Beware the DVDs

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Beware the DVDs

Postby JohnnyMac » Sun May 28, 2017 5:08 pm



"The hand is quicker than the eye" is a popular concept among so called 'lay people', but hopefully most magicians know it's simply not true. Several years ago I had bought two separate DVDs each teaching the Classic Pass. One was a great DVD which I studied and practised against for several months. The other, I was disappointed with and could see that the cover for the move was relying purely on speed rather than other more subtle technique. Yet, when I watched this video, although I should have been able to see the move being flashed, I couldn't. It looked completely invisible. This can be the difference between watching a DVD and seeing it performed live. My DVD player had single-frame mode, so I stepped through the video frame by frame looking for the move. It wasn't there. A video recording is a set of still pictures played back at a rate that fools our brains into seeing a moving picture, and the move I was looking for had been done very quickly, so quickly that it occurred between frames and was not recorded. On the DVD it indeed was invisible. So, would this pure speed of execution fool a live audience? I think not. I've read that recent studies have shown it takes the human eye/brain just 13 milliseconds to see an image. Another article I read, referred to a USAF study where they were testing the visual response of their pilots. In the experiment a picture of an aircraft was flashed on a screen in a dark room for 1/220th of a second. Pilots were consistently able to "see" the afterimage as well as identify the aircraft. So, relying on speed to deceive isn't going to work (unless you're making a video perhaps). And of course, the other problem with using speed is that it draws suspicion, so it's much better if a move can be done slowly and made to look natural.

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby Mandrake » Sun May 28, 2017 6:25 pm

Thanks for this Johnny, I reckon a good helping of misdirection, or as I prefer to call it, direction, can ensure nobody sees the moves and tricky stuff. If you look someone in the eye whilst talking then they tend to look you in the eye which means they can't be looking at your hands :wink:

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby JohnnyMac » Sun May 28, 2017 11:03 pm

Thanks Mandrake, that's good advice. I also try to relax and release tension just before executing the move. It's something I first read about in the Books of Wonder. So cycling between moments of tension (when the audience is watching most intently) and relaxing, when they relax too. I can't say I've mastered this as I sometimes will forget the importance of it during a performance, but these softer skills of magic I find very fascinating.

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby Lady of Mystery » Tue May 30, 2017 10:17 am

Timing is also key to any move. If you can do all the dirty work when the audience aren't expecting it, you can get away with a lot. I'll usually do any moves while I'm telling a bit of a backstory or having a spot of banter with the audience. When their guard is down, they're not taking any notice of what you're doing.

I'm the first person to admit that my card work is hopeless but with some misdirection and careful timing, there's not much that I can't get away with.

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby bmat » Wed May 31, 2017 5:48 pm

Absolutely correct, all of the above, it is not about speed, but at the same time it is not, not about speed. It comes down to 'knowing thy self' Figure out your natural cadence and mannerisms and work within that, if you slow down or speed up in opposition to what you would naturally do is going to be the downfall.

The top change is my best example. I'm not wonderful at the move. So here is what I do. I have the deck in my left hand, I take the selected card back with my right and hold it directly over the deck, then I make a joke about my eyesight so with deck in hand my left hand goes up to adjust my glasses. Every eye is up at my glasses and my hand adjusting them. The actual move was done when I mentioned the word 'eyesight' I see everyone looking up at my eyes and the move is done, (I could probably switch an elephant in that time, except I am not that strong, and while I love elephants the smell would be a dead give away).

They have no idea a switch is coming so they are not looking for one. I'm not rushed, but not going too slow, just my regular pace, and I'm having a discussion with them. They don't care what I'm actually doing with the cards, they know they just gave me a card back and it is in my right hand and the deck is in my left. Nothing has left their sight, there has been no monkey business. I only adjusted my glasses.

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby Mandrake » Wed May 31, 2017 9:16 pm

bmat wrote: I only adjusted my glasses.
Sneaky and I love it!!!

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby FTHO » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:11 pm

I'm reminded of a Darwin Ortiz law from designing miracles: "if you can mislead them as to when the effect happened, you'll guarantee they'll never figure out how it happened."
Although he isn't specifically talking about a move, I think you can still apply the theory to an individual move.

Another of his laws: "One move at the wrong moment may be worse than ten at the right moment."

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Re: Beware the DVDs

Postby JohnnyMac » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:07 pm

FTHO wrote:I'm reminded of a Darwin Ortiz law from designing miracles:


That's a great book. I was lucky enough to have mine signed by the man himself.

Have you also read 'Strong Magic'? I read it several years ago from our library and it changed the way I thought about magic. I must buy my own copy sometime.

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