A Magic Sophie’s Choice…

Well I just had a realization that kinda sucks. It just hit me that the Coins to Glass that I’ve been working on and my CeeLo trick are essentially the same trick. Three objects disappear one at a time and reappear under a cup. Sure, both routines had different textures, one the objects visually appear and the other has the two jumbo loads, but they are the same trick.

Now here’s the choice I have to make. Do I try to separate them within the show, or use one as an “A” Show and the other as a “B” show routine.

I’m thinking about trying to put some time between them. If you think about it, I’ve seen several jugglers essentially do the same routine with different props. They do balls, then rings, then clubs, but it’s the same format. Three, then four, then five and maybe seven. It’s really the same trick with a different prop.

Honestly, if they are 10-15 mins apart in the show, I don’t think anyone will notice. However, it’s probably good for me to do one or the other and not both. I can replace one or them with something else I’m working on.

It’s not about the tip…

One of the ways I get a lot of work is through showcases. These are where you perform in front of people who are in a position to book your show. This year has been interesting with them happening virtually. I think a lot of “newer” musicians are struggling in this format compared to what a variety act can do.

Recently I was at a showcase and took this picture of this band’s virtual showcase:

They had their tip info on the video!!!!

I can’t believe their agent didn’t look at it and tell them to take it off. I think it’s not only disrespectful to the viewer, it’s just lazy. The band added the tip info to an existing video, that means they have a copy of it without it.

Show that you respect your audience and don’t ask them for a tip, when you’re trying to get a contract worth thousands of dollars!

Little by Little…

When I’m working on my show, I’m not trying to make giant leaps in getting better, but more smaller things that get better more frequently. What I mean by that is instead of trying to put together a finished show piece before adding it to the show, I get it good enough, add it to the show, and then keep improving it. It’s this constant action that hopefully keeps things evolving and improving.

For my virtual shows I’ve been using a mic on a stand that pics up the audio in the room. It’s a repurposed podcast mic, and while the sound is decent, I think I’m going to be switching back to using a mic pack and lapel mic. This will give me consistent audio as I move around my performing space. It will also allow me to easily mute myself if I need to say something to my producer.

3.5mm to usb for virtual magic show mic

One little challenge this is adding is getting the audio into my production software. One of the main reasons I had switched to the podcast mic was that it was a USB mic. With my mic pack, I can’t plug it into the 3.5mm port in my laptop because I’ll lose the speakers on my computer. That’s where a quick amazon search lead me to a 3.5mm to USB adapter. So far in my little tests today the adapter works great.

Not only will this improve my audio, but it will clear up some floorspace eliminating the mic stand that held the podcast mic. I’m excited to try it for real in my show next week!

More Eyes…

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!

Making Holders…

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!

Back to Back Trials…

Last week I did two virtual open mics, I did Tricks of the Trade on Tuesday and The Mostly Magicians Virtual Open Mic on Wednesday. I’m trying to hash out my torn and restored postcard. It’s been hit and miss and I’m trying to figure out why. Here’s a compilation video of the two tear and restore sequences from both shows back to back:

In the first clip I’m going a little bit faster than in the second clip. In both clips I’m in a hurry to ditch the pieces. At the Mostly Magicians open mic that was a piece of feedback I got was that the ditch that time was obvious. That’s great feedback! There’s no reason that I can’t hold out the pieces longer. In fact I can hold them out the whole time, either palming them or holding them behind the postcard.

I also still think it lacks a “tah dah” moment. I think by that I mean a magic moment. I think the unfolding of the card visually isn’t very triumphant. When I was a teenager I put together a jumbo torn and restored playing card for a friends act. The tearing sequence was JC Wangner’s, but the restoration was something I thought of. The four pieces just popped open quickly into a restored card. I had forgotten about that flash restoration until now. I’ll have to give it a try!

Using Space Wisely!

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!

People…Not Props

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“.

Fan Art…

It always amazes me that some of the magic tricks that I create end up featured in other magician’s shows. Recently someone posted a picture that their kid drew of them doing a virtual magic show.

The trick that the kid decided to feature was my Snake Wand Surprise! This is a gag that has a magical production of a dozen spring snakes at the end. It’s a lot of fun to do, and something that had sat in a notebook for years before I finally made one. Then a few years after I had started using it myself, I started selling them and it was an instant hit!

I just want to say “THANKS” to any magician that uses anything I’ve invented!

Zoom Angle…

Recently I was hanging out with a friend on Zoom and he did Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper. This is a fantastic trick and I think a really good trick for Zoom due to the static camera angle. It makes everything easy to see and laid out well (unless you’re watching from a cellphone, like I was).

Exploring trick that aren’t right for a live show for your virtual show is one of the very fun things about right now. Personally I’m doing things I’ve never really been able to do before, it’s great!