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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Lights...camera...action! » » Why aren't there any big Tv specials anymore? (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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nupanick2
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Okay, so, I'm a layperson who just signed up for this forum a few days ago to ask for help finding old footage. I'm a fan, not a performer, so take me with an appropriately-sized pile of salt.

I got *more* excited about magic after the "Biggest Secrets Revealed" run. I realized that magic is so much more entertaining when it's *not* being performed with the mentality that it's a game being played against the audience. American street magicians do this so very wrong... there's this sense that their job is to fool you, and your job is not to make it easy.

I've seen enough "secrets" to not care about them any more. I don't really care what methods you use, I'm just here to escape into the fantasy of impossible things happening before my eyes, and I'm able and willing to lose myself in that fantasy, especially if you introduce yourself like a storyteller and not an annoying twerp.

I know this is a controvercial subject, but given that I'm not going to try and "solve" a good trick anyway, I think camera tricks are absolutely acceptable, as long as you don't pull the Cr*** An*** thing where you stage them as if they were live street magic.

I feel like "gadget-free" magic has its place, just like acoustic guitar music and tabletop role-playing games, but I also don't think music or gaming could have advanced as far as they have today without embracing electronic remixing or the internet, respectively. I'm not going to expect unreasonable super powers from live entertainers just because I've seen a TV show with editing tricks, any more than I would expect it from a rock band!

So I guess my point is: I feel like this community limits itself too harshly by shaming all use of video editing. Yes, I'm impressed by what you can all do with one metaphorical hand behind your backs, but I'd also love to see what you could do if you used both hands. I'd like camera tricks in magic get to where CGI is in movies right now. It's not the main appeal of the show, and if it's done right I won't think about it at all, but it gives the director one more tool to tell their story and keeps me from staring quizzically at model spaceships and wondering if I could spot the strings.
Greg Arce
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Let me ask you Nupanick2, would you be fine with a televised juggler who is just moving his hands up and down while the CGI adds ten juggling balls, three running chainsaws and some flaming torches? Basically, he would be doing something that no juggler could really do in life. Or what if, like Milli Vanilli, another singing sensation comes to the forefront and we now know they can't really sing, but all their songs are just dubbed in and you've now bought a ticket to their concert and their song loop breaks. Or, let's take a real world example, would you be okay buying a product on any informercial that does some marvelous cleaning, or sawing, or slicing, or whatever, and you order it and later on you find out that it only works that way when they edit out the problems and they edited so the time went faster because in life it really takes over an hour to get the job done.

So would you be okay with all those examples? Just wondering.

Greg
One of my favorite quotes: "A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
nupanick2
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Not really? I don't know where you got that impression from any of my arguments, and it reeks of strawman. I said that I don't think just tricking people was ever the point, that I didn't like the use of editing as a cop-out, and that I wouldn't expect any live rock concert to be able to do everything they can in their music videos. Editing is a tool which should be used with care, but it's also a tool which allowed many other mediums to evolve. It's not all good; I agree with you there. But it's not all bad either.
Greg Arce
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Well, I guess we can agree to disagree. I don't like the use of editing, camera tricks, or anything that fool's the home audience into thinking that what they saw could be done live.

Greg
One of my favorite quotes: "A critic is a legless man who teaches running."
Adam1975
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Maybe its the the fact we can now rewind/pause live TV,and that along with social media, & the internet means things are dissected and analyzed to death...maybe that's one of the reasons ?
Ive upped my standards.Now,up yours!
WitchDocChris
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Personally I just think no one has come along to offer anything new and interesting. The 80s and 90s had a good bit of stage illusion specials and honestly, it was all pretty much the same thing. So interest died out - humans get bored fast.

Then David Blaine came along and revitalized the idea by pointing the camera at the audience so people could share the reaction that way. Then a thousand people tried to do the same thing and it got played out.

Criss Angel had a good splash, and was really popular mixing his stage magic and street magic with the endurance stunts. But then he spoiled things by getting the reputation of using camera tricks and stooges, and being a jerk to people.

Derren Brown did well with his shows in Europe from what I understand. He made a bit of a splash over here, but his humor and skepticism I think didn't go over terribly well with the general viewership. Then he shifted to his stage shows and is just collecting awards, it seems.

P&T Fool Us is a contest and for some reason we seem to eat that up. I don't consider it a "Big Special" though.

What needs to happen is someone needs to put a new, creative concept out, AND also to get the viewers. I've thought up some cool concepts (as I am sure have many of the others on here, given the pool of talent and creativity we have here), but I have no means of getting any of these concepts in front of anyone who could do anything with it right now, so I'm stuck until I can do something about it.

Then you look at things like YouTube - where everyone seems to think they can become the next huge thing over night. This is bolstered by the people who have pretty much done that. Hannah Hart with My Drunk Kitchen, Freddie Wong with RocketJump studios, Lindsey Stirling with her music, Bo Burnham with his comedy - the list is pretty long when you really get down to it. But they try to do this with no concept of why those other people succeeded, and they usually end up recreating stuff that's already out there.

So, TL;DR version, there's not much in the way of specials because there's not much that's special to put on TV at the moment.
Christopher
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danaruns
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I suspect that the advent of digital effects have made big illusion shows obsolete. The biggest, most exciting illusion is absolutely nothing that someone with a camera, a computer and a little knowledge can't beat. Look up Action Movie Kid on YouTube as an example. No traditional magic illusion special can compete with it on TV. Live is different.

Still, we do have "Masters of Illusion" on TV, so it is still being done, occasionally, for now.

And, you know, there are only so many ways you can saw a woman in half, make her disappear and reappear in the audience, put her in a box and skewer her with swords, or levitate her into the air. Most everyone alive grew up with seeing those effects on TV, and they are as passe as Leave It To Beaver.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Yehoshua
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So, on the note of "editing". Everyone likes to wail on Criss Angel and Co. for editing and such...but has anyone seen Copperfield's "Flying Over the Grand Canyon" OE when he vanishes the Orient Express?. Using camera tricks is nothing new, nor is lying on TV about not using them. We lie for a living...

I'm not one to encourage the use of camera edits but...we are storytellers, first and foremost. The laymen don't care HOW we cheat. Lying about "magically summoning a card to the top of the deck" is no less bs than is cutting away to hide the move.

and seeing as magicians are magicians to laymen, we certainly should not bad mouth our peers to our clientele ...its just poor form.



in any case...making the impossible possible is our job. if camera tricks make it look better than your sleights....then make better sleights!

I enjoy the challenge. we should be dreaming bigger not trying to stay more of the same.
debjit
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I feel Penn and Teller Fool Us is doing great things for magic currently. It's showing real magic and laypeople are understanding the limitations of a magician. A magician can't just vanish or start levitating at any place like Criss Angel and others keep doing. And now I think people are starting to realize that and appreciate the patter and performance of real magicians.
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