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.
One of the Facebook groups that I belong to is a Magician’s 3D Printing group. It’s an interesting group, a few people in it are making some cool stuff. Recently someone asked if anyone had made a chop cup before. I mentioned that I had and made stack of nested cups as a final load for it.
I no longer have the set of cups, but here’s an idea of what they looked like:
This set was 100% inspired by Gary Ouellet‘s column Fulminations in Genii Magazine where he had a series of nested cups as the ending for a cups and balls routine. This led to my Russian Shell Game trick, which is a Three Shell Game that ends with a ton of shells on the table.
The fun thing about the time we live in, is with a little bit of tinkering around, you can make virtually any prop you’ve ever wanted with 3d printer!
With the conversion to virtual shows, I’ve been tweaking routines that I already do to make them stronger in a streaming show. I recently wrote about how I’ve switched the loads of my Cee-Lo dice trick from using my pockets, to not going to the pocket at all.
One thing that I noticed was that depending on the angle, my dice cup which was black would sometimes disappear on the black table top. This isn’t desirable, so this morning I recovered it in natural tan leather. This makes the cup more visible and the whole routine easier to watch. An unexpected bonus to this is that the large dice actually appear a smidge bigger next to the tan dice up than the black dice up.
If you’re starting to do some virtual shows, look at your props and see what disappears to the background, then take steps to make it more visible. Changing the color of the outside of a cup was something really simple and took less than 5 minutes to do.
One of my favorite routines is my Cee-Lo cup and dice routine. When I sat down to put the routine together, I really thought out what I wanted it to be. I didn’t take someone else’s existing routine and alter it, I built the routine from the ground up…and am still adapting it.
It’s nice when other people recognize that you’ve got a good routine. Cee-Lo was just reviewed in Vanish Magazine. I love how Nick mentions that the routine doesn’t feel like there is padding before the two jumbo dice loads.
Honestly, I wish I could bang out creating routines like this. One of the nice things about when I was putting this together is that I was performing on the “fair circuit” and doing 3 shows a day, plus I could do it before the show, after the show, or pretty much anytime I wanted. Having all those opportunities to test out different sequences in a very short amount of time really helped tighten up fast!
Many years ago I remember watching a VHS tape with Dan Fleshman who did his Fleshman Flash as part of his cups and balls routine. This is a cool loading move for cups and balls that is a virtually invisible way to load two balls into the cups.
It looks like he teaches the Fleshman Flash on The Restaurant Magic of Dan Fleshman DVD vol. 3.
I remember rewinding that VHS tape over and over, the move was virtually invisible. Early on, that got me thinking about loading sequences and how you need to do more than simply put something into your pocket and steal it out the load.
Here’s and early version of my Cee-Lo Trick and at the end you can see the how the load of the second jumbo dice isn’t from my pocket.
And here’s another loading sequence that I’ve put together:
I think that varying your loading procedure is important. If they all come from the pocket at you put things away, it’s still surprising to an audience, but not as amazing. The more you go to your pockets the easier it is to backtrack. Start to think of clever ways to sneak the large production items in that aren’t all from the pocket.
Tricks that end with something big appearing are always fun to do. They are (usually) amazing and the big object is an instant applause cue and signal that it’s the end of the trick. The challenge right now with all magic happening over cameras, is how do you load the object?
A couple of nights ago I decided I wanted to do a Cups and Balls type trick where someone couldn’t backtrack on video and figure out where the load came from. First I had to examine how to get the big object under the cup.
There are essentially three ways.
First you can take the object off screen for a second and load the item. This works for a video conference where they can’t rewatch the video of the trick later. Personally I think that magic that’s put out on video should be able to withstand at least one rewatching of the video.
The next way is you can load the large item like you would in a normal show. Unfortunately misdirection on a screen doesn’t work like in real life and while it still may play most of these style of loads will be less deceptive. I’m not saying all will, for example a load coming from under the table while you are sitting will be more deceptive that one coming from the back pocket while you are standing.
The final way is having the item in video’s frame and hidden, and sneaking it into the cup. The Larry Jennings / Ron Wilson Chop cup routine is a good example where the ball is stolen from inside a bag.
I decided to go with the having the item already in the frame as this is the method that would withstand the repeated viewings. That got me thinking about the Scotty York Cups and Balls routine where the cups start the routine loaded with the large balls. I then took the frame work of my Cee-Lo (cup and dice) routine and started playing with the cup loaded from the beginning.
Here’s what I came up with:
To do this trick, you’ll notice I’m not using the chop cup as it’s traditionally used. Normally people use the cup to help make the ball vanish and reappear. In this routine, I’m using it as a delivery system for dice. I came up with a way for it to give me two separate loads of dice. Once at a about the 43 second mark and then at about the 52 second mark for the large die. Making a “progressive loading” cup took a bit more work than just shoving dice into a cup with my hand, but I think it’s more deceptive on video.
Ideally since I’m only loading one die, I’d like to use a larger die as the final production. Due to the self quarantine, I’m limited to what I’ve got at home.
Right now as most of us shift from live performing to virtual performing, we really should be reexamining methods to see if there’s a better way to do things.
I’m frequently asked about why the Evaporation’s standard version is orange liquid. The reason for this is simple, it’s easy to be seen. Rarely will you have an orange background that you are performing in front of, so the color won’t disappear into whatever is behind you. Using things like cola, which is a … Continue reading “Your Tricks Gotta Be Seen!”
I’m frequently asked about why the Evaporation’s standard version is orange liquid. The reason for this is simple, it’s easy to be seen. Rarely will you have an orange background that you are performing in front of, so the color won’t disappear into whatever is behind you.
Using things like cola, which is a dark brown be hard to see with a dark background, or using milk in an elementary school gym against a white wall make seeing the trick difficult. That’s why I settled on Orange.
You need to think about this stuff with all of your magic. For example I love the idea of cups and balls, more specifically cup and ball(s). So a chop cup would fall in this category. My marketed trick Cee-Lo (Available from www.hocus-pocus.com) which uses 3 dice and a cup has some clever work on the final loads.
Here’s a video of Cee-Lo:
The problem is that the action happens on the table top, and if you are are a raised stage the audience is looking up at the bottom of the table and can’t see what’s happening.
There are a couple of solutions to this:
Build your table at an angle, so the front edge is lower than the back.
Use video projection onto a screen.
Create a routine where none of the action happens on a table top.
The first two are pretty simple solutions, however how practical they are will depend on the venues you perform in. The third one is the one that interests me. You are now walking into fairly uncharted waters. Aside from Ball and Cone, the only other cup and ball type trick that happens in the hands is Axel Hecklau’s Just a Cup.
Axel’s routine is great, but I want to come up with my own take on an in the hands cup and ball routine. So my starting point was a baseball cap, which hand a brim that I can hold on to and a large ball, that’s an inch and a half in diameter. All of the action now happens at chest level and it plays much larger due to the bigger props.
This routine is still in its early phases, hopefully it’ll work out. Once it’s closer to being finished, I’ll start sharing some video of it.
The point of this post is simple: Look at the tricks you do and think you about what the audience can actually see!