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Mike Ching
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Re: Japanese ASTROSPHERE Demo Video

It was on a VHS owned by Jimmy Yoshida shown at a SAM mtg at his home. I see him on occassion. Will ask him about it. I'd like to see it again too.

Will let you know.

-MC

Hmmm which reminds me of something else...

Re: your mention:

"For a "dancey" performance this is great as you can expand your moves. For the "straight" magician the moves are very limited."

Excellent point Lee. ZOMBI, ASTROSPHERE & most Floating tricks really are "FULL BODY" routines. That is, the audience is very aware of the perfomers Expressions, posture and attitude towards the ball. Full-body mirror or video rehearsal is virtually a must to create an excellent routine.

The trick isn't just a "Floating Ball", it's YOU floating the BALL.

Which makes me think of this from another angle:
What are the "TOP TEN" Mistakes in most ZOMBI routines?!

As ARNOLD would say "...I'll be back..."

MikeC
LeeAlex2002
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TOP TEN MISTAKES IN A ZOMBIE ROUTINE:

(Not in any particular order)

1) The Ball when not "floating" and held away from the cloth ( for example at the beginning or end of the routine) is shown to be lightweight. This could be by having the ball tossed lightly in the air and caught.

2) The cloth. This can be too large, too heavy, too light, too "bordered" - so many cloths are bordered black to hide the gimmick which in my opinion always leads to suspicions, too "glitzy" - many a time I have seen a cloth which takes away from the beauty of the ball, which is the centrepoint of this effect, not the cloth itself.

3) The way the cloth is held. Too many times ( in fact 99.9% of the time )I see the left and right hand holding the corners of the cloth in completely different ways. The "holding hand" is always untidy and unnatural, whereas the non-holding hand merely pinches the other corner.

4)The ball doesn't float. The idea of the zombie is that the ball is floating, but too many times I have seen the ball just stuck on the edge of the cloth, covered and the nasty move of the ball pulling the magician.

5)(See above) - "The nasty move of the ball pulling the magician". This is not the ball taking over the magician, but merely the ball's attempt to float higher. To make this move convincing the whole body needs to be used, including the hands, arms and shoulders working separately, and the feet,legs and main body following suit in the appropriate way - but again all separately ( rather like a chain reaction). I should imagine that Jeff McBride with his mime training would be able to pull this off well, although I have never seen him perform the zombie.
Too many times we see the ball go up in such a rigid way, which screams the method.

6)The method. The zombie has been exposed many times as a comedy gag ( and unfortunately through bad performance), and is well known to the lay audience. The most common mistake is to enhance the feeling of this method, as opposed to presenting a "new effect" which has never been seen before. This does not necessarily mean to change the ball to another object, but to present the effect as a floating ball in a poetical, magical way, choreographed to music. Too many times acts have background music which neither fits their own style, nor the style of the effect in question.

7)Concentration on the gimmick. This often happens at the end - although can happen anywhere in a routine. The magician is intent on hiding the gimmick and shows this through physical looks or body language/ stiff moves. The gaze should ponder on the ball, but also involve the audience. Often the magi is intent on watching what is happening in his own hands and never keeps contact with his public.

8)Length and position of the ball. Either the cloth size is wrong, or the gimmick size is wrong. This leads to the ball being lost under too much cloth, or the ball being on the edge of the cloth biased towards the gimmick.
I have found that the ideal length of gimmick ends with the ball in the crock of the elbow, and the cloth from the finger tips to the inner shoulder ( ie right to the point of where the shoulder begins). I have found it is much safer to have your own cloth made ( or make it yourself) than to buy a ready made cloth).

9) Overtime! This goes for most floating effects and is not peculiar to the zombie. A short sharp, jawdropping, leave them wanting more is far more impressive than a lengthy under choreographed, under rehearsed, out of synch epic. Short and sweet is the secret to timie.

10) I'll leave this to Mike - my dinner is ready on the table!

Theese are just a few thoughts thrown together - yuk, rather like the dinner in question.
Yours Magically,
Lee Alex

http://www.magic2wear.com
rtgreen
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Quote:

5)(See above) - "The nasty move of the ball pulling the magician". This is not the ball taking over the magician, but merely the ball's attempt to float higher. To make this move convincing the whole body needs to be used, including the hands, arms and shoulders working separately, and the feet,legs and main body following suit in the appropriate way - but again all separately ( rather like a chain reaction). I should imagine that Jeff McBride with his mime training would be able to pull this off well, although I have never seen him perform the zombie.


Jeff has a section on the Zombie in the Stage Magic videos and he does address the "getaway ball" move. Personally, I have always disliked this move because it is illogical (Oh no! My brother's opinion of me as Mr. Spock may just be right Smile)

When I usually see this move done, the magician mimes that he is being carried away by the ball - even to the point of jumping into the air. It seems to me that no matter how hard that ball pulls away from you, it is not going to lift you off the ground, or even move you at all. What would really happen is the ball would fly out from under the cloth. (It's just a light covering over the ball, not a bag around it)

On Jeff's videos, however, he seems to understand this logic. He anticipates the ball will move one way and it goes the other. His struggle is not to keep the ball down, but to keep the cloth over the ball. It is very convincing.

Richard
Bill Palmer
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One of the best treatises on the Zombie is Al Schneider's book. His theory is extremely sound and makes for a truly consistent presentation.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Mike Ching
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Good posts.

Especially like the observation on routine length. After spending 3 years actively phone & archive researching the dancing Hank Book with numerous interviews (and logically along the way, floating Ball techniques) I had seen many videos of the best floating routines, over and over.

Some conclusions:

1. Yes, (novices especially) tend to do floating (most likely ZOMBI) routines 'way past the audiences optimum span of interest.

2. Personally it appears to me that the optimum "Free animating" or "Free floating" periods of most well thought out routines (the period the object actually "moves on its own power" or for example, the length of time the hank moves about when out of Harry Blackstone Jrs' hands) is usually about 2 to 2.5 minutes. Tops.

From my own lecture on Stage Floating, C. 2000 here is a slightly stripped down version of a "Map" for a strong floating routine.

* * *

“Classic Floating Routine outline”

1. The “Reveal” of the props
The ball is ‘revealed” to the audience in a magical, pleasing or interesting way.

2. “Cling” or “Balance” moves
Ball does not immediately free-float, but “clings” or balances on performers’ fingertips, clothing, or other props. Clings or balances are often thought of as “throwaway” effects, but are very pleasing and actually capable of applause.

3. “Animations Bits”
Ball begins to show signs of intelligence and personality by moving about objects,
or a performers’ person, but not actually free-floating yet. Capable of applause.

4. “Suspended in space / Stationary Floating”
Often, performer holds ball precariously between fingertips of both hands and dramatically withdraws them leaving ball floating in space. Momentary freeze pose. Capable of applause.

5. “Active Floating”
The actual free-floating routine displaying the balls’ range of movements, and the performers creativity, expertise and style. In these early moments of free floating, ball still remains fairly close to performer so as to give the audience other possibilities besides open lines to consider.
Likely applause.

6. The “High Float” or “Far Float”
Ball floats a significant distance away from performer. Often, performer and ball go into “freeze-pose” to sell this highlight. A once-and-for-all statement that Magician and ball are “not connected in any way” (except magic!). Likely applause.

7. “Return to performer”
Ball smoothly and intelligently returns to performer. A demonstration of closure and control. Audiences realizes this is the climax of routine. This “Primes” them for final applause.

The Strongest Routines: Short and impressive
Good Floating routines, while extremely memorable, actually do not take up much stage time. Blackstone Jr.’s Dancing Handkerchief only moved about 2 1/2 minutes. Lance Burtons’ “Birdcage” version of the Okito routine is shorter still.
The idea is to lead up to the main (floating) event with a variety of “bits” such as animation, clinging and intelligent behavior, then go to the greater-interest building stationary float,
active float, and c climax with a far float, high float and impressive return to the performer.
Use rehearsal to discover what you do well, do it and “get the heck out of there”. Interest will remain high as long as the audience senses the routine is “going somewhere”. But repetitive moves and an apparent lack of direction can cause attention to slide quickly.
rtgreen
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Excellent thoughts Mike. I especially like the distinction between stationary floating and active floating.

On a side note, it is interesting to me that a lot of close-up performers seem to understand the time limitation in a floating effect better than stage performers do. A typical floating bill routine is short and sweet, but stage performers tend to do too much. Maybe its because stage magicians work with music and try to get their effect to fit the song. Then again, stage magicians aren't that worried the audience will grab the gimmick out of their hands to see how it works Smile

Richard
magia355
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Well, I tell you I have used DWFB in numerous venues and all with great success. I use a mylard backdrop that prevens any issues and can be viewed as close as 5 feet with no problems. Even though this effect requires more than one person as stated in the instructions, it can be easily performed solo, like I have always, working great. I cannot recommend this effect highly enough. Great effect and great product.
WRandall
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Mike, thank you for your thorough analysis of the floating ball. If I ever plan on doing an FB, I'll definitely be checking back here for a brush-up.

Will
Mike Ching
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RE: MYLAR BACKDROP

I used to use the same for floating/animation routines until I decided the sparkling seemed a bit heavy-handed and obvious. In other words, yes, it makes lines vanish fairly effectively, though its kind of like "Hitting them over the head" with your technique for doing so. I've actually seen people complain that it is TOO distracting, and if too strongly lit, is actually hard to look at.

if the audience is very close, Mylar is a good bet, but many professional productions tend to go with "eyelash" curtain. "Bead Drops" are often used in Vegas, though I must confess I find their patterns predictable and often catch lines against them myself. I personally would not reccomend them.

While doing research for NEW ANIMATIONS /The Dancing Handkerchief Book (C.1991)ctually wrote a whole chapter on floating hardware (lines-lighting-backdrop) and have since discovered several backdrops and stage situations that are much more subtle and pleasing. I continue to keep notes when I find a new one.

Will be lecturing for the local IBM in late January 2005 here in Honolulu. that lecture will include a few new floating ideas I've not seen elsewhere. if any of you are passing through drop me a line and we'll try to get you in.
Bill Hegbli
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Quote:
On 2004-10-18 14:38, Mike Ching (Hawaii) wrote:
Hey Lee, Guys (& Girls);

Did get in touch with MIKE DANATA re his Floating Ball. (Told him about Magic Café, maybe he will stop in?)

YEs this sounds like a very practical set up. It is not currently in production though he is interested in updating & selling it. I hope so.

I can see this being ideal for most stage & cruise ship work. I believe you are able to walk on with the table, place it and walk (away) back still working the ball. Finish Clean. Nice.

He also mentions the latest FINN JONN Video which I would like to find: "THE INCOMPARABLE FINN JONN". I can search for it, just wanted to know if anyone knew a shop carrying it offhand? Wonder how recent this video is? (I am a HUGE Fan of FINN JONN's work).

Anyway Mike Danata, if you get here, let me be the first to welcome you!

Aloha
-MikeC


Check out Steves Magic for the new Finn Jon Video.
http://www.stevesmagic.com
oagwood
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A better link is http://www.stevensmagic.com

oliver
Mike Ching
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Thanks for the links. There is no one more prolific and more knowledeable than Finn Jonn. Just my opinion, but Of the current crop he is the best. I very much hope to meet him someday, remember his performance on a 70's show with his cabaret floating ball. he not only does it well, he knows how to make the audience CARE about it.

Go Finn Jonn!
Crispy
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Just have to say that anyone doing the zombie now or interested in doing the zombie should watch Lance Burton's FIRST appearance on the Tonight Show. This is not his "floating birdcage," but is the standard zombie ball that anyone can buy at a magic shop for twenty bucks. Watching this performance will give you an appreciation that the effect comes not from the method, but from the technique and skill of the performer. He does the zombie more convincibly than anyone I've ever seen.

Cris
Farrell
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Also speaking of Zombie Ball IMO Dale Salwak is the best at it.
rtgreen
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I realize this is a departure from the main topic, but I would be interested in hearing what you guys think is the best Zombie presentation you've seen. Aside from the two already mentioned, I would have to add Neil Foster's routine. It is spectacular.

Thanks,
Richard
Mike Ching
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There was a guy featured briefly on the old TV series THE MAGICIAN. He did a brief Zombi routine, kind of fast and very unorthodox. Moves just looked impossible. I'm sure Lance Burton does a great routine, wish I'd seen it. Is that his ZOMBI Birdcage?

Foster and Salwak are great of course though I have never seen a particularly good video (Quality of Video) of either unfortunately. There is footage on (I think) TIM WRIGHTS' ZOMBIE video (on sale at Meir Yedid's on VHS for $10 on closeout, good video: http://www.mymagic.com/specials.htm )
rtgreen
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Yes, there is footage of Foster on the Tim Wright video. It is a tape of a convention performance. There is also an early performance on one of the Magic Ranch videos. I'll have to check out the Magician videos (I collected them)and find the performance there.

BTW: Is Lance's Tonight Show appearance available anywhere?

Thanks,
Richard
Mike Ching
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For those who have written me regaurding "NEW ANIMATIONS" Dancing Hank/Floating technique book, It has been re-released and is now available from a number of shops.

Unfortunately I am currently sold out so you need to order from dealers. (We are printing soon, but need have the foil Cover plate re-done as the original covers are depleted and the initial plate was lost so it may look slightly different). ALL legitimate copies of this book are both signed and numbered.

For those in this forum interested in stage object floating I will keep you posted as new items and manuscripts come up!

-MC
Mike Ching
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Aloha

Will be at WORLD MAGIC SEMINAR next week. A window of opportunity just opened up, so am Bringing copies of NEW ANIMATIONS and my STAGE FLOATING lecture materials thought I am NOT booked to work the convention and am told by some it is probably too late for a private venue to book me, still I head to California right after (Anaheim) so there are other possibilities. Also scrambling to complete a book on New/Classic Floating object designs: "Fantastic Floating" C. '06.

(I could just let this slide and not even try, but I've learned the hard way that unless I give myself deadlines I will never strive to complete any of the 101 projects I work on at any one time. Frankly my experience has been that these things usually work out one way or another. At the very least you learn a lot.)

Anyway, after doing it 3 times in Hawaii, feel it has a lot to offer most magicians in terms of making stage line work understandable. If anyone out there knows a venue in Vegas or CA who can help me or host it I would very much like to hear from you. Thanks to those of you who emailed and let me know you were interested. At the very least, find me at the convention and say hello.

Magical Aloha;

-MikeC
(808) 836-1800
ricker
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Mike,

What about one of the Magic Shops in L.A. I know one of them has regular seminars.

I love your book. You combine your knowledge and experince, add the Don Wayne/Sean Bogunia dancing hank in and wow, a whole act and more.

Maybe you should talk to Michael Baker and Bob Sanders about coming to SEAM here in August. I know for sure I'd love to see a lecture by you.

Hmm and you have lecture notes too on state floating... Smile

Best

Rick
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