Cast & Crew

Scientific advisors   |   cast   |   crew

Scientific Advisory Team

The production team for the film, the Maryland Science Centre and the National Science Foundation, are very fortunate to have the high calibre, extensive experience and dedication of the core group of scientists who have been attached to this film and its related Educational Outreach Program for over four years. Their distinguished scientific careers have focused on the monarch butterfly – they have researched this unique insect, studied its migration and its many habitats, and made important discoveries. As a vital part of a larger group of scientists, they have written numerous articles and books. They are all professors at universities where they teach the next generation of scientists and undertake and supervise various research programs with post-graduate students.

In addition, these leaders have all been instrumental in various Monarch butterfly conservation programs that educate and involve the public, by making countless appearances, giving talks and providing media input on behalf of this amazing creature. Over the past few decades, they have created various monarch butterfly educational outreach programs. They are pioneers in their own right who are passionate about the film and the potential impact that the educational plan will have on the next generation of Monarch butterfly enthusiasts, Citizen Scientists, conservationists, and even the future scientists it will create. They are all concerned about both the short and long term threats to the Monarch butterfly and its migratory routes. They hope you will want to learn more about these fascinating creatures and even become involved in their preservation.

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Dr. Chip Taylor

Dr. Chip Taylor is the Founder and Director of Monarch Watch and is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas. He started his career in August 1969, and in 1974, he established research sites and directed students studying Neotropical African honey bees (killer bees) in French Guiana, Venezuela, and Mexico. Monarch Watch is an organization that is a vital educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas, but has outreach to 100,000+ students and adults who participate in tagging activities each fall. It engages Citizen Scientists in large-scale research projects in relation to the Monarch butterfly. For a more detailed bio, see the Monarch Watch website. For more information from Dr. Chip Taylor about the impact of Monarch Watch please visit:

1978 Ultraviolet Reflection and Its Behavioral Role in the Courtship of the Sulfur Butterflies Colias eurytheme and C. philodice (Lepidoptera, Pieridae). R. E. Silberglied and O. R. Taylor. Behavi. Ecol. and Sociobiol. 3:203-243.

1989 Neotropical Africanized honey bees have African mitochondrial DNA. Smith DR, Taylor OR, Brown WM. Nature 339:213-215.

1997 A Sun compass in monarch butterflies. Perez, S., O. R. Taylor, and R. Jander. Nature 387: 29.


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Dr. Lincoln Brower

Dr. Lincoln Brower is Research Professor of Biology at Sweet Briar College. He began researching monarch butterflies in 1954 and was the first scientist to confirm that Monarch butterflies are chemically protected against birds. He also used chemical tags in the butterflies to show that the fall migrants return from overwintering in Mexico to the Gulf Coast states the following spring. For a more detailed bio, see the Journey North website.

Brower, L. P. 1969. Ecological chemistry. Scientific American 220(2): 22-29. (Cover article).

Brower, L.P. 1995. Understanding and misunderstanding the migration of the monarch butterfly (Nymphalidae) in North America: 1857-1995. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 49:304-385.

Brower, L. P., G. Castilleja, A. Peralta, J. Lopez-Garcia, L. Bojorquez-Tapia, S. Diaz, D. Melgarejo, and M. Missrie. 2002. Quantitative changes in forest quality in a principal overwintering area of the monarch butterfly in Mexico: 1971 to 1999. Conservation Biology 16:346-359.


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Dr. Karen Oberhauser

Dr. Karen Oberhauser is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota. She began studying Monarchs in 1984 and is the head of Monarchs in the Classroom, an organization dedicated to providing a solid background for understanding the biology of Monarch butterflies and fostering an interest in their conservation. Karen has been honoured as as a White House Citizen Science Champion of Change, receiving this prestigious award for her tireless dedication to increasing public engagement in science! Read her blog post here. For a more detailed bio, see the Monarch Lab website.

Pleasants, J, KS Oberhauser. 2012. Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: Effect on the monarch butterfly population. In press. Insect Conservation and Diversity.

Batalden, R., K.S. Oberhauser, A.T. Peterson. 2007. Ecological niches in breeding generations of Eastern North American monarch butterflies. Environmental Entomology. 36:1365-1373.

Oberhauser, K.S. and M.J. Solensky (Eds.). 2004. The Monarch Butterfly: Biology and Conservation. Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY. (248 pp).

Oberhauser, K.S. and T. Peterson. 2003. Modeling current and future potential wintering distributions of Eastern North American monarch butterflies. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 100:14063-14068.

These individuals know there are still more discoveries to be made about the fascinating Monarch butterfly, and are working with a variety of exciting, new, scientific teams on remaining mysteries to enrich our understanding of the butterfly. In some cases, the butterfly research is shedding light on other insect, and even human behaviour.

We would also like to thank Dr. Steve Malcolm of Western Michigan University, who reviewed the rough cut of the film, and Grant Bowers of the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, both of whom provided very useful commentary.

We would also like to thank the other scientists to whom we talked and about whose leading-edge work we learned in the preparation of our Educational Outreach Materials, especially Dr. Barry Frost, a neuroscientist, from the Psychology department of the University of Queen’s in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

We also note with gratitude that numerous other scientists are undertaking important work in relation to Monarchs, especially Dr. Steve Reppert and his team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who mapped the Monarch genome in 2011. Dr. Reppert’s and others’ fascinating work have led, and will continue to lead to more exciting discoveries about the Monarch in the years ahead.

cast gordon pinsent Cast & Crew

Gordon Pinsent (Dr. Fred Urquhart)

Flight of the Butterflies is a truly remarkable film. I really hope audiences, especially Canadian ones, will see it. To be in the sanctuaries in Mexico with hundred of millions of butterflies is spectacular and Dr. Urquhart’s discovery is inspirational, it’s all very moving. I’m very proud to have been part of this exceptional production”

Born in Newfoundland, Gordon began his career at the Manitoba Theatre Centre, which led to roles at the Stratford Festival. From his many starring roles in a wide variety of television programs and feature films, we remember the recognizable characters Gordon Pinsent has created in popular Canadian culture. Most recently, he was Corky Dillems in Corner Gas and Maurice Becker in Republic of Doyle.

Gordon Pinsent successfully balances acting and writing. His novels, The Rowdyman and John and the Missus were both turned into feature films, Gordon directing the latter. He has co-starred with his wife, Charmion King, in two of his plays – Easy Down Easy and Brass Rubbings, and in Love Letters. Gordon wrote and starred in the CBC Movie of the Week, Win Again, in which he won a Gemini for his writing.

Gordon Pinsent has received two Actra Awards for his television work; four Genie Awards for achievements in Canadian film; five Gemini Awards, a Dora Award for the stage, as well as honorary doctorates at Queens, P.E.I. University, Memorial University, Lakefield University and an honorary degree from Humber College. He was made Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979, and promoted to Companion within the Order in 1998.

Gordon more recently embarked on one of his most memorable projects to date. He wrote, directed and acted in the MOW Heyday, (a period piece set during the end of World War II), in coordination with Triptych Media Inc./Pope Productions, which aired in 2006.

In 2008, Gordon Pinsent won a GENIE for the critically acclaimed film Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley.


cast patricia phillips Cast & Crew

Patricia Phillips (Norah Urquhart)

Patricia graduated in 1972 from the National Theatre School in Montreal. Awarded a Canada Council grant in 1984, she studied with Uta Hagen at Herbert Bergoff Studios in New York. She has received, or been nominated for, almost every major Canadian acting award, including winning the Actra Award for Best Radio Performance for her role in The Diviners in 1984.

In 1989, Patricia partnered with Andy Thomson in Great North Productions as a writer/editor/director/producer. Among her producing credits is five seasons of the award winning series: The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation.

From 2002 to June 2004, Patricia was SVP of factual programming for Alliance Atlantis Fact.  Her productions and co-productions include: Hitler’s Victory, Inventing the Past, Surviving Extremes, Going to More Extremes, and The Ritchi Boys. In 2008, she was Creative Producer for Ballinran’s 2 hour co-production Death or Canada for History Television Canada, RTE Ireland and History U.K., which was nominated for Best Documentary series by the Irish Film and Television Academy.

She is married to Andy Thomson and is mother to three stepchildren. Patricia struggles with her hobbies: golf, skiing and sailing while practicing her French with whomever will talk to her.


cast shaun benson Cast & Crew

Shaun Benson (Ken Brugger)

Shaun was raised in a house of music, classic films and wordplay at the dinner table. His time as a youngster dancing ballet and playing guitar and piano led him, after completing a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario, to choose a career as an actor. He studied Theatre at George Brown and spent years training in the Meisner technique at Playhouse West.

Through the years of life and work in Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles, highlights include Populaire, Flashpoint, Cold Case, Being Erica, General Hospital, The Associates, and of course, Flight of the Butterflies. Shaun is an avid martial artist, holding a 4th Dan in Legacy Shorin Ryu and enjoys spending his free time with his lady, his friends, his family, his cats, and his bicycle.


cast stephanie sigman Cast & Crew

Stephanie Sigman (Catalina Aguado)

A rising star of Mexican cinema, Stephanie started as a model at age 16, after placing second in a national modeling contest for Elite Model Look. Soon after, she developed a passion for acting and pursued an education in that field. Since then, her work has consisted of small roles in commercials, music videos and now, more serious, well-known projects like 2011’s Miss Bala, in which she starred.

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Jonathan Barker Executive Producer / Producer

Jonathan Barker is one of Canada’s most experienced film and television executives and is also recognized as a world leader in producing and distributing films for IMAX®/Giant Screen 3D and 2D cinema. He is currently President and CEO of SK Films Inc.

Jonathan was previously President and Co-CEO of Shaftesbury Films Inc., where he was jointly responsible for the company’s phenomenal transformation and growth from a small feature film company into one of Canada’s leading and most successful television production companies.

Jonathan was the senior executive responsible for the film production and distribution business at Imax Corporation, where he developed the hit IMAX® 3D film T-Rex, oversaw the production and distribution of a number of the IMAX® Space films, David Attenborough’s Survival Island and the hugely successful 3D film Into the Deep. Through SK, he has been responsible for Straight Up: Helicopters in Action under commission by the most visited museum in the world, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the multiple award-winning 3D film, Bugs!, one of the most successful Giant Screen films of recent years, and more recently, Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta, winner of the Most Popular Film award in the annual Giant Screen film festival in Paris. Jonathan was a Founding Director of the Giant Screen Cinema Association and currently serves on the Board of Film Ontario. Flight of the Butterflies has been a project of passion for Jonathan, since his first visit to the Monarch sanctuaries in Mexico.


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Mike Slee Director, Producer, and Co-Writer

Mike Slee is a British writer, director and producer with over 50 TV, Giant Screen films and cinema projects to his credit. After graduating LCP University of London, Mike trained in BBC TV’s postproduction on David Attenborough’s first series, Life on Earth and Living Planet. He then partnered with the UK indie Principal Media Group. Over 20 years, Mike directed and produced 50 hours of prime-time factual programming filmed in 30 countries.

From 2001 – 2005 Mike co-wrote and directed the Giant Screen IMAX® ghost story Legend of Loch Lomond, Discovery’s Giant Screen IMAX® feature Wildfire and SK’s multi-award winning giant screen IMAX® release set in Borneo Bugs! 3D.

From 2010 Mike was Series Director on Discovery’s Atlas 4D, shooting The Great Rift Valley and The Mediterranean, as well as writing, producing and directing the story of Shackleton’s Whisky being recovered from Antarctica after 100 years. Recently, for BBC One, Mike directed 2 CGI adventures, Journey to the Centre of the Planet and Journey to the Bottom of the Sea.

Mike’s projects have been generously recognized including: Cable Ace, Gold Iris, Gold Hugo, Gold Eagle & Special Effects Emmy. Mike’s 3D feature film work has been honored with a Wild Screen Panda, Academy Award short listing and the Giant Screen Cinema Association’s – Best Film & Life Long Learning Award.


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Rafael Cuervo Producer

Rafael Cuervo began his cinema career in the 1990ʼs in a number of Mexican films such as Bandidos, by Luis Estrada and Dos Crimenes by Roberto Sneider. Recently he has produced La Zona by Rodrigo Plá, Arráncame la Vida by Roberto Sneider and Abel by Diego Luna.

He has been a key part of international productions shot in Mexico, working on films like Titanic by James Cameron, Jarhead by Sam Mendes, Frida by Julie Taymor, Master and Commander by Peter Weir and Troy by Wolfgang Petersen. Recently he has finished work on The Girl by David Riker and the Elysium by Neil Blomkamp.

In 2010 he started his own production company: Sin Sentido Films. Along with his team he has produced titles including Mariachi Gringo by Tom Gustafson, which recently won the award for Best Feature and Best Actress for Martha Higareda at the 2012 Guadalajara Film Festival and Espacio Interior by Kai Parlange, which won the Audience Award and Best Actor Award for Kuno Becker.


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Myles Connolly Supervising Producer (On behalf of the Maryland Science Center)

Myles Connolly has been involved in documentary filmmaking for more than 20 years and has been part of more than 40 film projects. He spent ten years working for MacGillivray Freeman Films, where he was instrumental in such films as Everest, The Living Sea and Dolphins. These efforts resulted in two Academy Award nominations for Best Documentary Short.

In 2000, he ventured out on his own and has since been a key contributor on a number of IMAX® projects, feature documentaries, television programs and commercials for clients that include Panasonic, Disney, The Blue Man Group and BBC Earth. His knowledge of film and digital filmmaking with his comprehensive experience in the areas of development, production and post production have made him an important member of the team on a number of high profile projects.

Flight of the Butterflies stands out as one of his favorite Giant Screen films for its unique combination of human interest, natural history and compelling drama.

Myles lives in Laguna Beach, California with his wife Jeanette.


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Wendy MacKeigan Co-Executive Producer/Co-Writer

Wendy is one of Canada’s most experienced and respected film executives with a strong creative and production background and is currently Executive Vice President at SK Films. Previously, she managed the national film production and development investment programs for Astral Media as the Chair and CEO of The Harold Greenberg Fund.

Wendy coordinated the script writing process and was senior story editor on the award winning Giant Screen IMAX film, Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta. She has also been responsible for conceiving, developing, and producing SK’s documentary series, The Water Brothers.

Wendy previously worked for leading animation production and distribution company, Nelvana. She capped a distinguished career in government as a founding executive of the Ontario Film Development Corporation (now the OMDC), pioneering many new and significant financial and tax credit programs for the industry and originating many groundbreaking economic and strategic studies.

Wendy has served on numerous Boards including for four years as the Chair of the Women in Film and Television Toronto and serving on Advisory Committees including for the Toronto International Film Festival, the Directors Guild of Canada, the Banff Television Festival, Cinematheque Ontario and the Canadian Film Centre.


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Maria Elena Gutiérrez Co-Executive Producer

Maria Elena Gutiérrez is President of Chora LLC, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning and fundraising services for non-profit organizations based in Washington DC. With a prestigious portfolio of national and international clients, Maria Elena has successfully undertaken negotiations for multi-million dollar business and philanthropic ventures and maintains a large rolodex of corporate, individual, and foundation relationships—a prerequisite for a successful fundraising campaign.

Her key strengths are her strategic vision, business acumen, communication skills, talent for networking, and political awareness. She can navigate easily across boundaries between cultures, the profit and non-profit worlds and the entertainment and educational domains. Her ability to build and motivate large networks of partners in order to deliver complex projects has been a common element in her professional successes.

With a background in management and finance, Maria Elena worked for McKinsey & Co., Lehman Brothers’ Investment Banking Division, and headed the Investor Relations Department of one of Latin America’s largest publicly traded companies, Fomento Economico Mexicano.

Maria Elena has a BA from Dartmouth College, an MBA from Yale University, and a diploma from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She received the prestigious Best Latin American Investor Relations Officer Award from Investor Relations Magazine in 2002 and the Smithsonian Institution Special Achievement Award in 2004.


kym bio Cast & Crew

Kym Crepin Line Producer

Kym brings with him 25 years of production filmmaking experience, but this is his first venture into the documentary Giant Screen world.

After his first two years in the accounting department on various productions, he moved in-house at Alliance (for 6 years) as their Production Controller. There, he oversaw in excess of $100 million of production annually. He returned to the production world as Production Manager on major television series and features such as XIII, Repo Opera, and Cobu, as well as most of the Saw franchise features.

Having studied Biochemistry at Brock University, he now juggles his film work with owning and operating a Hunter/Jumper horse-breeding farm. His scientific background, love of nature, attention to detail and constant need to be busy was a natural fit for this project. It was no surprise that he jumped at this project.

Though he doesn’t seem to have much downtime, he does profess a love of reading, travelling, movies, entertaining and sleeping all of 5 hours a night.


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Simon de Glanville Director of Photography/Stereographer

An award winning cameraman, Simon has been involved in 3D filmmaking for over a decade. He began his career in the late 90’s, working under the apprenticeship of the Oscar-winning Peter Parks OBE, and was intimately involved in the production of the IMAX film Bugs! 3D.

Simon has since worked on a wide variety of natural history productions for television and cinema, including a number of films for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, including Titus – The Gorilla King and The Unnatural History of London. His work has taken him to more than 60 countries, and he has had the privilege to photograph many of the animal kingdom’s most impressive inhabitants.

Simon has increasingly married his background in Zoology and wildlife filmmaking with his expertise in stereography. Recently, he has worked on various 3D natural history projects, including Flight of the Butterflies 3D, Kingdom of Plants 3D and Enchanted Kingdom, a 3D feature about the natural history of Africa. He is about to embark on an expedition with Sir David Attenborough to film the wildlife of the Galapagos in 3D.


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Paul Williams Director of Photography

Paul learned the basics of photography and camera operating during his teens, working with his father, who was a photo-grapher and cameraman. After leaving college he joined his father’s company, Trent Films.

In 1976 he joined CTVC’s documentary unit in Bushey as a camera assistant, and advanced to cameraman in 1977. In 1982 Paul and his sound recordist, Chris Stanway, left CTVC and went into partnership as That Crew.

Since 1988 Paul has worked under his own name. As a Lighting Cameraman he has been involved in a range of projects for television that include documentaries, drama and commercials.

He was associated with ICE Film Equipment – the Aaton camera agents for the UK, and co-founded Oculus Ltd, a post-production company whose credits include: Pride & Prejudice, 28 Days Later and Atonement.

Since 2008, Paul has been learning the complicated art of Stereography, encouraged and mentored by Chris Parks of Vision3 – one of the most experienced Stereographers in the UK. Recent 3D credits include: Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Horrid Henry and upcoming Jack the Giant Killer. In production are some exciting wildlife films in 3D, for TV, Cinema and IMAX.

Paul has spent most of his working life in the London area, and now lives near Hitchin, just north of London.


PeterParks Cast & Crew

Peter Parks Systems Designer Macro Photography

Peter Parks has an illustrious career, including an Oscar® and working on high-quality 3D Giant Screen Films.

In 1990, he formed his own Company, IMAGE QUEST 3-D, specializing in large format production, research and development. Image Quest 3-D made a major contribution to the technically ground-breaking 3-D film in IMAX/Giant Screen Cinemas, SK’s Bugs! 3D. Peter designed the advanced optical systems used and directed specialist filming. This film won the Industry’s “Best Large Format Film” award in Los Angeles, against fierce competition.

In 2003 the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, honoured Peter with a full Oscar ®, the ‘Gordon E. Sawyer Award’, given to “an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.”

In 2010, Peter was asked to contribute extraordinary new imagery to Terrence Malick’s film, Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt.

In 2011, Peter began research and development on two new 3-D optical camera heads. Before completion of the equipment in August 2011, Peter and his son were asked to use this new system on Flight of the Butterflies.

Peter Parks is a specialist in marine biology and has been leader of some 25 major marine biological film expeditions since 1966. He is currently writing a fully illustrated and all-inclusive book on the life of the open oceans.


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Sandra Kybartas Production Designer

A trained architect, Sandra Kybartas has designed a number of feature films including Lilies, Republic of Love and Against The Ropes. She has also designed numerous television series including Murdoch Mysteries for Citytv; The State Within for the BBC; ReGenesis for The Movie Network, Movie Central and Showcase (for which she won two Directors Guild of Canada Awards); and This Is Wonderland for CBC Television. Sandra was also the production designer on many movies of the week including the Emmy Award-winning Matthew Shepard Story, Pentagon Papers and Sins of The Father. She was also the Genie Award-winning director of her own short film, Home For Blind Women.


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Susan Shipton Editor

Susan Shipton’s most recent project as Editor is the mini series Titanic, written by Julian Fellows. Prior, she cut Director Richard Lewis’ acclaimed Barney’s Version, starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver. Shipton is best known for her work with Atom Egoyan, having edited all his films from The Adjuster to Chloe, for which she won a Director’s Guild of Canada Award for Best Achievement in Editing. Susan received a Genie Award for her work on The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica and for Possible Worlds by Robert LePage.

Susan has worked with acclaimed Directors Jaco VanDormael (Mr.Nobody) and Istvan Szabo (Being Julia). She won a DGC Award for Being Julia.

Flight of the Butterflies is Susan’s first foray into IMAX, 3D and documentary! She has found it to be a fun and fascinating world. Susan splits her time between her apartment in downtown Toronto and her farmhouse in eastern Ontario. She shares her life with her husband and their two dogs. Flight of the Butterflies has inspired Susan to turn the three-acre field in front of her farmhouse into a natural wild flower meadow. Plants grown there will include milkweed for the Monarchs, of course!


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Peter Thillaye Supervising Sound Editor

Peter has been the winner of multiple sound editing awards in all film formats over the course of his career.

He has been involved in the Canadian film industry since his apprenticeship at Crawley Films in 1973. His first project was to recreate the sounds of the Japanese alpine team as they scaled Mount Everest. These effects became an essential part of the Academy Award winning film The Man Who Skied Down Everest.

In 1987, with the release of the IMAX® film Heartland, Peter produced the first-ever film soundtrack to use digital playback.

Peter has focused almost exclusively on realizing the complex soundtracks for IMAX® films. In 1990, with the birth of IMAX 3D, he became deeply involved in the experimentation and implementation of the personal sound environment system (PSE).

Throughout his career he has embraced the task of creating natural history sound environments that have taken audiences from the orangutans of Borneo to the elephant seals of South Georgia Island. From the concert experience of the Rolling Stones in At the Max, a flight through the galaxies in Hubble 3D, and dives to the ocean’s floor in Titanica, Peter has responded to the challenge with rich, detailed, and evocative sound that brings the huge, perfect images to life.

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