Archive for the ‘Four Points’ Category

FOUR POINTS: Pursuits of magic, music have much in common

Friday, April 4th, 2014

FOUR POINTS: Pursuits of magic, music have much in common

We’ve met so many magicians, illusionists, sleight-of-hand artists and other performers that we’ve lost count of the times we’ve lost count. Some of them have successful magic careers, some just love performing. All of them are incredible.

And we can’t help but notice all the things that they have in common: They are largely outgoing, have no problem talking to anyone anytime, are creative and so much more.

One of the less common things we’ve seen that magicians have in common is a deep connection to music. Not every magician might know an arpeggio from an allegretto, but most seem to have a strong sense of rhythm and tone. Whether they choose music for a show or play music on their own, magicians just have an ear for music.

It got us thinking exactly what makes magicians and musicians mesh so closely.


FOUR POINTS: Question shows our customers have minds for magic

Friday, February 28th, 2014

FOUR POINTS: Question shows our customers have minds for magic

We have the best customers in magic, and we love it when they prove it.

Tailing off of Ollie Mealing’s brilliant post about the next level after being a move-monkey, we were curious about what moves caused obsessive practice and pursuit among magicians, So we turned to our Facebook page, one of the largest magic-related groups on the social networking site, and asked them the following:

What move, sleight or effect has consumed more of your attention and practice, or driven you to attempt mastery?

We were expecting a lot of difficult, knuckle-buster type of moves to be listed. Greek Deal, Praxis Change, Perfect Riffle Shuffle, that kind of thing. That’s what we see on other modern magic forums and pages, after all — a bunch of people bragging about what they say they can do. But out of more than 120 comments, our Facebook fans picked out fairly basic, utility, not-flashy-at-all sleights. Even better were some of the justifications for picking those sleights. The comments they left behind pointed out four clear things to us:


The sleight that got mentioned the most was the pass — the very definition of an invisible sleight. One of the most functional sleights for magicians ever created, the pass used to be the primary move taught to aspiring card workers. Erdnase later corrected that notion in “Expert at the Card Table,” but the main reason that people learn the pass is for what it offers: A fast way to control a card. Because the pass is the sleight that got the most attention, that tells us you’re thinking not about the move itself, but what you can do with it. This comment best described that attitude:

Isaac Jason Petrie Simple the double lift. It is the one I have to use the most.


The pass and double lift came in at No. 1 and 2, respectively. No. 3 was the bottom deal. And those three moves were the only ones to get double-digit mentions (27, 18 and 11 mentions). And think of the versatility of all three of those moves. The pass and double lift open up an entire world of card magic, and the bottom deal is the one move Erdnase called the most valuable for the table. That tells us you that the things you want to master are the things you need, not the things you want. You’re thinking of function. The attitude is best described here:

Robbie Yeadon French Drop – not the move, but things to do with it!


Those top three aren’t exactly easy moves. The basics can be picked up, but mastering the subtleties and intricacies takes time and practice. But the mastery of those moves reveals its value. And because each of those moves are more utilities instead of displays, That tells us you’re thinking about impressing your spectators, not mastering a flashy move that looks good only on YouTube. That tells us you agree with Ollie and are putting that philosophy into practice.

Dylan Dunnington Gamblers Cop for sure. It’s such a versatile move and creates amazing effects used properly.


Out of more than 120 comments, there was no spam, vulgarity, flame wars, trolls or other typical immaturity that we see on other Facebook pages. There were even a couple of good snarky comments that made us laugh. We’ll let you find those on your own.


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

FOUR POINTS: These places will get you on the path to getting paid

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

FOUR POINTS: These places will get you on the path to getting paid

So you’re ready. Whether you’re following through with a new year’s resolution or a planned goal, you’re out to take your magic from practice to profitability. You’re ready to get paid for all your planning and work.

Time to make those cards pay for themselves.

It doesn’t matter what your plan for magic is, from building a list of clients in your town to making it big in Vegas. Before you can be the next Messado, Ollie Mealing or Adam Wilber, You have to start somewhere, and there is no substitute for the experience of actually performing for living, breathing people.

(David Stone’s Real Secrets of Magic Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are time-tested classics, and Ellusionist’s hardest-working worker Adam Wilber has filled up “Creative Magic” and The Worker Part 1 and Part 2 with great material for business-minded magicians.)

Drumming up business isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere. At the beginning of your career, you may have to content yourself with making a reputation, not money. Which is fine, because that’s an investment in your future. Instead of performing for cash, make a testimonial or the ability to pass business cards/put up flyers part of the deal.

You have two goals:

  • ~ Get your name out there and let people know what you do. This is done through good old-fashioned networking (a fancy word for “meeting people”). Whether it’s a business card, flyer or an actual performance, you want to spread the word that you exist.
  • ~ Show people that you deserved to be hired. This is done through excellent performance and interaction — AND by being a great team player at the place where you work your magic. Hopefully you perform for people who love your work and hire you in the future. And a testimonial from the right person can seal a deal down the road.

Here are four places that would be good for your business cards, flyers or actual skills. Out of respect to any working magicians in your area (and yourself as well), you don’t want to use these options repeatedly — use them as occasional tools in your toolbox:



FOUR POINTS: These non-magic books are must-reads for magicians

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

FOUR POINTS: These non magic books are must reads for magicians

When we dive into magic, we tend to choose the deepest of the deep ends. That’s part of the thrill of magic: This art is so full of brilliant secrets that we stay underwater after the dive. From books to videos, from tough techniques to performance philosophy, we swim so deeply that we grow gills.

So much so that it’s easy to forget that there are other kinds of books out there, covering a myriad of subjects.

All of which can help your magic.

If you have a burning desire to take your magic further to the point where you want to make a career from it, then you are going to have to be more to the world than just a magician. You must be a networker, a dreamer, a promoter, an entertainer, a worker and in all other respects a regular Renaissance person. Because of the nature of being a magician, more is expected of magicians than other people. We must learn to be so many other different types of experts and have command of many other situations.

Unfair? Sure is. FOR THEM.

The work that this art takes gives us a head and shoulders advantage in virtually any situation we can think of. Our members are more than just magicians — they are accountants, fitness trainers, attorneys, opera singers, journalists, marketers, restaurant managers and more. From the pros who have a day job to the pros who do nothing but magic, our members have a dizzying breadth of experience.


FOUR POINTS: Beyond-basics advice about video from Peter McKinnon

Monday, August 12th, 2013

FOUR POINTS: Beyond basics advice about video from Peter McKinnon

You’ve seen the teasers: The latest trailer for Republic No. 02, our newest deck of playing cards, involves a massive, complicated shoot with some of the best gear in the market. But it’s not enough to have good equipment — in fact, the best camera ever created might as well be an iPhone in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to use it.

Peter McKinnon knows.

FOUR POINTS: Beyond basics advice about video from Peter McKinnonThe production manager for Ellusionist is also an accomplished cinematographer who has brought a distinct style for product trailers and demonstrations. Inspired from his early days working for StillMotion, an industry giant that has specialized in Olympic coverage, the U.S. military, weddings and small business projects, Pete has transformed the concept of a magic trailer. From simple (and complicated) flourishes such as this video for the LTD deck to full movie-inspired short stories such as the Infinity deck.

He recently answered four beyond-basics questions while boarding a plane to Paris. Here are his thoughts about equipment and how to use it.

E — A lot of videographers overcompensate with fancy equipment, without really understanding how some of the basics work. Of all the things that a cinematographer should learn, what do you think is the most important to master before spending big bucks on equipment?

p:m — Telling a story. I have always said that having expensive and fancy equipment doesn’t matter at all if you don’t have good content. At the end of the day, you need to communicate with your viewers — and it doesn’t cost a fortune to do that. It takes thought.

E — For me, the lens needs to be the first priority when figuring out what to buy, but I come from a journalism background. Agree/disagree?

p:m — Agree and disagree. It’s all relative. Lens choice IS very important. Different focal lengths and speeds will dramatically change and produce various moods for your image. A good standard lens kit is a good place to start. From there, your lens choice will change based on the kind of shots you want.

FOUR POINTS: Beyond basics advice about video from Peter McKinnon

E — Without getting into a brand battle, what bonus features on a camera have become absolutely critical to your work?

p:m — The C100 has built-in ND filters up to 8 stops of light. For the non-camera savvy users, I can shoot with a wide-open aperture even in extremely bright situations without having to stop down. Also:

  • Peaking: the camera outlines everything in red to tell me what’s in and out of focus.
  • Levels: monitor audio right on screen.

E — You’re no one-trick monkey: You have a variety of projects in your background, from studio shots to live coverage of riot prevention. What remains the same about your style throughout all the different things you shoot?

p:m — I’m not afraid to get into the action. If I want a shot, I go get it. I’m a firm believer of asking for forgiveness rather than permission FOUR POINTS: Beyond basics advice about video from Peter McKinnon