Network debut: Adam Wilber, Justin Miller featured in Syfy’s ‘Wizard Wars’

February 12th, 2015 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Network debut: Adam Wilber, Justin Miller featured in Syfys Wizard Wars

Tonight is the night. Two of magic’s boldest performers will appear on one of their biggest stages yet: A prime-time cable network show.

Ellusionist General Manager Adam Wilber and longtime performer Justin Miller team up and compete for $10,000 on the Syfy show “Wizard Wars.” Developed by Rick Lax and Justin Flom, the show gives a “Chopped”-style spin to magic shows: Pairs of magicians must develop magic effects and routines based on mystery objects given to them before the show.

How do Adam and Justin fare? Do they advance past the preliminary round and take on the show’s pros? We have high hopes. But no matter how they finish, Adam said the experience was a blast.

“We were pretty comfortable about the challenge because we set out to make our performance as entertaining and fun as we could with what we were given,” Adam said. “I’m happy with the way it turned out and, most importantly, we had a blast putting it together.”

Both Justin and Adam have reputations for performing fearlessly in a variety of situations. A performer with Ellusionist since the company’s early days, Justin recently completed filming The BOLD Project, which featured one of the craziest, riskiest performances we’ve ever captured on video — and he KILLED. Before Adam’s promotion to general manager, he had cemented his reputation as a worker by performing for anyone, anytime. He is the creator of The Working Man and the author of Creative Magic.

Adam said they were approached by Syfy to appear on the show. After a Skype interview, he was on a plane to Los Angeles for filming, he said.

But those are in close-up, street situations. How did the two interact on a stage, working as a team? Pretty well, Adam said.

“Justin and I are very close friends, so working with him was like second nature,” Adam said. “Two minds make the workload easier, for sure. Justin and I have a similar style of magic, so there was not a lot of teaking that had to be done. It all felt pretty natural.”

The performance went… well, you’ll see. Audience members reacted well, and connected with the two afterward to say how much they enjoyed it. Reaction elsewhere has also been overwhelming, he said. And some of the best performance feedback came from two of the show’s celebrity judges, Penn and Teller.

“It’s always great to get criticism from artists you respect,” Adam said.

“Wizard Wars” airs at 10 p.m. EST Thursdays on Syfy.

FOUR POINTS: Shapeshifter taught so much more than a color change

January 14th, 2015 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: Shapeshifter taught so much more than a color change

Usually we’re focused on the future, on what’s coming next. Right now, our staff is meeting in San Francisco to plan out an epic 2015. But every once in a while, we get a chance to relax, browse through the warehouse and review something we’ve released in the past. Yeah, we get some giggles from some of the little ways our first projects have aged, but for the most part, we’re proud of these videos and how well they hold up in this new era of internet magic.

And man, was Shapeshifter a great video.

Remember how you felt after performing it successfully? The move is like a little mini-rush — that distinct popping sound is one of the most satisfying sounds in sleight of hand. Shapeshifter became much more than a color change: It became a gauntlet, a badge of honor.

Released almost 10 years ago (2005), it was a short video by our standards at the time — less than an hour — but it crammed in a ton of details about a simple color change. Remember at the time the move was being raved about underground until David Blaine brought it to his TV specials, for good reason: It is a startling, eye-popping color change that captivated spectators and compelled magicians. But because not everyone knew who created it, a lot of magicians decided to self-teach themselves the move, leading to a lot of sloppy handling.

So we brought creator Marc DeSouza on board, and that’s what started a move that has become more than a move. Brad Christian also recorded his thoughts and handlings of Shapeshifter in a segment that revealed itself to be critical teaching for magicians. In fact, even if you know how to do the move, the video is an essential part of a magician’s library for all that’s crammed inside. Here’s our four favorite things about Shapeshifter: 

HISTORY

A staple of most magic videos now is a section at the beginning for history. Marc didn’t disappoint: He talked about the move’s origin, from his adaptation of Oscar Munoz’ original concept to his refining, and the subsequent publishing in Trapdoor Magazine and his book “DeSouza’s Deceptions.” It’s a thorough account of how the move was born, and is a good example of how magicians respect those who created work that we build on.

SYNERGY

Mark didn’t just teach Shapeshifter. He also taught a dribble double, a cover change, his New Theory Change, the Paul LePaul Sidesteal and the Erdnase Palm Shift. That last change was appreciated by many who had problems visualizing it from Erdnase’s “Expert at the Card Table.” But the application of the dribble double, and using it to get into Shapeshifter, teaches an important lesson about synergy — seeking ways sleights interchange with each other.

UTILITY

In Brad Christian’s part of the video, he shows a routine that uses Shapeshifter as a subtle switch, not an in-your-face transformation. That blew a lot of minds: “Wait, aren’t people supposed to SEE the change take place?” Well sure, except when they are not supposed to. By tweaking a visual color change and making it an invisible utility, he reaffirmed an important concept: BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Who cares what a move is supposed to do? If you find a new use for it, and it helps accomplish a goal, USE IT. OWN IT.

PRACTICE

Even if you knew every move before you watched Shapeshifter, you learned something. Shapeshifter is one of the best examples of what an excellent teacher Brad is. The details he picks out, shows on camera and expounds upon made learning this move so easy. But what really stands out is his talk about practice. His thoughts on muscle memory and practice really hit home — he cements the difference between knowing how to do a move and truly mastering a move. He got an internet-based feed-me-now crowd to slow down, focus and just PRACTICE.

If you’ve never seen the Shapeshifter video, you don’t really know the move. Download it right now, and begin your path to mastery.

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.

Let the cards do the talking: Flourishes can speak volumes without words

January 7th, 2015 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Let the cards do the talking: Flourishes can speak volumes without words

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” In a general sense, he’s right.

But that doesn’t exactly work for us magicians. At some point we have to speak — to introduce ourselves, deliver patter or respond to a spontaneous moment. But there’s ways we can speak less.

Better yet, we can let our cards do the talking for us.

During our recent podcast with Adam Wilber, the creator of Pyro, he proposed trying an experiment: The next time you perform, introduce yourself for one group with a good card spring, then for the next group, introduce yourself without the spring.

The results should be revealing, Wilber said, and skew toward the side of better reactions from the first group.

“The biggest thing for a crowd is to win them over quickly, so that you’re not the corny magician they have seen before. Something as simple as springing the cards from hand to hand can make you a professional in the audience’s eyes.”

Let the cards do the talking: Flourishes can speak volumes without words

We’ve talked about the balance between either showing or hiding proficiency with cards. Some magicians lean more toward Dai Vernon’s Erdnase-inspired philosophy of casual, non-flashy movement, others lean toward Paul LePaul’s idea that expert manipulation could generate magical reactions from spectators. Starting off with a flourish definitely puts you on the LePaul side of that line.

But think about what a flourish says, without speaking a word:

  • • Not everyone can do a flourish. Heck, not everyone gets to SEE flourishes very often. It’s easy for magicians to forget that, because we watch performance videos and cardistry displays like they are Super Bowl commercials. But most people rarely get to see such a thing live. That rarity is compelling, and is a tremendous advantage.
  • • Some magician’s disapproval of flourishes rests in the idea that a spectator, upon seeing a flourish, would instantly recognize it as a display of skill, then go on a Fezzini-inspired rant of logic to deduce that any of the magic they see from you CLEARLY isn’t magic, because you’re capable of such precise manipulations, etc. In our experience, a flourish wakes up an interest in spectators. They make the deduction that you are good at cards, but instead of discounting what’s to come, THEY CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT COMES NEXT. Like Adam said, they recognize you are a professional, and build interest in seeing what you can do.
  • • Flourishes can speak from across a room. We’ve been out in public, just fanning cards, then been approached by people who are curious about what we’re doing. Eight times out of 10, it takes less than a minute for them to ask, “Are you a magician?” In those cases, all the hard work of introducing yourself has been done by them.
  • • Flourishes aren’t limited to just cards. There are rolls and walks you can perform with coins or rings. Or maybe you have a favorite object, such as a lighter, cellphone, money clip, etc. Play with it. Manipulate it. Figure out a trick. Those are basically the same thing as a fan or spring, and can have the same effect.

There are even more ways that a flourish can speak for you, but we’ll let you discover those on your own. Adam and Peter McKinnon teach a series of basic flourishes in How to Do Miracle Card Tricks, and Daniel Madison goes next level with hardcore hand candy in Cardistry.

FOUR POINTS: These are the biggest hazards that threaten your new cards

December 30th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: These are the biggest hazards that threaten your new cards

So, you got some cards for the holidays. And not just any cards, but some of the custom playing cards designed by Ellusionist. You were awed over the art and amazed at how they glided and snapped — definitely a step up over those cards you bought at the big-box retail store.

Whether you spoiled yourself or got a thoughtful gift, chances are you’re going to be packing a deck with you everywhere you go — if you weren’t already. Who are we kidding — OF COURSE you’ve been packing a pack. You’ve been carrying around those boring red-backed cards for weeks, and now you have some world-class design to show off. Besides, you know you need to practice, and you take every chance you get to do so. You’ve already learned some incredible things, and that practice can be thrilling and addictive in the pursuit of a new move.

That means you’ve likely learned some hard lessons about taking care of cards.

How did you lose your first card? Did you drop it in some liquid? Get food on it? Did some goobsmack bend it like Beckham trying to keep you from spying its identity, leaving it looking like an Ozarks hillside? Whatever that was, you learned an important lesson about keeping decks together. You learned that even the best cards are still made of paper, and that there is much more deck-buying in your future.

Don’t fret: There’s plenty of things you can do with an incomplete deck, and we’ll cover that in a future blog post. For now, you’re probably interested in keeping your new deck alive as long as you can, while carrying it as long as you can out in the field. It’s a noble goal: You can get so much more out of our decks when you care for them properly. And the best way to do that is to always keep an eye out for these four hazards to playing cards. Spotting these red flags will keep your deck golden.

FOOD

Sure, that nearby soy sauce for sushi or barbecue sauce for everything else is an obvious threat. But more commonly, you should be worried about the food on your hands that you can’t see. We’ll cover more about hands in a few paragrahs, but for now, just a little bit of grease or sugar can cause problems for the long-term condition of your deck. So if you feel any bit of stickiness or slipperyness on your hands, take care of it before picking up your cards. Give those paws a wash, and make sure to dry them well, because…

LIQUIDS

A card is not a sealed object. Think of a single card as a layer cake. The face and back are plastic, but the middle includes layers of paper and glue. That’s why even a drop of water can be bad for a card: The sides are open doors inviting water to rush in and make a home. The faces and backs can handle a splatter, but once that liquid hits the side, game over. You can dry it out and find it somewhat usable, but there will be staining and warping. That’s why hidden food and grease on the hands can be so deadly, too: The sides af your deck are sponges.

HUMIDITY

For the same reason, the invisible liquids of humidity can jack with cards — or the lack of
it. Excessively humid environments will cause warping as the cards absorb more of the atmosphere. A lack of humidity can cause the paper inside to shrink, causing the infamous click-bend. Changes in temperature can also change humidity, so going back and forth between warm and cold environs can cause problems. Usually plenty of dribbling, springing or shuffling can get rid of the problems after a while, but the best solution, if you find the deck just completely useless, is to leave it alone for a bit.

HANDS

The things that make cards do wonderful things are also their single greatest danger. Any damage that comes from practice or performance is necessary and noble. And while we’re all different, we all have naturally forming oils on our hands that we may have to deal with. It’s the accidental or sloppy stuff that makes us cringe. Keep your nails in good condition and your hands as clean as possible throughout the day. Always wash them, and after drying, let them air out naturally before picking up your cards again.

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.

FOUR POINTS: Add holiday magic to your magic with these ideas

November 30th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: Add holiday magic to your magic with these ideas

There’s holidays, and then there’s the holidays.

Most countries have one or two days where everyone goes whole hog with celebration, but the end of November usually brings an entire month of excitement, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and more. The excitement changes us a bit, gets us thinking about the upcoming celebrations, gifts, decorations and more.

The holidays change us. But how do they change our magic?

Does your ambitious card routine go from being about Houdini to Santa always popping out of a chimney? Do you wear more Christmas colors to your gigs? Does your coin box get wrapped in wrapping paper with a bow? Or maybe your performance character doesn’t have room to stretch out into a holiday theme?

Granted, most of you are in the midst of a season full of gigs, so you have already considered those things. If you haven’t, though, it’s never too late. Here are four areas to consider whether a little holiday magic should be part of your magic.

PATTER, PERFORMANCE

The most important thing to consider is whether your performance character would even ackknowledge the holidays. If a little holiday seasoning changes up your recipe, then don’t do it. But changes range in degree. It may be as simple as swapping out your cards for a more festive design. Or maybe there’s ways to incorporate some holiday staples, such as ribbons or wrapping paper, into your routine as props. Or maybe a change to your patter is all that’s needed. Got a card to pocket routine? That fits nicely with presents appearing under trees or cookies getting eaten.

Remember to consider your audience, as well. Thinking about the guests at a party you work will save you the embarrassment of a Festivus joke falling flat.

GIGS

Most workers we know work all year to land clutch end-of-year parties. It’s a time of year where businesses are celebrating successes and looking to hire entertainment. If this is isn’t something you’ve been doing, then plan for next year NOW. Take January to look around, scope out which businesses would be in the market, then spend the rest of the year making those necessary connections.

NETWORKING

Chances are you’re going to one or two parties as a guest, not as the entertainment. Do party-goers know who you are and what you do? You should already have a stack of business cards at the ready, but it’s even more important now. Be ready to pass those cards out and get your word out. And who knows… you may get the opportunity at that party to give others a little taste of your show.

OPPORTUNITY

We often hear about magic being associated with Christmas even more than Halloween. This is a time where people are generally caught up in the season’s excitement. That means people are more receptive to your magic than usual. One of the points we constantly hound people about is that people are HUNGRY for magic. They crave the chance to see something that blows their minds, and that’s even more true during the holidays. Look for those opportunities to make some magic, and give a miracle.

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: 

• Magicians are already at the forefront of technology. We are the kind of people who see myriad unorthodox uses for everyday items. And if it doesn’t exist, we create it. Look at Adam Wilber: He wanted a device that let him shoot fireballs, so he created it.

• Neurologists, AI programmers and other researchers rely on magicians to understand perception. Our methods of deception teach crucial lessons in how humans process the world around us, and it’s anything but mechanical. But magicians never show the researchers ALL the tricks…

• Magicians’ creativity extends far outside any programming limits. The computer in this project researched only variants of established tricks. While we could probably have an interesting debate about whether new tricks are simply variants of the original 10 plots, there is no argument that effect creators weave together new effects from a much wider loom of experience.

• Sleight of hand and misdirection remain weapons that can be armed only by humans, because they depend on natural action. Robots may move gracefully and smoothly, but they will never move naturally — at least not anytime soon. Until sentient robots live among us enough to be as commonplace as vending machines, they will remain objects of curiosity and interest (That’s a fancy way of saying that robots’ hands will be burned constantly).

See? Nothing to worry about. You can plug back into the matrix now.

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.

 

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.

Sacrifice… Ode to the brilliant @chrisramsay52 Kings by @ellusionist

A photo posted by Jeremy Griffith (@lost_angelus) on

Sword in the…

A photo posted by Jeremy Griffith (@lost_angelus) on

 

Throw… Kings by @ellusionist

A photo posted by Jeremy Griffith (@lost_angelus) on

Pocket.

A photo posted by benoitpervier (@benoitpervier) on

 

The Lion King.

A photo posted by benoitpervier (@benoitpervier) on

Dress Like Kings.

A photo posted by benoitpervier (@benoitpervier) on

 

Drink Like Kings.

A photo posted by benoitpervier (@benoitpervier) on

Almost there… #kings

A photo posted by Tomas Hlavaty (@tomashlavaty) on

 

Be like Kings

A photo posted by Tomas Hlavaty (@tomashlavaty) on

Ink like Kings

A photo posted by Tomas Hlavaty (@tomashlavaty) on

 

Troublemakers.

A photo posted by Tomas Hlavaty (@tomashlavaty) on

291. Sacrifice.

A photo posted by Chris Ramsay (@chrisramsay52) on

 

289. Blood and Gold.

A photo posted by Chris Ramsay (@chrisramsay52) on

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:

Spirit of jam sessions inspired Syfy’s ‘Wizard Wars,’ a show about creation

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


Spirit of jam sessions inspired Syfys Wizard Wars, a show about creation

Rick Lax, like any magician, loves jam sessions. Every week he gets together with Justin Flom, Bizzaro and others for a creative crash. Those sessions were so crazy that they inspired him to create a reality TV show concept.

“Sometimes our jam sessions are more entertaining than the magic that comes out of them,” Lax said. “That got me wondering how to get people to care about the magicians’ creative process. And the reality competition format seemed like a perfect fit.”

That competition starts at 10 p.m. EST Tuesday, Aug. 19, with the debut episode of “Wizard Wars.” Featuring Lax, Flom, Penn & Teller, Shimshi, Murray SawChuck, Angela Funovitz, Nathan Burton and other Las Vegas performers, magicians will compete to create the best magic tricks possible.

The show will give a spotlight to the creators of magic, who are unheralded, unsung heroes, he said. Dan Hauss, Ekaterina Dhobrokotova, Blake Vogt, Gregory Wilson and others will be featured on the show, and Dan White and Johnny Thompson work behind the scenes.

Creation, not revelation

The concept of the show might raise questions about trick revelation among magicians. Lax said that’s not the case: The creative process is featured, not the end result of a trick.

Competitors will be featured in a magic workshop, charged with meeting a goal and developing ways to accomplish that goal. While audience members will get a peek behind the curtain, it doesn’t get pulled back completely. The only methods that might get revealed are ones that don’t get used.

“Let’s say the secret item is ‘tennis ball,’ and one magician does a trick where the ball vanishes from one hand and reappears in her other hand,” he said. “If the method she ultimately decides on is a duplicate ball, we’re not going to show the duplicate ball. But let’s say that before she figured out to use the duplicate, she tried to build an elastic contraption that would bring a ball up one sleeve and down the other. That’s something we might show.”

Each episode will feature the creative process — the unique thinking that leads to moments of brillance, resulting in the creation of a beautiful illusion. The competitive format will give creators the spotlight — names that magicians know like others know pop singers.

“(The concept) means so much to me because magic creators never really get the national spotlight,” Lax said. “Guys like Gregory Wilson or Blake Vogt. You see their tricks being performed everywhere, but you so rarely get to see them in front of the cameras. ‘Wizard Wars’ is their chance to shine.”

Spirit of jam sessions inspired Syfys Wizard Wars, a show about creation

Best network possible

According to a story on Wired.com, Lax pitched his idea to a bunch of networks. Syfy was the last pitch, and the one that picked up the idea. The pickup was double-sweet, Lax said — all because of a bunch of people who did movie makeup, and the TV viewers who watched them.

“I’m a huge ‘Face Off’ fan. Seen every episode,” Lax said. “And in ‘Face Off,’ Syfy masterfully got people who knew nothing about special effects makeup to care about special effects makeup. So the hope is it can do the same for the magic creative process.”

A magic reality show is different than other talent-based shows, because of the secrecy of methods. Lax said “Wizard Wars” focuses on laymen, but magicians will appreciate incredibly good magic and how challengers are treated with respect. The competition is intense and heated, but the featuring of quality magicians means plenty of respect between each other.

And magicians will find plenty to learn and apply to their own acts, Lax said.

“Note the show’s judging criteria: creativity, originality and deceptiveness. The best magic acts have elements of all three,” Lax said. “Think about how to make the trick your own. And think about how to make it entertaining, not just deceptive. Communication and connection are so important.”