FOUR POINTS: FIFA World Cup filled with lessons for magicians

July 3rd, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: FIFA World Cup filled with lessons for magicians

The 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament is getting close to its finish. As of now, eight teams remain in contention to call themselves world champions in a game played in virtually every country of the world.

This year’s tournament has been especially thrilling. Football is close to a religion in many countries, and the game’s popularity has surged even in the “soccer”-shy United States.

Because we have magic on our minds almost all of the time, we haven’t followed much of the action. Our staff is international, but there hasn’t been much trash-talk between us. We can’t help it — the things we are seeing in the magic world are just too awesome to ignore, and we have so many incredible irons in the fire.

But there are a few things about this year’s tournament that inspire our sleight of hand. It might seem counterintuitive for something played with feet to influence an art that depends a lot on our hands, but we found some important lessons that the beautiful game can teach the beautiful art of magic.

PATIENCE

Haters point to the low scores of matches and think the sport has no excitement. Obviously, they’ve never sat down to watch a game, and understood the thrill of watching a successful defensive stand or a brilliant scoring shot.

Magic is much the same way. If we hurry through a trick and rush it past our spectators, we risk losing the impact needed for that incredible reaction we crave. The old saying of how the hand is quicker than the eye leads us to assume that speed is king in magic, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Slow down. Let your play develop. The perfect opportunity for maximum impact will present itself.

MISDIRECTION EVERYWHERE

One of the daily Google searches we check is for “magician,” and we can’t tell you how often that terms is associated with players. We didn’t really understand why, until we watched a few highlights from the tournament. We saw top players displaying a dizzying level of proficiency moving the ball, whether they moved into position or took a shot on goal. They are always juking, dodging, faking and making other moves to make defenders think the ball is headed elsewhere.

Every move we make has to be similarly structured. We must display the same amount of proficiency, in order to keep spectators guessing about where we are going. The advantage we actual magicians have over a player on the pitch is that we get time to plan and structure everywhere we want to go, everything we want to do.

INCREDIBLE SAVES

Even before Tim Howard’s record-setting performance in the U.S. loss against Belgium, we have been impressed with the efforts of keepers. Goofs happen to us, whether it’s a dropped card or a lippy spectator. Those are shots on our goal. Part of our skill as magicians is to deflect those shots on our goal. We learn how to cover a goof, how to handle a rowdy audience member, how to transition off a failed trick.

PERFECT PRACTICE TIME

The perfect time to absorb all those lessons is during a match, which runs about as long as a movie. That’s also the perfect time to practice your moves, especially the ones you’ve recently learned, and are looking to advance them to an instinctual level. Remember that practicing while your eyes are focused elsewhere is great conditioning for muscle memory — you start to feel when things are right or wrong.

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.

Ollie Mealing: Need inspiration for your magic? You have to look for it

June 21st, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances, and is a consultant for Derren Brown. He’s also created a series of incredible performance videos that have amazed thousands of viewers. These are his thoughts about finding creative inspiration when in need of it.

Ollie Mealing: Need inspiration for your magic? You have to look for itBecoming a magician is primarily a solo venture. The extent of what you’re able to grasp is determined by how far you reach.

For that reason, when you’re not hitting your goal, it may not necessarily be due to lack of effort (although persistence is essential), it could simply be because of investing too much effort into the wrong actions. So with that in mind, the question we need to ask ourselves is what other actions are at our disposal.

The answer is an unlimited amount. Actions are the result of actively responding to inspiration, inspiration is the result of processing various stimuli and, in turn, being exposed to various stimuli is the result of you seeking it.

In order to expand your magic you need to expand your mind.

Imagine a pool of water: To remain fresh, it needs a constant steady flow of water entering it. The same imagery is applicable to your mind — a constant steady flow of inspiration is constructive towards discovering new possible actions.

You can only get as far as the tools you give yourself, without taking new actions and ADDING to what you have, you’ll struggle to progress. Consider a vehicle: Without topping off the fuel it can’t sustain infinite movement. Progression is always the result of addition, even if scrapping an action is necessary, the reason to do so is from the addition of a thought.

It’s a common sensation to feel that our ability to progress has hit a wall. I think this is related to the eventual trapping of ourselves into patterns or routines. These are comfortable, they give us an important sense of control (plug), but they limit the stimuli we’re exposed to, which creatively risks stunting our development/awareness of new actions.

I remember a Tony Robbins quote: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

So when all else seems redundant, the key to progression (in my mind) is variety, intent and application. Actively seek fresh stimuli, extract ideas from them and act upon as you deem necessary.

The rules you abide by dictate the game you play.




Ollie Mealing: Without the challenge, learning magic would be pointless

June 12th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances, and is a consultant for Derren Brown. He’s succeeded and achieved new heights in a field of performance that isn’t exactly easy to master, but the challenge has been worth it. The following are his thoughts about magic’s difficulty and rewards.

Ollie Mealing: Without the challenge, learning magic would be pointlessBecoming a magician is without doubt the greatest challenge I’ve ever taken on board. The scale of the challenge is overwhelming, and I’d be lying if I said I’d never considered throwing in the towel.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The trick to a challenge is persistence, the trick to persistence is loving the challenge and the trick to loving the challenge is learning to appreciate everything that’s thrown at you. This mindset allows you to reap happiness and insight from the entire journey, both essential ingredients for further progression.

Consider how unfulfilling a pursuit magic would be without challenge:

  • ~ If anyone could effortlessly become a magician, there would be little sense of accomplishment.
  • ~ If secrets were easily accessible, the wonder instilled would be vulnerable and minimised.
  • ~ If you didn’t encounter problems, you’d miss out on the joy of discovering exciting and valuable solutions.
  • ~ If you didn’t need to stand out, you wouldn’t need to strive for originality, you’d risk missing out on exercising your creativity and tapping into your true potential.
  • ~ If you didn’t require advice and support, the opportunity to make new and impacting friendships would shrink.

Without challenge the range of material, role models, formats and theories would never be as diverse, rich and respected as they are today, and the scope for appreciation and enjoyment wouldn’t be as extensive.

Without challenge, you, me, this post — we would have never come into existence.

As long as we keep challenging ourselves, the art will remain vibrant and alive, therefore ever-growing and advantageous towards continual enjoyment for us and our audiences.

As long as there is challenge, the art and it’s undertaking will remain enriching. If you’re not feeling challenged, you’re missing out.

Set the bar high and enjoy the ride.

FOUR POINTS: Consider adding these accessories to your wardrobe

May 26th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under Four Points


FOUR POINTS: Consider adding these accessories to your wardrobe

A lot of our customers ask us which deck of playing cards they should pick, and our answer is usually the same. Because all of our decks have some of the best stock, finish and handling in the business, we recommend that people choose the deck that best fits their performance character.

That’s a fancy way of saying this: Match your style.

Not everyone can use a deck of Arcanes in black, for example. The iconography lends itself to a darker, more mysterious style. Someone who seeks an elegant, refined design will lean toward Artifice, and someone who sticks with table demonstrations will be best served with a deck of Dealers.

We encourage people to treat deck selections like clothing, in a sense, because the same philosophy applies to wardrobe. And that’s something you should be carefully considering, because part of entertaining is looking the part. Nothing enhances your appeal and professionalism like the right wardrobe (consider it your costume), and a magician who does not dress like a pro will find it difficult to score repeat bookings.

We’ll assume you’re familiar with the basics, such as pants, and get right into advanced-class material — you should be thinking about accessories. These enhancements to our clothes also offer performance advantages for the right kinds of effects, as well. (If you really must know what we think about pants, we highly recommend wearing them.)

Whether you are selecting a wardrobe for professional gigs or you want to dress to be magical anywhere anytime, here’s four accessories you should consider as part of your performance character:

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Whether in magic or marketing, creativity a way of life for Luke Dancy

May 20th, 2014 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Whether in magic or marketing, creativity a way of life for Luke Dancy

It’s hard to find a facet of magic that Luke Dancy is unfamiliar with. And that applies to things that have nothing to do with magic — seemingly.

Luke has more than 25 years of experience as a magic creator, consultant and performer. But his magic has also helped him found a marketing company — he is the founder of Social Mischief. It’s such a great fit that it makes us wonder how more magicians haven’t dived into the field.

“I’ve talked to a lot of friends in the marketing world and it seems to be a natural fit for me as I create magic for other magicians and for television,” Luke said. “It’s really no different than creating a campaign for a brand or specific product. Marketing for me is a way to exploit those creative ideas and thoughts for the business world.”

Luke brings his marketing magic to Ellusionist: Last week he joined our staff as marketing manager. He’ll be actively involved on our website and social networks, fueling new promos and interacting with customers.

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