Clean Cork…

I made a cleaner video of the coin to cork trick, which I’m giving the title Corkage Fee. This is the title that was stuck in my head.

I cleaned up the handling’s timing a little bit and added some context to the switch of the cork. For a quick social media video, having the balance on the nose at the beginning is a better switch than a shuttle pass. An even better way would have been to start with a bottle of wine that I took the cork out of. I don’t really drink wine, so that’s not something I have kicking around.

Corkage Fee Transpo!

Yesterday I wrote about a Cork To Coin effect (read it here) and I’ve taken it a bit further than a simple 2 second trick. It’s not gone much further, but here’s where it’s at:

I like the idea of a transposition between the cork and the coin. It adds a layer of less obviousness to how the trick works. I think I may flesh it out a bit more and rerecord it with better lighting and put it out as a social media video.

Corkage Fee…

Sometimes you get an idea stuck in your head. For me it’s the title of a magic trick, and it’s not a good title either. The title is “Corkage Fee“. For me that just leads to something involving money and a cork. My original idea was a cork turning into dollar bills. The second idea was a cork that disappeared when rolled into a dollar bill. I came up with a barely working version of the second idea.

I started playing with a third idea for a trick using a cork and a coin:

While not the best idea, I think it may have some uses for Instagram type videos.

James Randi…

A few days ago The Amazing Randi passed. I remember as a teenager reading his books. I never expected to run into him. I was probably 20-ish years old and ran into him at a magic shops. We chatted a bit and ended up hanging out while he was in Seattle doing a TV show.

From the stories he told, he’s a guy that’s lived the life of twenty people. He’s pretty much seen and done it all. From touring with Alice Cooper to speaking at huge scientific conferences and he had great stories about them all!

He’s the first person that really turned me onto altering money for magic. Mentioned I should play with putting Scotch Guard on bills. I think I published the trick I came up with using Scotch Guard in a Linking Ring magazine.

From my limited experience hanging out with Randi, he was a cool guy who knew how live life!

Different Hook Up…

One of the effects in magic that I don’t do in my show is a levitation. It doesn’t fit with my character, or at least I haven’t found a way to make it fit. I’ve create a couple different levitation tricks, but they aren’t things that I would do. However this one is my favorite:

Method wise it’s pretty solid, it’s self contained and there’s a redundant system in case the gimmick breaks during the trick. It’s also casually examinable before and after the trick. It solves a lot of the reasons why I don’t from a technical standpoint do any tricks that use this method and that’s that they are fragile.

My method is loosely based on a Ben Harris card trick. The gimmick is very different from Ben’s, if you took his card and swapped it for a bill, the trick wouldn’t work. For me, this floating bill trick is a good example of creating some sort of art that’s pretty much for the sake of creating.

Fooling Myself…

When I used to travel frequently one of the things that I did to keep myself busy was invent magic tricks. I has some guidelines, the main one was to use things found in my hotel room. Here’s one from a few years ago:

One thing I really like about this trick is the visual of pulling the bill through the straw. Once I had the idea of the sideways penetration, then I had to figure out a method. I can’t find any notes I wrote for this trick and honestly I’m not 100% sure how I did it. I have an idea of how I probably did it as there are only a few ways you can slide a bill through as straw.

Doing these hotel room videos were a fun creative challenge because you are really limited prop wise with what you can do.

Adding Some Heat to a Bill Change

Not too long ago someone sent me a video of a magician doing a visual bill change. The trick in the video wasn’t very good as you only saw a small portion of the bill and didn’t see the whole bill until after the change. I sent a quick video back of how I would improve the trick, however personally I wouldn’t do the trick as I don’t think it’s a bill switch is good if you can’t show the most of the bill before it changes. If you only show me fraction of it, it’s not as impressive.

Later that night I was playing around with the gimmick I had made and added some lighter fluid to add some razzle dazzle to the bill change. I was kinda amazed that it worked, and made a new gimmicked bill where I could show the whole face of the bill. Here’s what I came up with:

The fire justified the shaking of the action for the bill, which is necessary for this gimmick to work. It adds a “magic moment” to the trick. It’s not just a visual change that happens with a shake. It also makes the trick longer than a 2 second trick, which is nice.

Conditions on a Coin Routine…

The last couple of days I created and refined a coin routine. Here are the two routines and the conditions:

Initially the conditions were:

  • Viewed from the front
  • Done for the camera
  • No table
  • Face must be framed

I will say that I initially fudged the face must be framed because I put the coin in my pocket, however there’s still action by my face as that’s where my right hand stays holding a coin.

After coming up the first version, I added a couple more conditions:

  • Hands stay in frame
  • Usable in a LIVE show with video projection
  • Able to set up quickly

With the second set of conditions, I’m thinking about actually using the routine. In the second version, I’m playing the the camera for the two times the coin disappears from one hand and reappears in the other, but it will still work live. The set up quickly condition is huge, I need to be able to reach into my case, grab the coins and be good to go.

Then there’s a small challenge with the condition of my hands not leaving the frame. I have the stupid penny to keep hidden after it changes into the two silver dollars. It sounds simple, but was a pain to figure out how…until I came up with a very simple and obvious solution to holding out the penny for almost the whole routine.

The next step would be to start to work on a verbal routine, or at least intro, to get more than 30ish seconds out of the routine.

Continuing Creating a Coin Routine…

The coin routine that I started yesterday started with a penny turning into two silver dollars. One silver dollar repeated traveled from the pocket to the hand and for a finish one of the silver dollars turned clear. It’s a decent routine, however after playing with it, I added a couple more conditions (I’ll write about the conditions tomorrow) and here’s what the routine changed into:

The first big difference is the routine is about 17 seconds shorter. I took the coin going from the pocket to the hand, that I felt was pretty redundant after I did it more than twice. It doesn’t feel as impossible with a coin as it does with a ball. It’s interesting that the routine started with a billiard ball manipulation premise, however moved away from that.

The ending with both coins turning clear makes more sense than just one of them doing and the final display of one in each hand is better.

Making a Story…

Probably the most magical trick you can do is turn a one dollar bill into a one hundred dollar bill and give it to someone to keep. That will have more impact that almost anything else you can do. That’s why bill change tricks are popular, everyone has an emotional investment in them.

The nice thing about the standard Hundred Dollar Bill Switch is in a live show the folding process takes time which is good. Now let’s move the trick to Instagram where you have up to 60 seconds…and the attention span of the audience is even less. By the time you set up the premise and start folding the bill, you’re losing people. That’s why visual magic is HUGE on social media.

Another factor to consider in social media videos is that the bill isn’t borrowed, so some of the impact is lost. It’s always more amazing if the magician took MY dollar and turned it into a hundred, than used HIS dollar and turned it into a hundred.

Personally I think setting up a premise is important for a quick trick. There are a couple of ways to do that. You can do it in the video, or you can do it in the text of the post.

Here’s a video of a quick bill change for social media:

My friend asked me if I could turn a $5 into a hundred…yes I can!…….#magic #moneymagic #sleightofhand #nocameratricks

Posted by Louie Foxx- Magic and comedy on Thursday, April 9, 2020

In the video I set up the premise, which is that it’s a “challenge” a friend gave me. I take up the problem, and solve it. I also solve it in an unexpected way. There’s a story there, I’ll admit, it’s a weak story, but it tells a story in about 12 seconds.

Personally I think it’s important to tell that story. Based on the analytics of my videos, the ones that are just quick tricks without the storyline never get the same amount of views as the ones that do. Of course this is my own experience, and I’m sure there are people churning out eye candy and racking up some big numbers in views.