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!
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.
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!
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!
About a month ago I make a blog post about how a version of Copentro that I’d been thinking about for while and was finally working out. It was more of a coins to glass than Copentro. What I mean by that is in Copentro the coin appears in side a glass that’s covered in a glass.
Also I should note that what I’m calling Copentro is Jack Hughes Visible Coins to Glass. I grew up calling it Copentro due to Bob Kline marketing it as that.
I like the coins to glass that I’ve been doing, but something inside me wanted to make a coin appear inside a glass that was covered by a glass. Luckily it really didn’t take much to make that happen. Here’s what I came up with:
I think it captured the spirit of the Jack Hughes / Bob Kline effect. Unfortunately I can only do it with one coin
One thing that I’ve always enjoyed is seeing people’s set up inside their cases and tables. We all have fairly unique ways of solving logistical problems. A few days ago I posted about the shelf that I added to my table. Here’s my view of how my props are set up:
I’m really liking the shelf under the table. Today I’m going to look into adding some casters to the bottom of the table so it’s easier to move in and out of position. I’m not sure if that would make the table want to roll around during s something like the shell game. It looks like I can get a set of casters for about $10, so I’ll give it a try…
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!
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!
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.