyDesk series I think. They use a single, stereo Mid-Side shotgun mic (the Sennheiser 418). It's one mic, so it's relatively easy to set up and record, but the MS signal gives you some control in post. You can use it mostly mono (primarily mid signal) if you want to focus on just one performer, or widen the stereo image (by increasing the relative volume of the side channel) if you have a group of multiple performers.

-Mike
It looks like it might be their principal mic, but they use others when they have to shoe-horn a larger group (than a simple duet or trio) into the studio eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRipadkd6wk

I suspect DI's and hidden instrument amp mics are used as well, but they certainly extract a good sound from a small space !
Old 5 days ago
  #5
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

ORTF often works well in rooms with less than stellar accoustics. Id sugest a pair of Sennheiser e914 condnser mics and a shapeways ortf mount. The shapeways mount is cheap, durable, and super easy to setup an ortf array. The 914s are good midrange condensers that are a little on the bright side. This will work in your favor to help offset the high freq loss youll have because the room is carpeted.

As mentioned in this thread, Tascam makes recorders designed to be paired with dslr cameras.

Tom
Old 4 days ago
  #6
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutinymutiny View Post
I work in music and my company frequently has musicians coming in to the office to perform live showcases for us. These are usually stripped-down acoustic performances with limited production / backline, although occasionally they plug in and use small amp's or PA's. They perform in a pseudo-conference room, more like a lounge that has couches & carpeting, and it's a corner office in an otherwise typical office building that has a lot of cubicles and such. The dimensions are about 20'x10' - I bring this up in regards to the room acoustics - which I'm not sure is an issue I should be focused on at this point, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself…
Pictures of the space would be helpful. Lacking that, I'm assuming you are talking about a walled in conference room that you enter through a door. How high is the ceiling? IDK. Based on that assumption:

The most important element effecting the sound you get is the hall you record it in. The NPR tiny desk series is recorded in a corner of a quite large open-plan office space with what looks like high ceilings. This takes a lot of the reflections out of the equation and as a result they are able to avoid "small room sound". In a closed conference room of the size you mention, you will not be so lucky.

If you think of "small room sound" as a signal to noise problem (the rapid early reflections off the nearby walls and ceiling being your "noise"), you can fight it by close micing your sources. That is, capture more direct sound and less reflected sound. But this means you can't use the sing-around-a-mic setup that NPR uses because such a setup has too high a signal to noise ratio (you can too easily hear the early reflections that cause "small room sound"). Putting a mic on everybody and every instrument pretty much defeats your aim of minimal post processing however. And it destroys your very small budget.

You can also put in a lot of time, resources, and effort in treating the room. But in my limited experience this is usually not very successful because it generally leads to a pretty dead room, which puts you back into the post processing mode of playing EQ games and adding reverb.

Such are the problems of trying to record music in crappy acoustic environments.

My advice is to find a better room. You won't fully understand this until you spend a fair amount of time chasing all kinds of "magic bullet" solutions that promise to make your crappy room acceptable but that don't really work. But when you get to the end of all that, you'll understand the point I'm trying to get across in my own poorly articulated way. If your bosses get frustrated in the mean time, hire some sound people to record the sound for you. They'll tell you the same thing -- there's a limit to what they can do to overcome a crappy room.
Old 4 days ago
  #7
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
It looks like it might be their principal mic, but they use others when they have to shoe-horn a larger group (than a simple duet or trio) into the studio eg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRipadkd6wk

I suspect DI's and hidden instrument amp mics are used as well, but they certainly extract a good sound from a small space !
Wow that is a big group! Yes I wouldn't imagine a single mic could handle a group of that size and sound that good!

-Mike
Old 4 days ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 

...there is a recent vid out on how NPR.tiny does the recordings...hth.../s~
Old 4 days ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveGS View Post
...there is a recent vid out on how NPR.tiny does the recordings...hth.../s~
Link???
Old 4 days ago
  #10
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Frankly, you'd save several years of time and a load of pain by hiring an experienced broadcast sound tech (with their own gear) to mix a good camera feed. The DIY learning curve is more like a vertical line...
Old 4 days ago
  #11
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Quote:
Link???
...npr.tinydesk(?)...google(?)...it's out there somewhere.../s~
Old 4 days ago
  #12
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Frankly, you'd save several years of time and a load of pain by hiring an experienced broadcast sound tech (with their own gear) to mix a good camera feed. The DIY learning curve is more like a vertical line...
What Wyllys said.

That said, and the "dirty" part of "cheap and dirty" being heartfelt... GET GOOD MICS... then, definitely, use a M/S mic setup... an all-in-one like the Neumann shotgun mentioned, or a less-expensive Sony ECM-957PRO or Shure VP-88 or AT BP4029 (AT835ST)... feeding a TASCAM DR-60/70. Select the "M/S Decode" option in the "monitor" menu... experiment with the amount of "S" during soundcheck... feed the camcorder with the proper 1/8TRS outlet and cable at the proper level... record to both... if you decide to re-balance in video post/edit, you can do so. Be sure to leave plenty of headroom, and engage the limiter as a "fail-safe". Really cheap... get a Zoom with the accessory M/S plug-on. It won't be a shotgun (lots more "behind the mic" pickup) but it will be cheerfully cheap.

Be careful of "overs" when setting mic gains... that's the red "clip" light on the DR-60. That will ruin your day quicker than balance problems between the instruments and voices. Keep the scale modest at the outset... rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, sound checking all the way. Have fun.

Don't pull your hair out when things get weird... just figure things out, or...

"save several years of time and a load of pain by hiring an experienced broadcast sound tech (with their own gear) to mix a good camera feed".

One old guy's (who owns a DR-60 and several stellar mics) opinion.

HB
Old 4 days ago
  #13
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Harry...

Might as well add that a safety recording should be made as well. I do TWO safeties, one on the Qu-drive and one on a Marantz deck with the AGC engaged.
Old 4 days ago
  #14
Gear Nut
Old 4 days ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
A bit dumbed down, but what the hey.

Amp direct outs? Only if you want a nice "bzzzzzz" in the mix. IME, maybe...MAYBE...1 out of 20 amp Direct Outs won't have a buzz. Proper DI between the bass and the amp.

Proper DI: It doesn't matter how clean the DI is if it doesn't present the proper input impedance to the source. Answer? Radial JDV...and an assortment of your faves.

http://www.radialeng.com/jdvmk5.php

Sennheiser 609? The 906 is mucho better.

Yes, the sound is good. Are they using the best? Not according to that 'Tube vid.
Old 3 days ago
  #16
KEL
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Id suggest a hybrid solution to what wyllys and HB suggested. Do the capture yourself then find someone to mix & "master" . Do they pay these artists? Is there a PA system?
...Just add a couple hundred for someone to mix two song candidates for you. Find a local project studio who's mixes are decent. The capture process is at odds with the levels you'd like to have on a finished video. I'd not worry about acoustics too much but a couple segments of pipe and drape behind the artists creates an instant "stage" and helps with the early reflections. Add a bit of modest LED lights and you have a better look for the camera.

If I was doing this, I'd probably get: a Zoom h6, the optional dual xlr module, an 8 channel drop snake that could reach your camera, a few sm58, a couple/few SD mics like Rode m5, couple direct boxes, some headphones and maybe a small AH zed mixer too. That's about $1300 worth. I'd be searching used but I'm opposed to used at all. I'd record onto the H6 and feed a redundant mix to the camera. Give the SD card to someone.

Any decent cheap camcorder behind the artist, pointing out or just another angle makes the video move along better than a lock off tripod shot for 4 minutes.
Old 3 days ago
  #17
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Fine...except that having a large mic locker at your disposal along with an assortment of DI's is expensive. Knowing WHICH mic/DI to use and proper mic placement is crucial. Again, the time line for learning this figures in years.

FYI, if you're good at the job there is no post-production for the audio. Just record the audio straight to the cameras and do the video editing. Saves as much money as can be saved.
Old 3 days ago
  #18
KEL
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Enough mics and DI boxes for the majority of who comes to perform isn't that expensive. But, adding up cables and stands might be pushing this closer to the $2k ceiling. For this I don't believe that mic/DI choice and placement is really all that critical. Dynamic for vocal, dynamic or sd mic for an instrument. Get them close. Anyone with reasonable experience, which the OP seems like, can get a mic on a guitar, cajon, vocal, mandolin, etc. it may not be perfect but close enough so that someone could mix later and come up with a more than satisfactory mix.

All things being equal, a post-produced mix will be better than an on-site mix. Especially in this type of situation, and the method I suggest. And there's no way I'd want to send broadcast levels into a Canon dslr. That should be backup plan B. An on-site mix requires a dedicated audio person mixing the show. I believe with some post production mix help, the OP can do this by himself. Experience and good ears always wins out but I don't know any pro who would rather render a mix live if they had a choice to multitrack. That being said, a pro's live mix could be quite satisfactory.

If line of sight wasn't an issue, I'd plop down an XY pair or Zoom recorder in front of the band and try to balance the act best as possible.
Old 3 days ago
  #19
Gear Maniac
For a back-up:
If you own an iPhone you can spend $150 on a Shure MV88 mic that plugs directly into the Lightning port.
The mic is an MS mic with a cardiod Mid.
and a free APP.
In the APP you can record stereo and vary the stereo width or record MS and adjust later or mono cardiod or mono fig 8 and you can record 1644(CD bit rate/sampling rate), 1648, 2444 or 2448.
You can record as pure audio OR use the
iPhone camera and capture as video.
The audio quality is not as good as my standard mics (Sennheiser MKH8040, 8050) but MUCH better than you would expect for the price and MUCH better than internal iPhone camera.
Old 3 days ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEL View Post
. For this I don't believe that mic/DI choice and placement is really all that critical.
Inputs are ALWAYS critical, both in live performance and recording.

Quote:

All things being equal, a post-produced mix will be better than an on-site mix. Especially in this type of situation, and the method I suggest. And there's no way I'd want to send broadcast levels into a Canon dslr.
No, a good live mix is entirely possible. I do it for live broadcast, others do live mixes as well. And it sounds LIVE. And nothing has been said about sending broadcast levels to the camera, only sending mixed audio to the camera. Matching levels is not a problem.

BTW, I've lstened to the Tiny Desk audio and they compress the s*** out of it. Sad.

I do this type of work for about 70% of my sound business. Have you ever done it at all?
Old 3 days ago
  #21
KEL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
Inputs are ALWAYS critical, both in live performance and recording.



No, a good live mix is entirely possible. I do it for live broadcast, others do live mixes as well. And it sounds LIVE. And nothing has been said about sending broadcast levels to the camera, only sending mixed audio to the camera. Matching levels is not a problem.

BTW, I've lstened to the Tiny Desk audio and they compress the s*** out of it. Sad.

I do this type of work for about 70% of my sound business. Have you ever done it at all?
If you're doing a live mix, sure the mic placements are more important. You have latitude on a post mix however.

Have I recorded and mixed live events? Sure. Bad Company, Steve Miller band, Robben Ford, Deana Carter, Temptations, Max Carl/38 special/Grand funk railroad, Ambrosia, Merle Haggard, the Alarm, dozens more high end jobs that I'm forgetting, along with dozens of of local and semi local bands, live recordings I've made that are national commercials, live talk shows, radio shows, TV episodic shows. Live tracked and post mixed albums and my own band stuffs too. So yes,I've done some things. Along with that kind of stuff my live sound experience and 35+ years of studio recording and my TV lost mixing experience on hundreds of shows.

My suggestions were not without thought
Old 3 days ago
  #22
KEL
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The point isn't either of our resumes, it's what might work for the OP. He's not hiring either of us to do the job. He expressed a desire to tackle the situation. Both of us suggest getting help. You recommend hiring out someone to mix each concert live to the camera, which incidentally still requires extra post processing steps in the NLE program. I think being a bit more autonomous and recording it, then getting mix help makes sense. I also think hiring someone to be at every event, nailing the mix, will be more expensive per show, albeit the investment in gear probably less. In my opinion, handing off an SD card with six tracks is a piece of cake mix job for a local project, or commercial studio.

It would be good to know what the experience level of the OP is, and whether he owns any gear whatsoever, beyond a dslr...
Old 3 days ago
  #23
KEL
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Nobody, including me, addressed the interview audio. Apologies. You can do it "in place" on the stage using the existing vocal mics. Or if you want to do a separate interview set, a low cost wired Lav mic works pretty well. But for each extra person you'd need an input. Something like the Rode video mic kit on their micro boom works pretty well just out of frame, hard wired to the camera or recorder . The issue with an on-camera mic is in order to get the audio sounding decent ( with less ambient reflections) you'd have to use a really short lens, like a 16-25mm . Those in turn make the subject a bit cartoonish, no depth compression. A longer 50-85 lens looks better but places you too far to use a video mic pro on your hotshoe.
Old 2 days ago
  #24
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Setting up a audio/video capability that will give the talent you are planning to work with a fair chance, for the budget you have outlined is novice dreaming. 1. You owe the talent an opportunity for an accurate capture of their capabilities: not a technically limited exersize in futility. 2. For the video, at a minimum, a sensor paired with a suitable lens (Lumix GH3 or 4 with 12/35 2.8 lens) with an Atomos monitor recorder (Ninja Blade)
An external audio protocol will be necessary given the fact there is no integrated camera/audio capture available that will pass the professional bar of acceptance. 3. A small console that has a suficent number of inputs to meet your needs along with all of the management tools that todays small digital desks offer (A&H QUsb has a HP jack that will feed a live mix to the Atomos recorder also a redundent USB flash drive for 18 channel multitrack capture) 4. Quality audio begins with quality mics: your stated budget will not cover the cost of the appropriate mics to do the job. 5. The acquisition of a video/audio computer to house the editing suites you will need (Premiere Pro Video---Studio one audio) along with stands and cords will put your needed budget well above $10,000.
Those of us that have the requsite gear to do the job and the basic skills to use it do you no favor avoiding these truths. Wyllis is probably right on target: hire someone that can do the job well or buy the latest and greatest I-Pad and find the steadiest hand in your crowd to video your talent. To do better than the I-Pod find ten grand and several years to scale the video/audio learning curve.
Hugh
Old 2 days ago
  #25
KEL
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So, I guess the OP has to go to his bosses: "yea, I'm gonna need ten to fifteen grand , gotta hire a recording tech, need a new Panasonic camera with external recorder, probably a new computer with an editing program, hire someone to edit. Thats what's fair for these artists coming to our break room. Or, we can just get an iPad."
Old 2 days ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEL View Post
So, I guess the OP has to go to his bosses: "yea, I'm gonna need ten to fifteen grand , gotta hire a recording tech, need a new Panasonic camera with external recorder, probably a new computer with an editing program, hire someone to edit. Thats what's fair for these artists coming to our break room. Or, we can just get an iPad."
No, what would be prudent would be to convey the pertinent information received to those in charge and go to the next stage in the decision making process.

Hiring the audio done precludes purchasing "ten to fifteen grand" of equipment. But the bottom line is and has been since the OP: this is NOT a DIY project...unless everyone is willing to accept whatever results ensue during the learning process. Additionally, apprenticing with an able and amiable pro during the course of one or two years can offer the appropriate training required to go it independently.
Old 2 days ago
  #27
KEL
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where's the sarcasm emoji
Old 2 days ago
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

It seems to me like many of the suggestions here are overreactions. I didn't get the impression from the OP that anyone was expecting to match the tiny desk quality on the first try (which no doubt would requires years of experience and a respectable arsenal of gear,) but just wanted to try something in the same style. Also, it's meant for internet streaming, not live broadcast, which implies a lower level of expectations right off the bat (at least to me; maybe I'm behind the times here.)

If artists are already coming in and doing these anyway, why not try a few recordings, without any commitment or guarantee of distribution, before making any final decisions. If I were in the OP's shoes, I'd rent an MKH-418s and a recorder with xlr mic inputs and phantom power, or maybe even just a mixer that could feed the Sony inputs. Then try recording audio with that basic, easy, comparatively affordable setup and see what everyone thinks. Is it way too distant and indirect? Are the musicians not balancing themselves? Or, maybe with a little luck, it'll seem good enough for what they're going for, or at least close enough that it's worth trying the little tweaks in mic placement, musician arrangement, easy room acoustic tweaks, etc. that could make the difference.

The odds of this simple rig, in inexperienced hands, matching the quality of NPR, or that of many of the members of this forum, are slim-to-none, but the quality still might be acceptable for what they want to achieve.

I see no harm in trying. Renting gear is cheap and easy, and it involves little commitment. These performances are already happening whether they get recorded or not, so who cares if one or two attempts aren't worth sharing while you figure out what works? A couple test recordings will quickly reveal whether or not you're in the ballpark of where you want to be, or whether you should, as many have suggested, simply hire this out.

If you only had one chance, and it had to be right, I'd say hire the experienced folks, no doubt. But if you can afford to miss a few times, why not go for it?
Old 2 days ago
  #29
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Another consideration in such endeavors:

Will the performers/artists sign off on their performance being recorded for public distribution, i.e. posting on the 'Net?

If so, will they accept amateur production results?
Old 2 days ago
  #30
Lives for gear
Good debate, lots of what-if scenarios, but...whole lotta conjecture goin' on !

Can I be so bold as to throw in a few visible examples of something we did a few years ago, now folded. Small room, folk club, 30 in the audience max, 1 or sometimes 2 cameras, light amplification for the audience, aux feeds out from the mixer into a Zoom recorder, synced up later to the camera audio, no attempt at slickness but it got the job done....

I put these out there simply as an example of some sorta benchmark, maybe quite a low one, but done on simple PA mics, no elaborate splitting, domestic style handi-cams. At least you have a few concrete examples now to critique, throw stones or bouquets at...to the OP, are you shooting for this standard or Weeny Desk or somewhere betwixt ? Think of this as the 'no budget' version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvqC...OwfxpQ&index=4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnrj...yHTiYe-5k9VIly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olUWLidGufw
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