Freeform modeling and screen mode manipulation  1-20  21-26

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 From:  pior (PIOR_O)
5843.1 
Hi Michael, and hello to all MOI users too :)

I have been following MOI and keeping in touch with the new releases since version 1, and it has been a pleasure to see how the program has been growing so powerful over time without sacrificing its fantastic ease of use. However there is one missing feature that happens to be essential to my workflow with the program, and I would like to explain my reasoning.

My primary use for a program like MOI is fast iteration and rapid blockout modeling. That is to say, my interest in not so much in the clean surface continuity of NURBS models (which is quite ironic since MOI is pretty great at this !) but more in the quick construction of simple structures and forms to later use as underpaintings in Photoshop to provide a refined pre-production concept image of a product.

Now thanks to my background in low and high polygon modelling I would have no problem building regular polygon meshes in programs like Max or Maya - but there is something much more intuitive, smooth, and fast about MOI that I want to leverage.

This brings me to my request. In about every 3D modeling and sculpting program, the user can enable screen-space transformation for any operation (translate, rotate, scale) meaning that there is no need to leave perspective mode and switch to an orthographic view in order to perform a silhouette change. This is especially crucial for models being build without access to any orthographic blueprints : in such cases, the modeling and review processes take place exclusively in perspective mode, and very often one needs to edit and move control points according to this view.

However I have been having a lot of trouble performing this kind of intuitive transformations in MOI. They work great in orthographic views, but seem to be uncontrollable in perspective. I am attaching a few screenshots explaining my problem below.

(It's also very possible that I am missing something obvious, like a hidden setting or a shortcut - if so please let me know !)

Also if you need to see more test cases of this issue, I would be happy to provide other examples and comparison videos showing the desired behavior as seen in other 3D programs.

Thank you so much for your time!

P

EDITED: 20 Apr 2013 by PIOR_O

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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.2 In reply to 5843.1 
Hi Pior - mostly I've assumed that if you're doing something that requires 3D sculpting like point manipulation, that you would be doing that type of model in a polygon modeler that focuses very much on that kind of model construction.

But for the particular kind of "move upward in z" motion that you're talking about in your screenshot graphic, you can get that particular case without leaving the 3D view if you have "Straight snap" turned on in the bottom toolbar, here:



When enabled that enables snap lines to help both draw lines to be aligned to the x, y, or z axes and also allows you to do movement along the z axis while in the 3D perspective view, you just move your mouse along the z direction with Straight Snap enabled, and if you are close to the z line a snap will engage that will show an axis line with a "z" label on it and while you move along that line you will be moving in z, like this:




I think before you edited your message you wrote something like "even with all snaps turned off" you couldn't get the result you were looking for - but that's the issue, you need to have straight snap turned _on_ in order to get a z axis direction snap going, if you have all snaps turned off you will only be tracking along the base plane and not have any other kind of motion, you have to have straight snap turned on in order for that kind of x, y, and (in the 3D view) z axis snapping to be engaged.

Hope this helps!

- Michael

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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.3 In reply to 5843.1 
Also another related thing is with "Straight snap" enabled you can also pull up vertical construction lines in the middle of drawing to help you snap on to points elevated in z directly in the initial drawing. See here for some more info on construction lines: http://moi3d.com/2.0/docs/moi_command_reference11.htm#constructionlines

and here is a video of this in action, note here that I'm drawing a curve with some points elevated in z directly in the initial curve drawing:




So note there that when I created the construction line there was a "z" showing from the base point, that's the indicator that straight snap was engaged and was helping me to track along a z direction line - that's how you bring things up in the z direction while in the 3D view. It will also track along the x or y directions as well if you move your mouse close to those directions instead, you just move nearby one of the directions and when you are close enough it engages and helps to snap things exactly in that direction.

So you use that same "Straight snap" tool for doing constrained movement in the x or y axis directions as well.

- Michael
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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.4 In reply to 5843.1 
Hi Pior, and also one other note - one reason why it's a bit different in MoI that this kind of constrained x,y,z movement is a snap instead of only on a "manipulator" is that you also can use the same thing while drawing curves or lines to make the current point that you are drawing to be in a straight line from the previously placed one.

In MoI you can move objects (either control points or whole objects) by just grabbing the object and dragging it, you don't have to drag on a manipulator for movement. And then when straight snap is turned on it will help you to constrain the drag motion in a particular axis direction. If you have it turned on while drawing it will help you do the drawing in a particular axis direction... Basically in MoI the same mechanism works for both drawing and also editing, while a manipulator mechanism is something that sort of only works for editing only.

In 2D views there is also an edit frame manipulator which works more like a 2D illustration type manipulator that is a frame that goes around the outside of the selected objects, that one can be used for quick rotation or scaling in 2D views. But for movement you just drag directly on the object you want to move in either the 2D or the 3D view.

- Michael
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 From:  pior (PIOR_O)
5843.5 In reply to 5843.4 
Thank you so much for the quick responses Michael!

I suppose I should have been a little more clear in my choice of example to avoid any confusion. Going "straight up" in z is a particular subset of what I am trying to achieve (hence my edit about the snap options). To be more specific, the screen mode I am referring to could be summed up as : "the ability to freely move a control point along the X and Y axis of the camera plane, without affecting z (depth).

I have been using the Straight Snap as a workaround (both in create and edit modes, which is indeed a fantastic unified paradygm) but it is limited to the cases where points only need to be moved in a straight path in x, y or z, and very often I find myself wanting to hit something inbetween.

Anyways - these kind of UX subtleties are pretty hard to explain in words - I will try to make a quick gif asap to clarify what I mean :) Hope it can help!

(On a side note : the reason why I am hoping to be able to use MOI for such cases as opposed to regular polygon modeling environments is because of the simplicity and optimized nature of spline control points in MOI. I feel like I can nicely control a smooth curve in MOI and maintain its curvature easily, as opposed to the very destructive nature of polygon modeling. Also the surfacing options in MOI are much more user friendly than anything else out there - it's just a nice, fun program to use! :))
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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.6 In reply to 5843.1 
Hi Pior,

> Also if you need to see more test cases of this issue, I would be happy to provide other examples
> and comparison videos showing the desired behavior as seen in other 3D programs.

The big difference is that the other programs that you're talking about like 3DS Max and Maya follow a much different modeling strategy than MoI's NURBS based one - in those poly modeling programs the focus is much more on squishing 3D point cages around which is kind of similar to sculpting like you mention...

MoI's modeling strategy is more about drawing curves and then constructing big chunks of your model using those curves (as profiles for construction or as cutters), so the process of drawing is much more emphasized in MoI, it's overall more similar to something like "illustration" rather than "sculpting". So the toolset also emphasizes things that are also of use while drawing curves too, not just on after-drawing manipulation.

I hope that may help to explain why some things are set up a bit differently than what you're used to.

- Michael
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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.7 In reply to 5843.5 
Hi Pior,

> Anyways - these kind of UX subtleties are pretty hard to explain in words - I will try to make
> a quick gif asap to clarify what I mean :) Hope it can help!

Yeah I guess I'll need some more explanation or examples for what you're trying to achieve, because as far as I could tell from your previous example just having straight snap enabled would be able to achieve what you were looking for in that particular case.

Maybe it would also help if you could show the kind of model that you're trying to create - it's entirely possible that MoI is just not the right tool for the job if you're trying to produce something with sculpted and squiggly 3D detail in it. In general MoI is primarily focused on generating most of your model using 2D curves, with 3D shapes being formed more by intersections between different shapes generated from 2D profiles rather than trying to directly sculpt the shape in 3D very much. So just in general if it's a kind of sculpting feel that you're looking for you would really be better off in a program that emphasizes that approach like those various polygon modelers.

There are a couple of scripts that you can set up which will align the construction plane to the current 3D view direction if that helps at all with what you're trying to do. Check those out here:

http://moi3d.com/forum/index.php?webtag=MOI&msg=2599.4
http://moi3d.com/forum/index.php?webtag=MOI&msg=2599.8

If you set up one of those scripts on a shortcut key when you trigger it your drawing plane will become aligned to your current view direction and then all your drawing will go onto that plane.

- Michael
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 From:  BurrMan
5843.8 In reply to 5843.7 
I think what Pior needs to investigate for "screen based" manipulation, is "C-Planes".

More importantly, for this particular application he is describing, there was a script that would set the ortho views to match the current "3d view". Then, you use that script to get the ortho side and top manipulation in the directions of the current 3d viewport, or "screen based".
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 From:  BurrMan
5843.9 In reply to 5843.8 
Try this on a shortcut using the split view:

script:moi.view.setCPlane( moi.ui.mainWindow.viewpanel.getViewport('3D').targetFrame );

This will set all the plan views off of the current 3d viewport.
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 From:  BurrMan
5843.10 In reply to 5843.9 
Oooop's, My bad. I just looked at his image he posted and he does indeed seem to be describing "just using straight snaps"... Sorry for the confusion MG.
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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.11 In reply to 5843.10 
No problem Burr - from what he described a bit later on, setting the cplane like you said might be useful as well.

- Michael
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 From:  pior (PIOR_O)
5843.12 
Hi again everyone, thank you so much for the fast replies! Great consumer service and a great community :)
On my end I wanted to make sure to provide a more precise example to clarify things, hence the delayed reply.

I did test the CP scripts mentioned and they are very interesting - they certainly are close to what I am trying to achieve, but I find that there is a bit of a clunky feel about them, in the sense that they require to juggle between different views, and they also (obviously) modify the orientation of the regular floor grid, which I find to be detrimental to spatial perception.

Again, trying to explain it all in words is pretty tough so I put together a quick video using the spline toolset from Max2009. (the spline creation process is pretty solid in that program ; however MOI is a far better option when it comes to surfacing said splines, hence my interest :) )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm5qDIncqP0&feature=youtu.be

I hope it shows what I mean. Basically, every time you see the XYZ manipulator disappear to be replaced by a faint red L shape I am actually toggling to screen mode to make control points edits in a freeform way, all in perspective view. It allows me to organically control the behavior of that backpack/saddle shape and make fine adjustments according from viewing angles very different from X Y and Z. Meanwhile, the main world grid remains a standard floor, meaning that it gives me a good frame of reference to shape the form in space.

Now I understand that the same end object could have been achieved by projecting trim curves onto the surface of an elongated sphere - but my point is that in order to "sketch" the preliminary guidelines of such an object, being able to work like a sculptor bending wires in space can be a good production boost.

I hope it makes sense :)


(And even if this end up being not useful as a MOI feature ... simply starting the discussion is always interesting :) )
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 From:  Frenchy Pilou (PILOU)
5843.13 In reply to 5843.12 
<< like a sculptor bending wires in space can be a good production boost

yes but why not create surfaces (or volumes) then move the points of the curves geneartors for a real time feed-back ?
(it's like this in Moi ;)
---
Pilou
Is beautiful that please without concept!
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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.14 In reply to 5843.12 
Hi Pior,

> Basically, every time you see the XYZ manipulator disappear to be replaced by a faint red L shape
> I am actually toggling to screen mode to make control points edits in a freeform way, all in
> perspective view.

How do you toggle the mode, is it by pushing some kind of shortcut key?

I could see adding something for doing that, but the reason why I haven't focused on it so far is I don't really like that kind of very hidden feature where basically someone would not be at all aware of it without doing some kind of special tutorials or training sessions or things like that. There are some things like that in MoI too but it's sort of a general philosophy to try and avoid it.

And again, really the focus for MoI is much more on 2D curve drawing which is so much easier for people to grasp more intuitively. The kind of 3D point tweaking and squishing and sculpting that you are showing in that video requires a lot more advanced type of spatial awareness for people to use successfully - it's something that's not really very approachable for people who are trying to learn how to do 3D modeling from scratch.

Also on top of that, the kind of topology that you create with that kind of sketching can then be difficult to fill in with NURBS - that kind of "construct the complete outline" method of drawing an object is more suited to polygon mesh modeling techniques rather than NURBS techniques - to use NURBS modeling effectively you usually do not want to be explicitly drawing all the 3D swooping outlines for everything directly - much of those outlines should be coming from intersections between different surfaces rather than being directly drawn. That's when the NURBS toolset is being used to its best advantage.

So that overall technique and workflow that you are showing there is much more suited to polygon modeling really, and polygon modeling is where you will get more of that kind of sculpting and squishing feel that fits with what you want there.

NURBS modeling just has a lot different focus than that - more on precision, applying cuts to objects, driving things primarily by 2D profile curves, .... so MoI being a NURBS focused modeling system is more focused on those kinds of things rather than being focused on things that would work only in a polygon modeling environment instead.

Hope that helps explain why what you are asking about has just not been a big focus area for MoI so far.

- Michael
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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.15 In reply to 5843.12 
Hi Pior,

> Now I understand that the same end object could have been achieved by projecting trim curves
> onto the surface of an elongated sphere -

Yes, the NURBS modeling way to generate something like that would be something more like draw some profiles, create a surface through those and then cut away material by doing Trim from a separate 2D profile curve from a different direction like this:










NURBS modeling works best when you model what looks like one big unbroken surface out of one single big surface sheet, and unless it naturally has a 4 sided boundary to it the easiest way to get totally smooth surface shaping is to initially create an extended surface like I've done here and then cut away material, rather than trying to go "patch by patch" and try to fill in an irregular outline directly.


> but my point is that in order to "sketch" the preliminary guidelines of such an object, being able
> to work like a sculptor bending wires in space can be a good production boost.

The problem is that NURBS modeling just does not work as well for that kind of an approach as compared to polygon modeling - poly modeling works fine because it's easy to fill in outlines since you can connect up polygons in any kind of topology that you want and it all gets melted down.

NURBS modeling is very different from that, there is not any automatic "melting down" of surfaces just because you join them together - surfaces are modeled more exactly and the best way in NURBS modeling to make something look like one unbroken smooth surface is to actually model it as one unbroken smooth surface that then gets trimmed.

If you like the kind of 3D sculpting like process, a polygon modeling tool is just fundamentally more suited to that type of workflow as compared to a NURBS modeling program. NURBS modeling operates more like "construction" not so much like "sculpting"...

- Michael

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 From:  Frenchy Pilou (PILOU)
5843.16 
Now Select the "triming curve" : Call View Points and move them as you want : the result form will be actualized! ;)
(if History is well enable)

So it's like a sort of sculpting in "real time"
---
Pilou
Is beautiful that please without concept!
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 From:  pior (PIOR_O)
5843.17 
Hi again, and of thank you so much for the extensive reply and taking the time to provide examples. Again - great customer support :)

Regarding tweak mode : yeah, in pretty much every regular 3D program it is universally enabled by switching the reference system and/or the manipulator system to "screen" (reference system options like world, screen, local and parent are usually visually indicated in a drop down list in the UI). In my case, I simply have a shortcut script toggling that in, in addition of hiding the manipulator for visual clarity (no need to have the X and Y direction indicated when in screen mode). I personally use alt-t for it (t as in "tweak") but of course it varies among users. I think the term "tweak" was first introduced back in the Mirai days but I might be mistaken.

It's very interesting to hear about the user psychology side of things, that's for sure - for instance, I come from an architecture background (but was drawing a lot on paper at the same time), then moved to character modeling and now totally focus on character design and prototyping, and I find such quick, easy and intuitive manipulation systems to be totally necessary - but it is very true that I did not care for that kind of stuff back in the Autocad days when all I needed was to draft elevations and accurate projections. (I actually gradually left that aside because I felt that CAD introduced high precision drafting too early in the design process, at the cost of creative iteration, and ended up doing most of my uni projects on paper, but that's another story :D )

I think that the reason why I tend to think that MOI could benefit from the kind of feature discussed earlier (not just for point manipulation, but also for transformation at the object model) is because I am getting the feeling that the app is already much more intuitive and, in a way, "free-form" to use than anything out there - it feels smoother than Rhino, more fun than Max, and so on. Also I notice that there is an improved object manipulation system in the app now (allowing to rotate objects intuitively thanks to nice on-screen manipulators, bypassing the need to place reference points and axises in "CAD-style" fashion) so I feel that there is somehow a push in the direction of free-form manipulation. BUT! I also understand that keeping a straight roadmap and vision for app development is crucial and screen-space manipulation might simply not fit in that scheme, which is totally fair and I fully understand that.

Regarding polygon modelers : unfortunately, they are not as smooth as they seem to be :/ Of course there are alot of great things possible with them, but a general trend in the game industry now is to roughly block out things out of "virtual clay" in Mud or Zbrush, then export that to Max/Maya or specialized retopolgy programs to trace control edges on top, and then only at the end, produce the regular subdivision mesh with regular polygon modeling. This is a very solid workflow for actual asset production, but not so efficient when it comes to the rapid prototyping side of things where all that matters is fast iteration with the art director.

I personally might just end up with an hybrid workflow combining the above - I still have to experiment further. (I gave the MOI obj imoporter/converter script a try a while ago but IIRC it was importing every edge as a spline as opposed to displaying a shaded/ghosted object, which was too busy visually for dense meshes)

On a slightly off topic note (but still on the subject of rapid creation) : is there any plan for a greasepencil/sketch tool in MOI ? For instance, it would be great to be able to sketch a freehand product design straight within the MOI interface in the ortho views, and then work on top of such a ghosted sketch to draft the actual source curves for the clean NURBS model.

Thanks again for the great suggestions and discussion !

EDITED: 22 Apr 2013 by PIOR_O

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 From:  pior (PIOR_O)
5843.18 
Oh, I forgot to mention : I totally agree that the construction example you provided is, indeed, the most clean and accurate way to ultimately produce that form in proper NURBS - no doubt about that :)

I think what I am trying to get at is that the video I posted is more about "refining the idea" (like, holding the object in one's hand to observe it from all angles, and making minute adjustments accordingly to balance it based on a rough idea sketch) rather than building it accuratley ; I consider these two stages of the design process to be quite separate (yet informing each other). As you say, these "edge curves' would not be very loftable or trimmable. They would however work okay using the Network command - and even tho it would likely produce pinching and continuity problems, this is often good enough for my needs :D

Unfortunately and after years of searching I haven't found a great versatile (and fast !) environment to fit such needs ... IHeartSketch came close but unfortunately never got released and doesn't have any surfacing tools anyways ; Sketchup came close too but is quite stagnant ... and even sculpting programs like Zbrush or Mudbox just feel too heavy handed for the job. I also found an experimental university research focusing on modeling 3D forms from line drawings only but unfortunately it doesn't run on modern computers ...

I still have to investigate MOI further as there might be some tricks that I am not aware of that might already be doing what I want :D Looking forward to that!

EDITED: 22 Apr 2013 by PIOR_O

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 From:  Frenchy Pilou (PILOU)
5843.19 In reply to 5843.17 
<< is there any plan for a greasepencil/sketch tool in MOI ?

I suppose not nearly but what not use something like that?
Make a screenshot and use Fotosketcher (free) http://www.fotosketcher.com/ (French creator ;)

or save your object in SKP format inside Moi for the Free Sketchup ? ;) (hundred of styles!
http://www.sketchup.com

Or in AI format inside Moi for the crazzy XARA Xtreme 5 (it's free to the 29 April!!!
http://www.xara.com/us/specialoffers/designer/


Ps Have you remark that you can use a pen graphic in Moi 3D for draw your curves ? ;)

EDITED: 22 Apr 2013 by PILOU

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 From:  Michael Gibson
5843.20 In reply to 5843.17 
Hi Pior,

> Regarding tweak mode : yeah, in pretty much every regular 3D program it is
> universally enabled by switching the reference system and/or the manipulator
> system to "screen"

re: "Regular" 3D programs having that - please keep in mind that really there are a vast array of 3D programs focused on engineering and mechanical design that completely do not work like that. It's very much the "animation and rendering" type 3D programs that operate like that, not CAD programs... And MoI is actually a CAD program - it is a kind of mutant CAD program that is trying to make the CAD toolset useful to a different set of people than just mechanical engineers, but it's still fundamentally a CAD program though.

Reading down a bit more it sounds like you're aware of that though! I guess you mean that CAD programs are not "regular" ? ;)


But MoI isn't really intended to be used for character design, it's much more focused on building man made type objects and not so much organic sculpted forms. So just the primary focus of the tool is not really very aligned with your particular work.


> BUT! I also understand that keeping a straight roadmap and vision for app development is
> crucial and screen-space manipulation might simply not fit in that scheme, which is totally
> fair and I fully understand that.

Well, I don't think it would really particularly hurt anything to have it, it's just that it's also not really of much benefit for the typical kind of workflow that MoI is focused on, (emphasis on 2D curves, "construction" oriented process rather than "tweaking and sculpting" orientation).

I can certainly add it as some kind of special mode that you engage when you set up a particular shortcut key script. That will end up being used by only a couple of people and maybe not even that because like I wrote previously it just does not best suit the NURBS construction workflow to try and build a full 3D empty wireframe with complex boundaries initially, the best workflow for NURBS modeling is one where many of the edges are not all directly drawn by hand but instead result from intersections and cutting.

So there's just a fundamental break between the kind of workflow that you're trying to do there and the kind of workflow that works well with NURBS... And MoI is focused on NURBS modeling so that means MoI is just not likely the right tool for your particular kind of a job...


> Also I notice that there is an improved object manipulation system in the app now (allowing
> to rotate objects intuitively thanks to nice on-screen manipulators, bypassing the need to
> place reference points and axises in "CAD-style" fashion) so I feel that there is somehow a
> push in the direction of free-form manipulation.

Yeah this is the edit frame that was added in v2, it helps to get a sort of Adobe Illustrator type 2D vector illustration feel in the 2D curve drawing area. It's a much nicer manipulator to use for 2D drawing than the poly modeling style one because it's so low profile, just going around the outside of your selection rather than taking up screen space right smack in the middle of everything. That means that you don't need to have special modes or keys to turn it on or off, it can just stay on all the time...

This 2D manipulator was a much higher priority than a 3D poly modeling type one because of the whole workflow focus on using 2D curves for driving most of the design.


> On a slightly off topic note (but still on the subject of rapid creation) : is there any plan
> for a greasepencil/sketch tool in MOI ? For instance, it would be great to be able to sketch
> a freehand product design straight within the MOI interface in the ortho views, and then work
> on top of such a ghosted sketch to draft the actual source curves for the clean NURBS model.

Well, there is a brush stroke type vector sketch tool under Draw curve > Freeform > Sketch - it's for drawing an actual curve though and not just doing raster markup.

I'd love to have a raster paint program embedded directly in MoI for doing concept sketching right in there but the amount of work involved in doing that is prohibitive.

There is a feature for placing in a background image for tracing over, that's available under View > Image, so the simple way to do that kind of a thing is to just do your quick concept painting in Photoshop, save it out as an image and then bring that image into MoI as a background image. There are different options for drawing the image underneath everything to or also to make it transparent and draw on top of everything giving that kind of ghosted sketch type thing that you are mentioning.

- Michael
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