The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » How to get started..... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Static
View Profile
New user
71 Posts

Profile of Static
Where did you guys learn to do illusions? Did you just purchase some, or read about them in a book? Interested in becoming an illusionst later on, love close up, but would like to get to know and understand illusions. Thanks in advance!
muzicman
View Profile
Special user
LaCenter, Wa
989 Posts

Profile of muzicman
I learned illusions from reading many books, buying many plans, and watching many performances. I have learned a lot about illusions and have invested quite a sum of money to perform my own shows. Some great illusion designers have put out books about illusions and plans to build your own. Once you realize what apparatus an illusionist uses, and how they use them, you will be prepared to start putting your own show together. My advice is to learn as much as you can before beginning to build (or have built) your own illusions. Steinmeyer, Osborne are names you should look for. I don't think either of them put out any bad material. Some of the methods used today go way back to the earliest recorded magic. Find your own approach to presenting these illusions. In other words, don't try to imitate Copperfield, Lance Burton, ect.

Another side to putting together an illusion show is the expense. Props cost money. Sound systems, lights, costumes, assistants (if any), transportation, and storage. These are allthe things you need to consider before taking that big step. I have invested well over 50k in my magic, 85k if you count my truck. I have 3k invested in learning material alone. Books, tapes, DVD's, building plans, ect. It's not the easiest to get into because of the expense.
Father Photius
View Profile
Grammar Host
El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
17197 Posts

Profile of Father Photius
My first exposure was Dunninger's Encylopedia of Magic which showed how to do a few. I bought some illusion plans form Abbot's, and then realized that many illusions were parlor magic principles done on a larger scale. I made my own version of ashra for less than $30. In time I built more, as I learned more about constructing them. Stage Illusion is an expensive business, even if you build your own. Costs enough to buy or build them in the first place, then you have to be able to transport them to your shows, set them up, tear them down, keep them in good repair and store them between shows (wives for some reason do not appreciate the living room being full of stage illusions). Some are specific to the size of your assistant, which means if you loose an assistant or she has major changes in height or weight, you have to find and train another assistant, or have a back up in case your box jumper is sick or unavailable.
Buy some illusion plans, and see what is out there. Look at illusions you think you might like to do and look around for the plans. Then decide if it is something you feel you can "afford". I've done a lot of stage magic without doing one single stage illusion. But, if you are independently wealthy, win the lotto, or have actually figured out how to make the coin pail work for real, then buy away and enjoy!
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Kent Wong
View Profile
Inner circle
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2458 Posts

Profile of Kent Wong
If you want to get a jump start on your ability to perform illusions, while also improving your current close up presentation skills, take some acting lessons, join a play group and consider something in dance. These skills will prove invaluable on stage.

One of the key statements that photius stated should not be overlooked. He said, "Stage Illusion is an expensive business". Do not forget about the business side of this industry. Why spend thousands of dollars on stage illusions if you have nowhere to perform them? I would highly recommend creating a business and marketing plan to develp the business ahead of time. That will help you stay focused as you build your stage show.

Then I would start identifying smaller illusions that can be performed either platform or stage. Start working on them and build a mini-show. Get comfortable performing that mini-show and slowly continue to build into a larger show. With that strategy, you will have quite a bit of performing experience and business opportunities in place by the time you finish developing your full stage show.

Hope that helps.

Kent
"Believing is Seeing"
<BR>______________________
<BR>
<BR>www.kentwongmagic.com
Jeff Hayden
View Profile
New user
88 Posts

Profile of Jeff Hayden
I would just second the cost factor. Honestly, $50,000 to $100,000 for a nice show is
about what it takes for a "grand illusion" show and you can easily, easily, easily spend more. You could "get by" on less, but that's the kind of price tag you are talking about for big stage show and we're talking the minimums. One more prop, one more illusion, etc etc. This is it! This will be the last one I need to complete the show... Just another grand or two and you'll have everything you need. LOL - those of you that have done it are nodding in agreement. Smile

-JH
Did you see that?
Magic74Josh
View Profile
Regular user
Pennsylvania
101 Posts

Profile of Magic74Josh
I decided to jump into the world of illusions, with the help of parents, at the age of 14. Now, 19 I would have done nothing differently. I love the "theatrics" of magic. The lighting, sound systems and the thrill of touring and performing in new venues all the time. I probablly only do about 10-12 full size illusion shows a year (summer mostly) while going to college, it pays the bills and is very exciting. Everyone here is right, and I am not claiming to know it all, but make sure you consider EVERYTHING before you go out and get them. I had to puchase a mini-warehouse to keep them in and to rehearse, make sure you have people willing to stick around and help you out...it's really not possible to run an entire show on your own. Just about a year ago I jumped into an entirely new endeavor and if you can I would highly recommend it once your show is complete. Computerized lighting. I purchaesed 8 intelligent lighting fixtures. 4 to sit along the front of the stage and 4 to be hung, and they add SOOO much to the look of the show. Lance Burton just added computerized lighting to his show and it looks awesome (I wouldn't be suprised if he spent $400,000 on his new lighting alone.) I however, on a smaller scale, have that same "look" for just about $16,000 with lights, cables, and controllers. It's nice and pricey, but well worth it if you can aford it. Just thought I would throw it out there.
Magically Yours,
Magic74Josh
Magic7Josh@aol.com
Jeff Hayden
View Profile
New user
88 Posts

Profile of Jeff Hayden
Good point Josh - the illusions are not your only expense. All the things that go with it sound and lights and backdrops, tools and back up equipment. Storage and practice space, trailer/truck. It's a really big deal. Please don't get me wrong, I love it and do not regret my show in any way shape or form. But It takes some cash and more than you probably think.

Josh, where did you get your new lighting system from? PM me if you prefer.

-JH
Did you see that?
Magic74Josh
View Profile
Regular user
Pennsylvania
101 Posts

Profile of Magic74Josh
Jeff you are exactly right, trucks/trailers, storage, INSURANCE, backups, tools, cables, I could go on for days listing the things that are often times forgotten. I am however, in a way, lucky. I own a company called MMP Entertainment (Mister Magic Productions) and we offer magical or musical entertainment for any occassion (Magician and DJ). DJ'ing keeps us busy every weekend through winter and throughout summer and the Illusion show that I do keeps us extremely busy throughout the summer when I am not in college as I said. So when I buy a sound system, microphones, speakers, amps, and LIGHTING it serves a dual purpose. Not only do I have a show that looks very "high-tech" but my company also has the coolest DJ setup around. Great combination isn't it? The equipment serves a dual purpose and because we have to have such a large system for shows we have two DJ setups to have dual bookings. Works out really well. So... back to the question... I purchased my lighting from a local stage lighting store, however you can purchase these type of lights online at any stage lighting or high end DJ supply store. Here is one I really like... Click Here! these are some of the lower priced ones...There are two types of "Intelligent" lighting (Moving Head and Moving Mirror) Moving head the entire light moves on a base and moving mirror the fixture dosen't move only the mirror does. I have both and would never again purchase a moving mirror fixture (unless for a budget saving buy) because a moving head gives you 360 degree coverage horizontal and 270 degree coverage vertical. Where as a moving mirror is around 180 horizontal and less than that in vertical (but moving mirror are cheaper). I hope that dosen't sound to technical. But once you have the lights the possibilities are endless they have mulitple colors and shapes. They can serve as strobe lights, gobo's can rotate, you can put custom gobo's in many of them, they are dimmable, etc, etc, etc. If anyone would like to talk more in depth please let me know. Make sure that you do the research before you buy them because there are a lot of "bells and whistles" that you can in the lighting units themselves. Also, when you purchase them you need not forget the controller that you need to run them. They won't do much good in an illusion show without a 512 scene or more controller. Again, let me know if anyone would like more information and I would be happy to help. Lastly, I always recommend Martin lighting units, they are reliable, durable, and are an excellently made product! Martin's website is...http://sse.martin.com/productgroup/productgroup.asp?pg=martinlight...hope that this was somewhat helpful.
Magically Yours,
Magic74Josh
Magic7Josh@aol.com
muzicman
View Profile
Special user
LaCenter, Wa
989 Posts

Profile of muzicman
DMX lights will definitely let you step up to the next level...for a price!
I bought my first DMX lights about a year ago and got a basic DMX controller. If you are a DJ, that is OK, but for a choreographed magic/illusion show..it just didn't work. Hiring someone to run thelights was not an option. So I researched and found several consumer level programmers for use with DMX light fixtures. One Café member used and recommended Elation Compu Ware Pro. I just purchased mine this week and look forward to syncing up my lights with my act. The software sells for $999 at every site I could find it at. It's not cheap, but then having 1000's of $$$$ of fixtures without this type of control system is a waste. I contacted quite a few performing magicians that used DMX lights and found VERY FEW of them used software/hardware that could NOT sync the lights with the music. Personally, I feel it's important and will spend the extra grand to insure my lights do, what I want them to, when I want them to. Without similiar software, you only have a DJ lightshow which is great for dancing, but not a magic show.
BJ Mallen
View Profile
New user
Colon, MI
37 Posts

Profile of BJ Mallen
If you have never been to Colon Michigan for the Abbott Magic Get Together, you need to come. So many illusionists come to our small town for those four relaxed August days that it is great ground to ask this question in person and make lifelong friends on top of it! Jerry Conklin (from the Amazing Conklin's), David Seebach, Franz Harary, old timers who toured with Blackstone Sr., Gaye Blackstone, Aaron Radatz, Kevin James, etc... these are all people who regularly come to Colon. (Incidently I always enjoy using Colon and regular in the same sentence.) And the best part about the Abbott Magic Get Together is that everybody checks their ego at the door, there is something magical about our small town and its laid back atmosphere that makes everybody just a little more relaxed and friendly. Franz Harary summed it up best by saying that for those four days in August in Colon, it doesn't matter if you are a part timer, or full time pro, a birthday party performer or the nation's premier illusionist for those four days we are all the same. We are all family.
And it really feels just like a giant family. I am proud of my Abbott family and the fact that it stretches world wide. I also know that you will love it when you come to Colon and become part of the family. There is no better place on earth to jumpstart your life in magic, or recharge your magical batteries. I'll see you in Colon August 3-6!

BJ Mallen
Abbott's Magic Company
Magic74Josh
View Profile
Regular user
Pennsylvania
101 Posts

Profile of Magic74Josh
Muzicman I agree the controllers that we use in our production are nice because they can go with the music, be controlled by a person, or a combination. I have two lighting techs in my show so I need not worry about that, but having a computer program is nice but can really run with a large price tag.
Magically Yours,
Magic74Josh
Magic7Josh@aol.com
Osiris
View Profile
Special user
610 Posts

Profile of Osiris
Ok... as has been stressed MONEY IS THE KEY... but then, resourcefulness and creativity can help augment that factor. Taking the time (if you're young) to get deeply involved in "Shop Class" or, if you're out of school Classes in Shop that can teach you proper cabinet building skills, metal work, welding, etc. The more precision skills (let me repeat that term PRECISION Skills) you can hone the less you have to job out your designs or ideas the more more "exclusive" you can become with your magic. Secondly, rather than socking $10k+ into a single effect, you can probably end up with two or three decent pieces for the same sum of venture by studying the Osborne and Woodbury books (and similar resources)and building your effects in your own basement or garage. Then, after you've been working a few years (about ten) and you know you are able to support the action, you can "up-scale" your collection by going to named builders and cashing in on all those trendy Stinemeyer effects you see in EVERY ILLUSION SHOW AROUND THE GLOBE... so much for originality... Just as there were too many Zig Zags in the 1970s we are presently inuandated with INTERLUDES, ORIGAMI, and IMPALEMENTS not to mention a small plethora of other "standards". That's not to say that you should avoid popular effects, only that you should keep them at a minium and pick the ones that will best serve the markets you are targeting. Truthfully, you can't go wrong with the old standbys like the Thin Model Sawing, Asrah or Aga (or a Broom Suspension)the public still loves these bits and because they have a "legendary" sense recognition by the laity, you'll gain strong kodos for featuring them in your show.

Check around and watch other illusionist work. Don't seek to replicate their shows, but seek to understand the cadence and structure of the show. See for yourself what works best with the audience and ask yourself why as well as "how can I accomplish that same reaction or better it?"

By all means, you want to build a "Commercial" show at first. Something that's practical to operate, troop, etc.

If you have the cash (you'll need around $8,000.00 I believe) Dean Hankey (TheDean) had a portable stage-trailer unit for sale a few years ago (he may still have one) that will lend to anyone a potent advantage when it comes to booking even a weekend illusion revue (working malls, festivals, etc. + you can rent out the stage when you aren't doing the show... think about it!) Dean also had some awesome illusions available for far less than you could possibly hope to buy or build them for... one of a kind pieces made by John Gaughan and Bill Smith. Then too, as has been said, you may look at MagicAuction.com for deals and simply check around for the old timers that are retireing... I built several shows by buying out inventory from the 60+ side of the trade. I was also introduced to some very clever ideas that were never published as the result of the garage mechanic mentality that was so common in the 1940s and well into the early 80s (before all the "Ethics" and "manufacturing rights" BS started hitting the fan... that's not saying that I disagree with that particular evoultion. I actually support said protective actions while, at the same time, I believe it's kind of put some serious crimps to how Magic once evolved... that is however, another story.)

Best of luck!
Oliver - Twist
View Profile
Regular user
France
170 Posts

Profile of Oliver - Twist
Hi Static,

I started by reading basic magic books. Later I took a lot of time watching shows on television.
10 years ago I started buying books based on this type of magic :

Paul Osborne Haunted Book
Rand Woodbury's 1st Illusionworks book
James Hodges "Les Grands Illusions" Books
Andrew Mayne's Illusionbook.

Onces you've got some basic knowledge you can start working out ideas and try to find different solutions to create an effect.
once you've got the kick you just need to find the presentation.

I know it sound very basic, but this was my may to start in illusions.

Good Luck
May all your days be magical



Oliver Twist
Farrell
View Profile
Veteran user
371 Posts

Profile of Farrell
Just learn some of the basic principals and you will see how they are applied to each different illusion.and you will ba amazed at how many illusions are the same thing
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » How to get started..... (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2020 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.19 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL