Having a second set of eyes helps a lot when working on things. Every now and then when I do virtual shows I’ll sneak a friend into the zoom and have them write notes on the show. Recently my friend noticed a rookie mistake I made.
In my three shell game routine (my Russian Shell Game routine) I have a graphic overlay pop up with the numbers 1, 2 and 3.
I wear a white shirt and the numbers are white. My friend pointed out that they blended into my shirt. It was a simple fix to add black borders to them for the future
Now they’ll work with pretty much any background.
Having a fresh set of eyes watch your show for little things make a big difference!
One of the things that’s been a challenge for me in virtual shows is using my space wisely. My virtual studio is in the office I share with my wife and I need to build the studio every show virtually from scratch. It’s much more work that driving to a venue and setting up.
About a week ago I did a post about adding a rotating shelf to below my working table top. I’m liking it and have gotten to use it in a couple of shows. I’m adding holders to the props, so that they can just stay set up. Here’s what I’ve 3d printed so far:
The goal is to hopefully cut down on my set up time. I just need to set up the studio, and not the studio plus all of my show props. The silver lining is that the holders also keep things from falling off the table when it’s moved or the shelf is rotated. I still need to make the holders for the rest of the table, but this is a start!
One of the fun things about magic, is while social media magic is pretty much the same around the world, in person magic has very different trends in different places. Recently I found a couple of DVD’s of a magic convention in Taiwan.
I already had the 2010 DVD, and now have 2014 and 2016. What I love is the difference in how routines are put together, what the emphasis is on. I really enjoy watching them. If you get the chance to watch convention DVD’s from other countries, I highly recommend it!
One of the things I’m always doing is trying to be more efficient. I’ve been having a difficult time streamlining my virtual show’s prop set up. Essentially what I had were two tables off screen and props would move from one to the other as they were used. This isn’t the worst system in the world, but it does take up a lot of space.
Last night I was playing with a different set up where I had a prop table in front of me but now in view of the camera. It was a much easier way to grab props. However I still have the challenge of having a working table in addition to the two prop tables. That’s when I got the idea of putting a shelf below my working table:
This shelf spins, so that I can rotate it to access different props easily. I’m going to cover it with felt and probably 3d print holders for my props to keep them upright, and in position. The shelf is also at a height where when my hand drops naturally, I could grab, or secretly steal something.
This shelf may be the key in eliminating both of my prop tables, and that will free up some physical performing space!
The book I’m reading right now is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This is about creating new habits and breaking old ones using small steps. I’m about halfway through it and really liking it so far. I’m practicing more, and dinking around on social media less. So that’s a good start.
One thing that was mentioned in the book was the difference between motion and action. Motion is the planning and the action is the actual doing. To relate this to magic, motion is thinking about the method of a trick and trying to look at it from all angles. Action is actually trying the trick of building the prop.
I agree that action is more important that motion and the sooner you start the action part, they more you’ll learn about what you’re working on. You can design and tweak a trick on paper, but it’s you don’t get better at the trick until you start actually doing it.
One of my theories on creating magic is that ideas don’t belong in notebooks. They belong out in the world being performed. The sooner you try the idea, the sooner you know if you will like it, if the audience likes it, or if it’s even a good idea.
Not too long ago I was watching a virtual magic show, and the performer picked me as an assistant from the audience. It’s always awkward when someone picks me to help, as I never know how they want me to act. I usually err on the side of being more reserved when chosen as a helper from the audience.
One thing that I found interesting was how much I felt like a prop as a helper at this specific show. I was pretty much told to do things and make basic choices. It felt like I was talked at, not talked to. I know that a show is different from chatting with someone at dinner. It just felt really strange.
Now this has me thinking about how I interact with people within my show. I’m going to try to talk to people. What I mean by that is not having a deep conversation, but actually listen to them. Many times we ask people things like, “why did you say the number 7?” and they give us an answer, then we just move along. The answer they give us doesn’t always need a response, but frequently there’s something to say, even a sincere “thank you“.
After yesterday’s post about the offensive magic routine, it made me wonder why magicians fight so hard for things that have aged out of being acceptable. Is it that they fear having to learn something new?
Honestly I don’t know.
Ray Franklyn continues to blow my mind with his defense of how he presents this magic trick. He asked me to tell him what I felt was offensive. Here’s a screenshot (Franklyn is his “stage last name”):
His casual use of “Chinaman” shows how out of touch he is. Is he intentionally being offensive or racist, or does he not know better?
Honestly, I do not think he is intentionally trying to be offensive or racist…HOWEVER I do think that he’s unwilling to learn that it’s no longer 1960 and what may have been acceptable to say then, is not now.
Change is hard.
I struggle with keeping up with the times in my show. I also push boundaries in my show, however in the last 20 years I’m very aware those boundaries have changed. I also push boundaries with a personal point of view, not simply rehashing an Ian Adair trick that’s been done before.
Yesterday I wrote about an idea of doing a matrix with pickles on the bun of a hamburger. I made some mock up bun shapes out of cardboard and gimmicked some pickles and worked out the trick.
Here’s it in its proof concept video:
Obviously it’s still got a long way to go. Figuring out a way to make the bun rigid will be my next challenge. I also need to buy or make some fake pickles that are all uniform in shape. Those are the next two challenges (that I’m aware of).
One of the things that I love about magic jams is having people improve on your ideas. I had an idea of doing a trick with a hamburger. I’d make 4 pickles disappear and one at a time, they’d reappear under the bun. I mentioned that and the idea quickly grew to “what if you did a matrix with pickles under the bun“.
That idea is way better than what my idea started out as. I’m super lucky to have the magic jam partners that I do have. Today I started playing with the idea. I cut some circle of cardboard to be the hamburger and some cardboard to be the pickles.
I kinda got the sequence worked out, but the trick still needs some work. Mostly it needs to be built into an actual hamburger. This is something that would be better for a social media video than a live show. It’s fun to do, and I can’t wait to actually record it!
Another day, another change to my wheel. This is a subtle change, but I added colors to the wheel.
There’s a very good reason for this, I’ve figured out a way to force a color on the front and an object on the back. I can now do a prediction that will have three reveals with the wheel, the only variable would be the number, which would be the first selection. Once the first number is made, I can pull the prediction from an index and I’m set! It’ll take a lot of the heat off of the switch, as it happens at the very beginning of the routine!