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

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

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.

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