December 10, 2016

Can You Tell Which Video Was Shot with a $50K RED Weapon and an iPhone 7 Plus?

Now that's impressive.

There's no question that the RED Weapon is a better camera than the one housed in the iPhone 7 Plus, but the results from this video are definitely intriguing. Filmmaker Parker Walbeck mounted the smartphone atop his $50,000 professional cinema camera, both attached to a MōVI M5 gimbal stabilizer, and shot a short film in order to compare the images captured by each camera. Take a look.

Again, no one's trying to say that the iPhone 7 Plus is on par with or anywhere near the RED Weapon—or any other high end cinema camera or DSLR for that matter. However, at first glance, especially for those who are not filmmakers, the footage looks pretty damn similar.

But before you go out with your iPhone and try to shoot beautiful stuff like you saw in the video, understand that you'll need some extras in order to produce this kind of quality. First off, you'll want to download FiLMiC Pro, a $10 app that gives you an insane amount of control over the camera settings on your phone. (If you want to learn more about what it is and how to use it, click here.)

Second, you'll want to get your hands on a stabilizer to keep your shots smooth and cinematic. There are plenty of handheld ones on the market that are designed specifically for smartphones, like the DJI Osmo, ikan X3, and even obscure ones like the LUUV.

Walbeck shares 8 tips on smartphone filmmaking in the video below:

Again, before anyone gets all huffy puffy about comparing a smartphone camera to a pro-grade cinema camera just understand what Walbeck is trying to communicate with this comparison. He's not saying that the iPhone 7 Plus is as good as or better than the RED Weapon or that you can now replace all of your expensive cameras with your smartphone. Not even close. The RED Weapon and other high-end cameras are more powerful by far. What he is saying is that beautiful, high-level imagery doesn't depend on the camera you capture it with, but on the vision, imagination, and technique of the artist.      

Your Comment

48 Comments

That's one of the main reasons I don't read anymore articles on Nofilmschool. It's so amateur to compare two cameras this way. The guy applied a horrible a LUT on the two cameras and that's it.Obviously no one sees any difference, he turned the RED footage in three poor monochromatic tones of colour. Guys it's not about the pixels and the resolution. In the Pro world Iphone footage is simply ungradable as it's compressed 8bit media.

December 10, 2016 at 7:43PM

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Florian Martiny
Colourist
154

You just pointed out the greatest difference between any camera, education. Too bad the world is living on a oblivious state.

December 10, 2016 at 10:50PM

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Edgar More
All
1156

> In the Pro world Iphone footage is simply ungradable as it's compressed 8bit media.

Which, if you were involved in the Pro world, would know that it's often a moot point, since the "compressed 8bit media" (and even worse) have been used throughout Pro films and tv work for ages...

Plus, way to miss the point. Woooosh. We know about color grading, dynamic range (and noise), increased shallow DoF, etc. The point is not about those. We already know he's comparing a $50K camera (and lenses) with a $0.7K phone.

December 11, 2016 at 3:58AM, Edited December 11, 4:02AM

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@Jackie - 8 bit highly compressed stuff does make it through to broadcast and exhibition but only with a huge amount of post processing. I wouldn't be advocating using an iPhone as an A camera for commercial output. Besides as others have pointed out here, for the cost of an iPhone you can pickup far more capable gear. Also what's with the whoosh and the attitude. People are offering up valid points to a silly comparison.

December 12, 2016 at 1:01AM, Edited December 12, 1:08AM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
215

The internal Canon C100 footage/codec AVCHD which is 8bit has been making it to commercial/broadcast television for years. No huge amount of processing - just re-render as 422 and nobody including network techs/boffins can can tell - EVER!

December 15, 2016 at 6:17PM, Edited December 15, 6:19PM

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James Manson
Photographer
121

So, which is which? :) I wasn't sure. Suspect the top frame was Red, bottom was iPhone. Seemed to have more detail.

(Edit: just started to watch the "8 tips" video. I think I was fooled. Maybe "has more detail" should have been the giveaway -- presumably because the iPhone has the smaller sensor.)

December 10, 2016 at 7:44PM, Edited December 10, 7:50PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
931

The comparison is pretty clear. The iPhone's lack of dynamic range, internal sharpening and strobing makes it stand out like a sore thumb. Sure it's a great camera if that's all you can afford and you are dabbling in short films or video content. As a tool for film making?... Ask yourself are you prepared to have months of hard work rejected by distributors on tech check?
P.S.
Please don't scream tangerine... This was a film festival darling based on it's subject matter and did not get wide theatrical release.

December 10, 2016 at 8:10PM, Edited December 10, 8:10PM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
215

>Please don't scream tangerine... This was a film festival darling based on it's subject matter and did not get wide theatrical release.

Tons (most?) of RED-shot documentaries don't get a "wide theatrical release" either...

December 11, 2016 at 3:59AM

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No but they dont run the risk of being rejected if the opportunity arises. Comparing the two peices of gear is misleading. Encouraging people to use the wrong gear will have them hit commercial brick walls.

December 11, 2016 at 9:34AM, Edited December 11, 9:55AM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
215

Tangerine did get a Rotten Tomatoes 97 percent rating, with 130 out of 134 professional film critics liking the film. ( it's IMDB rating is 7.1 out of 10 by 13,000+ people )

So despite it's limited release, the actual film was well liked by the majority of the people that saw it.

December 12, 2016 at 10:37AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32734

In 2010 was released in France a french feature film called DONOMA (2h15 long) Shot for 100€ with no crew and a 200€ Camera, it won the very prestigious Delluc Prize, went to the Cannes film festival and sold out a 600 seats theater in Paris for his premiere. It found a producer and distributor and the year after the director was back in Cannes Official Selection for a new feature he made.

Florian Martiny and Matt Drummond:
Do you think this director should have waited to have an 8 bit gradable image or just not make the film in case months of hard work would have been rejected by "tech check"?

Keep your insecurities for yourself, enjoy your DaVinciResolve while artists make art and nofilmschool give them some tools to create freely.

December 10, 2016 at 9:10PM, Edited December 10, 9:32PM

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John Ganat
Auteur/Réalisateur
22

John. I single handledly shot my first feature on a Sony F3 and did all the post. It sold to major distributors in over 50 countries for both theatrical and home entertainment release and still pays back end royalties two years later.

It went through stringent tech check for each and every distributor.

I've offered this opinion from a position of knowledge which is what the no film school community is about. Before you jump in with and make knee jerk comments make sure you know who you are making them to.

P.S. Resolve is free

December 11, 2016 at 9:43AM, Edited December 11, 9:44AM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
215

Maybe we need an article on what a 'Tech Check' is. I certainly have never heard of it. Please share

December 11, 2016 at 12:52PM

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John Stockton
Film maker, Editor, Photographer.
193

@John - Tech check is a mandatory process required by every distributor on supplied masters. This is run by a specialist house and a full report is produced.

Issues that arise during tech check can range from picture issues such as compression artefacts, compositing issues, legal grading limits and sound problems.

Each issue is graded 1 - 5. 1 being minor and can in many cases be overlooked, 5 being a problem that must be fixed.

This report becomes part of the deliverables of any deal.

December 12, 2016 at 1:13AM, Edited December 12, 1:16AM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
215

What is the movie called and is it available to watch anywhere? Cheers.

December 12, 2016 at 11:35AM

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@Matt
That's great if you shot your first feature with a 15 000$ camera and got theatrical release... That's great for you but so?

"Make sure you know who you are making them to" .. Matt this is earth calling do you copy?

What answer do you give to Donoma then?

How did a movie shot with a 200$ camera and internal mic sound got pass the stringent "tech check" then?

And the point I was trying to make is that no matter the budget, the camera, the light etc, just make a film, that's all.. And it seems that you share the same opinion so why not encouraging instead of discouraging?

Don't you think that a feature film like Tangerine , even if it did not get wide theatrical release, has been a success for the director and will allow him to make the feature he wants next time, with the budget he needs and wide theatrical release?
Tangerine is not what I consider " months of hard work ruined" that's all. ( Even if I personally hated the movie )

"Knee jerk comments" : relax Matt, this is just filmmaking, not life saving surgery, just filmmaking :)

December 13, 2016 at 7:47AM, Edited December 13, 7:47AM

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John Ganat
Auteur/Réalisateur
22

Very cool. Smartphones are getting more powerful every year. Tangerine proved it and actually had a valid reason to be shot on iPhones. But really, better to buy a cheap smartphone and a cheap DSLR that can handle 24 fps HD and have more fun for less bucks. iPhones ain't cheap. The 7+ starts at 909 EUR here in the NL. That's with only 32GB.

The Canon 550D is still a lot of fun, though it's age is finally showing. That will set you back around 200 EUR, cheaper if it's an old one from a friend. Buy some nice legacy glass, add a reflector screen and shell out for good audio gear and you spend about the same amount of money on way more versatile filmmaking tools. Just saying...

Though if you own an iPhone 7+, please use it. Don't let anybody tell you you can't because it ain't pro.

December 10, 2016 at 9:45PM, Edited December 10, 9:46PM

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Auke-Jan Weening
Dissapointment
266

Check out the highlight rolloff in the shot where you can see the sun. Pretty huge difference.

December 10, 2016 at 10:23PM

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The highlight rolloff will definately destroy any movie`s marketability. Heck, I`m hearing average Joes and Janes all the time in the theatres complaining about lack of dynamic range and clipped highlights...nowadays the movie watching crowd tends to not care very much for the story anymore but go to the theatres with thick note pads and pens in order to write down the optical shortcomings of cameras!

December 11, 2016 at 6:36AM

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Average Joes and Janes aren't a film maker's audience if you are aiming for a commercial release... the distributors are.

December 11, 2016 at 10:00AM

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Matt Drummond
Writer/Director/Producer
215

The tile of this should have correctly read "Can You Tell Which Video Was Graded To Look Like It Came From An iPhone?"...

December 10, 2016 at 11:23PM

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Vidrazor
306

And the answer to this from 99 percent of the audience would be "no".

So another title could be "Can you tell which inconsequential detail you can bypass and still get decent results"?

December 11, 2016 at 4:08AM

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As long as we don't need shallow DOF shots.
Anyway, seeing the depreciation of any Red camera on the SH market, I guess you can have a used Red camera for almost the price of a iphone 7+.

December 11, 2016 at 2:10AM, Edited December 11, 2:18AM

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JoachimV
352

My interest in film making tech developed from my want to make engaging stories. Every year I just keep thinking I'll wait for the right camera, the right lens etc. etc.

This guy just engaged me in a video of a dude walking in the hills shot on a damn iPhone. Much needed wake up call :)

December 11, 2016 at 4:08AM, Edited December 11, 4:08AM

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i phone 7 video codec is 8bit or 10/12bit? is it good to color correction/grading?

December 11, 2016 at 4:32AM, Edited December 11, 4:32AM

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Obviously he had to compress the shit out of the Red Weapon footage in order to get his point across.

December 11, 2016 at 6:20AM

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Raquel Aly
Director / filmmaker
9

This is a Déjà vu. From time to time the same stupid claim. It's a question of Physics, technology an money. The better the technology we can put into a phone the better can be an actual camera. For 900$ one can by a decent camera, with a real lens, stops, DOF, speeds, ND filters, filters, etc, and less jello and better DR. If someone only has a phone he can use it and, maybe, reaches a good result. But don't try to say one can reach the same result with a phone than with a good camera like a RED.

At the end of the video there is close up shot of the guy. The guy is out of focus, but the background is focused.

Besides, there is something that pissing me off. It seems there is a new religion for people who adore a new god: the Iphone.

December 11, 2016 at 6:30AM, Edited December 11, 6:34AM

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What the fuck are you on about? Tbh, phones nowadays aren't far off in the DR departement.

December 11, 2016 at 3:33PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
758

The highlight rolloff will definately destroy any movie`s marketability. Heck, I`m hearing average Joes and Janes all the time in the theatres complaining about lack of dynamic range and clipped highlights...nowadays the movie watching crowd tends to not care very much for the story anymore but go to the theatres with thick note pads and pens in order to write down the optical shortcomings of cameras.

December 11, 2016 at 6:36AM, Edited December 11, 6:36AM

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I will save you some money in programming a NFS article generator.

Can You Tell Which 8 bit Compressed Youtube Was Shot with a $50 K Professional STUFF and a 10 CZK Prosumer Stuff ?

Subtext : (HINT : It might surprised you)

For example :

Can You Tell Which Video Was Shot with a $50K Cooke Lens And A Second Hand Damaged Plastic Lens?

Tips : Don't Forget To Start Each Word With A Capital Letter For The Style.

-----------

Amazing : Stuff B is way way cheaper tan Stuff A.

*insert jpeg of Stuff B and A side by side

Observations :
Obviously Stuff B does the job as good as stuff A.

Development :

This is absurd to buy stuff A to make images when we can buy stuff B. We are artist not consumers !

Conclusion :

Let's buy stuff B.

You are welcome.

December 11, 2016 at 6:47AM, Edited December 11, 6:48AM

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I recently joined NFS and I see a lot of cynicism in the comment sections. Your comment was like a breath of fresh air.

February 3, 2017 at 12:27AM

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Erick Bryant
Cinema Arts Enthusiast
8

Like everyone who visits this site I like to see beautifully shot and beautifully graded images but...no one is going to agree on what is good and what is bad. The most important thing is content and I think this is what Parker is getting at, actually I know that's what he is getting at because he says so! In the end the best camera is the one you have access to. A Red Weapon (I hate the rediculous names they give these cameras), is not going make a bad idea good. Content is king. Give me a great story over flashy production any day. Why do people want give a guy a hard time for pointing out a fundamental of film making. I think it's great that people want to share thoughts and ideas even if they're not the best. What is it about people that they would rather knock someone rather than make the effort to produce something better. If you want the standard to rise contribute. Best wishes to all makers no matter what level you are at. At least you're trying!

December 11, 2016 at 7:05AM

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Clive Rose
Photographer
219

Elitism on here is ridiculous! Everyone is so gear crazy they fail to see the point.. USE WHAT YOU HAVE!!!! thats the point. Seen stuff shot on handycams making lots of Money from broadcast deals. So you can stay there in your corner waiting for a freaking RED to shoot your film when someone is using their smartphone and kicking ass on the festival and box office scene.

December 11, 2016 at 8:17AM

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Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op
1997

I'm not sure why this article makes readers so angry.

Guys, before everyone swears off NFS for posting this article, keep in find a few things:

1). Remember that Sundance film that was shot on the iPhone 5s? http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/28/7925023/sundance-film-festival-2015-ta...

2). Both NFS and the youtube video BOTH acknowledge that the RED is lightyears more advanced. It is simply a comparison to show how smart phone technology is advancing. No need to cry foul.

3). For me, there were two main take aways from this article. The first is, if it is this good now, just imagine how good smart phone tech will become in 5-10 years time. It is exciting to thing about! The second is that this article has shown me that in desperate situations, it may not be unreasonable to use the iPhone for really quick cutaways, especially in the documentary setting.

NoFilmSchool, thank you for posting this article! I will continue to use the Sony F55 for my work, but at least this article has shown me just how capable the camera is that I keep in my pocket for emergency situations. Thanks!

December 11, 2016 at 12:35PM, Edited December 11, 12:37PM

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absolutely agree

December 11, 2016 at 1:46PM

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Completely agree! And there are many times on the field in documentary work that you cannot get a RED level camera into without blowing your cover. That you can achieve usable cinematic footage on an iPhone is incredible and I found this article really inspiring!

December 12, 2016 at 12:27PM

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John Haas
Cinematographer
799

Hmm... lots of hate here. Yeah we shoot Red and Alexa now but do you remember the first camera you started with? Mine was some 480p point and shoot camera. I edited off Windows MovieMaker. Sound was awful, picture was terrible but it was a blast. Now think of what those 10 year old filmmakers are going to be shooting.

December 11, 2016 at 3:24PM

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Filmbaker
Writer/Director
146

Well to be honest, the footage was perhaps the worst red footage I have seen. May be its the youtube compression or the grading but surely red can do better than that.
But that does not change the fact that the quality gap between low and high end cameras are narrowing down to zero. In a few years the high end camera companies will have to offer ridiculous things, 10k 1000fps etc.

December 11, 2016 at 5:01PM

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You have not seen some of the videos I have. http://i.qkme.me/3plplq.jpg

December 12, 2016 at 2:54AM

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And there will always be giant steaming "masterpieces" shot on RED like this one...

https://goo.gl/7xZYCx

...Which has nothing to do with being shot with a RED camera, and everything to do with the talent of it's creator. :-)

December 12, 2016 at 5:00PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32734

They both look videoish as hell, of course color grading made a difference. I just feel like all digital cameras end up kinda having the same look. The Alexa probably ends up being the closest to film because of DR and color, but I have seen stuff from the Alexa that still looks video as hell from the camera. Camera team, lenses, and color grading make a huge difference. Would probably never buy a RED due to the cheaper and/or better competition

December 11, 2016 at 5:51PM

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Wait... you would't buy a Red because of the "cheaper/better competition"? Please tell us what camera is better and cheaper than the $30K Epic-W or $10K Scarlet-W.

December 11, 2016 at 8:10PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
913

Well I said better and/or cheaper meaning Cheaper: Sony FS7, A7S, A7R, Panasonic GH4, Canon C100, Canon C300, etc. Better: Alexa Mini, Alexa SXT, Alexa 65, Sony F55, Film. Sorry RED lost me along time ago with the culture, support service, specification lies, (16.5+ stops.... yeah okay, that's why every comparison I see the Alexa sensor still beats RED's helium and dragon("Weapon enhanced") in DR and cinematic color, reliability, low noise, etc.) I'd rather rent a C300 MKII than a RED, at least I have an all in one package. Of course if the client has the $$ and the project demands it I'd rent a Alexa Mini or Sony F55. Also in your estimated prices you forgot all the other sh*t that's actually needed to get that RED system going. Sure you can buy a Scarlet W for $10,000, it will be a good paper weight if you don't have the rest of the camera.

December 12, 2016 at 2:51AM

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Cheaper and better than a $30 Epic-W: the Varicam LT. Same colors as the Alexa, almost the same DR, crazy 5000 iso lowlight, super solid codec and it's 4k (I was a Red owner not so long ago and my Red Dragon was shit in comparison). That's why the Varicam is taking over Netflix little by little. Apart from Orange Is The New Black where they switched from the Alexa to the Varicam, or Master of None, some upcoming Netflix productions like The Deuce, The OA, Death Note are shot on Varicam. In the same time, Red is losing big names like Ridley Scott who went back to Arri and a lot less movies are being shot on Red in favor of the Alexa mini/standard/65.

December 12, 2016 at 5:09AM, Edited December 12, 5:20AM

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JoachimV
352

I don't know much about the Vaicam, but does it shoot RAW? I know it shoots RAW-to-codec but can you shoot straight RAW? Also, the memory cards are almost the same price as Redmags.

December 12, 2016 at 8:30PM, Edited December 12, 8:32PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
913

You can now shoot Raw through the Odyssey 7Q etc. But the weird thing is that I have more freedom in post with the internal codec than I had on my Reds with Raw. Cleaner, sharper, better.

"All purchases of a VariCam LT camera (AU-V35LT1G) between 20 October 2016 and 31 December 2016 or while stocks last, will be rewarded by Panasonic with two 256GB expressP2 cards (AU-XP0256BG) free of charge".

December 13, 2016 at 2:07AM, Edited December 13, 2:07AM

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JoachimV
352

I watched this guys comparison video last month and its pretty awesome. That being said, I wonder what he did to make the RED look like the iPhone. If you've ever used a RED and seen the footage on your own CPU, its absolutely incredible and no phone can even come close to the DR and detail. The comparison video makes the two cameras look very close, but in the real world thats just not the case.

December 11, 2016 at 8:06PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
913

The only thing impressive about this garbage article is that the guy got a Weapon to fit on a Movi M5!

Was I able to pick which camera was which: yup

December 12, 2016 at 4:31AM, Edited December 12, 4:31AM

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K W
355