Over the last few days I’ve been writing about social media magic videos and why to post them. Either the trick has to be good (amazing or entertaining) or the trick has to offer something interesting from method standpoint. Here’s a video I just posted:
What’s interesting from a method point of view is that I’ve take a trick and made it go backwards. Of the thousands of this trick that has sold, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bolt tighten. Not that it’s a huge leap, but it’s something different.
The trick is typically done as an animation, where the nut moves on its own. My vision was for the trick to be done as a penetration. It didn’t quite work out that way for the video and I had limited time to record it, so that’s why it was put out the way it was. Ideally the trick will look like I grab the nut and slide it up the bolt, penetrating the threads of the bolt. Since the video was posted, I’ve gotten it to look like almost how I want it to, but it’ll still take some work.
The last couple of days I posted about a four ace production that someone posted on facebook, then posted one that’s better. It got me thinking about what are the reasons to post a magic trick on social media. For me, I usually do it because it’s interesting from a method standpoint, or something unique happens during it.
Here’s an example of a boring magic trick that’s interesting from a method point of view:
That video is a few years old, but what makes it interesting is the transposition of the pin and the ring. There are a couple of methods working at the same time to accomplish the trick. My reason for posting isn’t simply to have my friends tell me I did a cool trick, but to show something I’ve created.
Before you post a video, think about why you are doing it. What does posting it do to contribute to magic?
In yesterday’s blog post I wrote about a four ace production that I saw on social media and why it wasn’t good. This morning I’m going into my social media and found a four ace production from about a year ago. If I remember correctly this is from Principia by Harapan Ong.
Here’s why the is a better trick that the one that I shared yesterday:
I’m talking, it fills the dead space a bit better
No procedural shuffling
You get an ace production right away
The final ace production is magical and puts an punctuation on the trick
Is the ace trick that I did the best? No, however it’s way better than the one that I shared yesterday. Think about what you’re sharing before you put it out there.
After being in magic most of my life, I still love it. That’s not to say that I unconditionally love any trick, there are plenty of bad ones. For example I had this one come through my Facebook feed:
For a four ace production it’s pretty bad, and the payoff after all that procedure heavy shuffling doesn’t justify the time it took to get there. After all of that shuffling, at least give me a flash production of the four aces, don’t just take them off the top of the deck.
For a social media video, a better trick would be a couple of riffle shuffles and then a flash production, and you’d be at less than 30 seconds of video and it’d be a much stronger trick. For one minute to simply turn the top cards over, you’d need some novelty or cardistry type shuffling to make it interesting.
The other day I paid $15 to watch someone’s virtual magic show. It was interesting to see what other people think “interactive” means. I was disappointed that the guy that I watched and what he thought interactive meant.
He did a lot of do as I do tricks where when you follow the instructions you end up finding you own card sort of things. In my opinion you can only do one of this type of trick before it gets old. The dealing of cards is gives away the method as procedure if you do it more than once. The other problem with doing many of this type of trick is that if you don’t have a deck of cards, or only one deck and multiple people, you’ll probably be bored as YOU can’t do the trick in your own hands.
The bigger issue I had with how he interacted was that when he used people in the Zoom meeting room, their function was to simply pick a card and that was it. He never talked to them and to me, it really didn’t seem like he gave a sh*t about them. They simply said stop while he was dealing and that’s it.
Here’s a clip of a new bit from my show after I’ve introduced my producer, she’s waved at the audience and I’m explaining what her role in the show is:
At the end of the clip, you’ll see I’m talking to someone in the audience, without unmuting them. I’m engaging them and talking individual people in the audience. This is more than just when I’m specifically someone to help in a trick. I think this gives more of a live show feel, I can talk directly to or about people. It makes the show less of a poorly produced TV show and puts it into its own “live show” category.
In your virtual shows, look at how you are interacting with people, are they simply a prop or are you living a moment with them?
Well, here’s the thing about doing live, in person shows that have to be outdoors in Seattle, you have to deal with the rain. The types of places I’m doing these “socially distant” magic shows at are typically indoors. I’m doing them outside because of COVID regulations. Guess what happened to yesterday’s shows, they got rained out.
In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned I’d be talking about doing your show wearing a face mask. I was going to play a bit more with mic placement, but here’s what I learned. Having a mic inside your mask works much better than outside. You don’t have to project your voice as hard to get it to pick up on the mic. The downside of having it inside your mask is that sometimes the audience can hear you breathing.
Now to performing, it’s hard to use your face to convey feelings. You really need to use your body and posture to do that. After our first “socially distant” shows a couple of days ago my daughter said, “it’s like being in a broadway show, you need to use your body to express yourself” and she’s 100% right!
It’s been over three months since the last show that I did for a live audience. Yesterday I did a “socially distant” magic show for a summer day camp for younger kids. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot of work. There are a lot of challenges with these shows, but I still prefer it to a virtual magic show.
I did three magic shows at one location yesterday, and each show had nine kids and one adult. Then they put space in between each chair. I’m not 100% sure if I understand why the kids need to space out as they’re together playing all day, but I’m just happy to perform, so not going to complain too much. As we all know, if you want to build any crowd energy, it’s much easier when they are sitting next to each other. With this set up it was much harder to “warm them up” than it would have if the chair were next to each other.
Another big challenge was that I can’t have anyone from the audience come up and help me on stage, or handle any props. This removes a lot of places to play with the audience. I’m lucky that my daughter performs in these shows with me, so she can help with things that I would normally use a kid from the audience for.
In a few hours I have three more “socially distant” magic shows, and I’m going to experiment with something and that’s mic placement. That brings me to probably the biggest challenge in these shows, and that is I have to wear a face mask, so the audience can’t see my face. I’ll write more about this tomorrow.
Overall I think “socially distant” magic shows are a workable solution to doing live shows.
This morning I’m getting ready to head out and do a live, in person magic show for some kids at a summer camp! Honestly I thought it’d be October or November before I did an in person show again. This is the most excited and nervous I’ve been about a show in a long time.
One of the things about this show is that it’s for a summer camp for kids and they have a bunch of younger kids, so it’s going to be a lot of playing around versus more hard hitting magic, and I’m totally okay with that. I’m just very excited to go out and be in the moment with an audience.
I’ve also got a new routine I’ll be doing and I’m really excited to do that for an audience. It’s one thing to see how a trick plays at home, it’s another thing to see what actual people think of it.
Things are slowly moving back to allowing me to work…
With my state finally starting to reopen, I got to do my first in person magic session with a friend of mine! He sent me a text to hop on Skype and I suggested we go to a brewery. Jamming in person is much more fun and productive that over the internet.
The one drawback of meeting up in person is that you don’t have your whole house of supplies to pull from if an idea comes up. For example, let’s say one of us came up with an idea that needed glue, we can talk about the idea, but we can’t try the idea. Over Skype you have more options for things like that.
The BIG advantage of doing a magic jam in person is that you can try things out on people around you. We did some magic for people at tables next to ours. It was from a distance of at least 6 feet, but it worked! People were really into it and I learned a few things I thought were great were just OK.
With the conversion to virtual shows, I’ve been tweaking routines that I already do to make them stronger in a streaming show. I recently wrote about how I’ve switched the loads of my Cee-Lo dice trick from using my pockets, to not going to the pocket at all.
One thing that I noticed was that depending on the angle, my dice cup which was black would sometimes disappear on the black table top. This isn’t desirable, so this morning I recovered it in natural tan leather. This makes the cup more visible and the whole routine easier to watch. An unexpected bonus to this is that the large dice actually appear a smidge bigger next to the tan dice up than the black dice up.
If you’re starting to do some virtual shows, look at your props and see what disappears to the background, then take steps to make it more visible. Changing the color of the outside of a cup was something really simple and took less than 5 minutes to do.