FOUR POINTS: This is why AI will never make better magic tricks

November 17th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: This is why AI will never make better magic tricks

So you saw that story about how a computer designed a magic trick, and it made you give up magic, right? Seeing that a computer is capable of devising a trick that fools laymen and magicians alike, you threw down your deck of cards, completely gave up on your idea of combining a glide and a cop and went back to browsing listicles involving cats and Emma Watson?

Yeah, we didn’t think so.

The report about researchers from Queen Mary University of London touts that researchers programmed a combination of the mechanics of a jigsaw puzzle, the method of a mind-reading card trick and results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks. From that, the computer came up with some variants. Able to process a larger amount of variants, one of the co-creators of the project said that the amount of variants “keeps audiences guessing.”

Most of you probably caught on that one of the tricks is more of a puzzler, and the other is mathematical. Probably didn’t leave you feeling all that threatened, and you went back to practicing your table faro shuffle. Still, there might have been a seed of doubt — is this just a harbinger of things to come? Will AI progress to the point where we can get fooled by machines? Is this the beginning of technology changing magic?

We feel your pain, and we’re here to assure you that magic will be fine. We may eventually be enslaved by hopefully benevolent robot overlords who at least give us sme food before they use poisonous gases to poison our — you know. But they will never fool us with magic tricks. Here’s why:  Read more

Ollie Mealing: Creative progress requires pursuit of these two elements

November 10th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Ollie Mealing: Creative progress requires pursuit of these two elements

Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, is a consultant for Derren Brown and created some of magic’s most-buzzed about videos on the Internet. On a break, he got a chance to check in about the key process behind making creative progress, and learning how to unlock the creative spark that leads to original ideas.

Everybody has goals they wish to progress towards, but hope and luck are no basis for a strategy — achievement requires knowledge.

At the heart of progress is information. When we acquire information we strengthen our knowledge and therefore gain progress towards discovering how we can achieve our goal — developing a strategy that allows us to regularly increase and practice our knowledge is the key to continual progress.

So if we regularly need information to progress, then we need to know how to reliably obtain it.

For that, in my mind, we’re reliant upon a combination of inspiration and motivation, or in other words, ideas worthy of acting upon. The potency of inspiration affects the consequent feeling of motivation, when the desire to fulfil an idea feels significant, motivation takes over and spurs us on with an abundance of energy.

As beneficial as this is, it blinds from considering every idea as being worthy of acting upon, which we must do if we’re to discover their true worth. Providing we act on our ideas they will always provide us with new information. It’s this recurring insight that allows us to build up our knowledge and create new, wiser ideas, which promotes the cycle’s continuance and strength.

Progress requires information which results from acting on ideas — you need to pursue something in order to learn from it.

So how can we enable ideas to emerge?

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Shoot like Kings: Instagram users make incredible art with latest deck

October 21st, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General, Products


Shoot like Kings: Instagram users make incredible art with latest deck

It’s not long now. The Kings deck, a collaboration between Daniel Madison and Peter McKinnon, will soon be available to Black Club members, and then the rest of the world.

But a handful of people, who are close friends and associates with DM and p:m, have already had some quality time with the Kings. And the artistic work they have posted to Instagram is simply breath-taking.

From the impossible flotations of Jeremy Griffith to the subtle shadows of Benoit Pervier, from the inspired etchings of Tomas Hlavaty to the devious destruction of Praxis Control creator Chris Ramsay — these artists, magicians and creators have taken this incredible new deck and transformed it into works of art.

Some of our favorites are below, others can be found on Instagram. Each one deserves your follow and many likes. While you’re there, make sure to follow us.

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Artist Interview: Mat Franco’s “AGT” win was good for all magicians

October 11th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Artist Interviews


Artist Interview: Mat Francos AGT win was good for all magicians

His plan was to get some footage that he could use for his promo reel, so that he could advertise himself with the phrase, “As seen on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”

But Mat Franco went much further.

The magician made history by becoming the first magician to win NBC’s talent show. Winning over viewers in season nine, he beat singers Miguel Dakota, Quintavious Johnson and Emily West, the band Sons of Serendip and the acrobatic ensemble AcroArmy. And season nine was a good year for magicians, with Mike Super, Smoothini, and David and Leaman progressing far in the competition.

A magician winning “AGT” is no small feat — magicians know that the show has a history of not being kind to magicians. And though that reputation has changed over the last few seasons, magicians were still competing against singers and dancers, two performance fields with their own reality TV shows.

So when Mat said his win is a big deal for all magicians, we say “Amen.” He also said that his win didn’t pull magic out of a dark cellar of obscurity — his win was just the latest chapter in a pretty vibrant magic scene right now, from Darcy Oake making the finals in the most recent season of “Britain’s Got Talent” to the success of “Wizard Wars” on SyFy.

“This is huge for magicians. This is something we all should be feeding from, we should all be getting work from right now … We should all be feeding off this any way can, whether you had a television pilot you were trying to get done, or if you had a gig you were trying to close in your hometown, this is big for magic. I want us all to continue with this momentum to move it forward.”

Artist Interview: Mat Francos AGT win was good for all magiciansMat beat out a talented field of performers with a carefully customized blend of close-up magic and big-stage spectacle. His routines included close-up classics, including an ambitious card routine, cups and balls and an oil and water routine that used a human deck of cards. They also featured intricate stories told in precision with magical effects.

About two weeks after the win, Mat talked to us for a podcast about his career before the show, how it really is a different world for magicians on the show now and what the future holds.


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Rising-star triplets get a lift from Ellusionist for their card-throwing act

October 5th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Rising star triplets get a lift from Ellusionist for their card throwing act

When Corey King recently asked for a few extra copies of King Rising, his levitation effect, Brad Christian had no idea what King’s plans for them were. As it turns out, Corey got them into the hands of some potential stars who have already been featured on “America’s Got Talent.”

Rising star triplets get a lift from Ellusionist for their card throwing actDom the Bom’s Triple Threat is a card-throwing act featured in the most recent season of NBC’s talent show, which was won by magician Mat Franco last month. Comprised of Dom, brother Phoenix and sister Lyric, the 8-year-old triplets made it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.

According to a show bio, Dom has been practicing magic for two years, throws up to 500 cards a day and has aspirations to perform with David Copperfield. Looks like he’s off to a great start.

Check out the triplets’ appearance in the audition round below: