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Why does your footage look like a drone video, not an aerial film ?
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Madebyvadim
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Why does your footage look like a drone video, not an aerial film ?

With the increasing popularity of capable, easy to operate and not so expensive drones, with the awesome capability to capture amazing footage with a prosumer level, there are a lot of good videos around, but still, they are looks like a drone video, not an aerial films.
So why is that? Why we have all the means of creating amazing drone movies, yet fell short and just produce mediocre videos.
In this article, I am trying to show some (not all) points, that for me distinguish video from the film.

First, let me tell you my position on video vs film. So for me when I call something a video, that basically means nice or good footage that been put together, but still looks like million others. Both in terms of execution and content. It feels like you saw it already and/or something is lacking or missing or not good enough.
The film, on the other hand, is a finished, well executed and created peace. You might like it or not, but you definitely won’t deny that it's a very well crafted professional creation.

So let us start with my points/thoughts

(Those are just my individual points coming from experience you might agree with them or not and it’s up to you)



Boring content
Ok. We all been there. We shoot in one location on a nice sunny day, flying 3–5 battery packs and immediately wanted to share this with the rest of the world. We get home and try to put that into some sort of video, ending up with repeatable shots, same locations just different angles and on top of that long shots duration.
Of course, if your film suppose to be about a single location and you have amazing footage that will not bore to death the viewers, go for it. But mostly my advice is to collect more footage of the same type of locations and make a better, well thought out film, even if it means postponing sharing that you shoot in one day

No theme or story
Another problem with drone videos is no visible theme in a film. For example, your video starts with fog sequences and viewers expects to see a theme revolving around this, but instead, you add some sunny day city shots or other footage that is totally out of the contest. That’s breaking the thin storyline, making less of a film and more like just collection of drone videos without a unify theme or story.

Aldeyarfoss.jpg
Length way too long
I hypothesize that aerial films however beautiful there are should be no more than 3–5 minutes long. For them to be 5+ minutes there should be an exceptional story or some out of this world footages, so viewers (and especially young viewers, who lose attention as quickly as I can say “attention”) will still maintain interest through the whole film. So when you see that someone shares a 10–15 minutes drone video, I can guarantee you will watch only first 1 minute or so, because it will be generally full of way too long shoots, taking offs and landing or flying in one direction for way too long
So stay short and cut the shots quite quickly, so the user will be hooked on watching till the end.

Wrong shutter speed and frame rates
Many videos I saw (especially recent) from a first few seconds looks exactly like a video just because of high shutter speed and therefore luck of that distinctive cinematic motion blur. Even if you didn’t do the proper job on the location of shooting at a double shutter speed of your frame rate and missed the motion blur, you can try to fix that in post. Don’t just leave it as it is, because to the trained eye its screams amateur videos.
Also, I have nothing against 30/60 fps though, in my experience, a 24 fps (23.976 to be exact) is the best and closest to a film you can get. Pair it with correct shutter speed and you will see that it’s already improving

Two+bridges.jpg
Bad editing
Editing or montage is a crucial part of post-processing and here where many fail shortly, unfortunately.
- not the best angles, 
- way too long shots, 
- zoom in and out too much, 
- unnecessary non-liner retimes, that used way too often,
- overused and generic transition, 
- way too many 3rd party transition presets
- cuts that are not working together
these are among the most common mistakes I saw. Those editing decisions immediately divert you to more of a vlogging/travel video than a true movie experience.
Yes, there is a certain trend with a destination/travel/vlogging style videos, but they still videos and rarely or never a “true” film experience.

Poor choice of music
Edits and film itself are very depended on music choice. Even the best cuts and footages can be ruined by bad music accompaniment. Again with a rise of a vlogging, destination videos, there is a certain trend with a poor choice of music.
I don’t suggest to go and use classical or cinematic music all the way, but leave those “happy clapping” for the Casey Neistat
Your score should very much portray the location of the film’s mood and should be creative and unique. Don’t want to use the cinematic? Ok, don’t — go and seek some unusual sounds, vocals, or don’t use music at all and create a sfx score, but don’t, for crying out loud. just use “those trendy vlogging songs” because everybody does so


Visible imperfections
Nothing ruins architectural photographs more than a non straight lines. Same goes for the drones — nothing ruins the watching experience then imperfections:
- crooked horizon,
- overexposed or underexposed shoots,
- rough camera movements,
- shaking or jelly effects,
- no motion blur at the close flyby,
- poor framing,
these are the thing that could certainly be improved both on location or at post-production and never should end up in the final film.

Bad grading or no grading at all
Many videos I saw shot in awesome locations with great camera movements and compositions, nicely edited, but then just ruined by bad grading or no grading at all.
You can’t just shoot on auto and non-log space and expect to pull the good color grading afterward. The log is here for a reason, that can ease your post-production life and help you achieve consistent color through the whole film. Don’t ignore it. Learn the color science, watch references for grading and then shape it to your own film style. It’s not an easy process, but certainly very rewarding result when done correctly
Senja+waves.jpg
No SFX
I believe that additional sound effects not only help you to bring your video to a new level but also can immerse viewers into the scenes even more. Therefore I am an advocating for using it, rather than just rely on a music score alone. For me, the lack of any tiny sound details makes a bit difference.

Poor titles
Titles of the film are equally as important as sound, edit or grading. Some creator just dismisses them or use very boring and traditional fonts and typography. Some, on the other hand, overdo it, with many different fonts in tiles or over the top animations of elements.
Both extremes do nothing good for your film. See examples of great film titles, see references and, if needed, hire a professional designer to do your film titles, instead of using the first font in your collection.
I am a sucker for short and catchy film names, it doesn’t have to be the same. But think hard about your film name not just go with “my adventure on a beach” type of name
And for love of God leave the logo animations for Youtube tutorials
If you want to ruin your film with you “fancy” flying quadcopter stoke illustration, do it at the very end, or best not at all. If you need a company/individual or production acknowledgment in the titles, do it with a tasteful font.

No proper supporting imagery
Your film poster is your best cover. The first thing that people will see, on social media or video sharing platforms, before they press play. So think carefully and create the best possible cover for your film.
Of course, it’s the last step and may be dismissed, but I believe that if you producing the short aerial film, everything must be on par, to the last detail. Only this can set you apart and make your video - the film.

I hope you enjoy these tips and can apply some of them next time you will create your masterpiece.

Good luck and fly safe.







2-27 00:20
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DJI Panda
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Another amazing work! Thanks for sharing.
2-27 00:50
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Madebyvadim
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DJI Panda Posted at 2-27 00:50
Another amazing work! Thanks for sharing.

Thank you so much! I really hope it helps pilots to create a new masterpieces
2-27 00:52
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Madebyvadim Posted at 2-27 00:52
Thank you so much! I really hope it helps pilots to create a new masterpieces

Yes! Always enjoy reading and learning all your tutorials threads!
2-27 01:11
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Madebyvadim
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DJI Panda Posted at 2-27 01:11
Yes! Always enjoy reading and learning all your tutorials threads!

Thank you once again. Really happy to hear that!
2-27 01:12
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razvanli
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Thanks a lot @madebyvadim ... very useful guide, and I mean it.
2-27 03:15
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Madebyvadim
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razvanli Posted at 2-27 03:15
Thanks a lot @madebyvadim ... very useful guide, and I mean it.

My pleasure! Glad you find it helpful
2-27 03:30
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jacksonnai
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Outstanding works! Well done!
2-27 05:22
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Madebyvadim
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jacksonnai Posted at 2-27 05:22
Outstanding works! Well done!

Thank you Jackson !
2-27 05:37
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Lysak2003
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The most creative promotion I've ever seen
2-27 06:43
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Madebyvadim
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Lysak2003 Posted at 2-27 06:43
The most creative promotion I've ever seen

LOL. I did think of this as a promotion, I thought I just share some points on video vs film, but hey it could be a promotion as well.
I did not want to include someone else works, because people may say why are you preaching, but did show your examples
2-27 06:50
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BigAbe
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would you then recommend ND-Filters as well for better looks?
2-27 06:51
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Madebyvadim
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BigAbe Posted at 2-27 06:51
would you then recommend ND-Filters as well for better looks?

ND filters are needed for one specific reason, to reduce light getting into sensor, to reduce shutter speed. Reducing shutter speed to achieve 180º rule will give you cinematic blur. Thats the only reason for ND, they do not enhance color (quite the opposite with some cheap one) not give you better looks.
So I recommend them for achieving motion blur, yes. I use Polar Pro ND filters myself.
2-27 06:55
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Kevin Halle
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Great tips. Thanks again.
2-27 09:32
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BIGDZ
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Well done! Thanks for sharing
2-27 10:35
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TomThomson
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Vadim this is an amazing post! Thanks for your point of views - they are definitely stuff to think about while making an aerial film!
2-27 12:42
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Madebyvadim
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Kevin Halle Posted at 2-27 09:32
Great tips. Thanks again.

You are welcome.
2-27 13:05
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Madebyvadim
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BIGDZ Posted at 2-27 10:35
Well done! Thanks for sharing

Thank you !!
2-27 13:05
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Madebyvadim
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TomThomson Posted at 2-27 12:42
Vadim this is an amazing post! Thanks for your point of views - they are definitely stuff to think about while making an aerial film!

Thank you. I am glad you find it useful, hope they helps with new creations.
2-27 13:06
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Droner500
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Do you know of any good free editing websites were I can put videos together?
2-27 14:41
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jacksonnai
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You're welcome!
2-27 17:12
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akozc
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Well I can say we are very lucky to have you and   having your such wonderful distinctive advise ,myself learing alot from  all these critical tips,
dont know if I can really impliment correctly, but obviously will make my incoming "drone videos ", more "aerial film  "look like please continue giving us such fantastic points.
2-27 19:55
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Hummingbird.UAV
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Film making is an art form, like piano playing, many can do it but very few are concert pianists.  You have pointed out the input facets to create the art (film), but most people fall short of mastering them.  Thanks for pointing them out to help those with the desire to hone their craft to a higher level of art.
2-27 21:59
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Madebyvadim
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akozc Posted at 2-27 19:55
Well I can say we are very lucky to have you and   having your such wonderful distinctive advise ,myself learing alot from  all these critical tips,
dont know if I can really impliment correctly, but obviously will make my incoming "drone videos ", more "aerial film  "look like  please continue giving us such fantastic points.

You are welcome. Don't worry about getting it right form the start. It takes time and practice. Most important is that you are going in that direction and progressing your creation, not just standing still. Good luck!
2-28 00:46
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Madebyvadim
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Hummingbird.UAV Posted at 2-27 21:59
Film making is an art form, like piano playing, many can do it but very few are concert pianists.  You have pointed out the input facets to create the art (film), but most people fall short of mastering them.  Thanks for pointing them out to help those with the desire to hone their craft to a higher level of art.

Thank you for kind words. I am glad you like it and find helpful.
I been selfish here coz I wanted to see more beautiful video from everyone, not just skipping another boring footage "shot on my backyard" . So win-win for everyone
2-28 00:48
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Trikke
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amazing work and thanks for the tips. I will try some of them to see if I can master them.
Some off your tips i'm doing already and I noticed that my videos are much better now the in the beginning.
I'm just a hobbyist and I only make the video's/movies for my own pleasure but I want to do it as good as possible offcourse.

grtz


2-28 03:01
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Madebyvadim
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Trikke Posted at 2-28 03:01
amazing work and thanks for the tips. I will try some of them to see if I can master them.
Some off your tips i'm doing already and I noticed that my videos are much better now the in the beginning.
I'm just a hobbyist and I only make the video's/movies for my own pleasure but I want to do it as good as possible offcourse.

Thank you for commenting. I am glad I can help with creating better productions. I am glad you find it useful and good luck with the next films.
2-28 03:47
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Rammstein76
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#Quick Reply Here#Thanks for sharing all those helpful tips and videos. It is definitely amazing what can be done with DJI technology. It will help me a lot. Again, thank you.
2-28 10:05
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Rammstein76
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#Quick Reply Here#Thanks for sharing all those helpful tips and videos. It is definitely amazing what can be done with DJI technology. It will help me a lot. Again, thank you.
2-28 10:08
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Madebyvadim
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Rammstein76 Posted at 2-28 10:08
#Quick Reply Here#Thanks for sharing all those helpful tips and videos. It is definitely amazing what can be done with DJI technology. It will help me a lot. Again, thank you.

You are most welcome.
2-28 14:01
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Sayhelloforme
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Fantastic information. Wonderful, beautiful footage. Thanks so much for your help.
2-28 14:48
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Techdoughboy
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This is awesome!
2-28 21:11
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Madebyvadim
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Sayhelloforme Posted at 2-28 14:48
Fantastic information. Wonderful, beautiful footage. Thanks so much for your help.

You are very welcome. Glad you like it.
2-28 22:46
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Techdoughboy Posted at 2-28 21:11
This is awesome!
Thanks a lot
2-28 22:47
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andy10
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You put really some useful and essential information about film making. Here is a lot of people, who just like to have these magnificent flying machines without enough basic knowledge of photography and film making. It is an art and nobody can expect to become an artist just because he or she got a drone. It is a long process. Everything can be much faster if somebody can provide some useful practical advices as you did. I can say the same for me as well, although having more than 40 years experience in photography, but the video is completely different story not to speak of drone video in particular where you must learn how to fly it at first.

So, to make this shorter - what I want to say is about proper cutting, sequencing and editing the video in postproduction. I often see drone videos where scenes lasts only around 3 sec or even less thus making the story almost impossible to catch. That is the opposite of what you said about being boring by making long lasting uninteresting scenes which look fine only for the author. The correct timing is an essential part of the film. And although you want to show almost everything of what you have filmed usually for good film only a small part of filmed material is needed.
And sorry for my English.
3-1 07:00
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Madebyvadim
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andy10 Posted at 3-1 07:00
You put really some useful and essential information about film making. Here is a lot of people, who just like to have these magnificent flying machines without enough basic knowledge of photography and film making. It is an art and nobody can expect to become an artist just because he or she got a drone. It is a long process. Everything can be much faster if somebody can provide some useful practical advices as you did. I can say the same for me as well, although having more than 40 years experience in photography, but the video is completely different story not to speak of drone video in particular where you must learn how to fly it at first.

So, to make this shorter - what I want to say is about proper cutting, sequencing and editing the video in postproduction. I often see drone videos where scenes lasts only around 3 sec or even less thus making the story almost impossible to catch. That is the opposite of what you said about being boring by making long lasting uninteresting scenes which look fine only for the author. The correct timing is an essential part of the film. And although you want to show almost everything of what you have filmed usually for good film only a small part of filmed material is needed.

Hey Andy.

Thank you for you thoughtful comments. I agree with you.
When I said "make it short" I just point out that you have to understand to make film interesting. I just give 3 seconds as a general suggestion, rather than a "rule to follow" all the time. Sometimes viewer could be captivated for much much longer, but the content should be a such, that it's not bore the watcher.  Use 3 seconds, use less, use more it's up to you, but always remember that its should be meaningful and not boring to others
3-1 07:09
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ninogiva
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Thanks for sharing, very useful information.
I find it very hard to tell a story only using music and beautiful scenery: it gets boring fast and the majority of what is published on social medias fails to develop anything more than a succession of clips.

Personally I got so frustrated with the footage I shot that I decided to focus on photography instead, but after reading your post I will give it another try!
3-1 07:25
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Madebyvadim
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ninogiva Posted at 3-1 07:25
Thanks for sharing, very useful information.
I find it very hard to tell a story only using music and beautiful scenery: it gets boring fast and the majority of what is published on social medias fails to develop anything more than a succession of clips.

You are welcome.
Glad I can inspire to take another go for the video.

I totally get the "story problem". I also have trouble do THE STORY.
Face it  what is THE STORY with a beautiful landscape or cityscape ? Frankly not that much., and I am ok with that.
Sometimes people are too obsessed with THE SROTY.  They read it's very important and now they apply to all. Everything must be the story for them. I am going to pub - what's the story? I am going to sleep - what's the story? I am driving in traffic - what's the story .  

So I rather suggest to concentrate on a theme. Mountains, ocean, fogs ,top downs, roads, city, sunsets, whatever it is make a consistent theme out of it. Let you story be a beautiful world in an yet of beholder

Anyway good luck with your endeavour.
3-1 07:34
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ninogiva
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Madebyvadim Posted at 3-1 07:34
You are welcome.
Glad I can inspire to take another go for the video.

You make a very good point, but I still believe that as video makers we should aim to tell a story.
It can be as simple or as complex as you want, but we, as humans, are attracted to what is less obvious, and a succession of beautiful clips (even on a single, strong theme) may not be of a great interest.
On the contrary, it might be harder to make an interesting video (or movie?) around a theme without a story, rather than with a simple story telling exercise.
At the end of the day drones are just a tool, and I am afraid that most pilots think that only by recording what the drone sees is enough to make for a good video.

I realise I might sound annoying, but I quite liked your original post and I like debating  
3-1 08:03
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Madebyvadim
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ninogiva Posted at 3-1 08:03
You make a very good point, but I still believe that as video makers we should aim to tell a story.
It can be as simple or as complex as you want, but we, as humans, are attracted to what is less obvious, and a succession of beautiful clips (even on a single, strong theme) may not be of a great interest.
On the contrary, it might be harder to make an interesting video (or movie?) around a theme without a story, rather than with a simple story telling exercise.

I agree with you. And I also like a story to tell. And I am up for the story 100% ... when it's needed and appropriate.  But when it forced upon viewers it's so visible. It's like most contemporary "art', what is forced story when there is none
Sometimes beautiful things are just beautiful things and it's true and honest.

But anyway I am up for the story to tell when I can, don't get me wrong
3-1 08:16
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