X Ray Coin Vanish

Last night I was walking my dog and was thinking about an amazing idea of my friend Bri Crabtree. She uses a green screen spot, which is a genius idea! My idea was to use it as an xray for a vanish. Here’s a rough idea of what I’m think of:

I’m thinking if I get a ping pong paddle that’s green on one side I can make it work. Show the non-green side that says “x ray” then flip it over, show the skeleton of my hand with the coin and d do the vanish.

It’s not the deepest mystery in the world, but it is fun!

Moving Dots…

A while ago I realized that three of magic tricks I’ve developed in the last year is basically the same plot, just with different props. Three things disappear one at a time and reappear grouped together.

I’m trying to add some texture to the show. One of the things I picked up is The Matrix Pad Reloaded. While the name implies that three things would disappear and reappear in one spot like a traditional coin matrix, it’s not exactly that. It’s a moving ink effect, so not really a teleportion, or vanish and reappearance, it’s closer to an animation.

Here’s the demo of the trick:

For a virtual family show I think I could add some fun and make it more interactive. I started by adding different colored pens, so each dot is a different color. While less practical for an in person show, this change is a simple alteration of the gimmick. Now I can have three people each pick a color and I have three people involved in the trick. Then I decided we can play a bit and they will pick a mode of transportation and that’s how the dots will move.

Here’s the test run of it I did at the local magic club:

While it’s not perfect, I think that there’s something there.

Taking Away One…

One of the first tricks that I started working on since the COVID pandemic started a year ago was my Polaroid to Envelope trick. This trick started as Goshman’s Cards thru Newspaper, but then evolved a lot. It’s pretty much been unchanged for months, here’s what it looked like:

Yesterday I was going to work on it some more as I was going to be doing the Nashville Magic Company’s Tricks of the Trade magic open mic in the evening. That’s when it hit me, I don’t need four pictures, I just need three. One of them doesn’t do anything, it cleans up some clutter and tightens up the routine a little bit.

After the open mic they do a little bit of a workshop for the performers to ask other performers for thoughts on what they performed. I got a couple of great suggestions and ideas. Someone asked why the pictures appeared face down, instead of face up. This is a great idea, that because I was building from a another trick, I didn’t think about that.

I started playing with having the pictures face up and I think I got a workable sequence out of it. Having just three pictures is soo much more manageable than four! I’ll probably record a video of the new sequence later today and post it when I get a chance.

If you’re not using these virtual open mics to work on material they are a huge resource that didn’t really exist a year ago. Not only to practice material, but to get specific feedback from other performers.

Comedy Magic

About a week ago I did a little chat with Nick Lewin and Fielding West about performing comedy magic. It was a live Zoom chat and it was a lot of fun and the feedback was very positive. A few people have asked if it would be available afterwards. It looks like Nick has it as a download on his website www.lewinenterprises.com

If you missed it, here’s a little video teaser

One of the key takeaways from this talk is that most magicians that call themselves comedy magicians don’t understand comedy. You need to go out and learn to write jokes, and create comedy. There’s a real interesting moment in the talk where we create a joke to fill a spot in the show that’s just expository patter. Not only do we create the joke to fill an slow spot, we tweak it and add a tag to it!!

I was honored to be part of this panel and it was a lot of fun!

Making Some Take Up Reels…

One of the magic products that I put out and that I’m the most proud of is the Take Up Reel that I created. What a Take Up Reel is used for is to shorten a length of string and was popularized by Billy McComb and Tommy Wonder in their Vanishing Birdcage routines.

As far as I know I’m currently the only person / company that makes a Take Up Reel for sale. I’m working on a batch of them this week. It takes about a full week to make one from start to finish. Here’s one of the locks coming out of my 3D printer:

Magic is being revolutionized by 3D printing, especially stage magic. It allows you to affordably make soo many custom props that would have cost tons of money to have fabricated 5 or 10 years ago.

If you’re not out printing stuff, I highly recommend learning how. It’s pretty easy, and you don’t even need to own a 3D printer as there are companies you send the file to and they’ll make it for you.

Click here for more info on my Take Up Reel!

Inner Thoughts…

One of the things I like about doing virtual shows is that I can do stuff in my show that I couldn’t possibly do in an in person magic show. I also think that’s one of the key things to doing a virtual show is having elements that separate it from your in person magic show.

I do a little bit with thought bubbles in my virtual show, that really wouldn’t play at an in person show with physical signs for the thought bubbles.

When I hopefully return to doing mostly in person shows, I’m going to miss some of things that I could do in virtual shows.

Am I Old and Surly?

I’m trying to decide if I’ve become an old curmudgeon, or if some other people are simply idiots and the internet is highlighting this. Recently in a facebook group someone was asking for a good way to vanish or produce a die. Anyone with basic knowledge of sleight of hand knows how to do this. I’m going to assume the original poster asked in case there was something strange that they had not thought of.

Then they get this response and you can see my response below it:

Am I being an old a$$shole…or does this the person who responded have no idea what they are talking about?

as far as I know a shuttle pass pretends to move a coin or coins from hand to hand. It is neither a production or a vanish. It may set you up for the production of vanish, but it’s neither of those*.

Why would you suggest a shuttle pass?

My only guess is you don’t know what you’re doing. This is why crowd sourcing your knowledge instead of going out and getting a working knowledge of sleight of hand hurts you. It feels like a short cut until you realize you’ve driving around the same block four times.

My advice is to go out and learn the basics and try to figure it out on your own, that way you won’t be chasing leads that have zero merit.

*Yes, I do understand that from a technical standpoint it’s both a production and a vanish to create the illusion of passing an object hand to hand, however to the audience it’s neither of those.

Vertical Three Shell Game

Last night I was playing with a set of mini cups and balls that I have. This particular set was made by Leo Smesters. These are a great little set, however honestly I don’t have much of a use for them. When I originally bought them I had an idea, but haven’t done much with them.

I had the idea of doing a vertical three shell game. The ball would switch places vertically while the cups were stacked. Here’s a quick video of the basic idea:

There’s a little bit more to the full idea I have. Right now the cups are ungimmicked and they will stay that way. However the balls have magnets in them and they stick to each other through the cup. So the cups can sort of function like a chop cup or regular cup depending on the positions of the two balls.

My idea is to have one ball with a very strong magnet in it and then two others with smaller magnets in them. The audience is only aware of one ball. You will steal the ball with the strong magnet and use that magnet like you would a use thumbtip with a magnet inside of it. That will give much more options with what you can do with the cups.

Now I just need to make the balls…

Working Around Video Lag…

Well I think I jinxed myself yesterday. I was chatting on the phone with a magician friend of mine and mentioned that I’m just getting to the point where virtual shows aren’t stressing me out all day. I think I would have reached that point a lot sooner if I had a dedicated space to perform virtual shows in. I’m having to build and take down the virtual theater each show. I’m just now getting comfortable with the show and doing all of that.

Yesterday right before showtime I was running some new cues with my daughter who runs the production end of my show and we noticed my video was lagging. My video would freeze, then speed up to get caught up to real time. I then spend an hour stressed out trying to diagnose what what going on.

I never did figure it out. If you have any ideas of what may have been causing it, let me know!

However being aware of the problem really helped. We found out that my audio was constant, it was just an issue with video, so every one could hear me the whole time. I ended up having to time the magic moments around the freezes. How I did this was go fairly slow and almost wait for the lag before the magic happened. Once the video froze, then sped up I have at least 15 seconds of good video, so I would make the trick happen then. It worked and the booker was happy with the show. I also made them aware of the problem during the check in before the show.

This is a good example of why being comfortable with the material in your show really pays off. My brain was working overtime working around the tech issue, that if I had to think much about my show, it would have been a really tough show to do. I’m not saying doing “easy” or “self working” magic tricks is the way to go, I’m saying being comfortable with your material. I do a couple of technical things in the show, and I’ve practiced and done them a ton, I don’t need to devote brain power to them if I don’t need to.

Four Ace Production…

Here’s a little four ace production I thought of a few nights ago.

I have a feeling the book Principa by Harapan Ong led to this, it feels like several of the ace productions in that book.

The work is pretty simple, you need the four aces on top of the deck. They alternate face down and face up, with the uppermost ace face down.

Take the deck and slip cut two cards (a face down and face up ace) off the top of the deck on the lower have. Do a faro shuffle, it only needs to be a perfect faro for the first four cards and leave the cards outjogged (don’t complete the shuffle).

Your left index finger pops the top card off the top forward half and the thumb on your other hand does the same with the top card of the inner half. When you do that the four aces will be face up.

It’s it the best, or most practical four ace production? Probably not.
Was it fun to play with? yes

Do what you want with this new knowledge!