Virtual Show Production Gear

This week I sold off the last couple of pieces of virtual show equipment that I had. I’ve slowly been getting rid of stuff, like my foot pedals, and I finally sold my ATEM mini and my Stream Deck. Those two things were the two pieces of hardware that really made doing virtual shows easy (from a production standpoint). If I ever need them again, I can buy them, but I haven’t touched them in a year and I used them two times in the year before that.

I can still do live virtual shows, it’s just that the level of production won’t be what it was in 2021. Recently I gave a presentation to the Kids Entertainer Academy and the only piece of tech that I used was my projector to put my notes on the wall.

virtual magic show

Virtual shows can still be done with just OBS running on my laptop and have a level of production, so if anyone wanted one, I could still do it.

-Louie

Virtual Shows Are Still Happening…

Last week I think I did my final virtual show…well at least the last one with all the technical bells and whistles. This was lower tech, I didn’t use my ATEM mini, or any production software, just Zoom and a stream deck.

This was a fun show because I did it with Roberto the Magnificent and Dennis Forel at an airBnB while we were performing at a different event.

It’s been a year since a did a virtual show and it’s not worth keeping up with how to run the technology if I’m only doing one virtual show a year. However it’s easy to use Zoom as a camera switcher, and simply play music in the room instead of playing it through a virtual cable on my computer. It’s not as slick as using production software, but doable.

-Louie

Street Show Table…

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.

street show buskers magic 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.

-Louie

Camera’s on…

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

Below the Camera…

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!

-Louie

Not Completely Isolated…

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.

You can read yesterday’s post about it here

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!

-Louie

Isolated, Interactive show…

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:

  1. Decline the gig
  2. 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.

We’ll see how it goes…

-Louie

Informal Virtual Performing…

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

Spoon and Fork Transposition

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!

-Louie

Firing Up the Studio…

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.

-Louie