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jcsum
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Hi All,

Recently, there has been much discussion on the various designs of penetration illusion. Since two of my illusions are discussed and I’ve received several e-mails and PMs on the designs, I thought I’d discuss them here.

I have quite a bit of hands-on experience with the actual building and performing of this style illusion so I might be able to provide value with this post.


Andrew Mayne popularized this genre of penetrations with A-Frame, described in 'Solo-X'. It is great in concept and I have seen it performed live to great effect. As with most of Mayne’s designs, you have to work out the exact dimensions, building methods and small details yourself. The only ‘complaint’ I had was that it was a surprisingly big prop that I felt was a tad cumbersome. The back cover employed is also very big and bulky.

Mayne’s most recent ‘Razorwire’ is a variation of ‘A-Frame’ based on the same method as A-frame. It is a stylized alternative that might suit some performers. Other than that, I’m not sure if there are other enhancements as I have yet to actually see the product.

(Mayne also published ‘Passage’ in ‘Secret Illusion Show’ but for purposes of this discussion, I don’t really consider it to be in the same category as these other ‘prop-based’ illusions.)

‘Visual Displacement’ (detailed in my book ‘Illusionary Departures’) is an alternative design to ‘A-Frame’ and I’m pleased that it is being built/ have been built by several magicians around the world have.

In my humble opinion, ‘Visual Displacement’ is an enhancement to ‘A-Frame’ in several aspects, not just an aesthetic variation.

Forward magic thinkers will appreciate the unique prop that allows the illusionist to be seen up to the last moment prior to penetration. Many also value the audience participation element of the illusion. In addition, the fact that the audience plays a part in ‘building’ the solid barrier strengthens the effect. This is a throwback to Houdini’s original walking through a brick wall illusion.

‘Visual Displacement’ also takes into account the holistic design of the gimmick. In my opinion, the T**** H*** is only one part of the gimmick that makes the illusion deceptive and practical, the other half of the gimmick is the cloth design which does not seem to have been much (published) work on it. For ‘Visual Displacement’, I came up with a specific cloth design that provides more cover from front elevated angles as well as ensures that there is no chance of flashing the T**** H*** after the penetration. More recently, I developed an all-on-one cloth design so that the illusion can be performed surrounded, without the addition back cover.

One of the biggest advantages of ‘Visual Displacement’ is the portability of the illusion. While not necessarily important for some, many (including myself) value the fact that the illusion packs down small, flat and relatively lightweight. Something, ‘A-Frame’ cannot do. The hinged-in-half design actually is a functional design as well that allows the poles to be inserted and locked into place during performance. To give you an idea in terms of size, ‘Visual Displacements’ packs down roughly about 40% of the volume-metric size that ‘A-Frame’ takes up including my alternative back cover design.

The only drawback with ‘Visual Displacement’ that it cannot be performed fast like ‘A-frame’ by virtue of the fact that the performer can be seen at all times. However, it is not a drawback if performed as a slow melting-through effect as I do.

‘6 Inches’ is an illusion I conceptualized at about the same time as I did ‘Visual Displacement’ (late 2001). It does have strong similarities to ‘Visual Displacement’ because it shares a similar gimmick but other than that, I consider both illusions to be quite distinct. It is being offered as an illusion design package simply because it will be cheaper for buyers to build or have it built themselves.

‘6 Inches’ is an instant penetration, something that ‘Visual Displacement’ cannot do. From a psychological perspective, the 6” hole locks the performers arm ‘into’ the prop, giving the illusion that his body passes through the hole. The prop itself looks completely different.

Although I conceptualized ‘6 Inches’ four years ago, I only designed (i.e. actually worked out dimensions and created mock-ups) in 2004. It was subsequently built for me in early 2005 and introduced in my shows in Feb 2005.

The reason why I went ahead with ‘6 Inches’ is because it fulfilled a need in my current show. I wanted a dramatic illusion with an impressive-looking ‘Vegas-styled’ prop as a ‘middle’ illusion in my show. I also have two girls in my current show so I wanted to capitalize on this to make the illusion play bigger. ‘6 Inches’ fit the bill perfectly. The original design elements of the illusion make it a unique and modern prop. The plot itself is interesting (to a lay audience). Magically, it does combine elements of Luis De Matos’ ‘Mirror Passage’, ‘A-Frame’, ‘Visual Displacement’ and maybe Jim Steinmeyer’s ‘Through a One-Inch Hole’. ‘6 Inches’ was not designed as a closing or opening illusion.

A new storyboard photo sequence is up on http://www.illusionbooks.com/illusions.html that shows the illusion in performance.

A lot of thought was put into the cloth design. It is completely different from the cloth used in ‘Visual Displacement’ but incorporates some of the same elements. When viewed from the front, the impression is that the cloth is just as wide as the prop, visually canceling out apparent space behind the cloth at the sides of the prop.

Would ‘6 Inches’ be stronger if no girls were used? Most likely, but I don’t have a method for that yet. But, as my intended purpose was to add more theatrical production value to the illusion, the girls’ definitely add to that. Also, it is the handling of the cloth by the girls that makes it seem the cloth is just as wide as the prop, from the front view’. In addition, they create the cover for bad angles without the need of using a back cover as in ‘A-Frame’ and ‘Visual Displacement’. Have you ever tried this type illusion with just a front cloth without a back cover? Trust me, the angles are horrible. The ‘6 Inches’ cloth design eliminates the angle problems.

From a practical standpoint, the illusion packs flat and relatively small. It is heavier and slightly bigger (volume-metric size) but still about 60% of the size of ‘A-Frame’.

Actual live performances with lighting in the ‘real-world’ environment has helped us refine the handling and execution of the illusion. Its all the little details that make the illusion look good. Subsequently, it is this information that will include in the illusion design package.

The illusion should be practiced to achieve an impossible-looking speed so that even if the gimmick is suspected, it does not visually (thus psychologically) seem possible. Think the Pendragons’ ‘Metamorphosis’. As a magician, you can’t believe it NOT because you do not know how it is done but it is unbelievable because you KNOW how it is done, and can’t believe how it could be done that fast.

That same line of thought is brought to the execution of ‘6 Inches’.

Incidentally, the current performance in my ‘FULL Illusion Show’ video on http://www.jcsum.com is not the best presentation of the effect. It is too slow and the cloth did not open smoothly enough. I have a video of a more recent performance that I just did that shows how it should look like i.e. a very quick penetration. Its getting better and smoother but that is the way it is. No matter how many hours an illusion is rehearsed in the studio, only live shows will improve the actual performance/ presentation of the illusion. This new video will only be on-line in about 10 days as I’m too busy to get that done at the moment.

To conclude this discussion of ‘6 Inches’, it is all the above elements that I felt made it an illusion worthy of offering to the international magic community and being of value to some performers who want a new different illusion based on the needs I had.

If you perform a one-man illusion show, ‘6 Inches’ would not be a good choice for you. But, then again, it was not designed for a one-man show.



So, which is the best penetration illusion of this genre-method?

I don’t think there is one. It really depends on your individual performance style, how you want to use the illusion and your logistic needs.

The great thing is that you now have at least 4 different variations to choose from, should this particular effect appeal to you.

All the best,

J C Sum
J C Sum

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LeeAlex2002
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And there we have it straight from the proverbial horse's mouth!

Thank you JC for clearing this up. Excellent notions and write up.
Yours Magically,
Lee Alex

http://www.magic2wear.com
jcsum
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Hi All,

Thanks Lee for the support!

An amendment to an incomplete sentence from my above post regarding '6 INCHES':

Quote:
On 2005-03-08 06:53, jcsum wrote:

From a practical standpoint, the illusion packs flat and relatively small. It is heavier and slightly bigger (volume-metric size) but still about 60% of the size of ‘A-Frame’.



It should be: "It (6 Inches) is heavier and slightly bigger (volume-metric size) than 'Visual Displacement' but still about 60% of the size of 'A-Frame'."

Thanks.

Best,

J C
J C Sum

Project ONE: The Solo Illusionist
http://www.SoloIllusions.com

The World's Largest Free Online Illusion Resource
http://www.IllusionBooks.com

The World's Most Comprehensive Resource on Kabuki Drops
http://www.MagicKabukiDrop.com

Creating Highly Successful Entertainers
http://www.BackstageBusinessAcademy.com
Rip
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Hi J C,

as usual you have written a most informative and well thought out piece. Thank you.

I meant to mail you after receiving Illusionary Departures and The Event Illusionist to congratulate you on two wonderful productions, both for the quality of product AND content.

No pipe dreams or untested 'fillers', just very practical, totally worked out effects that can be understood and put to work without having to redesign everything. Well done and thanks for sharing all your valuable research, development and performance ideas with us.

I believe The Event Illusionist may change many a performers working life for the better.

Thanks again

.
Michael Berends
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Hey All,

Great post JC!!!!

I'm am one of the magicians that is building "Visual Displacement" as this post is written.

Although I don't have the Illusion completed yet. I have experimented with the frame and cloth. Videotaping the penetration over and over again. When reviewing the tape I've noticed that the penetration looks really magical.

I remember the first time I saw a penetration similar to this..... I saw David Copperfield back in 1989 and in his show he did a tribute to "The escape from Alcatraz" live in his show. When he penetrated that jail cell it was a truly magical experience for me.

I hope that I can create the same thing with Visual Displacement.....

So far Jc's "Visual Displacement: has been very straightforward to build and will be a great addition to my show.

Michael Berends
www.michaelberends.com
"IMPOSSIBLE HAS JUST BECOME AN OPINION"
TricksDaniel
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Hey JC, it's great to know your still at the top of your game. 6 inches looks great. As far as the different penetration effects out there, I completely agree that it is up to each individuals style and technique. I personally at the moment could only use A frame or passage but, if I had assistants I would use 6 inches as it has a more magical element to it I feel. Keep up the good work JC and I'll talk with you soon. I haven't forgot.
Owner DC_ILLUSIONS
semo
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Great post JC! Thank you very much for the clarification and great insight. I currently do the "Passage" effect that Andrew discusses in his "Secret Illusion Show". In fact, I was doing it before his book came out with some great reactions. I really like the thinking behind your Visual Displacement with the added bonus of the audience being able to see you until the very last second. I too saw the Copperfield illusion from Alcatraz live and it was stunning. I think you captured that feeling in your illusion and made it much more portable. Nice job.

JC, you said:
"More recently, I developed an all-on-one cloth design so that the illusion can be performed surrounded, without the addition back cover."


Have you published this information in one of your books or is it available anywhere?
Scott Emo, co-creator of Fenced In Illusion - There's nothing better than breaking free!

And creator of Sacred - The Child Conjuring Illusion - Because there is nothing more magical than the creation of a child.

Find them at: http://www.masterofillusions.ca/
jcsum
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Hi All,

Thanks for all the comments! Sorry for the late reply. I've been out of town for shows for the whole week and just got back! For those who e-mailed and pmed me, I will be get back to you asap!

Rip, glad you enjoyed the books and found good value in them! The Event Illusionist will change the way one works and markets their event illusion show with, I dare say, guaranteed success!

Michael, I'm sure we are all eager to hear updates of your VD real soon! I believe another Café member might share his as well very shortly.

Thanks Daniel! Look forward to hear from you soon!

Semo, Looks like VD has a new nickname - Portable Alcatraz Penetration! Smile The all-round cloth design is currently only published in the "BACKSTAGE' section of http://www.illusionbooks.com for owners of my books. It is requires an assistant to perform, but protects the illusion from all angles except an overhead view.


FYI to all, I've got the '6 Inches' handling nailed down to an apparent instant penetration. Since the refinement of the handling in the past couple of shows, we have had audible gasps from the audience once the cloth is dropped. It is instant!

'A-Frame' is also instant, if you have not yet tried. Basically, with the correct handling, any of this genre-method penetrations where the prop is solid (i.e. you cannot be seen by the audience through the prop), can be performed as a 'jaw-dropping' instant penetration.

Best,

J C

Hi,

For those who are interested, a new video performance of '6 Inches' is available on http://www.illusionbooks.com/6inches.html

It is still not the perfect execution of the illusion as it was still one of our initial professional performances of the illusion but better than the previous video. It should be at least 1.5 seconds faster. I will put up a better video performance once we get the footage. But, it should give you an idea of the potential of the illusion.

Also, pre-orders can be made at the same webpage at a promotional price till 15 Apr 2005 (till most international customers get the Apr 2005 MAGIC magazine which features the ad for my books and 6 Inches)

All the best,

J C
J C Sum

Project ONE: The Solo Illusionist
http://www.SoloIllusions.com

The World's Largest Free Online Illusion Resource
http://www.IllusionBooks.com

The World's Most Comprehensive Resource on Kabuki Drops
http://www.MagicKabukiDrop.com

Creating Highly Successful Entertainers
http://www.BackstageBusinessAcademy.com
wally
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Jim Steinmeyer one way hole, has anyone any views on this.
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