Well, I think I’ve finally accepted that virtual shows aren’t really a part of my business any longer. Sure, I can see one or two occasionally popping up, but they are really in my rear view mirror. Before heading out on the road last week, I disassembled my virtual show table and it returned to its former life as my street show table.
I still have all the parts and can easily rebuild it for virtual shows. One of the things that I really liked about the table was how high it was. The base was a speaker stand, and the table was about armpit height. The reason it was soo high was so that I could easily frame my face and the tabletop in the camera frame.
I’m a little sad to see the virtual show go, it was fun to do.
One of the greatest challenges in magic is getting audiences in virtual shows to turn on their cameras. In the pic below I’m doing performing for about 50 people, but only a handful have their camera’s on.
There are a lot of reasons why people don’t turn their camera’s on, and I honestly don’t blame anyone who keeps their camera off. There are some solutions, for example some ticketed shows have a requirement that all cameras are on. This isn’t an option when you’re hired by someone…I guess you could put that in as a condition in your contract, but I bet it would be a hard sell for a corporate meeting.
The first step is simply asking for people to turn their cameras on. That’s the single step you can take that will yield the most cameras to turn on. In my experience the more I interact with people the more cameras turn on. Once someone figures out a way to get 90% of the camera’s on without requiring it, these shows will be soo much more rockin! -Louie
One of the things about doing virtual magic shows is that I think the audience has no idea of what is going on behind the scenes. Here’s what people see of the set of my virtual show:
Then there’s what’s really going on just below the camera’s view:
Normally my set up is what’s just below my working tabletop, however the show from a couple days ago I had to over prepare as I was told I wouldn’t be able to interact with the audience.
It’s crazy how quickly we all had to learn and figure out these virtual shows. Early on in March or April 2020 people were still trying to do their stage shows (unaltered) on Zoom and I think pretty much everyone has figured out there’s a better way to do it!
Well, it all turned out alright! Yesterday I had a virtual magic show for a group where initially I was told I wouldn’t be able to see or hear the audience and couldn’t use the chat function for the show…but they wanted and interactive show.
I was prepared to treat the show like a live, prerecorded virtual show. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the show started that I was able to do some limited video/audio interaction with the kids!
I went into the show thinking of the old saying, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.
Being willing to take on a challenge helps me grow as a performer. Next time I’m offered a show with conditions like what I was told for this one, I’ll be more prepared as I’ve already thought about it and done a lot of the work!
Today’s show is going to be a stressful show. It’s a virtual show that’s for a group that wants and interactive show…but I won’t be able to see or hear the audience and chat won’t be enabled on Zoom. When I was talking to the booker, I clarified that they want an interactive show, but I can’t interact with the people in the audience and they confirmed that was the situation.
There are essentially two options at this point:
Decline the gig
Take the money and do it
I decided to take the show as a challenge to see what I could come up with. I’m treating this show like a live prerecorded virtual show. What I mean by that is it’s the content I would put into a prerecorded virtual show, however I’m doing it live. This opens up some possibilities, like I could roll dice for a random number or spin a wheel to get a random item. While those methods of selection aren’t as strong as having someone from the audience select the item, it gives me options that aren’t there with a prerecorded virtual show.
I have one trick that’s a “touch the screen” style of trick which is a custom version of Interactive that I made that uses Bigfoot sightings. I do have some tricks where the audience has a job at home, but what they do doesn’t really affect me or the outcome of the trick. One of these is the shellgame, which is good because they can play along at home by picking the shells. I’m using my Russian Shell Game for the show as it’s got a fun ending.
I’m trying to be more proactive about performing when I don’t have shows on the schedule. The last couple of weeks I’ve popped into some virtual magic open mics. When I do these open mics my set up is a lot simpler than when I do a more formal show.
The nice thing about performing in my kitchen is that I can put Post It Notes on the fridge to remind me of lines or things to do.
When I do more formal shows with the virtual studio set up, I have notes taped to my lights and camera. This is a great way to remember new lines, or names of people to thank. For in-person shows I put notes behind monitor speakers or inside my case.
Trying new material is something I live for, so it’s nice to have little things I can do to make it easier! -Louie
Every now and then I end up with a trick that I like, but it doesn’t have a place in the show. These tricks end up in the preshow section of my show until I either come up with a routine for them, or give up on trying to figure out a way to fit them in show. The spoon and fork transposition is something that’s a great trick, but stayed in the preshow part of the show for years.
I finally fleshed out the routine a little bit, so it was more than a quick trick. It’ s a two phase routine, with an ending. Recently I tried it at a virtual magic open mic and it went well:
One thing I didn’t think about was the “hips gag”, I don’t think it played virtually. One of the problems was I was sitting, which I really should have realized before I started. Sometimes little things slip, that end up being a much larger problem that you’d think they would be. At least I now know for future gigs!
Once again last night I was back in the office getting ready for some virtual shows. Everyone thought virtual magic shows would go away once in person shows started up again, however they are still here.
One thing I don’t like about how I do my shows is that it’s not very mobile. What I mean by that is that it wouldn’t be easy to travel with my current virtual show and set up if I wanted to do one while I was on the road.
That should be something that I work on, essentially a “briefcase show” but for virtual. The trick part shouldn’t be a problem, it’s the lights and stands that will be tricky to figure out how to pack small and light.
I thought I was done with the virtual shows, but last night I was back at it! Doing this show as a nice change of pace from the three shows a day I’m doing at a state fair all month.
This was a corporate gig that was for the employees and their families. This was a fun group! One thing I’ve noticed with virtual shows is the time really flies by, compared to a live show. I think that with an in person show, time travels soo much slower. I think it’s because I’ve done it in person soo much that I have to think less. With the virtual I’m constantly on my toes.
In my virtual show my daughter usually runs the production end of the show and in it I normally do a prediction that she helps me out with, but unfortunately she wasn’t available last night. So I had to had to do it all solo. Running the production part is easy, but doing the prediction was going to be a bit of a challenge. Normally the prediction we do is my “Wheel of dinner”. I was going to modify it to a “wheel of costumes” as the client wanted some Halloween themed tricks. The problem was how I was going to accomplish the trick. With the wheel there are 20 options and it doesn’t force. There are ways to force from the wheel, but I really like just spinning it. It feels random.
It hit me, a while ago I had bought Manifest by Danny Weiser, which is a prediction on a luggage tag and never used it. I hung the luggage tag in the background, and during the course of a trick, I asked someone what they were going to be for Halloween. Then at the end of the trick, I did the reveal of the prediction. It played really well. I like a prediction, where the prediction is not the routine, but a bonus…especially because I takes a lot of the heat off of the method!
The virtual magic show that I did a couple days ago went well. It had been a while since I had done them, so the show wasn’t as tight as it could be. Also I didn’t really have time to run the show a few times, so I had forgotten a few bits. Overall it was a decent show.
With the COVID delta variant out there, I think there’s going to be a lot more people looking for virtual shows than there were a few months ago. I just booked another virtual show that will take place in October. I’m flying home for this show to do it from my virtual studio.
One of the things that initially was cool about virtual shows was that in theory you could do them from anywhere in the world for an audience anywhere in the world. The reality is that many hotels don’t have good internet, and the room isn’t necessarily a good background. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s an additional challenge. You may need to book a room at a nicer hotel, or book a conference room. Sometimes those costs can make it cheaper to just fly home and do the gig.
What I need to do is put together a virtual show that can be done with basically just my laptop camera (or small webcam). All of the props would need to be hand held near my face, with no action taking place on the table. This would then work for most situations and could easily be packed.