Tag Archives: East London

East London – would you Adam and Eve it!

Sorry about the occasional Cockney language.  Let us know if you need a translation! The third paragraph might get tricky.

As an East London boy, Video Artisan’s founder Kevin Cook knows the area well.  From our video studios in leafy Loughton we’re only a stones throw from anywhere in London and Home Counties. With London Underground Central Line stations nearby – and the M25 two shakes away – we’ve got the UK covered. Furthermore, London and Stansted Airports are both about 30-minutes drive from our studios.

Our studios are ground floor – so no Apples!  There’s a few good Germans nearby when you need a break for a Pigs.  We’re very laid back so no need to wear a Fiddle. But were not telling you a Porky when we say that “video production” is our thing.  This isn’t just in our Loaf.  Take a Butchers at our Showreel and see what we do, and who we do it for.

So – if you’re ready to get your business on the Custard, now’s the time to contact Video Artisan.  Cast your Minces below for details on how to find us.

East London Directions

Call 020 3602 3356 to book an appointment at our studios. You can download our location map here.  Alternatively ping Kevin Cook for further advice on our various video production and conversions services. kevin@video-artisan.com

Video to MP4 in Loughton Essex

Video to MP4

Video to MP4

Video to MP4 is on the up!  Just a few years ago we were almost exclusively converting VHS, VHS-C, 8mm and DV tapes to DVD. That’s still a significant part of what we do, and DVDs are going to be with us for many years to come, but our customers are starting to appreciate the convenience and benefits of having their videotape collection converted to MP4 files and supplied on USB stick.

So what is driving the change of video to MP4?

USBs are the "now" format!
USBs are the “now” format!

Our Video to MP4 conversion has many benefits over and above conversion to DVD. Without getting too geeky, MP4 (which is a digital video file format) has the potential of displaying much higher resolution images. However, this aspect is really only important if you have high definition videotapes that need converting. As with most things in life, you get out what you put in – so your never going to get high definition video from a VHS tape original. Sorry, but that’s a fact.

Where MP4 is extremely clever is that it compresses video more intelligently than the compression format used on a standard DVD (which, for the geeks among you, is MPEG2). Without any appreciable loss of quality you’ll only get around 2-hrs of standard definition video on a single-sided DVD (which has around 4.7GB of storage capacity). In MP4 format you can compress the video much more efficiently enabling you to get many more minutes into less storage space at a similar quality.

However, as clever as this all sounds the main benefits which our clients really like about our video to MP4 conversion service are:

1 – Easy to view

Most modern TV’s have the ability to playback MP4 files directly from a USB stick. Yes it’s true.. look on the back of your TV set and you’ll see a socket/s which you’ve probably not used before. Pop the USB stick in and select it from the source on your remote and, hey presto, the MP4 video files will play back just the same as they would if played from a DVD. MP4 files will also play back on BluRay players, mobile phones, tablets, media servers and more!  Go on, dare you! See if you’ve got a USB socket on your TV set.

video to MP4 - USB socket
2 – Easy to copy

Whilst it’s easy for us geeky people to copy DVDs, not every customer wants to download ripping programs from dubious sources and fill up their computers with rarely used programs. Just pop the USB stick in your computer and it will appear like any other drive. Drag and drop the MP4 files on to your hard drive and it’s all backed up safely.

3 – Easy to share

Not only can you easily make additional copies on USB sticks (or we can do it for you), but you can also upload your MP4 files to the likes of YouTube and share them with the rest of the world (or at least family and friends). Simply open a YouTube account and start uploading! If you don’t want to share them with any Tom, Dick or Harry use YouTube’s privacy settings to restrict viewing to the audience you want.

4 – Easy to edit

MP4 files are also a doddle to edit. Most computers come with basic video editing software – and for those that don’t there are some neat and very cost effective programs that will allow you to chop out the bad bits, add titles, music and effects that will make your home movies much more enjoyable. Full resolution files can also be supplied (call 020 3602 3356 for details).

5 – Easy to store

Finally, USB sticks take up much less space in our ever-more cluttered lives. They’re certainly much more compact than the videotapes we’ve converted for you.

Costs of converting video to MP4

What our clients like most about our video to MP4 service is that it costs about the same as converting to DVD. For details on our pricing structure please visit our website section here – www.video-artisan.com/video-to-dvd/

 

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Employee Video Profiles

Employee Video Profiles Title
Have you started thinking about using Employee Video Profiles?

What are Employee Video Profiles?

For many years now businesses and public sector organisations have understood the value of profiling their employees on their website. Giving customers the opportunity of “Meeting the team” has long been recognised as both a valuable marketing asset and a means of attracting new employees of the right calibre. In the main, these pen pictures have been just that – a brief written outline of the person, often written by someone else within the company, and sometimes accompanied by a photo. This is all well and good but these are not exactly engaging pieces of website content. This is why more and more organisations are turning to Employee Video Profiles – and for many good reasons.

Who benefits from Employee Video Profiles?

Employee Video Profiles deliver so much more than text versions – benefiting the organisation, their clients and their employees – both present and potential. They are relatively easy and cost effective pieces of video to create – albeit daunting and alien to those appearing on screen. However, the rewards for all those concerns far outweigh any challenges they present. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of Employee Video Profiles to each stakeholder, starting with the most important group – the Website Visitors.

Website visitors are far more receptive to messages and information shared through video these days rather than having to read through reams of text-heavy web pages. It would be easy to say that website visitors have become lazy, but the truth is that there’s so much content online these days that everyone is looking for the quickest and easiest way to gather information and form an opinion – and nothing comes close to video in achieving this.

The target audience for Employee Video Profiles is going to be wide and varied. There will be those who are simply trying to find the right person to speak to within the organisation – be they customers, suppliers, investors or those looking for employment. Whilst all website sections offer relevant information to various visitor types, a section marked up as “Meet the team” or “Our people” has relevance to everyone visiting the site. Even though we often transact in a faceless world these days, people do still buy from people – so any chance a visitor has of making a personal connection with those within the organisation is often grasped at. No matter what their enquiry is about, having a named person – with a real face and personality – makes the process that much easier.

The flip side of this is one of the benefits to the organisation. Employee Video Profiles should help them ease navigation for website visitors so they get to the right person first time and thereby reduce the strain on other resources in the business in dealing with misguided enquiries. Employee Video Profiles, if planned and executed correctly, should also give the organisation an opportunity to promote their business or objectives and company ethos through their employees. Bright, happy and welcoming employees will give the impression of a bright and welcoming organisation. In other words, nice people to do business with – nice people to work for – nice people to know!

For the employees themselves, gaining experience in front of camera is increasingly important and valuable. Whilst this might come easy to some people, if you’re working with an experienced video production company on your Employee Video Profiles this should also come with a certain level of media training. You should be given guidance on scripting, body language, backdrop design and performance. This training will not only help junior members of staff, but should also be valuable to everyone up to director level in helping them with their on-screen performance.

Employee Video Profiles Set
Greenscreen sets are compact and make your Employee Video Profiles look like they were shot… well, anywhere!

And of course, let’s not forget those who are looking for employment. Their objective is to assess whether your business or organisation is one that they should be working for. Nothing can compete with hearing from other happy, contented and personable people who already work for you. Well produced and delivered Employee Video Profiles are as good as personal recommendations from someone you know and are far more likely to appeal to precisely the type of person you are trying to attract to your organisation.

Distributing your Employee Video Profiles

Whilst the distribution platform of your Employee Video Profiles will primarily be your website, they also provide the opportunity to expand your social media content. Hosting your own YouTube channel is the obvious place to start. As part of the Google platform, YouTube content features highly on search returns and will augment your general Search Engine Optimisation efforts. But don’t stop there. Separately uploading your Employee Video Profiles to your company Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Vimeo accounts will also help the videos gain traction – as well as sharing them on Twitter and alike. You should also encourage participants to share their performances on their own social media accounts – again adding to the potential audience and helping to raise awareness of your brand and business.

The cost of producing Employee Video Profiles

As I mentioned towards the beginning of this article, Employee Video Profiles are relatively cheap and cost-effective to produce – if scripted and planned for properly. With the use of greenscreen backdrops, professional cameras, lighting and audio recording technology, these can easily be filmed at your premises with little interference to your operation. If the participants are well prepared and rehearsed, it could be possible to film more than ten profiles in a day with a single-man video crew. Post production should take a couple of days to make them perfect, giving you a unit cost of around £150 per employee at this volume level – and possibly less if you want to create more.

If you are thinking about producing Employee Video Profiles, please give us a call today 020 3602 3356.

Case Study – Video Artisan has recently produced six employee video profiles for Galliard Homes.  Watch their profiles below…

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Video Tutorials – the benefits

video tutorials title
Why should you consider commissioning video tutorials?

This week we’ve launched the first of a series of video tutorials for AKM Music – the UK’s leading producer of royalty free music for use within video and multimedia productions. These short video tutorials give guidance to newbie video producers and videographers looking to make the most of AKM Music’s vast library of royalty free music (AKA copyright-free music). The aim is to release one of these video tutorials each month, covering the technical and creative aspects of auditioning, editing and mastering the music score for video productions.

The subject is very close to home for us being regular users of AKM Music’s excellent repertoire. We also regularly review new albums for them for this blog and other print publications, so I guess producing the video tutorials was a natural progression for us.

The benefits of video tutorials

Producing video tutorials benefits all the stakeholders. The consumer benefits because video is simply the best medium in which to absorb and understand the processes being explained. Printed instructions and websites are fine, but nothing comes close to watching someone demonstrate a process on screen. Viewers can pause and repeat video tutorials as many times as they like, leaving very little to misinterpretation. Video can also be delivered easily over the internet to any viewing device – be that mobile, tablet, PC or large screen displays – and downloaded locally for playback and reference at a later date.

The commissioning company can also benefit hugely from producing video tutorials. They help build customer loyalty by adding to the customer experience of buying their product or service. Apart from educating end users and customers, video tutorials also help those within an organisation understand the products better and, probably more importantly, the customers who are buying them.

But, above all, populating your website with relevant and valuable video tutorials will help with your search engine optimisation and engage your website visitors more effectively. The longer someone spends on your website the more likely they are to identify with your brand, trust your advice and buy from you. Video tutorials are also perfect material to share via your social media channels and, if your audience sees the value too, they’ll also happily share them with others with the same interests.

If you have a product or service that could benefit from having video tutorials produced about their construction, use or maintenance – please get in touch and we can talk you through the process, costs and then develop an implementation plan to help you start benefiting from them too. Call 020 3602 3356.

Note: Type in ‘copyright-free music’ into the search box at the head of this website to see a range of reviews we’ve published on AKM Music albums.

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Producing an in-house corporate video

DIY corporate video title
Tips on DIY video for your business

Why produce your own in-house corporate video?

There’s probably a thousand reasons why you might want to create your own corporate video and, as a professional video production company, we could probably suggest a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t be doing this yourself. You’ve already come to the conclusion that you need (or want) a video to help achieve your goals. You’ll understand the power of video as a communication tool, and seen it’s meteoric rise as a means of generating website traffic, helping to build brand loyalty, delivering a corporate message and motivating an audience to act in a certain way.

Commissioning a video production has traditionally been seen as an expensive exercise and, right now, you’ll be thinking that it’s going to be cheaper and easier to do it yourself – and with all the right knowledge, kit and experience you could possibly be right. It’s the latter part of that last sentence which presents your greatest challenge. Creating a great video looks pretty easy but the reality is that you’re going to face a steep learning curve and need much more kit than you think if you want it to represent you and your business the right way.

That said you’ve probably heard all this before and are still determined to give it a go. One of the important things about the video production process is that it can be a whole lot of fun – and extremely rewarding when you create something that delivers the results you desire. So here’s some practical notes for those determined to go down this path which highlights the obstacles and challenges you will face.

Getting the message right

Regardless of whether you go down the DIY route or commission a professional video production company to create your film, the one thing you have to do is know exactly what it is you want to say and how you want your audience to react. This is all about getting your message right. To do this successfully you’ll need to know your subject matter inside out, understand the needs and desire of your audience and have the mechanisms in place to allow them to do the thing you want them to do after watching your film. This could simply be buying your product from a website or retailer, registering to attend an event or understand how to use a product. The video might actually require your audience to do nothing other than to establish your product or brand as the market leader.

Once you know your message you’ll need to develop your script – never losing sight of what you are trying to motivate your audience to do. Do not waste a second on anything which deviates from this plan or is added purely to massage your own ego. You might well be the biggest widget maker in the world but unless you can get this information over in a way in which your audience can recognise this as a benefit to them then don’t waste their time with it. Never list features unless you can link them to benefits, and never knock your competitors.

The kit

Video cameras are everywhere these days – on phones, laptops, pads and all manner of devices. And the picture quality they can produce is increasingly impressive. Whilst there are some video production tasks these devices will be OK for, they are far from perfect and will limit what you’ll be able to create – and they will almost certainly fall very short on your expectations in recording sound.

Tiny video camera
Tiny video cameras are great – but not always perfect.

The golden rule of good audio recording (which is equally as important as the pictures) is to get your microphone as close to the subject as possible. In-built microphones found on phones are simply not good enough to capture anything other than general ambient sound – and this is also true of purpose-built video cameras with internal mics. To get perfect audio you’ll also need to understand a little about microphone characteristics and their pick-up pattern – but the golden rule mentioned above is paramount which will often mean recording sound separately from the pictures or use a camera which can accept external audio connections so that you can place the mic close to the subject and yet still film from a distance. Ideally you’ll need a selection of microphone solutions and cables to connect them to the camera.

Keeping the camera steady is also extremely important unless you are trying to create a special effect or give the audience a voyeuristic point of view of a scene. You’ll therefore need a good tripod and a camera which can easily be mounted on it.

Martin shooting at the SSDF
Keeping it steady and level on a tripod

All video cameras these days are very light sensitive, even those found on mobile phones. However, good lighting is about controlling light and creating shadows to give your subject form and interest. Just slapping up a light and pointing it in the direction of your subject is rarely going to give you results that will be pleasing on the eye and look natural. The human eye is always attracted by the brightest part of a scene, so if there are other things in a scene which are brighter than your subject your viewers’ attention will be drawn to them. If you are filming people pay particular attention to their eyes as this is what your viewer will concentrate on – so adding light to give the eyes a sparkle will help keep the viewer’s attention on them.

Video editing software is included on almost every computer or laptop these days – and all of them are capable of doing the vast majority of editing that will be found in your average corporate video. Where they fall short is on the niceties and their ability to correct errors made at the filming stage. The only other challenge of using editing programs is their complexity and ease of use. Your first few attempts at using an editing program will be spent learning how to import your footage and carry out basic cutting of shots – so give yourself plenty of time to get the editing completed.

Other refinements of a more professional editing program will include the ability to add more polished titles and graphics – and also in the control of how the final film is output and distributed. A beefier computer will also help to speed up the editing process as video files are data hungry. Some computers might not be man-enough or up-to-date enough to do the job at all!

The true cost of video production

Assuming you are starting from scratch, a basic video production toolkit will set you back something in the order of £5,000. This would include a proper video camera with external audio connections and controls, a reasonable directional microphone with cables and headphones for monitoring, a video tripod (not a photographic tripod), a couple of lights, a basic computer with free editing software and a bag full of cables and batteries. Armed with this an experienced videographer will be able to turn out something which is watchable – and if you achieve this on your first attempt you’ll have done pretty well.
But with all the best kit in the world and the technical skills to go with it, without a clear idea of the aims and objectives, and a creative way to achieve them using video, the whole exercise is unlikely to give you the results you desire. Whilst a DIY approach might save pennies on paper, bringing in a professional video production company might actually give you a much greater return on your investment.

If you’re planning to start using video on a regular basis then the DIY route could be the best solution by building an in-house team or individuals to manage the video production process. These people will need to be trained and whilst there are various video production training resources available, another solution could be to engage an established video production company to help them produce the first one or two films and perhaps be retained to assist in the process should additional help be required.

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of the challenges facing you. If it’s not dampened your enthusiasm then we wish you every success and hope that you soon start to benefit from using video within your business. If it all seems too much, we’re only a phone call away (020 3602 3356).

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Videotape to DVD for converting VHS, VHS-C, DV, Video8 and many other videotape formats

Videotape to DVD conversions Title
Videotape to DVD conversions by Video Artisan

Videotape to DVD – and every other combination

Video Artisan has been converting videotape to DVD for many years now and specialise in providing our clients with a fast, efficient and discreet service. Primarily aimed at customers who are looking for a local company to carry out their videotape to DVD conversions who prefer not to trust their precious memories to a postal service, we take great pride in helping our clients preserve and archive them on a more convenient and up-to-date format.

With day and evening time drop-off facilities in Loughton, Essex – we regularly carry out videotape to DVD conversion services to clients throughout Essex, London, Hertfordshire and beyond.

What is the benefit of videotape to DVD conversion?

The most common reason for our customers wanting to convert their videotape to DVD is that they no longer have a working machine to play them back on. However, there are a number of other benefits to having your videotape converted to DVD.

  • Whilst there are no advantages in terms of picture and sound quality (the quality of the original recording governs this), some modern DVD playback machines will up-scale the image when played back on a high definition screen giving the impression of a better quality image.
  • DVDs offer a much more sophisticated and quicker playback function – allowing you to quickly search through the content of the DVD. If you opt for our premium videotape to DVD service we can also add chapter points throughout the DVD enabling you to skip to designated parts of the recording.
  • DVDs also require much less storage or shelf space and, depending on the videotapes being converted, can hold the contents of a number of tapes on a single disk. (See sections below on tape capacities)
  • DVDs, if converted properly, can be played back on a variety of machines. These include standard DVD players, Sony PlayStation, Blu-ray players, Computers with DVD drives and portable all-in-one DVD player/screens. Whilst no format is guaranteed to last forever, DVDs are still widely manufactured and supported in new optical disk technologies.
  • Once converted to DVD it is very easy to make further copies – without losing any further quality in the recording. Video Artisan can provide these additional copies for a few pounds at the time of converting the videotape to DVD and recommend this for archiving purposes. Whilst the lifespan of a DVD, if stored correctly, will last for many years the memories they hold are very precious so it is always advisable to back them up.
  • Converting videotape to DVD involves digitising the pictures and sound and storing them in a digital format on the disk. Our standard service results in a disk which can be played back in a range of devices (see above) – but these files can also be imported into a video editing program for further copying and editing on a computer. Exploring the disk on a computer will reveal folders that contain files with a ‘.VOB’ suffice. By copying these to your computer and renaming them with a ‘.MPG’ suffice you can carry out more refinement yourself – although it might result in degradation if further compression is added. Alternatively, Video Artisan can convert the videotape into a range of edit-ready file formats for you to use directly that will help you retain as much quality as possible (available by separate quotation).

What is the most popular videotape to DVD conversion service?

Without doubt, the most regular videotape to DVD services we carry out is good old VHS to DVD. With literally millions of feet of VHS tape still in existence, holding many thousands of hours of family memories, these represent over 70% of the conversions carried out here at Video Artisan. Whilst there are a few VHS players available to buy new, the format is obsolete and the vast majority of machines are either defunct or coming to the end of their useful lives. Whilst it is a robust format, playing back your VHS tapes, or any other videotape format come to that, has the potential of damaging the tape beyond repair – especially when the machine has been poorly maintained, stored in damp or dirty conditions or simply not regularly powered up and used.

VHS to DVD
VHS to DVD – our most popular videotape to DVD service

VHS to DVD durations

VHS tapes come in a variety of lengths, ranging from a few minutes to up 4-hours. In addition, many recorders and camcorders offered the ability to record in long-play mode, which doubled the recording length available (at the cost of a lower quality recording). Converting VHS to DVD can therefore result in one tape needing to be spread over a number of DVDs. The capacity of a DVD is also governed by the amount of compression used when carrying out the conversion – but in a similar long-play mode will hold up to 4-hours on a standard single-sided DVD. The amount on compression that is used in the videotape to DVD process will depend on the quality of the original recording and we generally recommend a standard level of compression that will allow for up to 2-hours per DVD.

VHS-C

Videotape to DVD - VHS-C
VHS-C to DVD

To help reduce the size of the camcorder many manufacturers adopted a smaller variant of VHS – called VHS-C (the ‘C’ standing for ‘Compact’). These cassettes are slightly bigger than a cigarette packet in size. The most common running time for these cassettes is just 30-minutes but there were also 45-minute variants and, as with VHS, the machines offered a Long-play mode which doubled the recording time.

As VHS-C tapes recorded in exactly the same format as a normal VHS tape they can be played back in a normal VHS player with the use of an adapter which the tapes slotted into. These are the second most common tapes Video Artisan receives for videotape to DVD conversion.

S-VHS, S-VHSC and Digital S

JVC and other manufacturers further developed the VHS format to increase the picture quality and the most common of these was S-VHS (Super VHS). Identical in appearance and offering the same recording times, these cameras and VCRs were only popular for a short period in time. The Digital S format is comparatively rare and was normally only found on professional equipment.

Video8 or 8mm, Hi8 and Digital 8

Video8 or 8mm to DVD
Video8 or 8mm to DVD

Sony also developed a compact videotape format based on 8mm tape – which are roughly the size of a pack of playing cards and could contain up to 135-minutes of video in standard mode. Further developments in 8mm tape included Hi8 and Digital 8 (90-mins recording) formats – which offered higher quality recordings.

MiniDV, Standard DV, DVCAM and HDV

Further miniaturisation of camcorder cassettes saw the introduction of various DV tape formats based on a tape width of 6.5mm. The most common of these is Mini DV, which uses cassettes roughly the size of a Swan Vesta box of matches – but a little shorter. The most common recording time of these cassettes is 60-minutes.

DV to DVD
DV to DVD

Though less common, and usually only found in high-end or professional cameras and VCRs, Standard DV tapes are larger in size and almost identical to 8mm cassettes mentioned above. Further variations of 6.5mm tapes include DVCAM, DVCPRO and, in it’s high-definition variations, HDV, DVCPRO HD.

Mini DVD camcorders

In more recent years manufacturers developed cameras which recorded to a mini-DVD disk. The disks are 8cm in diameter and offered the benefit of being playable in a normal DVD player once they were ‘Finalised’. Basically, the process of finalisation was carried out once you filled the disks up or did not want to add any more video to them. Without finalisation the disks could not be played in anything other than the camcorder itself – so it is quite common for clients to have these disks in un-finalised state and unable to play them back if they no longer have the camcorder. However, Video Artisan have specialist software applications which enable us to extract the un-finalised files and convert them to DVD. Please note, this isn’t always possible and can result in part of the recordings being unrecoverable.

HDD (Hard Disk Drive) Camcorders

Camcorder HDD to DVD
Camcorder HDD to DVD

Further miniaturisation was achieved by the introduction of camcorders with internal HDD recorders negating the need for tapes. The main drawback of these camcorders was that once the HHD were full you had to transfer the video off to another device or media. Whilst it is rare for Video Artisan to provide a conversion service for these cameras we can do as long as your camcorder is still working.

Solid State or Memory Card Cameras

The most common current camcorder recording system uses solid state technology which records to a memory card. These are usually SD cards but can include CF Cards (Compact Flash), MicroSD, MiniSD, SDHC, XD, MS Duo, MMCmicro and MMCPlus. These can all be easily converted to DVD for easy playback.

Other video formats

Whilst Video Artisan can provide all of the above videotape to DVD services in-house, we can also arrange conversion of pretty much any one of the more specialist or rare video tape and digital formats – including Micro MV, Betamax, Betamax ED, Video 2000, U-Matic, 1”, 2”, Digi-Beta, M2 and more. These conversions are carried out by separate quotation and usually take longer to complete.

Not just videotape to DVD

Audio Cassette to Audio CD
Audio Cassette to Audio CD

Whilst DVD is by far the most common format we convert to, we are also able to deliver the conversion on a number of different storage media. This includes Blu-ray, Memory Cards, USB sticks, portable HDD and data DVDs. We can also convert Cine Film to DVD too – in various gauges (8mm, Super8, 16mm and 35mm).

We can also convert audio cassettes to Audio CD. Please ask for details.

Cost of converting to DVD

The vast majority of our videotape to DVD conversions come under our standard rates as detailed here.  However, we also offer discounts on orders involving 10 or more tapes (of varying formats) – and can provide various bespoke packages including editing, captioning, duplication and specialist disk packaging. Please call for more details or visit our studio in Loughton, Essex to discuss the options.

Call: 020 3602 3356
Mobile: 0777 153 5692

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