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By on June 29, 2010, with 135 Comments

Got this gag from some sort of newsletter. There isn’t much to explain, just when you see the first photo you get the impression boy and a girl are sitting next to each other. In reality, the blond sits one bench behind her classmate, and while her friend stretches his neck to look into formulas, it appears as if he’s trying to cheat during the exam. What do you think? Is it a good optical illusion, or did someone pull a trick on us? Let’s discuss!

Shes Actually Sitting Behind
Shes Actually Sitting Behind


135 Responses
  1. nick says:

    ya i saw it right away, its takes from a slight angle

  2. dave says:

    who cares about the illusion, the girl is so good looking!

  3. A Snail says:

    I am not convinced she is sitting behind him, I think they are sitting together for 3 reasons:

    1. the desk she sits at is exactly the same number of pixels thick as the boys desk.

    2. she is in focus and so is he, however nothing else is. To achive this sort of shot you would probably need a large telephoto lens and they have very short depths of focus, and its unlikely that she and him would be in focus and not the chair in front or the two people and the desk behind (unless there is a large gap between her and the desk behind).

    3. The desks at the front of the people are all one desk going all the way across the picture.

    Also, who is to say its an exam, might be just a class room lesson, in which case I suspect he would probably want to sit next to her given half the chance ;)

  4. fco says:

    a telephoto lens was used

  5. mangyman says:

    As a professional photographer, this shot looks manipulated. You can not get enough depth of field to keep both in focus while the chair back in front of him looks so soft.

  6. Care Bear says:

    How sexist–putting females behind males. Shame on you. (nudge nudge wink wink) ;-)

  7. Greeng11 says:

    if u look in bettwen dem u can tell they r sitting togeather

  8. GB says:

    I don’t believe it for a second… as a university employee that just last week looked at a couple thousand “real-life” proofs for new brochures I can tell you that there are many many photos taken with the same people in them positioned in different seating patterns… both photos were clearly staged in a photoshoot and not a hard stretch of the imagination at all that she was moved one row back for the second photo.

  9. Juliana Draggon says:

    Very cool! And amusing!

  10. anonymous says:

    the chairs are blocking where the tables divide, and i’d thought i’d seen every illusion i could!

  11. Qbee37 says:

    While she may well be sitting behind him, using a second photo to ‘prove’ the first proves nothing!

  12. Sandy says:

    Very nice illusion

  13. Shayna says:

    I still see them as beside each other! This illusion is just too good for me XD

  14. Leon Haidvogl says:

    nice illusion and good quality!

  15. C.C says:

    I just stared at it for a long time and got… nothing.
    Short attention span? Maybe.
    Good illusion. I get people doing stuff like that to me at school :P

  16. Røb says:

    She’s cute.

    I like how she looks backwards in class and smiles while the instructor is in the background trying to teach.

  17. Norm Worthy says:

    So why is there no chair in front of her?
    Why is her left elbow on the same plain as his? the desks rise as they go back, her elbow should be higher.

  18. Dan says:

    She is hot

  19. Peter Gorham says:

    While I see how it could be done, I have difficulty believing this is untouched. That said, I trust that this is untouched.

    The chairs in front of him and the desk top behind her are both slightly out of focus. Yet both people appear to be in reasonably sharp focus. (A bit difficult to be sure given the low quality ofthe photo).

    Given the rather sharp fall-off in focus from him to chair as well as from her to desk top, it seems much more reasonable to me that the first photo they are in same row, but she moved back for the second.

    However, in first photo she seems to be a little too small to be in same row.

    I’d love to see a higher quality original photo to get a better idea of how sharply focussed the two people really are.

  20. tinkerer says:

    wow, if u look at the tables, it looks like they are at the same one

  21. kia says:

    I think I really like this one :D

  22. Futz says:

    Nice one. The right chair in the front covers the gap between the two tables. The boy and the girl seem to be about the same size because they used a telephoto lens (hence the shallow depth of field). Maybe in reality the girl is a little bigger than him or the same size. The boy looking in the air next to him (he actually can’t see the girl) to pretend he’s looking at her paper serves the illusion well. The whole context of the situation and the pun text are clever and additionally trick the brain.
    If he would look on his paper and she would think something else like “I hope he likes me?” and he “I hate Shakespeare!” than it probably wouldn’t work that well.

  23. Brian says:

    Looks to me as though she may be sitting further back from the guy in the first photo, but that she’s switched to sitting directly behind him in the second photo.

    Not sure the angles work with the chairs in front, the angle of the blackboard behind and the angle of the guy in the background for this not to be, as you put it, possibly a tease ? :-)

  24. There is no way this is real. Look at the difference in y-distance of each table in this photo. Seeing as each table is progressively higher than the previous table, one would have to assume that the elbows of these two people would NOT be at the same y-height. You could draw a straight y-axis line across this photo from HIS elbow to HERS, and you would see that they’re at the same table. The next photo is taken after the blonde moves to the table behind her.

  25. David Ripley says:

    Very weak

  26. Jess says:

    very good and quite funny

  27. Buck says:

    If you look at the height of the tables, these increase going to the back. The table clearly in front is lower and the table clearly in the back is higher. But the table where both boy and girl have there elbows on is the same heigth so to me they are on the same table.

  28. philippaopao says:

    It’s a really good example of a telephoto illusion. Guess it was shot using an SLR with a good telephoto lens. Telephoto lenses have this “nature” to compress the size ratio of the subject and its foreground/background. The opposite of this is the wide-angle lenses that exaggerate the distance.

    More info: http://www.stsite.com/camera/telephoto-wideangle.php

  29. randompasserby324 says:

    nah it’s not taken from a slight angle, the chairs in front would give it away. it’s simply the way the mind works, and we can’t see the desk she’s sitting at because of the chair in front.
    HOWEVER. I would like to point out that in the top image, we can see two more rows of seats in front of the two people.
    however, in the bottom image, we can’t see any desks. this may just be a trick of the lighting and the focus, but it’s definately something to think on.
    I think it’s genuine. :)

  30. Caleb says:

    Nah, I think it’s fake. Firstly she doesn’t seem to be smaller in proportion to the guy as you would expect (and as we see in the second photo the guy is smaller). Secondly, we can see each row of desks individually due to the camera angle being slightly higher than the desk. They clearly both have their elbows on the same row of desks. That’s my opinion anyway.

  31. Kimon says:

    It could be an angle trick but I’m not convinced.

  32. Suspicious Soul says:

    No something is not correct….
    Its a Trick…
    In the First picture they ARE sitting together…
    If the second picture is true then the distance between them is far too much to give the effect in first pic…
    Also…is it just me….Why would you have TWO BLACK BOARDS in the same class on opposite walls ! ! !

  33. Derek says:

    its crap, how come now the guy in the far back is now in front of the other guy now

  34. andy says:

    im not sure i believe it!

  35. SDER says:

    Very interresting! I never would have thought that it was an optical illusion had it not been on your site. Keep them coming!

  36. Brad says:

    in the first image i can’t see it >_> i can understand how it WOULD work though, but i can’t see any cues or identifiers that would make me be able to realise for sure that she’s one desk behind… :(

  37. RaMpaNTe says:

    Not really, in the 1st picture is so obvious that she is behind the guy.

  38. Grafton Boy says:

    I think we’ve been duped. While the camera IS a “one-eyed-idiot” and perception of depth is easily manipulated, unless there is some photo-manipulation going on here, I actually think these people are side-by-side.
    Look at the desks. It’s easy to distinguish a row of desks in front, between, and behind. The only way we “know” these desks are behind one another, is that the back ones are higher than the front ones. The middle desks, which the students are sitting at, appear at the same level. So, unless the young man’s desk is physically or digitally elevated slightly to appear in-line with the young woman’s, they must be side-by side. Otherwise, his desk would appear lower than hers.

  39. Guillermo says:

    It’s a good illusion.
    Can somebody tell me who’s she? She’s the most beautiful lady I’ve seen.

  40. Callum Read says:

    good illusion,
    can you please make the iPod touch app free, i got the windows side bar app for free and i think this is a great site, but i have a busy life and so ussualy subsitute my PC for my iPod, plz make it free so that i can keep following the site. :D

  41. Toño says:

    They are in the same row. Even if she is bigger than him, THE PENCILS are the same size.

    And maybe she meant something like: “I’m in the question #5. You are in the #12. I’m actually behind you. I should copying you, not you copying me.”

  42. Voigt says:

    Are there only three people in class?

  43. Zapper says:

    I highly doubt that this is an illusion. Why? Because I did a TinEye image search of both images, and both are used commonly as just photos, and more importantly:
    The submitter has a website that looks highly credible, so it is my opinion that they are being honest when claiming it as their own. They also make no mention of any “illusions”, and their purpose seems to be a fairly standard photo for education websites.

  44. phiLLip says:

    pfft! how could both of them be focused if the other one(girl) is sitting behind?! judging by the picture, this was shot with a low depth of field settings, therefore an object farther/nearer will be blurred(out of focus). if this was supposed to be an optical illusion, they should have used a high depth of field settings when taking this photo making almost everything in focus.

  45. Barcrest says:

    The illusion seems to be that people on here are saying the woman is so beautiful. Yeah she’s not fugly but she’s only average at best.

  46. Mark says:

    it is so obvious that it is fake. Hence the second photo to try say it is not. And if it was an exam why is it, it seems someone is teaching at the board and she turned around smiling at the camera….Fake

  47. William Lim 'Nkm' Rasaz says:

    no explain, hoax

  48. Toffee says:

    illusion is that the there is no illusion but both are sitting in beside each other.

  49. so,stupid says:

    definately sitting next to each other, get a life

  50. Noaqiyeum says:

    Look at their elbows – you can follow the table they’re leaning on across the image. It’s the same.

    Plus, the student in the background and the chairs in the foreground are both considerably blurrier than either of the two students. If they were a row apart, you’d expect only one of them to be in focus.

  51. Dan says:

    And the teacher & blackboard are both in front AND behind them. AMAZING! It’s almost as if they moved the camera and actors between shots. *facepalm*

  52. Alexandra says:

    @ Dan : I’ve seen classrooms with two blackboards. That isn’t the teacher behind them, it’s another student. Nice try though.

  53. That Guy says:

    The guy in the back in the 1st picture is the same person standing up at the chalk board in the 2nd picture. Lame.

  54. Jon says:

    Easy. She’s behind the bench while he’s in front of it.

  55. Tim says:

    Interesting. Nice Depth of Field trick.

  56. Jay says:

    Agreed with the above comments. Except forget looking at the elbows — in the first picture you can see the table that is behind the boy… and you can clearly see that the same table is behind the girl. No illusion here.

    Somebody show me a video where it starts out looking like the first shot, then pans upwards to reveal the illusion. Otherwise I call lame.

  57. anon says:

    Tim comes closest. If there’s anything going on here, it’s that the photographer is using a long lens, which compresses space. The photographer is just masturbating with his fancy gear and playing a stupid trick with optics.

    Or maybe everything was moved between shots. Why should anyone care?

  58. Jonn says:

    The message on the back chalkboard, a blurry ‘Exam 2:00 pm’ could have been for either a a future or past event–not necessarily the event pictured.

    For the girl to be at the table almost directly behind the boy (like the second picture seems to show), it would seem the first picture would have to have been taken at about 45 degrees forward and right of both of them so they would be both in focus and visually separated.

    That would require that the girl’s tabletop be lower and (at this vertical angle) aligned with and obscured by his table. The lines of the tables appear to be parallel with the chalkboard frame. One might expect perspective clues for an angle shot. If she is directly behind him, the chair directly in front of him would be off-screen to the viewer’s right. Likewise, the guy in the background would be at least two rows back from her (due to the empty chair between them) and to her left. The three chairs in the foreground would be all to their common right.

    There are four rows of tables visible in the front shot. The reflective surface of the fourth table, behind the girl at the left of the image, virtually disappears against the wall color. The farthest row, where the guy is in the dark short-sleeved shirt, is not visible, perhaps because it is not as long as the others, or it aligns with the fourth table, or perhaps it is a desk.

    Only the boy’s table is visible (fuzzy) in the second shot, which seems to have been taken from behind (or on) the table behind the girl. The tables are probably at least two feet from front to back and should have at least three feet between them. With space for the teacher to walk, the room is probably at least 30 feet or so from front to back, perhaps with more walkway at the back chalkboards.

    The second shot appears to show someone standing at the front chalkboard, also wearing a dark short-sleeved shirt. The camera (and photographer) seems to have moved between the two shots. It is hard to say that the third person in each shot is not the same one who may have moved between the shots too even if the girl and boy in stripes did not move.

  59. Max says:

    Not an illusion check the boy’s right elbow and girl’s left. You would see the depth.

  60. JakoLV says:

    This is weak..

  61. lalalalla says:

    dude… for real? hes a fuckin cheater fail his ass lol

  62. ffilou6 says:

    Hey Miss, would you mind showing your teeth by smiling, to see if it’s an illusion xD ?

  63. Clint Pee says:


  64. TEEHEE says:


  65. immamuthaeff says:

    I lol’d at Johns detailed analysis.

    The second one is purposely taken from the back of the girl, as you can see the back of the boys chair, CLEAR as day.

    As for the first one.. The chair in front of the boy is hiding the edge of his table. Notice that you can see the tops of the others in the front and in the back, but not of the boy’s and girl’s tables? Their two tables have been tilted in order to throw off your perception. Now the problem is… They could be tilting the same table ;) But I don’t think so because hers looks a slight bit blurrier. Could easily go either way, but I lean more towards real.

  66. Tatarize says:

    These photos are from a stock image site. The first is to be used with regards to cheating and the second one is the girl looking back. They are getting useful shots, not trying to be an illusion. The two shots when spliced together just look funny.

  67. tranztopoleez says:

    Are you guys serious?.. Did someone really post a half-page explanation to this? They’re clearly at the same table in the first picture..

    Does anybody really think that the second picture was taken without the girl moving? Even if in the first picture the girl was in fact closer to the back wall than the boy, she’s still directly behind him in the second picture..

    This is just two pictures out of a textbook or something, I’m assuming.

  68. praveen says:

    weak game,there is no illusion at all just fooling around.
    1.look at the table where there paper’s are
    2.the guy in 2nd pic is blur but in the 1st its all ok ?
    plz fake kings of illusion get a life

  69. Luke says:

    If she’s 3 feet behind him, then she’s a HUGE bitch!!

  70. Luke says:

    If he’s 3 feet behind her, i’m a HUGE bitch!!

  71. KDP says:

    The girl is sitting behind the boy!!!! … the picture was taken at some angle, let’s say 45 degree … the boy is not looking side way (90 degree) but actually looking 90 degree + the degree of the camera pointing at them (45) … to make it looks like he looking 90 degree to his right … same thing with the girl … she is not sitting directly behind the boy .. but is sitting directly opposite the camera … the two desks are not parallel to each other … they are aglined in such way they look like one desk but the two chairs just happen to be at the perfect place to hide that fact.

  72. Jen says:

    It looks like she’s behind him in the first one to me! I have no 3-D vision, so maybe that has something to do with it…

  73. gian says:

    the girl’s picture should’ve been fuzzy if she really was behind the guy

  74. gian says:

    the girl’s picture should’ve been blurred if she really was behind the guy

  75. Ryan says:

    I agree with ‘TEEHEE’

  76. How says:

    Is the girl behind the guy? I can’t say 100%.
    Is it possible to take a picture that makes them look side-by-side even though they aren’t. I believe it is. The effect is called perspective dirstortion. Search YouTube for “dolly zoom”, and you will have a better understanding of it.

  77. Daniel says:

    in the first photo it looks like they are facing you, but in the second it looks like they have their backs to you OMG ILLUSION HOW DOES THAT WORK?!?!?!!!!

  78. Henry says:

    Only photographer know the truth. This is optical trick! Uses tele-lens to compress the space between them, and with leveling the table so it didn’t show the space between desks. Of course f-stop on the first shot was much narrow than the second, which was gave more bokeh to the background.

  79. Horny Little Fokker says:

    Who gives a crap? She’s HOT!

    • A Guy That Likes Her says:

      True That dude!

    • The guy who sleeps in your closet says:

      i know a hotter chick,her name is Autumn. She calls me freaky boy…maybe its kuz of my name,The guy who sleeps in your closet

  80. Pat R says:

    It is totally possible for the female to be one row behind the male. I am an amateur photography, and this effect is easily done using a telephoto lense. When you zoom in, it compresses the background and forground, often causing objects in the background to appear beside those in the foreground. The reason both are in focus and not the far background has to do with the aperature setting (f-stop). Depending on the setting you can make objects at a chosen distance in front of and behind the focal point in focus, and everything else beyond that distance becomes blurry.

    Due to the height this photo was taken, you can not see them at separate tables because the table she is at is hidden from the direct line of sight of the camera.

    For those in doubt, do a bit on google searching for telephoto lense effects, some basic photography about aperature settings, and you will see how this is possible. There are numerous effects in photography using a variety of lenses, f-stops, shutter speeds, etc.

  81. Nesh says:

    Can’t believe noone’s said I’d hit that yet. My god, the things I’d love to put inside her, illusion or no illusion. Mmmmmm Kirsten Dunst.
    *helping bring the internet down to the lowest common denominator*

  82. Mark says:

    Haha this is great!

  83. Pickle says:

    Pickle, no.

  84. D. Blair says:

    N Illusion here. They are clearly setting beside each other. :-(

  85. D. Blair says:

    No Illusion here. They are clearly setting beside each other. :-(

  86. yeld says:

    yeah whatever, she is pretty.

  87. Reality says:

    The girl is physically far more massive than the boy making her appear more foreground rather than background.
    The illusion works because it exploits the two-dimensional photo limitations, no depth of field.

  88. Vivek(vicky34) says:

    I agree with what toffee!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  89. Qaz says:

    There are two photographs, and the photographer only had three models. He rearranged them for the second photo. So what? Where’s the illusion?

  90. emignatius says:

    The girl really is one row behind. To achieve this effect (to prevent the girl from blurring thus having the illusion that they are sitting on the same row), the picture was not taken directly in front of the two, but slightly angled to the left side, probably at a 45-degree angle. Look at the chairs.

  91. Masa says:

    wow, one of the most pointless discusions I’ve ever seen. Now I’m part of it *sigh*

    Thanks to Tatarize for clarifying.


  92. Leon says:

    The reveal should show more detail, as to why can cannot count enough benches or chairs for the 2nd to be true,

    why does the 2nd photo have to blur out the background ? He should have shown the room in full, so we can check the plausibility of combination of angle and telescope lense working to make the illusion.

    as it is, we are left saying “well you show them at one table, and then say they are different tables.. we cannot see empty chairs, we cannot see edges of tables .. is the bench curved ..or its a photoshop.

  93. Cherry Blossom says:

    Yeah. Very lame illusion if you ask me.

  94. EdwardCullensGal says:

    I love how everyone tries to explain the fact that it’s not real. And they’re right – this is totally fake, and they are sitting next to each other. She moved seats, obviously. Well done for trying, though.

  95. Charlie says:

    Under the assumption that that both have the same type of pencil, her’s is thicker as her hands a re slightly closer to the camera. This is obviously no trick at all, they are sitting next to each other.. yea get a life.


  96. two words: forced perspective

    look it up =)

  97. ButOfCourse says:

    Obviously the illusion is that the blonde is actually a guy.

  98. Nina says:

    I still can not believe ..lol

  99. Juliana says:

    It’s an old camera trick. They’re both in focus which makes it difficult to decipher that they are not sitting side-by-side.

  100. Atom says:

    I don’t buy it. I see three tables, they both have thier elbows reasted on the second one back. I call BULLSHIT.

  101. Alfonso says:

    This is clearly real. It’s not like he could just get up and move in front of her. Don’t be ridiculous.

    The same way she candidly turned and smiled at the camera. It was just a coincidence.

  102. Tyciol says:

    Remind me of that Death Note parody “No L I am the one standing behind you!”

  103. adil says:

    hahahaha.. blackboard is behind them and then infront of them………….realy bulshit

  104. Joe Bob says:

    I think she’s cute! What’s here number?

  105. JonDoe2003 says:

    Oh please! Look at her. In the 2nd pic she is DIRECTLY behind it. You can clearly see the table behind the guy in the first pic, and you can clearly see that she is not on it.

  106. Devon says:

    Lies! Although this is supposed to look like that camera trick (changing the depth of field) it ISN’T. Like the other commenters say, look at the tables. Both their arms are sitting level on the same table. And you can see the table behind them (it looks just a bit higher in the photo).

  107. Andy says:

    Idiots for not noticing or thinking. If you look carefully…actually you don’t even have to look carefully to see that the pictures are clearly taken at two different times. The teacher is sitting down in the first picture and then he’s up in the second picture marking on the board. Therefore she most likely moved to another spot. Simple solution.

  108. Dylan says:

    @adil There are 2 boards, silly :P
    @Andy Those are actually 2 different people :|

    And to all of those saying their arms are on the same table, those are actually TWO tables, directly aligned over one other. It’s a perspective trick

  109. Dylan says:

    If you say that one has to be blurrier than the other, that’s not true. It’s all in the camera angle, man! In this shot, the picture is taken, diagonally.

    The person in the back is another student, and it’s not the same person as the teacher in front.

    The classroom has TWO boards. I’ve seen one like this before.

  110. sean says:

    if you look clearly there three rows of tables in ascending order.The first desk is the at the bottom, the second tables are on the middle level and the last row where the blurred guy is seated is at a higher level.the two are seated on the same level so which means they on the same table.thats my story n i’m sticking to it

  111. justin says:

    if this were a camera trick, the plane at which the camera focuses would have to extend diagonally from front to back at a certain angle. seeing that both foreground and background of the first picture are both blurry with nothing in the foreground or background being clear, this must be a trick and not an illusion. i’ve worked with 8×10 cameras and they have the option of tilting the lens as to create an interesting plane of focus as you can see here:


    camera’s focus on a single plane, but once the lens is tilted/shifted, that plan changes. clearly not a camera trick.

  112. GlossGreen says:

    I’d have to call BS on this one too. Don’t know how it was done, but I don’t believe it. I think that it’s a bit strange that they are both the same size in the pic. If one was behind the other wouldn’t one be smaller?

  113. Jim says:

    She’s a big girl. If she was smaller than him or the same size, she’d look farther away. But she’s a large girl so the illusion holds.

  114. Alex says:

    My friend made this for 4 chan as a joke.

    Those were two stock photos from a site. It’s not an illusion, as far as we can tell.

    He says thanks for all the publicity, lol.

  115. Nath says:

    Wtf… I know that girl, she’s the gf of my cousin

    • Anonymus says:

      then when ur cousin is with her, RUN, RUN TO YOUR COUSIN AND DONT STOP TILL U GET THERE! and then tell the gf of ur cousin say ‘ I SAW YOU ONLINE TODAY!! ‘

  116. nelya says:

    i’m pretty sure i saw this picture in a dell ad paper thing.

  117. Glenn Davey says:

    It’s not an optical illusion. They are clearly STOCK PHOTOS. The first picture they ARE sitting next to each other and he is SUPPOSED to look like he is cheating.

    The second photo is taken with a different purpose in mind, the girl is now sitting behind the boy, smiling into the camera, and the boy provides the background.

    If there’s any illusion here, it’s the slight implication that there are is a room full of students when only two models are used.

    These websites like to increase their advertising hits by adding bogus content to their pages.

  118. Harsh says:

    This is fake. Because both the guy and girl’s arms are on the same table, and you can clearly see that. But on the other table, it shifts. So evidently, the two pictures aren’t the same.

  119. NileKnows says:


  120. anonimo says:

    i don’t think that the girl is sitting behind the boy..

  121. boomer says:

    oh yeah ur face is bull shit

  122. bee says:

    i think she moved

  123. Suor de Sapo says:

    Definitely he is not behind her. She looks smaller but girls use to be smaller than boys (smarter students but smaller ones). Anyway, it’s easy to replicate this illusion with any camera with zoom capabilities and manual adjustments (adjusting the deph of field by the f/d value, narrowing it enough to put both on focus but not that much so one could keep the third guy out of focus in the background)

  124. Monkey says:

    the girl is slightly taller than the boy, which means its difficult to see that she is behind, as the perspective is all wrong. that’s my theory, anyway.

    • BG23 says:

      I don’t think it is faked, it works like this:

      1. Our eyes pick up on that horizontal line of his desk-top
      2. She is leaning forward with her elbows hanging a couple of inches over the front edge of her desk. From our point of view they are at the same height as, and we think she is resting them on, his desk. She is pretending to write but under her hands there is nothing.
      3. There is almost no guide to perspective in the picture, only the person in black who is probably very small and not far behind them.
      4. That interpretation fits with our expectation that she is smaller than him, and that he is looking at her work of course.

      Our brain ‘snaps’, subconsciously and almost immediately, to the most plausible interpretation of the scene.

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