A while ago I bought Measure for Measure by Iain Bailey which is a prediction using a tape measure. You pull out the tape and someone says stop and you’ve predicted where they say stop. Here’s the promo video for it:
I think it’s a great trick, but the method didn’t really work for me. There’s a move that needs to happen, and it’s not hard to do, but the move just didn’t work for me. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it’s not, it’s a great trick. The method didn’t work for me.
I ordered a few tape measures and got to playing around with altering Iain’s gimmick.
What I ended up with is a tape measure that starts legitimately closed, ends legitimately closed and is 100% self working, there’s no move. I also upped the width of the tape to the Stanley Fat Max tape measure, so it’ll play a little bit bigger. As a bonus, you can see the prediction retract with the tape as you close it.
Here’s a quick demo of what my solution looks like:
I want to be clear that I’m not knocking Iain’s release, it’s a great trick and I think it would work for most people out of the box. Also, the hard part of creating magic is the first 90%, from the initial idea to a finished product for how the creator wants it to work. The final 10% is easy, and my “improvement” was the easy part, since the idea and gimmick already existed.
Also when it comes to marketing magic, there are a lot of choices that have to be made. Sometimes a method won’t be the best, but more accessible to the majority of magicians, or something that may seem like a small, insignificant tweak will triple the cost per unit.
I’m heading out on the road in about a week, I’m excited to give my version of Measure for Measure a try in front of real audiences! -Louie
Frequently I’m asked to make little promo videos for events that I’m performing. Here’s one a made for a gig a few days ago:
They wanted me to thank the sponsors and to do a quick trick. One of my “go to tricks” for situations like that are flap cards for a quick color change. I do the first change in the glass (which as far as I know I’m the first to do) which I think adds to the impossibility of it changing. Then the second is just the toss change.
Having a quick and visual trick you can do for things like this helpful. Also essentially having a formula for doing videos for events, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. I just grab my glass and card and I’m good to go!
Many years ago when I was working at Market Magic Shop, I used to demo and sell a trick called Silver Extraction. The effect is you take a half dollar and it ends up turning into a blob of silver and a clear coin. Then at some point someone made a coin that was just the copper center of a half dollar. I don’t know what the routine was, but I’m going to assume it was a similar effect.
I always thought it would be great paired with the blob of silver that came with the Johnson Silver Extraction. Unfortunately they stopped making the Silver Extraction a long time ago, so that was something I never did. Well, recently I came across one of the blobs of silver and bought it.
Now that I have the two of them, I can try it out!
Here’s another one of my videos where I try to improve packet tricks that I’ve come across. This one is called It’s a Joke-r by Bill Pryor. Here’s the video of it done with the original instructions and then a revised version for a real audience:
The trick is sort of a Princess Card Trick with a kicker, but it’s poorly executed. The whole part of putting a card in your pocket, just to pull it out I don’t like. I also don’t like waiting for the audience to want to turn over the cards on the table for the kicker to happen. If they do turn them over, it’s great, but if they don’t, the trick is just OK.
The changes I made of have a card thought of by me and the person from the audience gives the trick a little more depth. Then never putting a card in my pocket, but keeping it in my hand adds a lot to the trick. Finally having a reason for them to turn over the cards to discover the jokers guarantees they get revealed.
This is a trick that takes up way too much pocket space for how good the trick is. I don’t think the original or my revised version justifies the use of space.
Yesterday I was back home briefly before flying to Los Angeles to record a few routines for a TV show. While I was packing up to fly, I learned that the speaker stand that I’ve been using in my virtual shows as my table base didn’t fit into my case, it was about 3 inches too long! I switched to using a speaker stand early into doing virtual shows because I was able to raise it higher than a traditional magician’s table. That made it easier to frame my face and table in the same camera shot. You can read more about that here:
The solution was pretty simple, I unscrewed the attachment at the top, then cut off a few inches with my Dremel. Also if you don’t have a Dremel or similar tool, you should get one, they are super handy!
While I was out there I also noticed the smaller bar that moves up and down didn’t need to be as long as it was, so I chopped it in half. That will reduce weight for future trips if I fly with this again. Ideally I’ll just use a speaker stand provided by the venue.
Luckily it was a simple solution to shorten the speaker stand. I’ve always said that being a professional magician is 90% problem solving!
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.
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.
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.
One thing that’s been life changing for my show is learning to use a 3D printer. Recently I was part of a panel that was talking about 3D printing for performers and I made a quick video tutorial that took you through the entire design process of making a holder for a thumb tip and dollar bill holder.
Here it is:
Hopefully this took some of the mystery out of 3D printing. Honestly I thought it would be much harder, until I got one and learned to do it!
One of the things I’m always doing it trying to improve what I currently do. Right now in my virtual show I do a modified version of my Cee-Lo trick, which is a cup and dice routine. This ends with the production of two large dice. The large dice are 1 1/4 inches on each side. To give you some perspective, the picture below is one of the jumbo dice next to a regular die.
The reason that the trick uses 1 1/4 inch dice is that for a live, in person show, it makes the loading procedure work. The cup will hold two 1 1/2 inch dice, but the method where the spectator loads the cup for you doesn’t work well with a larger die.
I was cleaning up and found the old set of 1 1/2 inch dice I tried using for Cee-Lo. It hit me, since I’ve changed my loading procedure for virtual shows, and there are no spectators to handle the props, why not move to the larger size dice. To give you an idea of visually how much bigger they are, the pictures below are a 1 1/2 inch die next to a regular die and a 1 1/4 inch die.
That extra quarter inch makes it look massive! The nice thing about how I load the cups for live virtual shows is that the size of the die doesn’t really matter. I’m getting a little more visual impact for no extra work! I’m a fan of that.