Presenting the bigger picture…

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These past few months directors Ian and Dominic Higgins have been buried away working on the edit of the film, honing scenes, polishing the visuals and designing the soundscape, but now they have announced they will shortly present the first test screening of a completed edit  (with only directors and producers present) – so stay tuned for more info on this!

In the meantime, it appears our film isn’t the only thing to soon be revealed (albeit at this stage to only select crew).  We came across an interesting and very timely story in the Ashai Shimbun newspaper.

It is common knowledge that Dr. Nagai was a convert to Christianity and that it was his new found faith that he turned to when confronted with the horrors of war. What is not common knowledge though is that Christianity in Japan is a little different to Christianity in the West.

Having been driven underground in the early 17th Century by the Japanese government of that time, these hidden Christians or “Krishitans” as they became known, began to develop their own form of Christianity, incorporating certain aspects of Buddhism and Shinto into their practices.

Now it seems the Vatican is about to start its first extensive study on the Krishitans.

A still from "26 Martyrs" courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films

A still from “26 Martyrs” courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films

Naturally there are some who question as to whether the Krishitans should be considered as Christians.

Annibale Zambarbieri, a professor of religion at the University of Pavia in Italy, has this to say in answer, “I think that we should call them, ‘Old Christians.’ Christianity has often mixed with local cultures. Even Pope Francis said that they are model believers. There is no reason not to regard them as Christians.”

Our experiences with Fr. Paul Glynn and his parishioners in Nara certainly back these words up.

For more on this, here’s a the full article from Ashai Shimbun….

We’ve made the news in Japan!

News of our film has been picked up by the Asahi Shimbun, which is one of the five national newspapers in Japan.

Directors, Ian & Dominic Higgins and Lead actor Leo Ashizawa were interviewed for the article. The English version can be read here.

All That Remains in the  Asahi Shimbun.

All That Remains in the Asahi Shimbun.

Trailer 2

The new trailer for ATR!

The Christmas message from Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

Raising the bell of Nagasaki

On Christmas Eve 1945, a single bell rang out across the atomic wasteland of Nagasaki. For all who heard it, it was an incredible message of hope that resurrection was indeed possible.

Needless to say, it’s an incredibly important scene in our film.

From the director’s blog:

The sequence required two actors to unearth a cathedral bell that has been buried beneath a pile of rubble (from the atomic blast) and to then raise it on a make-shift stand, with the scene ending on the bell ringing out once more across the wastelands of Nagasaki on Christmas Eve night.

It’s a very important scene in the film (and a very symbolic one) so we spent a lot of time experimenting with different ideas for how we were going to pull this off. After rendering some test footage with a computer generated 3D version of the bell, we decided to opt for a far more traditional technique.

Model miniatures have been used in the field of film special effects since the very beginning; in fact, one of the iconic images from the early film period is a still from George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – which shows the man in the moon with the rocket stuck in his eye. The effect was achieved with the use of miniatures.

Concept art for George Melies' A Trip to the Moon - 1901

Concept art for George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon – 1901

Maybe the most magical aspect of miniatures is that, even today, with the stunning photo-realism that can be achieved with CGI, miniatures are still very much part of the special effects tool box, and indeed, in many cases, the best tool for the job.

In our case, the miniature was shot against a greenscreen and was then composited into a CGI rendered backdrop with the two actors (also shot against greenscreen) – so it was very much a case of traditional and modern FX techniques working together to achieve our effect.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

The miniature bell lying in a pile of miniature rubble.

As it appears in the scene

As it appears in the scene

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

The bell hanging from a make-shift support.

Below are more stills from the scene when the bell rings out for the first time since the bombing.

A Christmas message rings out

A Christmas message rings out

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) hears the bell ringing out and finds inspiration

In case you haven’t heard, we’ve released the new trailer on our Facebook Page too.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from team ATR!

It’s a wrap!

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It’s a wrap! It’s official, now we have filmed the last few scenes and captured the final few shots that we need to complete All That Remains – the filming phase has finally come to an end!

What was going to be one final day of filming, actually turned out to be two. The first day was our final day with both supporting and main cast members.

This day was about filming the pick up shots.

The highlight of the first day was actress Michelle Lam performing a powerful rendition of the hymn Nearer My God to Thee for part of a sequence that will play out during the A-bomb aftermath scene.

Actress Michelle Lam plays a school teacher who finds comfort in the words of a hymn during the aftermath scene.

Actress Michelle Lam plays a school teacher who finds comfort in the words of a hymn during the aftermath scene.

Hearing their teacher sing, her pupils join in.

Hearing their teacher sing, her pupils join in.

The second day was working with more supporting cast, and stepping up to the mark for this were pupils from Malvern St. James. Accompanied by their music teacher, Liz Prophet (who was a great help on the day too) the girls performed another rendition of Nearer My God to Thee as part of the same sequence mentioned above.

After recording audio of the girls singing, they were put into make-up and costume and then filmed for the sequence.

One pupil who didn’t get to appear in front of the camera (but gave an incredible vocal performance), was Lilian Price, however, she proved to be a great help behind the scenes too!

Once again, we were also joined on set by students of South and City College Birmingham, with  Sadia Anwar and Shakia Bibi, who have been with us since we started filming, on hair and make-up for both days. As you can see from the above pics, they did a fantastic job!

Below are some behind the scenes photos from our last two days of shooting. A huge thank  you to Ron and Sandra Smith of the Trinity Centre, Lickey Hills, Mavlern St. James school, Monica Price, and all our talented cast and crew – we couldn’t have done it with out you.

We’ll be posting the second trailer on the “Production Hub” very soon – keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details!

Leo Ashizawa and Junichi Kajioka filming pick up shots on our final shoot with main cast.

Leo Ashizawa and Junichi Kajioka filming pick up shots on our final shoot with main cast. Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with Leo and Junichi.

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with Leo and Junichi.  Photo Credit: Chris Wilmore

Michelle Lam gets ready to film her scene.

Michelle Lam gets ready to film her scene.

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Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Junichi getting into character. Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Junichi getting into character. Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

We were joined by little cast members too. Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

We were joined by little cast members too. Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

As the day came to an end, the little cast members had other plans... Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

As the day came to an end, the little cast members had other plans… Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

... As assistant camera operator, Dan soon finds out! Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

… As assistant camera operator, Dan soon finds out! Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Pupils of Malvern St James school recording audio. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Pupils of Malvern St James school recording audio. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

The pupils in make-up, ready for their scene. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

The pupils in make-up, ready for their scene. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

The pupils of Malvern St. James with their singing coach, Liz Prophet.

The pupils of Malvern St. James with their singing coach, Liz Prophet.

Lilian, a fellow pupil of Malvern St. James proved to be a great help behind the scenes! Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Lilian, a fellow pupil of Malvern St. James proved to be a great help behind the scenes! Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Shakia Bibi and Sadia Anwar and of South and City College Birmingham were our make-up artists for the last two days of shooting. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Shakia Bibi and Sadia Anwar of South and City College Birmingham have proved to be an asset to our make-up and hair team since we started filming. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

The end is in sight…

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Takashi Nagai and “Fat Man” come face to face

On Saturday (5th Oct) our cameras will roll on what will be the last drama scenes for “All That Remains”.

The day will mainly consist of “pick-up” shots, that is, shots we feel we need to re-shoot or additional shots we feel a certain scene needs.

We’ll keep you posted about the final day of shooting, but in the meantime, below are a few stills showing how the shots from our previous shoots, which took place through June, July and August are shaping up, courtesy of Pixel Revolution Films.

Midori (Yuna Shin) with Makoto (Nicolas Lue-Fong)

Midori (Yuna Shin) with Makoto (Nicolas Lue-Fong)

Charissa Shearer in "All That Remains"

Charissa Shearer in “All That Remains”

Helen Keller (Susan Jameson) meets Takashi.

Helen Keller (Susan Jameson) meets Takashi.

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) in the aftermath of the A-bombing

Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) in the aftermath of the A-bombing

The grandest cathedral in East Asia

The grandest cathedral in East Asia

The holy man of Nagasaki

The holy man of Nagasaki

Makoto enduring the harshness of life in the aftermath of the war.

Makoto enduring the harshness of life in the aftermath of the war.

The Nagai family share a precious moment.

The Nagai family share a precious moment.

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Takashi and Midori before Urakami cathedral

Takashi and Midori before Urakami cathedral

The older Kayano (Debbie-Mai Gordon) and Makoto (Henry Wu) prepare to face a new future.

The older Kayano (Debbie-Mai Gordon) and Makoto (Henry Wu) prepare to face a new future.

We’ll also be releasing a brand new trailer shortly, please keep an eye on our Facebook page for more news on this, but if you want to be among the first to see it, be sure to “Like” our FB page!

More behind-the-scenes from our last shoot

Cast and crew getting ready to shoot a scene

Cast and crew getting ready to shoot a scene

Before locking ourselves away for a couple of weeks to work on editing footage that now amounts to most of the film, just time to post some more behind-the-scenes photos from last week’s shoot.

It was a great day filming. On the cast front, alongside Leo, Kaya Yuzuki returned to play Matron Hisamatsu, and, as we mentioned in our last blog, we had two new cast members; up and coming actress Charissa Shearer (watch out for her!) and we were honored to have the very talented character actresses Susan Jameson, who has been a regular face in British drama for many years, to play the part of Helen Keller.

On the crew front, South and City College Birmingham students proved to be a great asset on set once again with hair and make-up students Tania Ashworth and Samantha Wilson doing a fantastic job for us!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be preparing for our last day of filming which will take place in September – so watch this space for more info!

Most of the wonderful photos below are courtesy of fellow local film-maker Phil Pugh. Phil is also completing filming on his own feature film, much of which was shot on a custom built set- just down the road from our own!

If, like us, you are a fan of true independent and original films, then you might want to check out Phil’s film here!

Birmingham South and City student Tania Ashworth applying make-up to Leo Ashizawa

South and City college Birmingham student Tania Ashworth applying make-up to Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai)

Birmingham South and City student Sam Wilson working on Charissa's period hair style

Fellow South and City college Birmingham student Sam Wilson working on Charissa’s period hair style

Tania doing the finishing touches to the hair!

Tania doing the finishing touches to the hair!

Producer Nigel Davey shares a joke with Charissa Shearer, Susan Jameson and costume ace Monica Price

Producer Nigel Davey shares a joke with Charissa Shearer, Susan Jameson and costume ace Monica Price

Leo and Charissa relaxing between takes

Leo and Charissa relaxing between takes

Director Ian Higgins discussing a scene with Charissa Shearer

Ian discussing a scene with Charissa and Leo

Veteran actress Susan Jameson gets into character with Charissa Shearer

Susan Jameson gets into character with Charissa Shearer

Susan with Leo, rehearsing the moment Helen Keller meets Dr. Nagai

Susan with Leo, rehearsing the moment Helen Keller meets Dr. Nagai

Charissa and Leo just before a take

Charissa and Leo waiting to film a scene

Monica, Tania and Leo with freshly shaved head!

Monica, Tania and Leo with freshly shaved head!

Producer Nigel Davey with wardrobe ace Monica

Producer Nigel Davey with wardrobe ace Monica

Susan and Charissa about to go for a take

Susan and Charissa about to go for a take

Leo having a spot of make-up retouching!

Leo having a spot of make-up retouching!

Our two assistant camera  men, Josh and Dan step in front of the camera to act as body doubles for us!

Our two assistant camera men, Josh and Dan step in front of the camera to act as body doubles for us!

Director Dominic Higgins setting up his camera while Josh sets up another angle

Dominic setting up his camera while Josh sets up for another angle. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Kaya Yuzuki and Leo about to film a scene

Kaya Yuzuki and Leo about to film a scene. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

Leo with Steve Green on clapper duties

Leo with Stephen Green on clapper duties. Photo credit: Dan Woodward

9th August

Short clip set on the morning of the day the bomb was dropped (Clip is pre-sound mixed).

68 years ago today at precisely 11.02 am, the 2nd Atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan, detonated over the Urakami district of Nagasaki.  Six days later the war finally came to an end and the American occupation began.

Nagasaki is often referred to as the “Forgotten A-Bomb city”, but one man helped to generate worldwide interest in the event. That man was Dr. Takashi Nagai- mainly confined to a bed, living with his two children in a small hut near ground zero, he wrote extensively about the disaster and the need for world peace.

What Makes Dr. Nagai’s work so unique and extraordinary is that his words are never bitter or angry. His books are deeply spiritual and make for profound reading. This is why when they were published they made such an impact on a war ravished and demoralized country.

He was visited by the Emperor himself  who gave an impassionate speech to the people of Nagasaki during his visit. Western celebrities also made the pilgrimage to see the ‘Holy Man of Nyokodo”.

The Emperor visits Takashi in Nyokodo.

The Emperor (Gakuji Nomoto) visits Takashi (Leo Ashizawa) in Nyokodo.

Emperor speech

The Emperor speaks to the people of Nagasaki. A dignified and stirring performance from Japanese actor Gakuji Nomoto

It is also one year ago today that we shot our first scenes with cast and crew. Yesterday marked the penultimate day of the shoot, and the day was partly dedicated to re-creating the visit of American icon, Helen Keller to Takashi’s hut.

Helen Keller, the first goodwill ambassador from America visits Takashi

Helen Keller, the first goodwill ambassador from America visits Takashi

Helen Keller was a remarkable woman, who overcame blindness and deafness to become a prominent and renowned writer and social activist.  Helen was a much loved and respected figure in Japan and her visit to Japan after the war, was the first official visit from a US goodwill ambassador and very much a state affair

Playing the part of Helen is British actress Susan Jameson. Susan played the part with such grace and eloquence and together with Leo Ashizawa, who is of course playing Takashi; they crafted a truly beautiful and heartfelt scene.

Susan Jameson and Charissa Shearer as Helen Keller and Judith Tyler

Susan Jameson and Charissa Shearer as Helen Keller and Judith Tyler

Yesterday we also worked with upcoming actress, Charissa Shearer. Charissa plays a fictitious character called Judith Tyler, an Australian working for the Allied powers in Japan.

Again, Charissa turned up on set, looking every inch the part; she was great to work with and gave a wonderful, sensitive performance. We see a great future for Charissa as an actress and wish her all the best!

Some behind the scenes shots from our most recent shoots!

Leo Ashizawa as Takashi Nagai. Here Takashi struggles to come to terms with the emotional damage of war.

Leo Ashizawa as Takashi Nagai. Here Takashi struggles to come to terms with the emotional damage of war.  Photo credit: Josh Pitt

Actress Kaya Yuzuki as Matron Hisamatsu

Actress Kaya Yuzuki as Matron Hisamatsu

Ian and Leo go through a scene.

Ian and Leo go through a scene.  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Dominic shows Anna (Kayano) how to operator a camera!

Dominic shows Anna (Kayano) how to operate a camera!  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Luke, Ian, Dan, Dominic and Josh shooting a scene on one of our outdoor locations.

From left to right; Luke, Ian, Dan, Dominic and Josh shooting a scene on one of our outdoor locations.  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Summer filming!

Anna Kimura (Younger Kayano) and  Nicolas Lue-Fong (Younger Makoto) enjoy an outdoor shoot!

Anna Kimura (Younger Kayano) and Nicolas Lue-Fong (Younger Makoto) enjoy an outdoor shoot!       Photo credit: Chris Wilmore

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, when “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In three days time it will be the anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing. For us, it will be exactly a year to the day that we started filming with cast members (although principal photography on the film began when we were in Japan, the previous November).

It’s been an amazing year made possible by the many incredibly generous donations given to us by individuals who have reached into their own pockets to help raise the funds we so badly needed. These individuals we will always have our most sincere gratitude for their belief in us and the story we want to tell.

We are now busy preparing for what will be our penultimate filming day! This will take place on August 8th but we thought it was about time we posted another update, so that you could all see what we’ve been up to since our last blog.

Over the course of three days we’ve shot most of the remaining key scenes of the script.

Making the most of the beautiful weather (some of the hottest days in the UK in seven years!) we took our equipment outside the studio and filmed several scenes up in the surrounding Lickey Hills, a local beauty spot that has a real exotic mix of trees and plants.

The Lickey Hills, in the West Midlands became Japan for a day.

The Lickey Hills, in the West Midlands became Japan for a day. Photo credit: Stephen Green

We also took advantage of the weather to film some great shots with a beautiful vintage 1946 motor car. Many thanks to Peter Willoughby for the use of his car, and also special thanks to Mr and Mrs Khan for not only allowing us to film this scene on their land, but for being so welcoming too.

Ian setting up a shot with the vintage car.

Ian setting up a shot with the vintage car. Photo credit: Dan woodward

Dominic getting a shot inside the vintage car

Dominic getting a shot inside the vintage car. Photo credit: Josh Pitt

With just two more days of filming left, the end is now truly in sight, and for directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, for whom this project has been a three year undertaking (from initial research to final edited movie), it’s a mixed feeling of relief, excitement and sadness.

“This has been very much a personal journey for us both, we’ve worked with some great actors and crew, and met some wonderful people along the way. But as both writers and directors of the film, we also feel like we’ve come to know Dr. Nagai and his family on a very personal level and it’s like we’ve spent time with them,” says Dominic.

“Of course, we still have a lot of work to do in the edit room piecing the film together and generating more effects shots, as well working on the sound design and music score, but as we’ve been working on much of this as we’ve gone on, it means we’re looking at a couple of months locked away in the edit room, as opposed to the twelve months or so that you’d expect if we’d shot this in more conventional manner,” explains Ian.

Now it’s back to the storyboards and shots lists!

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with Nigel

Ian and Dominic discuss a scene with producer Nigel Davey. Photo credit: Stephen Green

Dominic making sure he's happy!

Dominic making sure he’s happy! Photo credit: Stephen Green

Camera man Dan Woodward getting ready for a take while Ian and B camera operator Josh Pitt set up another angle

Two of our camera guys in action –  Dan Woodward getting ready for a take while Ian and B camera operator Josh Pitt set up another angle, as little Anna waits patiently . Photo credit: Stephen Green

Ian with Anna before one of her shots

Ian with Anna before one of her shots

Ian lets Anna know he's happy with her shot!

Ian lets Anna know he’s happy with her shot!  Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Dominic giving direction before a take with Nicolas

Dominic giving direction before a take with Nicolas. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Sound guy Mat Stroyde in action!

Sound guy Mat Stroyde in action! Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Producer Nigel Davey with Anna and Nicolas

Producer Nigel Davey with Anna and Nicolas. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Just before a take, Anna gives Dominic a little present!

Just before a take, Anna gives Dominic a little present, one of her crisps! Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Ian giving last minute direction to Nic and Anna (who's finishing off her crisps!)

Ian giving last minute direction to Nic and Anna (who’s still finishing off her crisps!)

Josh framing a shot. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Josh framing a shot. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

On the morning a shoot, Dominic and Nigel discuss the order of the day.

On the morning of a shoot, Dominic and Nigel discuss the order of the day. Photo credit: Chris Willmore

Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai) discussing a scene with Ian and Dominic

Leo Ashizawa (Takashi Nagai) discussing a scene with Ian and Dominic

Debbie-Mai Gordon plays the older Kayano

Debbie-Mai Gordon plays the older Kayano

Henry Wu plays the older Makoto

Henry Wu plays the older Makoto

Dominic with Henry Wu, who plays the older Makoto and Debbie-Mai Gordon, who plays the older Kayano

Dominic with Henry and Debbie-Mai as they prepare to film their first scene.

Nicolas getting ready for a take.

Nicolas getting ready for a take.

Meg Kubota (Tsumo Moriyama) with Anna and Nicolas.

Meg Kubota (Tsumo Moriyama) with Anna and Nicolas.

One of our outdoor sets

One of our outdoor sets. Photo credit: Stephen Green

An evolving movie…

A- bomb FX sequence

The A-bomb sequence is one that is very much in a constant state of change and development as we seek to do justice to the real event.

Monday will see us filming more scenes, including a newly added scene for part of the ending sequence. This won’t be the first new scene that has been added during our filming process, as for Directors Ian and Dominic Higgins, the process of telling this story has been very much a process of remaining open to new influences and new information, allowing the story in many ways to tell itself.

From the director’s blog:

Of course it all starts with the script, which first goes through several drafts before arriving at a “shooting script”. But despite all these re-writes, for us, the shooting script is more a guide, charting the movie’s various dramatic arcs and character dialogue with ideas for camera angles and sound design for each of the scenes.

More ideas will almost certainly be implemented, when working with the cast, because  directing actors is not just a matter of telling them what we want them to do and say, but rather a collaboration, a meeting of artistic and emotional interpretations.

As directors our most important job is to foster such an environment on set that actors feel the same sense of creative freedom that we grant ourselves when writing a script, storyboarding and editing – creative freedom is essential.

Actors will also, of course, do research as part of the preparation for their roles, which means they could very well come across information we missed during our own research. In fact this has been the case on several occasions during the filming of All That Remains.

On one such occasion a brand new scene was added after actress Kaya Yuzuki told us about an incident involving her character that she read in a book only available in Japanese. The scene is now amongst the most powerful in the entire movie.

A powerful and important scene not included in the original script, brought to our attention by one of our cast.

A powerful and important scene not included in the original script, brought to our attention by one of our cast.

Still more ideas will come when editing the footage together, sometimes these ideas will result in new scenes being written or existing scenes being re-written as we’re filming other scenes.

Other ideas will come when working on the sound design of the movie that may affect the visual edit.

Finally, changes and new ideas may be implemented after the film has played to a “test audience”. It really is an organic living thing that is in a constant state of change and improvement.

Field of a thousand suns

The scene above was going to be originally set on veranda of a house, but the day before we shot the scene, we had the idea of having the characters sit outside in a garden or a park surrounded by sunflowers, so the scene would take on a deeper symbolic significance (we’re very big on symbolism) – it’s the morning that the A-bomb will be dropped and these women are sitting in a “field of a thousand suns” a visual reference to common description of the A-bomb flash being brighter than a thousand suns.

hajime1 hajime2This scene, where Takashi is visited by his younger brother Hajime, was written well into the filming process – one of the benefits of stretching the filming out over a period of months (due to budget) is that we get to edit the footage as we are filming.

This means we get to see if a sequence is working right or if it needs something else, like an extra scene, and because we’re still filming, we get the chance to schedule that extra scene into one of the upcoming shoots.

Takashi contemplates the grand design of the universe. Another scene that was not originally in the shooting script.

Takashi contemplates the grand design of the universe. Another scene that was not originally in the shooting script.

What originally started out as a docu-drama has now, through this process of change and evolution, become a full on feature length drama. It is a project that has continually expanded in both scope and vision and will continue to do so, until the very moment the final touches have been added and the release date has been set!

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