My final scheduled virtual magic show was yesterday at 9:30am…and it was for a group of middle school aged kids. I’m going to say that middle school age isn’t the ideal demographic for 9:30am. They had fun, and so did I!
This show had some problems which are why virtual shows stressed me out. The big one was my internet dropped about 2 mins from the start of the show. I was back in the zoom before the show started. it’s one of those things that had it happened 5 mins later, it would have been a bigger issue. Zoom also wasn’t recognizing my mic, so I had to use my laptop’s mic. That also wasn’t a huge deal, but it just adds to the stress of these gigs.
I ran this show solo, normally I have my daughter run the production on the show. It was fun, but I’m glad to be back to performing in person.
I had a great time learning to perform in a virtual venue, and I really loved creating magic for virtual shows. I’m not saying I will never do another virtual show, there are just no more on my calendar.
Today is the the day that I perform my final virtual magic show! I’m pretty excited that I’m back to doing in person shows, however going forward I will still do virtual shows if requested. In the last year and a half, I think I’ve figured it out at a workable level. My virtual show was decent, not crazy amazing, but passable.
The HUGE thing that I’m not going to miss going forward is setting up my studio. I don’t have a dedicated space to do virtual shows, so I had to build and tear down the studio every time I did the show. That made the effort to do the virtual show close to what it would be to drive to an in person show.
The other big headache is technology. I think that’s the thing that was the most stressful about these shows. The internet has mysterious dropped out during shows, or gotten laggy while I was performing. That part that’s completely out of my hands, but affects the perception of how good the show is caused me a lot of stress!
I’m hoping today’s show virtual show is uneventful!
Awhile ago on this blog I mentioned I was working on a trick that used an Amazon Alexa / Echo device. The goal of the trick was essentially a self working trick that someone could do without me, just following some instructions and having an Alexa in their room.
Here’s the final trick:
When I was putting this together, it I was pretty lucky. I put the hats above on note cards. I needed to force the party hat and the four hats I randomly wrote down and the order that I randomly laid them out worked for the math! I still needed to figure out the second count (hat), and once I realized I just needed an odd number, it was a piece of cake!
Recently I did a virtual lecture for a magic club in Wisconsin and one of my favorite parts of the lectures is at the end when I do stuff that’s not normally in the lecture. One of the things I did was my Coins To Glass:
It is my great platform for me to talk about fixing tricks you like, but are broken. What I mean by that is the original Copentro trick. It’s a great trick, but that base doesn’t really work with modern standards of what magic props look like. Sure you could come up with a reason to justify the base, but it still looks strange. My method was used to completely eliminate the need for a the thick base, as the coins don’t move vertically.
What’s great about show and teaching this routine to magicians is it really illustrates how I think. How I won’t stop at the original idea (usually), and will keep pushing it until I figure it out. Also that I’m open to suggestions from other performers.
Yesterday’s post I wrote about someone looking for interactive coin magic. Seeing their post, I created an original trick that would fit their requirements. It’s a coin trick, it’s interactive, in that everyone could follow along from home and it has a magical payout. It’s a “touch the screen” type effect, but the magic ending takes it beyond a math puzzle.
here’s how the effect plays, you have three pieces of paper, one has coins written on it, one credit and the final bills:
Someone touches one of the pieces of paper. They spell the word on it, jumping one space per letter.
You tell the you know they aren’t on the word “Bills” so you eliminate that one and throw that piece of paper away.
Now they spell money (starting on the word they ended on), jumping one space per letter.
You tell them you know they aren’t on the Credit, that means they picked the Coins! You then pick up the paper with coins written on it, light it on fire and produce coins!
In my head this coin production would look like this Tommy Wonder picture:
There you go and original, interactive magic trick that had a magical payoff!
While I personally don’t like the the “touch the screen” type effects, I do think that knowing them and understanding how they work make you a more well rounded magician. It’s just another tool in your toolbox that will help you solve a problem.
A few days ago this post came through my social media feed:
The huge thing is the original poster didn’t define what they meant by “interactive”, it leaves a lot up to interpretation. Do them mean that they interact with people verbally, or is it a Touch The Screen type effect?
The next poster tries to get clarification:
My assertion that any trick can be interactive with a bit of thought, seem a bit outlandish, so they gave me a challenge of a trick that based on how the instructions are written, you really shouldn’t be able to do it virtually.
However I immediately knew how to make it interactive:
I stand by my assertion that any trick can be “interactive” in a virtual show if you put some brain power on the problem, instead of blindly doing what everyone else is doing.
Lately I’m getting more and more requests for hybrid events. These are live, in person shows, that also have a virtual component. I think we’re going to have more and more of these. Last week I did four school assemblies that were hybrid, with some of the kids in the room with me and some at home. I just hosted a charity auction that was a hybrid event:
Here’s what I’m noticing about these, you can’t easily stage it for both audiences. Most event planners think you can just plunk up a camera, and that’s not the case.
For example the event in the picture above, they had me set up for the camera, but didn’t think about the in person audience. First of all I’m sitting at a table on the opposite side of the room, so I’m losing connection with a huge chunk of the in person audience. The didn’t have a monitor, so I couldn’t see the gallery view of the virtual audience, so I didn’t have any connection with them.
The gig went well, it was a hosting gig, so it wasn’t a show and we ended up raising more money than the charity’s goal for the evening, so it was a success…but it could have been soo much better for both audiences!!!
This week I’m doing a series of hybrid in person / virtual shows for a small school that has about 20 kids in each show. Yesterday’s group upper elementary school age and the rest of the week will be middle school aged kids. Doing the show, I was very chatting with the kids and the kids were very chatty with me, however I held them and no one logged off the zoom as this was an optional event. The principal was impressed that I held them all and kept the kids engaged the whole time.
Now…going forward for the next school that contacts me for a hybrid show, I think if I know it’s going to be a hybrid event, I may try have my daughter run the Zoom part of it. The experience the kids at home got wasn’t the best. They had an iPad in the back of the room, so it was just a blurry wide show of me 30 feet from it. Having a camera that could move (pivot) and zoom in and out would be a huge advantage. They also had a large projector screen with the Zoom screen on it, I think I would ideally have that behind me, so then I could use that screen to my advantage and do some close up stuff.
All of that would be the ideal way to do it. Unfortunately, that’s probably not how it would actually play out. How it would probably actually play out is this:
I’d ask them to log me into their Zoom room and they’d say they couldn’t due to privacy reasons.
I’d ask to have the screen behind me and they’d say no because of how the room has to be laid out for social distancing
I’d ask to plug my camera into the computer they are using for Zoom and it would crash it because their computer doesn’t have enough power to run an external camera.
Knowing my ideal hybrid situation now will hopefully get me at least one of the three. Now that I know what to ask for, it’ll be easier to get something!
Not too long ago I added the remote control chattering teeth bit from my in person shows to my virtual shows and to my surprise, it was a hit! Honestly I didn’t think it would play as well over the screen. After trying it, it’s staying in the family virtual show!
One thing that I didn’t like is that my hand had to drop out of frame to push the button. Honestly, this really isn’t a big deal, and I don’t think that anyone notices it and this isn’t really a magic trick, but a comedy bit. I was going to build the remote transmitter into a foot pedal, then noticed I an old telegraph key kicking around. Here’s what I built:
I had to 3d print the base under the telegraph key to hold the remote transmitter and battery. The telegraphy key simply sits on the floor and I push it with my foot.
I’m a huge fan of props with things that no one sees but you, and there’s some embellishment that only you know about. I know I just built thing, but whenever I look at it, it makes me smile!