The virtual magic show that I did a couple days ago went well. It had been a while since I had done them, so the show wasn’t as tight as it could be. Also I didn’t really have time to run the show a few times, so I had forgotten a few bits. Overall it was a decent show.
With the COVID delta variant out there, I think there’s going to be a lot more people looking for virtual shows than there were a few months ago. I just booked another virtual show that will take place in October. I’m flying home for this show to do it from my virtual studio.
One of the things that initially was cool about virtual shows was that in theory you could do them from anywhere in the world for an audience anywhere in the world. The reality is that many hotels don’t have good internet, and the room isn’t necessarily a good background. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s an additional challenge. You may need to book a room at a nicer hotel, or book a conference room. Sometimes those costs can make it cheaper to just fly home and do the gig.
What I need to do is put together a virtual show that can be done with basically just my laptop camera (or small webcam). All of the props would need to be hand held near my face, with no action taking place on the table. This would then work for most situations and could easily be packed.
A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a library that had all of their in person shows cancel to the COVID delta variant and needed a virtual show. That had me fly home last night to do a virtual show today. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve done a virtual show, so I’m a bit nervous. I did a couple of checks of things a few days ago and the audio wasn’t working correctly.
Now that I’m home, it’s a little bit easier to work on things as I’m back in my normal space to perform in. I could have done the show from a hotel room, but having my usual area will be helpful as I know where everything is and I’ve done it a bunch from here.
Another advantage when doing the show from home is that I have my daughter here to help me. I’ve always found having the extra person in the room to try to fix any problems is a huge help!
I think that more virtual shows are going to be popping back up on my schedule in the near future…
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!
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.
Later this evening I’ll be performing a family night show for the first group I did a full, live virtual show for. I’m amazed that a year later I’m still doing these shows and the show has come a long way! I’ve added a bit more production, I’m using more audio effects, and have tricks that are better suited / created for the virtual viewer.
This is the promo video I made from that first show:
It’s also the promo video I still use to promote virtual shows. I probably should have updated it a months ago, but it’s gotten me a lot of work!
Some of the core of that show hasn’t changed, like the silk in peach and the gypsy thread, however a lot has been changed or added.
I used to do a coin sequence that ended with some jumbo coin manipulation. That’s gone, it’s been replaced with my coins under glass routine.
Right now the show opens with the three shell game, a year ago that was in my recorded preshow video.
The show used to open with my flea circus, which was great, however it’s now too much work to set up. Early on in the virtual show timeline, I had a studio in my buddy’s garage that I could leave the flea circus set up in. Unfortunately he moved and that studio is now 5 hours away and my virtual studio is now my office. There’s really not enough room to do it in the office.
I would close the show with a password prediction, but that has changed to the Wheel of Dinner.
I’ve learned soo much over the last year, it’s been a very educational time. Like any show, it’s evolved over the last year and I’ve evolved in how I perform in the show as well!
Recently I started doing a trick over Zoom where I trigger the Amazon Echo / Alexa at the spectator’s house. It’s got a fun feel, because the trick happens at everyone’s house how has an Alexa that can hear it respond.
It started out with me figuring out you could get Alexa to reveal a specific playing card by asking, “Alexa, what’s your favorite playing card?” and it will say “Ace of Spades“. Most magicians know you can get a random playing card by asking it to “pick a card“, but being able to get a consistent card is helpful for a reveal.
That going me thinking about what else might be Alexa’s favorites. I started asking all sorts of questions starting with “Alexa, what’s your favorite…” and have a little bit of a list going. There’s a list on Reddit from about 3 years ago, and some of the answers have changed since then, but it will give you an idea of some of the things to ask. Something to remember it to test your results on other people’s Alexa’s before you roll out the trick. There are somethings that have variables, like when I ask, “Alexa, what’s your favorite season?” I get one answer and other people get a different answer.
OK, now that I had the reveal for the trick, I needed to come up with the trick. I’ll write about that tomorrow…
Ugh, so my laptop has been working less and less well with virtual shows. It’s doing a strange things where my screen freezes, then speeds up to get caught up to real time. Luckily it’s not as bad on the audience’s screen as it is on mine, but it’s still there. It’s doable, but not a great experience for the audience.
If this was happening six months or a year ago, it wouldn’t have been a big deal as we were in the middle of the COVID pandemic and there was a long tunnel of virtual shows ahead. Right now I’ve got about 10 virtual shows on the books, but most places are booking me for in person shows. That makes it a hard decision to go out and buy a new computer. Do I just struggle through the last of the shows?
I decided to get a new computer to run my virtual shows on. This got me thinking about why virtual shows should cost at least as much as your in person magic shows cost. The main reason is that I am providing the venue, before the booker did that. Because of that I have “venue costs” associated with the show. That’s things like keeping my tech up to date and in working order, in addition to the maintenance of the performing space (backdrop etc).
At this point in the evolution of virtual magic shows, if you are charging less than you were 18 months ago, in my opinion you are charging too less. Keep in mind I don’t count other people’s money, you charge what you need to charge to survive and I won’t judge you on why you are charging what you are.
The other day a magician I know texted me asking me if I could put him into one of my virtual shows so he could do 5 or 10 mins. Here’s a little bit of backstory, the magician is a good in person magician, but hadn’t done any virtual performing. It’s the lack of experience on the virtual stage that made me have to say no.
Unfortunately doing virtual shows isn’t as simple as turning on a camera and performing. There’s a lot of things you need to figure out at it’s most basic level where it’s just your laptop cam and some magic. Having a choppy show that kinda bumbled through the zoom was acceptable in March – June of 2020 when everyone was figuring this out and we were converting in person gigs to virtual gigs. We’re now in a world where we’re selling virtual gigs and you need to have a show that’s barely treading water while learning to navigate the virtual stage.
The silver lining to virtual shows it’s that it’s easer than ever to get your flight time on stage. There are virtual open mics you can do and you aren’t limited to what you can drive to, these happen at different times and time zones around the world. You could probably perform 3-5 times (or more) a day! That’s tons of chances to learn how to perform virtually. That’s in addition to just getting some friend to informally hop on zoom and you do a few tricks for them.
Basically what I’m saying is you haven’t performed virtually, you need to bang out a few free shows to figure out how it all works and how your show fits onto the screen.