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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 10:38 am 
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Hi there,

Alfonso Giraldes (Banshee) has asked me if I could translate and post this article that he and Diego Esteban (Dieguete) had wtitten for the Spanish Team Foro.

As you might know, or not, they were 3rd Place in the recent CRYSTAL BRUSH Competition in Chicago
There is an insighful, I think, analysis of the competition and a great article in how and why they develop this great piece of art.

I'll post the 3 main parts in diferent post on this threat and if you have any questions I'll pass them to Alfonso and Diego so they will be able to answer better..

Reagards Mario

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DANCE MORKO DANCE
3rd place Crystal Brush
Diego Esteban & Alfonsol Giraldes
…………………………………………………………………………………………..
Well is time to clear the air and take stock, so we will like to talk sincerely about the project. This has been written in conjunction between Diego Esteban (Dieguete) and Alfonso Giraldes (Banshee) but for further comments each will give his comments separately. Never the less we think is important to give our opinion in conjunction and clearly before coments, questions and answers that may been brought up by these words.
Talking about the competition itself we will like to comment about the organization, the rules, the place…. basically analysed the competition. We also would like to comment on those things that have come up in different forums, some comments will to thank and congratulate the organization others to critize those things that we personally think can be improved
We think that it is important to talk about this specially since until now we have not give any opinions. As the rest of the participant we are well place to give our opinion on the organization, somehow un-bias, as we were there before, during and after the event. Of course this is a personal opinion but much more “informed” that those that have populate some forums from “non attendees”. We hope that this analysis, albeit personal, can help the organization to identified the strengths and weakness of the event and improved it in the future.
We had already talked with the organization during our stay in Chicago and is refreshing to see that some changes had already been implemented (for example the sponsorship of the trip for those painter that have shine over the preceding year) in
such a way that the competition will be more interesting and competitive (on a healthy way) as ensure the attendance of painter of great relevance.
Also would like to talk about some specific point such as exposition of miniatures, display cabinets, competition categories and photography. The voting system, to say the least, is risky but we understand that is part of the philosophy of the organization and as such we abide by it…

1.- Location
Firstly we like to mention the location, which not always has the appropriate press. For us this was great and our first “thumbs up”.
Chicago is a great city and very much a visit to recommend for tourism, 10 days were not enough as there is loads to see, do and soak on the “American way of life”…..but after 10 days eating burgers one really misses a good “tortilla de patatas”, as mummy does!!
Location: The hotel was locate half a hour drive from were we stay, but this is the USA and there you need a car for almost anything…situated on the suburbs the location was easy to find, well communicated and close by was a great mall were to do some nice “retail therapy”…
We rented a Dodge car and in no time were at the Westin Hotel. After parking at the door, under the smiling gaze of huge bouncer that look like came form a Woody Allen’s film, we made our way in to a great hotel, the commodities and amenities there were incredible: all day buffet, bars with giant TV screens, VIP rooms and 6 conference rooms full to the brim with table top games. Games from Warhammer, Infinity, Privateer Press, Flame of War etc…could be seen all over…
The fact that the event takes place on a hotel is a great idea and made easy the attendance of people from outside Chicago. For us is a strange experience to be in a such a big and well equipped hotel in the middle of nowhere…but we think organised an event of such type in a hotel is a great idea, allows you to get to your room and rest after playing or submitting your miniatures, so you don’t have to wait idle for hours (Note for the national organizations of such events…)
Once inside was easy to find the “Crystal Brush” display and area and we let the miniatures for exposition that we had brought for the American public to see in close up. As soon as we crossed the door was easy to see the display cabinets and the area where to deliver the pieces, great positioning and no doubt of where to go. The delivery and receipt of miniatures was fast, efficient and polite and the handling of the minis was very careful (the person taking them always wore gloves and handle the miniatures with care and attention, holding them from the base….). There was no charge for the inscription of minis and the system could not be simpler: write the inscription, affix the sticker with details and gave it to the responsible person of the organization, whom always with a smile (crystal brush made) and very politely take it to the photograph area. This is a very nice touch!!
For us the careful handling of the pieces is something to comment about. The responsible person that receives the miniature always wears latex gloves (as everyone else involving in the handling of pieces) and this is a very positive point. Cost wise the inversion made on this little details is insignificant but for us was very positive to see, as we all have suffered from judges handling figures like they were 5 years old children, holding it from the face, braking small (and big) pieces and placing the finger directly on the mini to test something, but what….
We handle our minis and got our inscription all done without worries or long queues as the closing time was 18:00.We were a bit worried about the deadline on presentation of miniatures, as we have to drive from downtown Chicago, but there was nothing to worry as the organization told us that even if we arrived a bit late there will be no problems to present our minis. This worry will be familiar to some of us that could not present miniatures after arriving 15 min late, that despite the fact that have to drive for 13+ hours to reach the event (no names told but somewhere in France and Germany…).
In conclusion: the location was perfect with a very positive valuation of the whole space. Later on we learned that there were special offers at the hotel and that most of the other participants were staying at the hotel. This is great for those arriving from afar without driving license or car means, is an easy way to arrange stay, specially if is your first time…

2.- The Display of miniatures:
There was some good things and things that could be improved. We took some figures to show (Knight Models latest models). For these we had a special and reserved display cabinet, well protected, which was locked and with a nice blue background and cold white lighting: the show of miniatures was excellent. Also was easy and accessible to buy those miniatures that took your fancy, hehehe…
Regarding the competition display cabinet it was similar to the show display but with some seven divisions, if we remember correctly…the lightning and positioning of the miniatures was excellent. No miniatures were place one in front of another so was easy to see all of them. The only problem was the height of the display as the divisions were set from the floor to a height of 1.80m (aprox 6 feet)
We think that lower display cabinets with less divisions (maybe two/three) with enough space between division and accessible from all angles and made of glass will enhance the enjoyment of the display. Our miniature, no so small, ended being display at floor level as there was the only space high enough to accommodate it…
It was curious and frustrating, at the same time, to see people lying on the floor trying to take pictures or enjoy the pieces. As this is a competition as well as a show we think that an inadequate display is detrimental in both aspect.
For once the figures could not be appreciated on the same way as it was intended by the author, missing the perspective and atmosphere that was intended…
We place the miniature in the base on a predetermined position trying to enhance and complement the miniature and also place the name of the display in such a way that will help the spectators to identified the piece and show it as the artist’s intended way. We talk to the organization at length and they were quite interested in our comments to improve the event (as they already have shown) so we hope some more changes will take place to enhance the experience next year….

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Winston Churchill,


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 10:39 am 
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3.- Photography
Large amounts of ink has been spilled on this subject (perhaps too much) and with the large criticism on the subject looks like the organization has taken things in their stride and next year they will be using a professional photographer, a very important point on an “on-line” competition….
Nevertheless we will like to point out that having a professional photographer helping is not the whole thing. Having a professional photographer without strict guidelines and pointers on how to photograph miniatures could be detrimental, more than once a so call “artistic photographer” had “destroyed” the miniature as changes in composition and illumination can change the meaning and mood of the miniature as intended by the artist. The photographer should act as a window for the public.
Is not the same to take photos of a 28mm miniature than take it of a 120mm one, the orientation and illumination needs to be different. We understand that changing the background for 2000+ displays is impossible but a black shiny background is not the most appropriate, we thing that a more neutral background would be better. We also understand that most of the shows don’t take good pictures of the entrances but on a show that is base mostly on photographs this should be a must, and that due care and consideration should be given to this aspect of the show. Moreover this will enhance and bring this show to the hopefully deserved title of “The world fantasy miniature’s show”, as we all are expecting of it..

4.- Judges (some controversy here!!)
On this occasion, lot and not always good has been said about this aspect of the show. We have to talk about it as is an important point and on this particular one we have to defend Mike McVey as the position of judge is always a difficult and controversial one. Both of us, Diego and Alfonso, have been acting judges on international events before and never is easy to make decisions in these circumstances, so we should not doubt of the professional commitment of such a well known and respected professional as Mike
However we like to give our position on this aspect. We think that this will avoid controversy on future editions. We think that a “team of judges” formed by at least 3 people, all well-known professionals and with different criteria, this will enhance the event. On this manner will be easy to avoid the pre-show idea of :I’ll make this mini as will be “easy” or “pleasant to the judge… and at the same time will avoid criticism on the decision of one sole judge… we think that 3 judges will give a more rich and varied judgment as well as easy and smooth the proceedings of judging.
We would like to give our support and regards to Mike and we hope to say hello next year, if he acts as judge again
The “on line” voting system we consider acceptable as was well stablished on the show itself. However we think that would be better if the system is clear and, if the 50% quota is maintained for the coolmini’s registered users, more voting time is allowed with a better quality picture delivered (as discussed above). Regarding voting times we think that due to the global reach of Coolmini, a longer voting period (i.e. two days) will allowed more votes. Again the global reach of coolmini, and not only to the American market, should be taken into consideration

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 10:39 am 
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The show itself:
Despite the pre-show rumours of a large attendance of great painters and modellers from all over the world at the end few did attended and we think that this was one of the great failures of the show itself. We, particularly, thought that the participation was going to be low as this was the first edition and in the USA. Moreover this year is the year of the World Expo in Switzerland, which would be expensive to attend, and therefore large amounts of the “aficionados” would think twice before attending both events: Crystal Brush and the World Expo. Despite this we were unpleasantly surprised how few miniatures made their way to the event, some few 300, we think to remember…so many few if the prize has to be consider!!
We have read many bad comments a regarding the attendance and we think this to be curious…laugh or critizice after the event is easy and comments like “next year we will be there” or “there was a lower level than in a local shop competition” are out of order. Is important to remember that amongt the participant were no less than 10 winners of BOS from different events and close to 40 GD winners
The fact that the particiation was low was evident and if this factor would have been better them the quality of the displays would have been greater, this is obvious too. So comments like the ones above are out of order. We think, well everybody had the opportunity to assist and if anybody had taking the risk and attend could have pocketed the $10.000 of the first price….We think that this attitude is ridiculous, as there has been multiple comments and opinions over the years about an event like Crystal Brush, with a large cash prize, nd then when organised the articipation is so low…..
Therefore we ask ourselves about what is what people like in competitions. It is not right that for a long time people had been asking for a show with a competition of “open style” with a large cash prize and in which the author keeps possession of the model? Or is it that people are set in a format “GD type” which perhaps is easier and also allows to attend those “easy” categories were one can get their ego “enhanced”….we might be mistaken but we will like to compete at our best level with the best of others…
And with regards of the high expenditure on assiting this event and the possibility of not getting any rewards for it…how many will be attending the “World Expo” in Swizerland, one of the most expensive countries in the world (where a 3-5 days stay would cost well over €600.00) and in a competition with no economic prize?
We would like to call upon the modellers of the world and the organization of the event on working together to make this the best Fantasy event in the world. For this a better distribution of prizes and a pre-event sale of tickets, which would help to improve the revenue, may attract some 40-50 of the best miniature painters in the world and therefore improved the quality and prestige of this event.
We also think that a re-thinking of the categories will help to focus this as a modellers/miniaturist/artist show rather than a gamers one. Categories like “squad” is one that came from GW and is more orientated towards the commercial part of the miniature. We think that in an event like Crystal Brush this category doe not help, not for the quality of the miniatures but for the constrains of the rules that direct this particular part of the competition. We also think that categories like “open” and “sculpting” will enhance and attract more and better ‘aficionados’ from all over the world, some that will hard and with illusion on achieving recognition…and a good price!!!
Of course this is only a suggestion but re-distributing the categories would be possible to avoid some of them have no miniatures on display or that others could have more than 3-5 of the best miniatures of the show…
With respect to the treatment of the participants and attendents to the event the organization was amazing. This is something that we appreciated a lot as our point of reference were some of the Spanish event we had attend. The politness and helpfulness in all aspect of contact with the organization was a great and fresh breath of air for us. Some of the people from the organization remember some of our old works and were genuinely please of us being there. This respect and consideration is good enough to justify the assitance. There was a real and genuine appreciation of the artist’s work and not a desire to please just to engrace themselves with you..American modelers are really interested in see and appreciate works from the “other side of the pond” and we have plenty of time to show and discussed the pieces, which help to clarify a lot of misconceptions. We think that from now on the word “photoshoped” will disaparece from the keyboard of many american hobby followers. We think that miniatures should be seen in hand as this is the only way to really appreciate the real effort put on each of our minis…
Now is the time to talk about the prices, after long and hard talk about other parts of the event. We have read about others opinion and particularly think that the first price of $10.000 is right and appropriate but we think that the different between this and the 2nd and 3rd prices is to big. We think that a 2nd price of $4000 and a 3rd of $2000 would be more realistic. Thinking about people travelling from other parts of the world $1000 is only €680 and for Europeans modellers this is a very low incentive
We think that at least the 3rd price sould be enough to covert the expenses of travel to Chicago that will encourage more people from the rest of the world to attend and avoid the possibility of CB becoming “an all american event”. We alo think that dividing the total prize fund is not realistic as this will reduce the “incentive “ of the big first pize, without it the attractiveness of the event we think is greatly reduce. Dividing the total prize fund to get smaller but more numeros prizes (as suggested by some member at the CMON forum) will only prevent the attendance from other parts of the world, no one will encourage on the travel expense for a prize of only €300!!!
We also think that dividing the price will reduce the motivation of modellers. Who will dedicate few weeks to an ambitious and unique projec, especially one that has to be unseen previously, if the price is only $1000? This this was the case we think that the level of participation will wither and eventually the level of the show will suffer….
This edition had a low participation level as was the first one organised there were doubts on how well organised would be , there was no reference point and the travel is a long and expensive one if travel from outside USA but we also think that with time the participation will increase, especially if the economic prize is maintained and improved. With the interest and illusion of the organization might be possible to transform this on a reference point in the international calendar and possible become the “world expo’ of the miniature of fantasy
With regards to the trophy itself (the Crystal Brush) is cute and different, we both like it and there is an intention to make it different from other trophies. Clearly represent the whole event and is what “it say on the tin” The trophy of the BOS is a bit to big, specially thinking about travelling back with it, you will need to check in a new luggage!!!!
And that’s all folks!! We are going to show you now a bit of the SBS of the figure and some pictures of the final model itself. We will be explaining the process and hope this will interest and inspire you. We also think that is very interesting to see the process with a dual imput of artists, with all its difficulties and complexities.
Kind regards and thanks for reading
Diego y Alfonso.
Alfonso y Diego.

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 10:40 am 
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SCULPTURE

Basically is an mixed of Milliput and Duro (GS) using a maniquin build it up with pieces of a giant from GW
Initially I though about converting the already available figure but, really, would have been better to start from scratch and do not use plastic pieces. These slow me down as could not use the oven to cure the pieces. In the ending this ended as a giant of giants as stand some 4cm (2 inches) over the GW giant.
When trying to pose the figure I noted that as basic structure I could keep the legs and therefore keep the aesthetic of the original GW giant but eventually was going to be a complete scratch..
The idea was born 6 weeks before the Crystal Brush show, when Dieguete came to visit me in Valencia and help me moving. We had a previous idea of the whole pose and had a sketch that I draw showing the general stance of the giant..but there were no designs of individual elements.
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As such the giant was making itself as the whole construction advanced and I was doing and undoing things as the miniature asked for it….a very organic and alive process but a “heavy” one as I did the job of a month in less than 20 days…..

The main idea was to represent a Shaman. We had more ideas than was feasible to do and on taking in consideration the mode of work and the use of the materials some elements we discard and other took hold as the process advanced….normally after an existential crisis or in the wee early hours of the morning…….an example: the Pterodactil helmet…
This element initially was a kind of bone helmet but them extended to have a wing which helped to give this guty his shamanic aspect, as someone that collect and hoard things and trinkets using then to decorative effect. These also helped us to solve the back of the miniature as was getting to empty and non-interesting….
The pieces were sculpted separately and I given them to Diego in kit form: Head, hand with staff, wings, cords, flying stones, foot fixed to base, bones, sword, necklaces, skulls…in total 10 pieces. Crazy as scratch but necessary as we wanted to create movement and loads of things flying to give a good 360 sensation with loads of interesting angles and views
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And after priming

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Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 10:41 am 
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PAINTING

(I’ll post here some pictures, as you could see the background is just a paper without integrate the figure so to see it as raw as possible….by the way you don’t need loads of equipment to show the mini and its details as close to reality as possible. if you have a decent camera (thanks to JMPN) and above all a real wish to show it as it is)

Painting was really complicate. Diego lives in Madrid and I was in Valencia and we only have a week to do it all, more hours than is advisible and so little time. Although maybe people may think that a job share is an easy job in our case was quite complicated. We both had different styles of painting and adapt and coordinate this to painting different pieces, all at the same time, adapt to each other’s timing, paint the pieces separately and them make then match…real mammoth job and very very tiredsome
In this case and thinking in how to coordinate the whole process I had a very different idea of how to approach the project but though that should be Diego who will took the initial lead and started the ambience of the whole figure. I have my own well define idea on the painting style but would not want to impose and limited his own creativity. I also knew that is very important to give equal share of the project to those involved and have confidence and respect for his painting principles. Therefore I did not mentioned to him any of my ideas and waited for him to show his ideas
When I arrived to Madrid and saw his initial concept I had a mixture of panic and delight..I though his concept was brilliant, provocative and aggressive, original and very,very well solved but totally different from my initial idea…As this point I realise that I have to change my chip and adapt, think on same terms as Diego and use his same code (my initial idea was softer, more nineties. His darker, aggressive and more savage)
Diego could tell you more on how he started and planed the initial stages but although we were both happy with the initial base, two days before departure we decided to change the plan and re-painted some areas to define the volumens better in some areas. This areas were ok initially but were a bit to exaggerated in such a big figure (don’t forget is about 120mm)
Starting from a very strong initial base in which the face and belly were well advanced we decided to maintain the belly but one of us did stress the textures in the skin while the other was changing the face, reducing the geometry and making it more organic.

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From this point it became a marathon exchanging pieces and while one started them the other finished them. If one of us made a mistake the other correct it, one will clean areas while the other gave them tones and effects…absolute madness…it was such a coordinated and complementary process that we looked like conjoin twins……when one faltered the other pulled but with measure and controlled keep it in line with the basic idea
I could develop the painting difficults in future posts. Just to say that the color choice was a great problem when everything is earthy, brownish, dark and tertiary…after the unteen brown colour with so many different elements you don’t know what else to do…and the texturization…really….I’m never have done so many different textures on a single piece in my whole life!!! It is frustrating and at some point you can’t remember any more animals or textures to add, without leaving the basic idea. And painting on tandem, we ended doing the same thing but independently so whe lift the eyes from the piece in question we realised that we were painting the same thing in different areas trying to differenciated but unable to find alternative..madness and a real challenge.
As experience a great one not only on the artistic and creative level but also on the personal one with Diego. To tell the truth something I won’t forget in a long time.
We will be posting more details regarding the painting process in the next few days to make it easy to assimilate and will be happy for you to post coments, questions or doubts so we could help to clarified the decisions taken during the creative process.

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Ehmm!... the butterflies…are seeds cut to shape, painted with acrylics and glued with cyanoacrilate….. that’s all…..as many people as already asked about them…

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Diego may want to talk about the whole process and the different steps taken. We could comment on finishes, details, the base, last hour changes..from tartan cloth to leopard skin…we could tell you about lights and hotel bulbs and how to draw a tattoo holding the end tip of the brush and going around butterflies, pterodactyl helmets and tree branches…;)


Cheers

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Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill,


Last edited by mbd on Sat May 14, 2011 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 10:45 am 
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Great! I had read it on the Spanish Team forums with a translator, but Banshee uses a lot of slang words that do not translate well into English. This will be great to read. Thank You for the translation! :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 12:24 pm 
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What a fantastic article and translation..... thank-you for posting.

Having been at Crystal Brush this year it was a joy to see this model (though I wish I had it for longer to look at) and the amazing Star Wars models of Banshee.

For fans of Diego and Alfonso RHQ-TV is doing a comprehensive interview with them at the World Expo...can't wait to see what they come up with for this amazing event. Banshee is a legendary painter and a gentlemen.

Cheers

Gav :)


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 5:02 pm 
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Wow :shock: what can i say but just incredible work and flawless on so many levels, his heart and soul has gone into producing this masterpiece :D :D :D


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 6:03 pm 
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Must print this one out. :D This is just master class work that I know I will never achieve but great as a source of inspiration.

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 9:46 pm 
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A very insightful article, many thanks for taking the time to put this together, much appreciated. :D

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 11:16 pm 
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Glad you like it guys!!!!

If you have any questions I'll be happyto pass these to Alfonso/Diego and get the answers translated to you all...

Mario

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 9:53 am 
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I just finished reading the review of the event, but haven't got to the mini yet.

could a mod please move this to the article section?

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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 1:46 pm 
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Thanks for the write-up. This is a fantastic insight into the process by Alfonso and Diego. I'll have to read it again more carefully tonight!

Weisern - have moved the topic for archiving.

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