Archive for March, 2013

FOUR POINTS: Magicians want cutting edge tech NOW (it’s close)

Saturday, March 30th, 2013


Magicians love technology, and it’s even better when we get a hold of new tech before the rest of the public, a la Glen David Gold’s “Carter Beats the Devil” or Christopher Priest’s “The Prestige” (yes, the movie was adapted from the book). And we’ve all seen what Marco Tempest does with things on the cutting edge.

That got us thinking about what tech magicians would like to see. We asked you to think big, and you thought even bigger. Your responses on Facebook and Twitter fell into four general categories. We dived deep and picked the best ideas, then searched the Internet to find out how close that tech is to actually existing.

Smart paper

FOUR POINTS: Magicians want cutting edge tech NOW (its close)
Some of our favorite ideas involved things on paper that could change, whether it was moving inks or really thin touchscreens.

  • ~ Doug Hunnington: See through paper with special polarized glasses!
  • ~ Zach Werden: A playing card that is actually a super thin touchscreen monitor. The possibilities for gaffs and color changes would be infinite!
  • ~ Cedrick Burcena: I wish I could invent a “touchscreen card” with the same thickness, flexibility and feel as a regular playing card. The screen will also have sort of easily replaceable screen protectors.
  • ~ Kirkland Agaskadodv Butcher: Having playing cards that reflect other playing cards for a short amount of time with heat and pressure. They have a special ink and paper that reflects and captures the image of another playing card underneath it so you can have this playing card the wrong way around on the bottom of the deck and have it reflect that playing card.
  • ~ Ernests Stroinovs: A computer in the size of the card. Same thickness, same flexibility. With a hidden mic and face side being screen. At first, it shows back pattern of a card, but when a spec names a card, it records it and the image of card named instantly appears instead of back pattern.

Almost here? This paper tablet computer was all the rage at the most recent CES show. About the size of a regular sheet of printer paper, the PaperTab is built mainly to work with other similar devices.

Levitation

FOUR POINTS: Magicians want cutting edge tech NOW (its close)
One of the 10 theories of magic, performers have developed plenty of ways to levitate things, from rings to themselves. But you thought bigger than that. And smaller.

  • ~ Alustaazu Bitun Gina DhonAhmed: float a water drop
  • ~ Kieran Porter: Dam the top of a waterfall and wait for the water to stop flowing over the edge and then reverse the flow of the waterfall so the river at the bottom is sending the water back to the top.
  • ~ Craig Farquharson: Something to suspend a table cloth and it’s contents so when I yank the table out from under it everything stays. I would lead everyone into thinking its a normal tablecloth trick when it is in fact a reverse table cloth trick
  • ~ Robbie Yeadon: levitation of a chosen object in a room!

Almost here? Sadly, our searches for floating water didn’t pan out. But we were mesmerized by what Brussup does to water under the influence of sine waves.

Energy production

FOUR POINTS: Magicians want cutting edge tech NOW (its close)
From fire to electricity, many of you wish you had the power of the elements at your command (the powerful ones, anyway — no one wanted to shoot dirt or water out of their fingertips).

  • ~ Michael Mayo: Lightning from my fingertips Raiden style….hands down
  • ~ Lazare Londaridze: Pure fire from nothing
  • ~ Tom Vella-Lott: Liquid that ignites with friction and burns similarly to lighter fluid, but doesn’t dissipate so quickly, so a ‘light your cigarette with my finger’ type effect.
  • ~ Pete Esquivel Jr: I would love to write in mid air with fire
  • ~ Wolfgang Schürz: How would really cold fire work? Perhaps: Invisible with a burning ring might even look like producing fireballs in your hand.

Almost here? We’re not exactly sure, because all we can find are homemade projects and circus acts. A man shooting electricity out of his hands was featured on the TV show “Maximum Exposure.” And this guy in 2009 posted a video of his wrist-mounted flamethrower, and adds some fire to his hadouken. If you’re looking to produce smoke, then let us introduce you to the best smoke system on the market.

Data mining

FOUR POINTS: Magicians want cutting edge tech NOW (its close)
Plugging into the machine has a lot of magic potential. Several wanted the ability to access the internet in better, more subterfugal ways.

  • ~ Sean Mccarthy: I wish i had the ability to instantly post information gathered during a performance to youtube whilst still performing for the same group. Its one thing to have a prediction on a piece of paper in front of you, but if the spectator could see information that was very personal to that performance on youtube it would be amazing, not to mention they could then show the video to their friends later as a great reminder of the effect.
  • ~ Philip Alexander: Some type of radio which could find the phone number of the person I’m performing to. I would force a card and then tell them to think of their card. I would then trigger the radio and they would get a text message saying what they’re card is.

Almost here? We fully expect our brains to be WiFi capable in a few decades. Until then, Google Glass appears to be the next step in internet devices.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to joe@ellusionist.com.

Sold out again: Damien Savina’s Invisible earns five-star reviews

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013


Sold out again: Damien Savinas Invisible earns five star reviews

Sold out. Again.

Two times, we’ve sold out. Each time, we’ve reordered bigger quantities. Yet Invisible, the trailblazing new system from Damien Savina, keeps selling out.

This is the effect that Brad Christian watched Damien perform in an exclusive high-end restaurant, and he captivated the whole place. This is the levitation effect that introduces an ingenious hookup with a stunning result — the ability to push a floating object sideways.

Invisible features six full, impromptu routines from Savina’s repertoire, which he has honed over many years in magic. It also includes a high-quality reel and a booklet that contains further teaching, advice and ideas.

Out of 50 reviews, 47 of them are five-star (the other three are four-star). Workers and newcomers to this type of system alike have raved about the cleverness, instruction and quality of Damien’s effect. What all those performers have in common is that they are blowing minds:

  • ~ RYAN H.: Leery at first but after watching the video and practicing (and practicing some more) I have been won over. It’s like having an invisible partner who does a ton of work for you. I thought I would get caught (in some lighting situations you will) but I performed the ring levitation surrounded and when that ring rose up off my hand everyone actually took a step back…quite the thriller.
  • ~ CLAY SKIBINSKY: I have never reviewed a product before, but this is worth reviewing. This is a set-up I could never have thought of in a million years and is so useful. I was very pleased with the tricks presented, and also the fact that it came with suggestions for effects to use in case your thread breaks. I feel like there is hardly anything on the market to teach you how to use invisible thread, but this TOTALLY changes that.
  • ~ CHRISTOPHER OUELLETTE: On first glance with the trailer, I thought, “Oh Great, more thread miracles”…until the moment when Mr. Savina decided to push the ring and have it stay in place and it gave to me the same feeling I’ve been trying to convey all along: Awe. The DVD is top professional quality, all aspects of ‘what could go wrong’ and possible outs for these are covered, the gimmick supplied is top notch and with proper practice will last a very long time. His work on the new set-up is fantastic (I’ve played with quite a few “set-ups” and this is by far the one I feel easiest and most comfortable with), great out of the box thinking, AND all movements within routines are JUSTIFIED.
  • ~ MICHAEL CANDELARIA III: This effect is beautiful. The reel is smooth, quiet and a lot better than the one I had before. The package it came in is real nice and can house both the DVD and reel, which I really like. As far as the DVD quality goes, its also great. The only problem I had was that there is no voice walk through, but the close up views and subs make it easy to learn. I’m still practicing so the movements look more natural, overall I love the effect(s) and price.
  • ~ STEVEN JOHNSON: New to ITR, very comfortable setup. Still learning the strength of the IT. My favorite effect is the floating ring. Not a fan of coin magic and the haunted deck seems too unnatural to me. The floating ring effect totally fries people’s minds. The video has no talking for instruction, but it is so well done, it doesn’t need it.

Invisible will return soon. When it comes back, don’t miss it.

MIRACLE WORKERS: Magician will live, perform in Plexiglas box

Thursday, March 21st, 2013


MIRACLE WORKERS: Magician will live, perform in Plexiglas box

Whatever they say about boxes and creativity, Derek McKee has different ideas.

As part of a fundraiser for the Little Red Wagon Foundation, McKee will live in a Plexiglas box for a week stationed at 16th Street Mall in Denver. While in the box, he’ll perform magic for passers by, according to a report in the Littleton Independent.

McKee, who has performed at The Magic Castle and was featured in “Make Believe,” said he hopes to raise food donations and raise awareness about what Denver’s estimated 1,500 homeless youth and teens endure. The boxed benefit is the product of a lot of talking and brainstorming with friends, family and mentors, he said.

“It’s a way to raise awareness about Denver’s homeless youth and to have the most unique canned-food drive in the state. This subgenre of kids are the most likely to be bullied, beaten up, put into sex slavery and abused, and are the mostly likely to die at a young age.”

The foundation gathers those supplies in “Zachpacks,” which contain basics such as food and hygiene products, and other goodies such as toys and coloring books. McKee is a board member of the foundation, which was started by Zach Bonner in 2005.

FOUR POINTS: In case ‘Burt’ bombs, these movies get magicians perfectly

Friday, March 15th, 2013


FOUR POINTS: In case Burt bombs, these movies get magicians perfectly

We’ve complained before about how magicians seem to get the shaft in movies — odd, considering that moviemakers and magicians are practically married. The movies about magicians that get it right are few and far between.

According to advance reviews from magicians, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” appears to be one of the movies that gets it right. Steve Carell and Jim Carrey do admirable jobs portraying a magician who struggles to reclaim former glory from an upstart competitor. We’ll probably try to catch a showing down the road — our schedules are pretty packed with projects and gigs right now.

But just in case it lets us all down, however, these are four movies that we know don’t disappoint. In case you suffer a letdown at the theater, pick one of these movies up to have your faith in movie magic restored.

Magicians: Robert Webb and David Mitchell play two former partners split up by an intentional affair and an accidental beheading. The resulting competition satires the rivalry between magicians brilliantly as the two try to revive their careers. It features great cameos from Ali Bongo, Aladin, Patrick Page and Scott Penrose, and is HILARIOUS.

The Escape Artist: Known more as a cult hit among Coppola fans, Griffin O’Neal does what we all wish we could do: Take down corrupt city officials with the power of our magic. The movie has great performances from Raul Julia, Terri Garr and Desi Arnaz as it tells the story of a young magician following in the footsteps of his dead father — played by Harry Anderson.

The Great Buck Howard: Is this a sendup of The Amazing Kreskin? Who cares? It’s a great movie with powerful acting and great magic cameos, including David Blaine and Ricky Jay. Also in the cast are Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn and the titular character is played brilliantly by John Malkovich. The movie’s message is that the only important thing is the performance.

The Prestige: One of the greatest tricks this movie performs is convincing the world that we magicians actually use the terms “pledge,” “turn” and “prestige.” That being said, this is probably our favorite movie about magicians. Featuring outstanding acting, outstanding directing and a plot that makes us immediately watch again, “The Prestige” captures the thrill of magic perfectly.

Bonus point — The Illusionist: It hit the theaters at about the same time as 2006′s “The Prestige,” and it uses some computer animation in place of actual magic, so “The Illusionist” gets overshadowed. But it’s a compelling story about performing an elaborate magic tricks for an audience of one.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to joe@ellusionist.com

What’s your high score? Try a few rounds of magician’s solitaire

Monday, March 11th, 2013


Grab a deck of your favorite cards. Time to play some magician’s solitaire. If you’ve never heard of magician’s solitaire, no worries — no one has. We created this, and we’re sharing it with you now. The rules are simple:

Whats your high score? Try a few rounds of magicians solitaire

  1. Shuffle the deck, so that the cards are random.
  2. Perform a double lift and turnover, then note the card you reveal. Any double lift works: push-off, strike, Diving Board, anything. (You can learn the push-off double lift in Crash Course 2 or in this download.)
  3. Replace the double, then swing cut. (Choose your cut position carefully… this is the game’s action.)
  4. Perform another double lift, then note that card.
  5. If the second card you reveal has a “crazy eights” type of link — meaning that it matches in either suit or value — then you’ve successfully completed a play. For instance: Seven of diamonds, four of diamonds, four of clubs, king of clubs would count as a run of four cards.
  6. Optional: If you use jokers, consider those wild cards and count them in your run of consecutive plays. (Give yourself bonus points if you can name the suit you reveal after the joker.)
  7. The goal is to get the highest run of consecutive plays.

You may shuffle the deck after a few plays, if you want. Also, play at a brisk pace — but without sacrificing the mechanics of your double lift. The quicker you can clip along, the more this game will do what it intends. So go ahead, try a few hands for yourself.

Hard, isn’t it?

Getting a run of three or four is good. Five or six is impressive. Nine or 10, and we start wondering if you cheated.

If you’re one of those people who, upon finding out that something fun is educational loses interest, then stop reading now. But this game helps you train and be a better performer in a couple of ways. That raises the question: Why exactly are we doing this? We know plenty of ways to find chosen and controlled cards, so why would we base the success of this game on the random element in step No. 3?

Solitaire is supposed to be impossible, remember? Yet the impossible elements of this game help you increase your ability to do some pretty critical things when you’re out in the field and all eyes are on you and your hands:

  • ~ Your chosen double lift will get better. Any sleight, from double lifts to passes (and even some flourishes that feature a single card such as Daryl’s Hot Shot Cut), that involves showing a random card works with this game. The more you work on that move, of course, the better you’ll get. But concentrating on something else helps the move become second nature.
  • ~ How many tricks do you know have a part where you have to glimpse a card and remember it? From using a key card to doing a Biddle trick, we can think of a high number of routines that have a component where you have to steal a look at a card. Remember that there are things other than sleight of hand that you should practice. This game is a way to practice your ability of noting and remembering a certain card on the fly, thus strengthening your short-term memory.

So how’d you do? Post your high score below, and remember that if you know that you’re cheating, then so do we.