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Professional calibration by Aaron

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Can I asked if your DVD player is hooked up via HDMI or DVI? Someone mentioned ages ago that he adviced them to connect a digital able STB via component as he couldn't calibrate digital. Am I just imagining this?

way you werent imagining it ,im sure it was glen when he had his done,altho he was still stoked with the pic using component

Yep it was me

DVI could not be calibrated altho the VGA settings could bt copied across and touched up by eye.

I have gone back to STB via DVI and DVD via component

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A few comments on th earlier posts.

Firstly on Contrast Settings and panel brightness. Contrast sets the peak brightness of the display (Brightness is the level of Black). The higher the Contrast Level the greater the panel drive level and potential for wear. Our policy is to set the contrast level to provide a peak white level which does not exceed the peak brightness with the manufacturers default settings. This policy combined with the significant reduction in Blue Output after calibration will ensure the panel will be driven at a level which ensures long life. Blue Phosphors are the first to wear on a Plasma, blue level is typically reduced by 25 to 50% from default settings to obtain the correct white point.

The final Contrast number is determined by measurement and could be anywhere from low to maximum, depending on the model, brand source equipment etc.

Calibration has the potential to improve the life of your plasma due to the correct drive level on the phosphors and significant reduction in Blue output. Also in some cases the equipment driving the plasma has boosted the signal and it is driving the panel to an excessive level. In this case the measured peak brightness will highlight this problem before damage occurs. This was noted on Mantorok's calibration for the sources driven through his receiver and we were able to save the Plasma from being burnt by reducing the contrast to level which provides a normal level of peak image brightness.

Manufacturer default Gamma settings are typically un-natural and chosen to boost the dynamic range of the image by compressing the bright and dark areas of the image. This drives the panel very hard with a high average and peak brightness level. Calibration to a suitable natural Gamma response reduces the average drive level and will both improve the image quality and extend the life of the Plasma glass.

Here is some very rough typical peak brightness level for interest:

Pioneer 65fL

Fujitsu 95fL

NEC 75fL

Panasonic 50fL

CRT TV 65fL (Interesting, sames as a Plasma)

Steffche's Viera measured in excess of 65fL at the manufacturer default Picture setting of 'Dynamic'. After calibration it peaked at around 55fL, significantly lower and with a lower average picture level due to the natural gamma curve. I've seen this flicker in the Viera before and am interested to see if it can be seen if running the default settings (not Calibrated). The Panasonic and Fujitsu Plasmas have a black level that varies depending on the Average Picture Level (APL) of the image. This is done to boost the Dynamic appearance of the image, but in reality just creates a harsh and un-natural image. I'm wondering if the flicker in dark scenes is a response to changing APL in other parts of the image - will investigate further.

I'll be upgrading the firmware in my HDTV signal generator to support DVI output for DVI calibrations shortly. This is an expensive upgrade that has previously been uneconomic due to the very rare use of Set Top boxes over DVI. Glen is running the Teac DV-B800 and I feel this offers excessive macroblocking and edge enhancement in DVI mode compared to RGBHV into a Plasma with good scaling. Comments from Glen would be interesting.

Those in Melbourne that are interested in a calibrated Plasma will be pleased to know that the Pioneer Professional plasma (PDP-43MXE and PDP-50MXE) now includes an in home calibration compliments of Pioneer. Effective for any sales for residential applications from today.

Aaron

http://www.avicalaustralia.com.au

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For those interested......

I found a couple of things last night......

1. The flicker is far less noticable on the factory default color temp (warm) but is also very noticably green!

2. By reducing the contrast from 98 to around 88 the flicker is reduced slightly. So perhaps the plasma struggles with such a dynamic range, and thus by reducing the top end it is able to hold blacks a little better???

To answer one of Aarons queries....Dynamic picture setting still did flicker, but not as much as STandard.

Just to clarify....

The flicker I am seeing is only in the very dark areas in teh picture.....near black (eg, the THX optimiser test pattern with the drop down shadow flickers like mad...mainly the actual THX letters).

Generally when watching a DVD movie it isn't noticable...unless you are watching a very dark scene (a few of these in Matrix...which is where I first noticed it).

The strange thing is that the low levels have actually been improved overall....by this I mean dark greys and blacks are looking better than they ever have. A good test scene for this is in "I-Robot" when Spooner is interogating the robot in the dark room with the soldiers standing around the background. This scene has never contained so much detail before....all the markings on the walls in the background are so visible, where as before they just looked like dark walls.

So could the flicker in the very lowest of low IRE's be the trade-off???

I know that by reducing Blue cut and increasing Green cut the flicker can be eliminated....but this will obvioulsy throw out the greyscale adjustments that Aaron made...so I dare not touch.

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For those interested......

I found a couple of things last night......

1. The flicker is far less noticable on the factory default color temp (warm) but is also very noticably green!

2. By reducing the contrast from 98 to around 88 the flicker is reduced slightly. So perhaps the plasma struggles with such a dynamic range, and thus by reducing the top end it is able to hold blacks a little better???

To answer one of Aarons queries....Dynamic picture setting still did flicker, but not as much as STandard.

Just to clarify....

The flicker I am seeing is only in the very dark areas in teh picture.....near black (eg, the THX optimiser test pattern with the drop down shadow flickers like mad...mainly the actual THX letters).

Generally when watching a DVD movie it isn't noticable...unless you are watching a very dark scene (a few of these in Matrix...which is where I first noticed it).

The strange thing is that the low levels have actually been improved overall....by this I mean dark greys and blacks are looking better than they ever have. A good test scene for this is in "I-Robot" when Spooner is interogating the robot in the dark room with the soldiers standing around the background. This scene has never contained so much detail before....all the markings on the walls in the background are so visible, where as before they just looked like dark walls.

So could the flicker in the very lowest of low IRE's be the trade-off??? 

I know that by reducing Blue cut and increasing Green cut the flicker can be eliminated....but this will obvioulsy throw out the greyscale adjustments that Aaron made...so I dare not touch.

Thanks for the extra comments, Steffche. Its all very helpful.

However, I dont know if I could live with the flicker you describe. I know my picture at the moment is far from optimal, and that I would lke to get it improved. However Im also wanting to wait till I have all my other components set up (ie AV receiver with 3 components in, one out, and a good DVD like the Momitsu), so that I have the best possible sources.

I did a little bit of research on the Viera flicker problem, as I had never heard about it before. It seems that some people, like yourself, consider it a real problem, but others say that its not really noticeable whatsoever, and you can only tell its there when you look at pictures from an angle - from front on its not noticeable.

I do worry though when you say its only noticeable in dark areas - thats is supppose to be the real strength of the Panasonics, and besides most action moveies have loads of dark areas, and if you could see the flicker in any very dark area, that would really destroy my movie watching experience.

From what you described, shouldnt you turn your contrast down a lot more ? ie if you could turn it down to say 65 to eliminate the picture, isnt the giveup of a small amount of brightness worth it to get rid of the flicker almost completely (ie unnoticeable unless you do the 'look on an angle' thing) ??

Also, you said this ...

quote=Steffche,Jan 18 2005, 09:50 AM]

1. The flicker is far less noticable on the factory default color temp (warm) but is also very noticably green!

If the flicker is 'far less noticeable', isnt that what you want ? Im just not sure what you mean by 'noticably green' - do you mean the whole picture ha s agreen tinge to it ?? Ive never really noticed too much difference in the colours levels by changing the colour temps - just an slight increase in all the colours intensity : Never the one of the colours suddenly dominating.

Perhaps the 'greeness' is a result of Aarons other changes ?

bertieb

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The Warm temp setting is at factory settings (ie, all RGB settings are unchanged) as too is the Cool setting. Aaron tuned the "Normal" color temp setting. Warm does have a green tinge almost throughout the greyscale...and Cool has a very Blue tinge....Normal is very grey...no color tinge at all...so it's definetly set correctly...so I would not choose the factory settings and sacrifice correct greyscale to eliminate flicker.....believe me the flicker is alot easier to put up with than having incorrect greyscale.

I need to watch some more movies at the current Contrast setting of 88 to see if it is still noticable....I-Robot doesn't seem to flicker. I am however unhappy with the way the green walls look in the opening scene in detective Spooner's bedroom. Can anyone else comment on how these green walls look on their plasma's???

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I had my plasma turned off for a week and noticed terrible 50Hz flicker from the 51cm and 76cm TVs that I had to resort to during that time. Since I never notice flicker from my plasma (and had never noticed it before from the CRTs!), I reckon you guys are just overly concerned about something that was probably worse on your old displays too.

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The Warm temp setting is at factory settings (ie, all RGB settings are unchanged) as too is the Cool setting. Aaron tuned the "Normal" color temp setting. Warm does have a green tinge almost throughout the greyscale...and Cool has a very Blue tinge....Normal is very grey...no color tinge at all...so it's definetly set correctly...so I would not choose the factory settings and sacrifice correct greyscale to eliminate flicker.....believe me the flicker is alot easier to put up with than having incorrect greyscale.

I need to watch some more movies at the current Contrast setting of 88 to see if it is still noticable....I-Robot doesn't seem to flicker. I am however unhappy with the way the green walls look in the opening scene in detective Spooner's bedroom. Can anyone else comment on how these green walls look on their plasma's???

Steffche,

you should chuck the movie into your computer and use that as a reference. I might try and grab I,Robot again and run it on my plasma and computer to see the first scene you are talking about. However, just looking at some snapshots from the movie on the web, it looks like a lot of the internal scenes had heaps of green to them, and hence all the walls look very green.

After youve watched TV & some movies a bit more, can you let us know whether you think the calibration was worth it ? Reading your posts you seem to say the greyscale has been improved greatly, but now youve got an obvious flicker problem... so that its some sort of tradeoff.

Id really love to get a calibration to get the greyscale right and correct my 'whiteness' problem :P , but not at the expense of getting a noticeable flicker every time I watch anything :blink: .

bertieb

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I had my plasma turned off for a week and noticed terrible 50Hz flicker from the 51cm and 76cm TVs that I had to resort to during that time. Since I never notice flicker from my plasma (and had never noticed it before from the CRTs!), I reckon you guys are just overly concerned about something that was probably worse on your old displays too.

I only know that it doesn't flicker on the warm setting...nor did it used to flicker when I had done my own Calibration by Eye.

The Panasonic seems to be a very touchy display...by that I mean when you are adjusting RGB drives or cuts, one notch on the scale can really throw either color into excessive boost...a couple of notches further actually reduces the amount....its hard to explain...but its as though it doesn't like being set to particular values or combinations of values. So even though the Color sensor is reading accurate greys....it might just be that one of the RGB values is set to somewhere the plasma does not like. The same thing happens with Contrast....if I start at the bottom (ie, contrast set to 0) then slowly increase one click at a time...from 0 to 33 is a gradual and even increase in contrast. As soon as I hit 34...the brightness lifts something awful...if I continue over to 35 or 36 the brightness drops back to where it was....is this hitting some sort of limiter in the circuits???? Is this the maximum dynamic range of the Viera display???? Sure if I keep going it happens again...only this time at 48 (from memory)...then onto 50 it normalizes. This pattern continues right up to 100...where at certain contrast settings the brightness lifts and then drops after a few clicks moreon contrast.

Does anyone else have this problem???

Please don't get me wrong....I am in no way suggesting that a Pro Calibration isn't worth it. Without the correct equipment there's no way I would have managed to get greyscale set right by eye....I got it fairly close, but not SPOT ON as it is now. It's just that I like to keep others informed.....after all isn't that what the forums are all about.

In the end....aren't we always faced with trade-offs in life? It may just be something that I have to put up with???

Im sure however that Aaron will be more than helpful in trying to come to a solution....which is comforting to know.

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Some further comments following calibration of my Pio 50MXE1 over the weekend (and some time to view and absorb the results).

Calibrations were done for STB (VGA), DVD PAL/NTSC (component) and Foxtel STU (S-Vid)

Recapping the process as I understand it ...

Colour temperature was adjusted to 6500deg +/-250. I think the Pio allows this to be done at high and low RGB levels.

I think black levels were set by eye and maximum brightness was set to about 62fL (footLamberts???) ... all happening on a computer screen.

Sharpness, geometry etc etc all adjusted

Some specific impressions ...

(1) Greyscale is much better than I was able to get it

(2) The general appearance of the picture is far more consistent across all inputs

(3) Picture seems a little warmer than I had previously. Generally skin tones are very good, but sometimes they seems a little overdone (I guess different broadcasts all vary slightly, and I probably tend towards a preference for slightly cooler tones)

(4) Picture generally is more 3-D like with more depth of field (if that makes sense)

(5) Performance of DVD is vastly improved (mainly a black thing I think)

(6) Picture generally seems brighter with more vivid colours than I had previously

(7) Black detail is much better

Overall, very happy with the results, the exercise was definitely worth it. I haven't quite decided whether I want to crank the brightness and colour down a notch in the user menu (still playing with that a bit), but that's easy to do and adjust.

Malcolm

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Pretty much the same scenario for mine was done.....but it's interesting that you were able to crank out 62fl. Aaron did say that he could get 62 out of the Pio's...but even with my contrast cranked up to 100 it still only measured 52fl......interesting!

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Does he have a website or email address? If he's coming to Wagga maybe I could get him to extend to Beechworth. Is he based in Melbourne?

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Just thought I'd update since Aaron calibrated my Viera several weeks ago.

Last night he returned to re-calibrate as he had promised. Since the first calibration much information has been learnt about these Panasonic panels. The adjustment procedure has been revised and new base values were used to adjust white balance. The end result...perfect! Greyscale tracking was excellent....no more bluey blacks and no more flicker!

A big thanks to Aaron for performing his magic, and anyone else that has provided useful information that allowed us to acheive the results we did.

Finally...I can now happily sit back and watch something other than DVE!

:blink::P:P

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Just thought I'd update since Aaron calibrated my Viera several weeks ago.

Last night he returned to re-calibrate as he had promised. Since the first calibration much information has been learnt about these Panasonic panels. The adjustment procedure has been revised and new base values were used to adjust white balance. The end result...perfect!  Greyscale tracking was excellent....no more bluey blacks and no more flicker!

A big thanks to Aaron for performing his magic, and anyone else that has provided useful information that allowed us to acheive the results we did.

Finally...I can now happily sit back and watch something other than DVE!

:blink:  :P  :P

Hi Steffche

That's great to hear you finally have the plasma calibrated correctly, and that you are happy with the picture. Mnay happy hours of viewing !..

Car you tell me, what was the revised 'adjustment procedure' ? - di dAaron get his computer to sync on the VGA port, and use that to calibrate ? or did he jsut go into the two service menus ?

Overall, do you think the calibration on a Viera is worth it ? I love my picture, but if there was noticable improvement when calibrated, Id definitely be interested in getting it done. However the last time I had contact with Aaron, he said the Panasonics were too difficult to calibrate.

Thanks again for any info

bertieb

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Also another question here. Once calibrated, what happens if you change STBs or other inputs?

Or, is the calibration only for the plasma itself, and not the devices feeding into it?

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Also another question here.  Once calibrated, what happens if you change STBs or other inputs?

Or, is the calibration only for the plasma itself, and not the devices feeding into it?

The calibration is of a specific device to a specific input on the plasma at a specific resolution ... but seems to work OK for similar devices connected to the same input at the same or different resolutions.

For example, I had my NEC's YUV input calibrated for the Momitsu V880N at 720p ... but I generally use my Pioneer 676A to watch music DVDs at 576p on that input and it now also has the most delicious skin tones, colour depth, shadow detail and overall "subjective improvement in resolution" [as I and my friends like to describe the result]. If I had also paid Aaron extra to calibrate for the 676A then there would, no doubt, be one or two minor adjustments to account for that specific player ... but I considered that to be overkill given the major improvement already achieved and the fact that the Momitsu setting also worked for the 676A.

For STBs the situation is a little different - mainly, in my current view, because they are not manufactured to the same quality standards as DVD players ... notwithstanding that they are generally a lot more expensive.

In my case, I had the TEAC DV-B800 HD-STB calibrated to the NEC's dsub (RGBHV) and DVI inputs at 1080i and the Toppy SD-PVR calibrated to the BNC (RGBS) input at 576i. The adjustments made for TEAC RGBHV were quite different to those for Toppy RGBS ... and the adjustments for TEAC DVI were also quite different to those for TEAC RGBHV.

I guess I should hook up the Momitsu via DVI and see how DVDs look when the DVI settings (ie. calibrated for TEAC STB) are used by the Momitsu as-is. :blink:

I hope that helps,

Ian

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Also another question here.  Once calibrated, what happens if you change STBs or other inputs?

Or, is the calibration only for the plasma itself, and not the devices feeding into it?

far as i know the cal is for the input not the device

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Also another question here.  Once calibrated, what happens if you change STBs or other inputs?

Or, is the calibration only for the plasma itself, and not the devices feeding into it?

I would normally calibrate for source equipment that is present at the time of the calibration. The calibration is for the correct reproduction of imaging standards for your display and source equipment together.

Source equipment has characteristics that is used / adjusted during the calibration process. In the case of a DVD Player it is often possible to adjust the video output to compensate for deficiencies in the design - especially black crush. Different source equipment has variations in colour decoding, black level and geometry. Also display devices have different characteristics for different resolutions on the one input

In summary I always like to have the source equipment present at the time of calibration. If the input and resolution of a future device is know, then a calibration can be performed using our HD Pattern generator but when the source is fitted at a later date the results would not be as good as if the source was used during the calibration.

Re the comments on Panasonic Vieras. These are very difficult to calibrate due to the frustrating 'features' of the Service Menu. As Steffche indicated I have now developed a technique for calibrating the Viera with excellent results. If I have previously indicated that I am not able to calibrate your Viera then this service is now available.

Regards

Aaron

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Also another question here. Once calibrated, what happens if you change STBs or other inputs?

Or, is the calibration only for the plasma itself, and not the devices feeding into it?

I would normally calibrate for source equipment that is present at the time of the calibration. The calibration is for the correct reproduction of imaging standards for your display and source equipment together.

Source equipment has characteristics that is used / adjusted during the calibration process. In the case of a DVD Player it is often possible to adjust the video output to compensate for deficiencies in the design - especially black crush. Different source equipment has variations in colour decoding, black level and geometry. Also display devices have different characteristics for different resolutions on the one input

In summary I always like to have the source equipment present at the time of calibration. If the input and resolution of a future device is know, then a calibration can be performed using our HD Pattern generator but when the source is fitted at a later date the results would not be as good as if the source was used during the calibration.

Re the comments on Panasonic Vieras. These are very difficult to calibrate due to the frustrating 'features' of the Service Menu. As Steffche indicated I have now developed a technique for calibrating the Viera with excellent results. If I have previously indicated that I am not able to calibrate your Viera then this service is now available.

Regards

Aaron

Brilliant explanation Aaron. Come on, quit stuffing around with those mainlanders and get on over here to Tassie. Fine wines, mild climate, pretty scenery and one hungry plasma owner needing your service!!!!!!! (Is that a good enough suck job?)

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Brilliant explanation Aaron.  Come on, quit stuffing around with those mainlanders and get on over here to Tassie.  Fine wines, mild climate, pretty scenery and one hungry plasma owner needing your service!!!!!!!  (Is that a good enough suck job?)

Oi! Thats enough ... we dont want to lose him for good! If he gets too much attention in Tassie, he may not want to return to dullsville! :blink:

NB: On callibration, you should always try and callibrate for every combination (device/connection/resolution) if you want the best results (and have a properly adjustable display). This is where the mythical perfect HTPC has its advantages...

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Brilliant explanation Aaron.  Come on, quit stuffing around with those mainlanders and get on over here to Tassie.  Fine wines, mild climate, pretty scenery and one hungry plasma owner needing your service!!!!!!!  (Is that a good enough suck job?)

Oi! Thats enough ... we dont want to lose him for good! If he gets too much attention in Tassie, he may not want to return to dullsville! :blink:

NB: On callibration, you should always try and callibrate for every combination (device/connection/resolution) if you want the best results (and have a properly adjustable display). This is where the mythical perfect HTPC has its advantages...

Sorry Santa, getting a bit carried away here. It's just that he's so busy on the mainland, he may never get over here. By the time he does, he'll probably have to hitch a ride with you and your reindeer team! I'm just trying to get him over here quicker!

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Sorry for getting in late on this one, my ears are still ringing from those F1 beasts.

I guess all questions have been answered, and its good to see that Panasonics are now added to Aarons list of services.

Re: Bertie's question on is it worth it...... If you switch between Aarons settings and the factory settings while watching a DVD you will wonder how you could ever have thought that the factory settings looked good. However....if you walked out of the room while Aaron calibrated your tv and then came back in after he had finished, you may not be blown off your feet.....this ofcourse depends on how much tv you watched prior to calibration and how much attention you paid to the image quality (that is assuming you know what to look for in the first place).

So in my opinion yes it is worth the $$$, and the difference is subjective depending on individual circumstances.

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Aaron calibrated my plasma today and my reaction is , in a word, WOW!

Some measure of the extent of the change can be gauged by the fact that the colour setting went from -7 (where I had it set on the HD STB input) to +10. The -7 was appropriate to the factory colour settings as anything more made some colours look over-saturated. However, when the greyscale, colours etc were set the way they should be, the colour could be increased without it looking over-the-top. Instead it makes the picture much more impressive and increases the 3D effect. The overall result is a very vibrant, bright picture that still looks natural and even more noise-free than before.

I now have different settings for each of the inputs and all have benefitted enormously. One reason I'm so pleased is that I had half expected the "calibrated" picture to be somehow less impressive but more natural and pleasant after getting used to it. The calibrated picture is, however, much more immediately impressive and eye-catching, which is an even better outcome than I could have hoped for.

Of course, part of the reason I've seen such a difference is that I had the settings a bit "muted" previously, cos I didn't like the effect of boosting colour, contrast etc. I've always tended to use a low colour setting on TV's as I think I'm a bit sensitive to over-saturation effects and unnatural colour. The "new" picture is a bit like using the "dynamic" setting without all the nasties that usually entails.

So, I'm very happy indeed and I unreservedly recommend professional calibration be factored into the price of any quality plasma. After all, there has to be a good reason that Pioneer include it with their professional range. I'll definitely get another calibration done when I add to or change source equipment.

BTW Aaron takes an "unhurried" approach and explains what he is doing in a lot of detail. In spite of the fact that the previous job took longer than expected due to awkward access to components and he was running about an hour late, he took his time over my job to get everything right. I didn't time the job but I'd guess that it took more than an hour and a half and he never seemed to be rushing.

If this seems like an "advertorial", I can only assure everyone that it's just my candid impressions, without exaggeration. If I had've been disappointed in the outcome, I might have kept quiet about it...I'm not sure. However, I really can't keep quiet about the results Aaron achieved....I consider his fee to be money very well spent.

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That's great to hear zekey. I'm first on his list for his next visit to Sydney, and you've just made my waiting that little more difficult!

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