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Old 22nd Mar 2011, 3:30 PM Defaultbreathing new life into machinima (and a video to watch) #1
dolittlesaymuch
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Hi, everyone. I'm new to this community, but am quite interested in the untapped potential of machinima. There are some excellent short movies floating around YouTube, and I still ask myself how I could have been unaware of them for so long. Naturally I had to join the party and created four of my own. Link to the latest one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll-ZZrJty7Y

I'm quite pleased with how this one turned out. It's set to music (Hurricane by 30 Seconds To Mars) and is not a talkie, but still. The next one might be. Please give this one a view so you can see where I'm coming from as a machinima director.

Right now I'm working on a concept video for a novelist friend of mine. I've sketched up the characters from her latest manuscript and will hopefully produce a short movie using them. Some of the things she asked for are quite challenging technically, so the jury's out about my ability to create the images she sees in her head.

I'm excited about becoming active this community and hope to talk with all of you soon. I would love to hear what everyone thinks about increasing machinima's fan base and ways we might attract more mainstream viewers.
Last edited by dolittlesaymuch : 23rd Mar 2011 at 3:05 AM. Reason: adding a remark I forgot earlier
Old 23rd Mar 2011, 3:43 PM #2
surfer85
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That was a pretty good video. Nothing about it was particularly different from what I've seen others do with Sims 2 videos, though, so I don't know about "breathing new life into it".
Old 23rd Mar 2011, 5:48 PM #3
dolittlesaymuch
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I'm glad you mentioned this, Surfer85. Because your comments opens the door for the conversation I'd really like to have.

I don't think I'm "breathing new life" into machinima. Rather, I'd like to see new life breathed into this art form. From what I've seen, the community is getting a little stale. Most of the old school directors have retired, and most forums are dead. Yet there appears to still be an audience that clamors for more. Is anyone actively trying to promote Sims machinima? Are copyright issues what keeps it underground and out of the mainstream, or just a general lack of cohesiveness in the community? I see none of this discussed anywhere. I can see potential for machinima to be used in all sorts of interesting ways, yet no one is doing it. Or if they are, their work is buried so deeply in the Web that no search engines can find it.

I would love some discussion about these issues. Because creating machinima is quite a time bandit, and if its future is limited, one must weigh the pros and cons of getting involved with it.
Old 24th Mar 2011, 5:02 PM #4
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Well good thing other people are starting to hear about this! :D
Good luck with bringing Machinima back to how it once was, and not just a select few making some creepy short vids. God, I even miss the days when all that was on YouTube was "My first Sims vid - emo love" etc.
Now that someone with your talent has joined the community, maybe this will encourage other professional people to make movies, and WILL breathe life into machinima once again
With you all the way - trivialsim :D
Old 25th Mar 2011, 3:23 AM #5
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dolittlesaymuch: This is quite interesting. I thought long and hard about what surfer85 had to say though. My thought is that no story is ever really new. As you said, people are clamoring for more. That 'more' may not necessarily be something entirely different (although I don't doubt the talent that is out there) but just, simply 'more'. More movies of high standard. We cannot be deterred just because someone has gone there before.
What I would like you to expand on though is the 'potential' you talked about. Many people do Sims movies just as a hobby. I get the feeling that you have a vision of something more professional as you mentioned working on a concept video for your novelist friend.
I would love to hear what others visualize for machinima or at least if anyone at all has a vision. I would also like to hear from someone who may have knowledge of copyright issues that may be involved here. Very, very interesting.
Old 25th Mar 2011, 4:29 AM #6
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Hi, Lom23. I appreciate your comments on so many levels. Although it seems the intent of my topic title was misconstrued at first, I couldn't have asked for better responses, and that includes Surfer85. Nothing wrong with what was said in that post. But you are absolutely correct--there really is nothing new under the sun. Every story has been told before, in some form or fashion. It's how those stories are used, how they're presented, and who might be hearing them for the first time.

Being a newcomer to the machinima world (three months ago I'd never heard the word), I'm sure I see it from a different perspective than many of those who grew up watching it. The base audience for machinima seems to be school age through college, which would be considered the YA market. The YA (young adult) audience is voracious (think Twilight) and typically warms to new ideas and innovation much more quickly than the adult mainstream. That being said, research into the origins of machinima prove that this is not a sport for kiddies; most of the early machinima pioneers were adult men. And many people might not realize that Stanford University has hosted seminars in the past dealing with the nuts and bolts and basic legalities of machinima--which is something I wish more people would talk about.

http://www.law.stanford.edu/calenda...achinima%20Law/

You asked me to expound on the potential I see for machinima. First of all, it's a tremendous form of expression. It allows people with little or no technical training to use animation in ways never available to them before, and at the same time has enough substance for skilled filmmakers to produce some really outstanding movies. It appeals to a younger audience and, as I've recently discovered, professional adults as well. But there are problems.

Imagine the reach machinima would have if so many copyright restrictions were not levied against it. Commercial use, private use--but the first time someone profits big, EA Games will be waiting at the door for their cut. And by rights, they should be. They created the game engine, they own it.

Then there is the music we all love to use as a soundtrack. Most people probably realize this, but using copyrighted material without the owner's express permission is a crime. We produce machinima, we break the law. Right now, music publishers and songwriters tend to turn a blind eye, because machinima is not enough of a phenomenon to impact their profit margins. If it ever reaches any degree of mainstream success, this might change.

I am going way out on a legal limb producing a trailer for my friend's novel. It won't be an "official" trailer by any means, just something new to try. She saw my video "Hurricane" and an earlier one called "Hello," and realized how intense simple animation can be. Currently, I've sketched up four of her characters in Body Shop and sent her photos. For the first time, she was able to look at her characters' faces, and for most writers, that's an experience that defies description. We've decided to go with a way-over-machinimaed Evanescence song as a backing track, because it's available as a YouTube audioswap and therefore legal to use. EA Games, on the other hand, might object to their game engine being used to produce something that is borderline commercial. I certainly am not accepting a fee for making this "trailer"--no one is profiting financially from this little venture. But I've already been contacted by two other writers who are intrigued by the idea. And I had to ask myself--what now, Sherlock?

This goes right back to Surfer85's comment. Mine is by far not the slickest or most technical machinima ever produced. There are some real pros out there. What's going to happen if the "mainstream" ever discovers them? While most people browsing this forum are probably growing sick of little Sim movies, everyone must remember that an overwhelming majority of the non-gaming public has never even heard of machinima. So does it have a future? I honestly don't know the answer to that. I won't even wager a guess. But I'll certainly be asking questions.
Old 25th Mar 2011, 1:02 PM #7
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Oh wow, I agree in every way.
What I hope for (And I think this is similar to what you want) is for Machinima to be something more than a hobby for teenagers who recently bought a game that can do video capture. Obviously, I mean The Sims, as it is predominantly the most used game for machinima out there, for numerous reasons - of course.

I would like it is people could start seeing this not as a game you can record, but as something more too. If you have a cinematic idea in your head, you are now able to express it as a movie. Am I saying Sims 2 is the new movie making tool? No. But maybe... I myself have looked at if differently, because once you're quite experienced with it (Or inexperienced, but amazingly idealistic, clever and fast at learning - dolittlesaymuch) you start to take your movies very seriously. I myself am making a feature-length Sims 2 movie, and I look at is as anyone would look at a movie, worrying about the small things, you can almost forget that it was made on this cute little game.

But would this be completely changing The Sims 2 to an unfriendly and faceless movie-making set? I am told that it probably does, this attitude. However I don't think so, and I believe that taking movies seriously and producing them with such a good quality is one step to getting them noticed more, rather than going on YouTube and seeing about a thousand emo-love stories.

An American TV show called IEShowUS (Interactive Entertainment US) work in the field of machinima. They go on popular sites for machinima or generally video games such as YouTube or Machinima.com and host the best ones on TV. I was told this because apparently one of my video was selected for this. I was unclear which, but the gesture had me thinking. Yes, machinima could very well expand onto bigger things, and having it's own websites dedicated towards it and having many fan-bases like the one started by dolittlesaymuch will certainly help is expand into something it perhaps may have never been. But what if it could get bigger than that? I am talking TV. What if there were more channels like IeShowUS that worked on getting machinima live and on the air? That would be fabulous and would get machinima the attention it deserves. Which in the grand scheme of things would result in a beneficial increase in it's popularity meaning more views for some good things such as little short movies made for a bit of fun, trailer for novels - it could even become profitable!

As for copyright, the attitude towards using someone elses' music is actually quite relaxed, I would say. Yes, there are times when music could be blocked. And sometimes the video could be blocked (In which case take the video off YouTube otherwise this could lead to an account-deletion. Then I would suggest moving the video to a more unpopular site, or a site that doesn't have music-restrictions and perhaps only deals with Sims 2 Machinima, that way the videos don't go to waste). Music most of the time only gets blocked in a country or two, and a look at YouTube's "Insight" told me that all of my viewers are from America and Britain, and therefore it is no big deal if the video was blocked in Germany - for example.

I hope I got my opinion out in a god way, I'm rubbish at explaining things, you see.
Old 25th Mar 2011, 2:16 PM #8
dolittlesaymuch
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Awesome info, Trivialsim. Machinima on TV? How cool is that? THIS is the discussion I've been wanting to have, so thanks to everyone who's participating.

In my reply to another post, I wrote some things that are relevant to this thread. So I'll repeat it here. The subject was developing skill with machinima, and this is what I said:

"The cool thing about generating any kind of product, whether it be machinima, live action movies, or novels, is that we automatically create a record of our progress. My four videos in order of production are: '19 Something' (never meant for the public eye, just a fun project I did in my spare time with my real game Sims), 'Hello,' 'London,' and 'Hurricane.' I can watch those movies now and see a steady progression of improvement. I can also see indelible evidence of my struggle with camera, screen resolution, video editing software, and overall quality."

And that brings me back to Lom23's post, and expounding on uses of machinima.

I'm enrolled in online classes, one of which is Sociology. Earlier this semester, I had to do a portfolio and project on one of the topics we studied. I chose anomic suicide. My video "Hello" was born from that, a school project that ended up on YouTube. Yes, my technical skills are still behind the curve. But I do think the story itself has layers, and multiple angles of interpretation. For instance, we want to feel sorry for the lead character. Yet in the end, most viewers are angry with her, and the selfishness of her actions.

Then London (which isn't getting its share of views for some reason--I guess it's not popping up in searches) contrasts the darkest side of human nature with the brightest. Do my actions scenes break new ground? Hardly. But it's an intriguing concept, if I do say so myself.

Without machinima, I could have never expressed any of these ideas. Yes, I write. But some things are better suited for a visual format. And I'm no animator. Nor can I hire actors. Does anyone care about the things I "express?" No clue. But I'll never know until I offer them.


Here are links to my first three videos, in reverse order of production:

Landing In London
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gnLzrMAyj8

Hello
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwaSGsbeQA4

19 Something
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MMnYeXxGF0
Last edited by dolittlesaymuch : 25th Mar 2011 at 2:49 PM. Reason: added links
Old 25th Mar 2011, 4:27 PM #9
TrivialSim
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I do believe that this is the reason machinima is so important to the Sims 2 movie-makers out there -- It lets you express yourself. Though sometimes it's also a good excuse to show off. :P

I do like your videos, and all you need is to soon be noticed by the YouTube community, that basically means go crazy with the friend-invites, and perhaps even the subscriptions. Basically, once every couple of days/weeks I will type something in YouTube and then I will send a friend request to all of the users that appear on the page. Eventually I find I have ten more friends, some of which keep in contact, the rest are just decorative and give you credibility when other people go to check out your channel. Because no one is impressed if your channel only has a couple of friends and therefore is not inclined to check out the videos.
You'll notice over time your videos start to get really popular. Another technique is sending a PM with your video attached to a LOT of people, and then some of them will watch it, tell them to subscribe, half of them will. If you see more of the more successful machinima-creators out there - such as Jaydee, Decorgal or Dwelliford let them see your video. I remember dwelliford commented on my video, and he/she must have attracted a crowd or something because I later got about 4 comments in 2 days - a lot for me. And suddenly my video's views went into he hundreds. Actually, today one of my videos actually got into the thousands! Yay!

But YouTube popularity aside, I am indeed positive that there are numerous reasons people like machinima. It's fun, for one. It being Sims 2 automatically helps it appeal to an audience whom we all have something in-common with -- which is awesome.
With your videos, anyone can look at them from different points of views, and can start of watching them feeling a particular way. But one thing's for sure: Your videos can change anyone's mood. They seem to have that affect on people, you can feel sorry for someone, then really shocked about them, then you could be really angry with them, and then regret that as they could have died or something. Not following a particular example, but that is basically what your videos do.

And it is with videos as powerful as these people will start to get back in Sims 2 machinima, and it will soon become something bigger and there will be a larger demand for it. Like on TV. Which is freaking amazing!
Old 25th Mar 2011, 5:11 PM #10
dolittlesaymuch
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Trivialsim, can I hire you to write book reviews if I ever sell a novel? :-)
Old 25th Mar 2011, 5:22 PM #11
TrivialSim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolittlesaymuch
Trivialsim, can I hire you to write book reviews if I ever sell a novel? :-)


Sure! XD
You don't even need to hire me, I'll just do it XP
Old 25th Mar 2011, 6:20 PM #12
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I loved this video, great work!
Old 25th Mar 2011, 6:26 PM #13
dolittlesaymuch
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Well, I certainly thank you, Iriskar. I definitely want to make more videos, but I also want others to make more. . .if that makes sense. So much potential in this art form. . . .
Old 25th Mar 2011, 11:21 PM #14
TrivialSim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolittlesaymuch
So much potential in this art form. . . .

... So little artists to produce it.

Well that's your/our job, isn't it?
As soon as you get your site up and running Machinima will be big, I have checked out toehr Sims 2 Machinima sites, and there are a lot, you were indeed lucky to get that domain name! I can't quite believe it myself! Hehe

Is there a way of currently checking how many views your site is getting?
I mean, I posted word about it on YouTube and there is no simple way of checking just how many people have actually checked it out...

I'm trying to figure out Machinima.com, one I can find the Login/Register button SOMEWHERE, then I will look for the forums and try to find us a forum where we can show off your totally amazing idea to the REAL Machinima community...
Old 25th Mar 2011, 11:58 PM #15
dolittlesaymuch
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Yep, there is a way of tracking the hits. I think my web designer would be mortified if it gets any right now, though, because it's in such a shambles during creation. But he's working on it as I type.

I have had no luck at all navigating the machinima.com site. And it's quite a relief to know I'm not alone in that! Why would someone build a site and make it so inaccessible? That's like the newspaper article I read a few minutes ago. . .a local rag, local reporter writing about something that happened in the "community," and then never naming the community. Are we supposed to guess?

When we get the site fit for the public eye, I will certainly post the info here. For anyone reading this, it is not another self-promotion site or wannabe forum. I'm just trying to give everyone the opportunity to link existing sites from the same place, so fans looking for machinima won't have to hunt all over YouTube for it.
Old 26th Mar 2011, 12:46 AM #16
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I really don't know how Machinima.com works, I know there was a bit at the bottom that said something to do with directors, and then from there you're basically taken to a contact form. So it may have been "Contact us" actually.
Well anyway that was how I was able to contact them, but it seems their actual place where they leave videos is actually YouTube.
I would have thought they could host them on their own site, and doing them on YouTube, for such a big company, is, well, a bit trampy.
Or maybe the website is only there so they own the domain while it's still available and someone doesn't walk along and see such a wonderful little domain-name not being used... *Wink* *Nudge* - daym you got lucky with yours
Old 26th Mar 2011, 1:26 AM #17
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I loved this video.

I thought it was kinda sad to learn what I learned in the end...

Didn't want to spoil anything so...you know...
Old 26th Mar 2011, 1:46 AM #18
dolittlesaymuch
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Thank you, Weeaboo. I appreciate the comment. It was an interesting video to make, knowing what I knew, too.
Old 26th Mar 2011, 10:25 PM #19
lilyandsnuggles2
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This was really good. I loved the ending!
Old 27th Mar 2011, 12:19 AM #20
dolittlesaymuch
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Thank you, lilyandsnuggles2!
Old 2nd Apr 2011, 12:20 AM #21
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Trailers for novels, short movies, musicals... wonderful ideas. I'm a teacher and I have thought about using TheSims2 as a resource in my class. I was thinking of making little movies to enhance or just introduce lessons... never got to it though but again: the possibilities. I love the idea of machinima on TV. As was mentioned, the non-gaming community does not know about machinima or what it is. In fact, for some of us, our relatives do not know about out 'hobby' because we ourselves see it as just that - a hobby. What if it was so recognized as an art form? That alone would be grand. In my case I've got a brother who is a journalist and he produces the news for TV so he is into video production. My church asks him to do the video editing work whenever they have something to be done. My sister is also getting into video editing and no one knows what I could do just because it's a little embarrassing to say that I make movies with a game.

What I am really getting at here is that in an effort to move machinima into the limelight, there are benefits to be gained on many levels. There would be people who would make it big (TrivialSim and dolittlesaymuch I have great confidence in you). These people may become known for making trailers for novels, movies, or great series. Remember Matt Damon and Ben Affleck having a challenge out there for writers? If it was good enough they would produce the movie and act in it? A guy won that. What if after seeing a Sims movie, it is reproduced in real life? (Since there are still limitations to what could be done in the game with the characters.) Even if not so, what if MachinimaTV becomes the rage? There would be people who would become writers for Sims movies (this is where I think I may do better). Then others would actually produce the movies. There would be people who may be able to promote the work. Then there would be people who would just be able to come out of the closet and say to their relatives "Hey, that's what I'm good at. That's what I've been doing all along and couldn't tell you because you would not have understood." These people would just be happy to be able to 'tell' someone. Then for others it will always remain a game to play but they would surely be the ones who would make the best audience because only they would be able to say "How on earth did you do that?"

Many of our retired directors have left with this line: "Real life has taken priority" or something to that effect. This also has left us with the feeling that this is just a hobby, a pasttime and sooner or later we should all pack up and get on with real living. Taking machinima to the next level is certainly breaking new ground - going where no one has gone before (hey there's an idea for an advertisement for the very concept! A video on the site! *claps with excitement) Anyway, I say we go for it.
Old 2nd Apr 2011, 1:08 AM #22
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In my endless Internet searches for more info about machinima, I stumbled onto the old Sims99 site that is no longer active. The site was owned by India Drummund, who went on to publishing success after a stint with Sims 2 machinima. So evidently I'm not the only one who sees a link between the two forms of storytelling. I had also wondered what kind of teaching tool machinima might be, and you just addressed that. :-)

I've also come to the conclusion that other forms of machinima have already "taken it to the next level." It seems that Sims 2 machinima fell into obscurity somewhere along the way, eclipsed by game engines like Call Of Duty, Halo, etc. (I know nothing about those games--I don't consider myself a "gamer" on any level.) I think Sims 2 and 3 machinima is just behind the curve, not off the scale altogether. And I also think others have seen the potential we're discussing here, but there was no lasting cohesiveness in the professional community to keep the vision alive.
Old 3rd Apr 2011, 2:04 AM #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolittlesaymuch
In my endless Internet searches for more info about machinima, I stumbled onto the old Sims99 site that is no longer active. The site was owned by India Drummund, who went on to publishing success after a stint with Sims 2 machinima. So evidently I'm not the only one who sees a link between the two forms of storytelling. I had also wondered what kind of teaching tool machinima might be, and you just addressed that. :-)

I've also come to the conclusion that other forms of machinima have already "taken it to the next level." It seems that Sims 2 machinima fell into obscurity somewhere along the way, eclipsed by game engines like Call Of Duty, Halo, etc. (I know nothing about those games--I don't consider myself a "gamer" on any level.) I think Sims 2 and 3 machinima is just behind the curve, not off the scale altogether. And I also think others have seen the potential we're discussing here, but there was no lasting cohesiveness in the professional community to keep the vision alive.


Ah, yes! Sims99 use to be pretty popular and filled with lots of talented directors. It's sad to now see that it's gone and so many directors have left the machinima community. I still partially blame Youtube because that was the biggest resource used for uploading videos, but than google brought them out and started deleting videos and channels like crazy. I know many were upset with that incident.

Btw, awesome video!
Old 3rd Apr 2011, 3:14 AM #24
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I loved your video.
Also, when you create Machinima (with any game) and you can be original, and discover new things or ways of producing this stuff, it gets the audience thinking "Wow, is that even possible?" which is really inspiring. I know after watching a few movies, I rushed out and made my own, haha.
So I think the more people that take it seriously, and take valid time to learn about Machinima (which really is an art, as it has a creative process like that of film and television) and you can build even a small fan base who is inspired to create their own, well then hopefully they will take the time to perfect their own techniques as well, and inspire more people. I know that's a bit cliché, but isn't that how we find out what we like doing, wether it's a hobby or a career, is looking at something and becoming inspired by it, therefore wanting to create it or do it ourselves?
Old 3rd Apr 2011, 1:00 PM #25
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Ah. . .so it's Google's fault! :-)

Twenty3rd and Saturnfly, thank you so much for your responses. This has been the best machinima discussion I've had to date. So much good information getting tossed around, and so much professional-level interest in the art form. I'm very encouraged by this, because it was what I hoped to learn by asking questions.

I've been playing around with the idea of building a website that focuses on Sims 2 and Sims 3 machinima exclusively. I know many sites already exist, but for one reason or another they don't seem to focus on the art form in a way new fans or casual browsers find inviting. Plus, most of them are buried several pages deep in the search engines, if they show up in the returns at all. I would like to build a site that acts almost like a white pages listing of active Sims 2 and 3 machinima directors, with links to their personal websites and movies they've uploaded around the Web. My husband and I have been working on the first stages of this site for a week or so now, but he's not convinced the idea will fly. I'm not either, but I'm a cup-half-full kind of girl, and would like to at least see what happens.

What's in it for me? No money, obviously. EA Games has a clause in their legalese that prohibits commercial use. But I'm a writer, with a strong interest in (and healthy respect for) the YA audience. Through a site like this one, I'd be given the opportunity to explore fan response, keep tabs on current trends, and experiment with the relationship between storytellling through machinima and storytelling on the page. All of this while heavily promoting machinima in general, and giving directors yet another platform to promote their own sites and work.
Will it work? No idea. But I'd like to find out.
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