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Magical Dimensions
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Hello Everyone,

Here is a question that I think needs answered. Remember when you started in magic and you bought your first effect? You asked, “Why so much money?” and the guy looks at you with a smile and said, “Because you are buying the Secret!”

We all went though this. Paying a heck of a lot of money for usually poor quality props!

So here is the question. You want an Illusion built! You already have plans or have a book with plans or better yet you have your very own idea for an illusion. You ask a MAGIC builder to build the illusion. Guess what? You still get charged an arm and leg for the illusion. You are not BUYING the secret because your already know the secret. SO why do you have to pay so darn much?

Why don’t we just get charged for the BOM (bill of Material) and labor?

If I have my very own idea for an illusion I still get hammered. Why on Earth should I have to pay $10,000 USA for something that may only cost $1500- $2000 to MAKE? It is MY idea I know the secret, so why, oh why do I get bent over the table saw and taken advantaged of?

Darn, Why the mark up when we have the plans? What a rip off!

Come on You Magic Builders lets hear your remarks that you have practice given people over the years. Yea, we already heard the one about, “Because I am a professional builder. I know the best way to do it.” My answer to this is that I HOPE you know what the heck you are doing! Why would I come to you if you didn’t have a clue of which end to hold a crosscut saw? Come on, let’s hear some really good lies I mean responses.

At one time I was an industrial Electrician. Should I have charged 2 to 5 thousand dollars more on every job just because I know what I was doing and knew more about how to bend pipe or hook up a panel? It was my JOB to know how to do the job RIGHT!

What a rip off.

Ray Noble
ssucahyo
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Hi, I think if you have the plan or ur own idea, you can hire the carpenter to build that, that way I am sure will much cheaper, he will charge you BOM. thx

CC
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Micheal Leath
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Quote:
On 2006-07-03 01:27, ssucahyo wrote:
Hi, I think if you have the plan or ur own idea, you can hire the carpenter to build that, that way I am sure will much cheaper, he will charge you BOM. thx

CC


The problem with that is the builder will not have the experience at building illusions.
ssucahyo
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Yes, I know, you have to stay beside him while the carpenter start to build, you can tell him what you need. after they built the basic frame, that will be easier for the rest.
so I think I found the answer why magic builder charge very high, because they have experience building illusions, which is totally different than building a cupboard. Illusions have function and must work, not only nicely made and painted.
Thanks.
CC
Creator of the "High Voltage Gimmick" and Shaman's spirit table
https://youtu.be/Rlgl4CzUa98

IG: @affordable_illusions_magic
Magic Patrick
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I believe they rip us off because they can. What they do is an art and woodworking is a labor of love. It takes patience, time and in every case money to make a solid, but easily transportable, working illusion. We don't ask much as magicians do we? I mean we want them to work miracles for next to nothing. In the Air Force we buy from the lowest bidder. You know what you get from the lowest bidder? You get what you pay for. I don't mind paying if it will look nice and function properly.

Patrick
Laszlo Csizmadi
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Ray,

I'm not a builder but this is how I see.

You can tell, discribe or draw to a carpenter what do you want but without experience you will pay more to them because they will spend much more hours on the prop. The other problem if everyone goes to different carpenter then all illusion will be out what they make.

Las
Magical Dimensions
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I think the answer is, because they can...just like Patrick stated in his above post.

It is just common practice to see how much they can cheat the other guy!

Ray
Laszlo Csizmadi
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Its not just the labor guys. When some one asking a new illusion you need to pay their time when they do blueprints when they go buy materials. After this all done they can start build your illusion. The builder want to build your prop excellent and make sure you won't complain. They want to hear good posts about what they built. Building a prop is not that easy. If it would be easy you would do yourself.

Las
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A little story:

The manager of a manufacturing plant who, unable to solve a mechanical breakdown, sent for the retired engineer who had installed the machinery. Following a brief inspection, the engineer took a hammer and hit a pipe which did the trick. The next day the engineer submitted a bill for $1,000 to a horrified manager. Above the protests at the charge for a solitary hammer-blow the retired engineer wrote on the bill, "only $1.00 of it is for hitting the pipe. The other $999 is for knowing where to hit it."

You have a serious complicated medical problem, why do you go to a high priced medical specialist instead of a General Practitioner? Hey they are both doctors, why does the specialist charge you an arm and a leg?

Answer is, you pay your doctor an exorbitant sum not for the few snips he made in your innards, but for all of his hard earned experience that made him darned sure that they were the right snips to make.

Hey, you can go to any carpenter and get your illusion made, or you can go to the guy who really knows his stuff, the right materials to use for certain parts, what will work day after day and not constantly break down. Someone who is going to pay meticulous attention to the little details and professional finish that just make it work better and look good all at the same time.

Illusion building is part woodwork, part science, and part art. The real pros at this don't knock thousands of these things out in a week or a month or a year.

In my regular occupation, if I take on any outside work, I charge 2 to 4 times what some other people charge, why? Because I have the knowledge and experience to get the problem fixed, and fixed correctly the first time. I also guarantee my work. Sometimes people go the cheap route first and I still get a call later because the other person did not know his/her stuff and get the problem fixed, sometimes they wind up causing additional problems on top of the initial problem.

I still occasionally get questioned why I charge so much compared to the other person. You know, the one who screwed up and I am cleaning up his/her mess, or (s)he just could not fix it but still charged for work done anyway.

Hey, if my work was as sloppy and only as good as the work of that person I would only charge what the other person was charging (and I would feel like I was over charging the customer at that).

Just my 0.02 cents.
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LostSoul
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I agree with Scott, you pay for the experience for the builder. I don’t think they are ripping you off at all. Do you raise your fees beyond the rate of inflation? Why? Hopefully it’s because you’re getting better (and booked more.)

Yes, they charge more because they can, but then the work they do is worth it. I’ll build you an illusion for materials and labor, but you’ll end up with something that you can’t (or won’t) use. Get a good prop builder and you end up with a piece of art.

Add my .02 to Scott’s, you now have 4!

Dave
Jack Murray
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Ray, you wanted to hear from "some builders" so I'll respond and hope it doesn't sound like a sales pitch.
First, every prop I sell except the sub-trunk, requires aluminum welding. This is more costly than simple wood working and I would say VERY few carpenters have the ability to weld aluminum. I also use powder coating or laminate instead of paint whenever possible.
Secondly, I can't speak for other builders, but my prices are VERY low for the amount of quality you receive, not to mention you always get a custom fitted ATA case with your prop. I would bet most if not all of those who buy from me would say they received much more that they would pay for.
Finally, sometime it comes down to overhead!! I've heard Bill Smith has an overhead of 200K a MONTH. I have my new shop built right on my existing property and I have no employees, so my overhead is very low so I can charge less for the very same quality.

Jack
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Have you ever had a customer ask WHY you have to charge so much $ for a 30 minutes show? I mean, how many people out there make $500 and hour at their job? Or, if you buy a one of a kind painting, the artist may have spent a day or two creating it (if they are a pro and create art full time) yet want $5,000 or more for the work.

To build illusions professionally (And that is a VERY qualifying word) requires a work shop- for most pros this means buy (cost about half a million dollars) or rent (let's say 2 grand a month for a small place in bad part of town) a warehouse or similar facility.

Next, tools- Gotta have em. A real industrial table saw- if you get the cheap-o, is about a grand, and another grand for a band saw, 500 for a scroll saw, 500 for an arc welder, grand for a metal press, few grand for vent fans and dust supression equipment, etc etc etc- You get my point.

Why does it cost $175 to go see a doctor who talks to you for 5 minutes? Because they have to pay a huge staff, PLUS the half million daollars they spent on college.

To my knowledge, off the top of my head, there are no second generation illusion builders- so, that means the builders you are dealing with had to learn wood working skills, THEN learn magic skills and principles. Most cabinet builders JUST build cabinets- but most illusion builders have to be carpenters, welders, electronics specialists, silk screeners, graphic designers etc etc etc.

Ever have kitchen cabinets made? I recently gutted and rebuilt my kitchen including water curtains, and fiber optics. The minimum estimate I got for having it done, MINUS the fiber optics and water curtain, was 20 thousand dollars... YES, 20 THOUSAND and that was for ordinary every day kitchen cabinets. No one could even wrap their heads around the concept of fiber optics or water effects so who knows what that would cost.

For 5 grand I did it myself and that included all new appliances. It took 3 months though and a lot of work. I also have the tools and know-how. Even so, there were a few "learn as you go" mistakes made that cost extra $.

How many folks do you think buy illusions? When I built stuff fairly full time, we would sell about 3 head choppers a month, but aside from that, we did a few big things a year. 3 "grand" illusions a year was a nice year for my one man operation- I am sure the Owens, Guaghns and Kimeries of the world do a lot more than that, BUT, they also have higher overhead, and took a long time to get to that point.

Stock illusions are easier to build than custom. With a stock illusion, weather it be an origination of the builder or a classic, it becomes faster and easier to build because all the details are worked out. You have jigs and templates made to make certain aspects of building go faster and more efficiently. With a brand new illusion that is not the case. Any totally new concept I worked on, I used to assume I would end up building two in order to make sure it was "right." Sometimes that meant I actually had to rebuild or do mock ups of certain parts, other times it meant that literally redoing an entire section of an illusion for various reasons.

Also, most folks who came with an idea for an original illusion, had not really given thought to the structure, only the function or design... the result was that it had to be re-engineered to make sure it would work.

I think a lot of builders COULD charge as the original post suggested, but then you'd have to include all the following under material cost: Raw materials, % of tool use, % of liability Insurance, % of rent. Then comes labor. Auto mechanics get about $35 and hour- but there are LOTS of mechanics. I'd say, generously, there are 50 illusion builders, (not just people who can build an illusion or two) and maybe 5 or 6 full timers, so how much is their labor/knowledge worth? I'd say at least $100 an hour, but let's say it was only $50 an hour.

It took me about 5 full days to make a head chopper, and I was fast at them as they were a staple item for us. That's $900 in labor alone- NOT including materials. We retailed them for $750.

And what about overtime?

Another thing to consider is, do you have a relationship with the builder? Magic is a funny business- it is a teeny tiny field with a small consumer base, compared to tennis shoes, kitchen cabinets or electronics. None of the places you go to buy shoes, nor your automechanic, nor your air conditioning contractors have a relationship with you. They have a business arrangement at best.

Magic dealers to a degree, but illusion builders defnintely, have relationships with their clients. The first time someone knocks on your door, rings your bell or sends an e mail, is kind of like a first date.

You have to get to know each other. Consider your significant other if you've had one for a while. When you've been together 5 years, you can get away with burping out loud or not shaving a few days- but in the beginning everything is more formal.

When you have worked with a builder for a few years, paid on time and been a good customer (and there ARE bad customers) often you can negotiate on prices for various things, or work out package deals for a couple things at once.

Are there over priced illusions out there? YES! But in my opinion, most of them are the very INEXPENSIVE illusions available from some discount dealers. I'd rather spend $500 on a modified square circle from Chance Wolf, than $50 on a flimsy square circle that will fall apart after 10 shows. What I mean is, often the cheaper the illusion, the more expensive it ends up being because either it doesn't work, doesn't hold up or doesn't look good.

Not sure if that offers any insight, but thought I'd play devil's advocate and share some isnight from the inside.
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The Drake
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This is a common question among magicians yet one of the most silly coming from a magician.

How can someone charge $100 to $200 an hr for close up magic doing simple card tricks or a birthday party magic show and then question the price of a professionally built stage illusion?

First lets examine that $100 per hr fee. If a client says.... $200 an hr ..thats outrageous....its only an hr!!!!! Yoru response is.... Its not an hr.... its the prep time, my dry cleaning bill, my expendible materials, my gas getting to your place and drive time and what about the months and months practicing. That card trick looks simple only because I put 100's of hrs into it....who's going to pay for that time??????

R&D is very expensive. If you have ever designed anything original from scratch you'll be aware of this. For every success there's a pile of materials that didn't work out and heck of a lot of time totally wasted.

Keeping all this in mind, I also felt that there was good money in building illusions. After spending some time working with a few pro builders my comment was quickly changed to ..... " You gotta start charging more for these!" I was shocked just how much time went into crafting a PROFESSIONAL illusion.

I always considered myself a good builder and have built many props myself. I recently purchased a few PRO props and was humbled at the excellent quality of them. From the durability of them to the trim and finishes on the exterior.. they say PRO all the way and will pay for themselves many times over as my Losander table did when I bought it years ago.

To sum up... builders are not ripping us off. They are selling us their skills the same way we sell ours to clients. They are charging what the market will bear and only that. The market will bear their prices because working pros realize these props will help them sell their skills as well.

Best,

Tim
Jack Murray
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I don't know about other builders, but I will work with my clients on a payment plan so they can realize their dream of owning a professionally built effect! It's still the same price but it can lessen the impact to the wallet if it's spread over time.

Jack
haywire
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I could never afford to hire a professional builder, so I built almost all my big stuff myself. So far,a double sub-trunk, tip over trunk, person sized pyramid production, huge stage sized square circle, and more...

Now I'm building (or trying to) a smoke chamber. I feel many builders are overpriced but you do get what you pay for... First you get the right to spend your time doing other things while someone else worries about that.

Lately, I'm getting sick of building my own props, I remember thinking the other day "This is ridiculous, I want to be a magician not a carpenter!"

So far I've spent about 40 hours on my smoke chamber, and that's just the legs and base, I haven't even started on the plexiglass chamber, I'm about to now.

If I were fortunate enough to be able to fill those hours performing, even at 50$ an hour, I could have bought a used pro built smoke chamber for 1500$ and still been 500$ ahead....

So I guess its really just a question of your time, what its worth to you. I think going forward I may be building less and performing more, though I enjoy building things, I'd really rather someone else do that. Some guys ARE ridiculous though, like 10k for a smoke chamber? Yes I have seen them that high, beautifully built but that's way too expensive for someone like me,the average part time pro magician.

Steven

Steven
The Drake
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Quote:
On 2006-07-03 10:11, haywire wrote:
Lately, I'm getting sick of building my own props, I remember thinking the other day "This is ridiculous, I want to be a magician not a carpenter!"

So I guess its really just a question of your time, what its worth to you. I think going forward I may be building less and performing more, though I enjoy building things, I'd really rather someone else do that. Some guys ARE ridiculous though, like 10k for a smoke chamber? Yes I have seen them that high, beautifully built but that's way too expensive for someone like me,the average part time pro magician.

Steven



Steven.... Yours is a natural progression in a magicans career. As you succeed more in your magic you'll have less and less time to build your own props. Its the curse of the successful performer. I hope this becomes MORE of a problem for you down the road. LOL

Best,

Tim
Lou Hilario
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The answer is really simple. Try to be an illusion builder and find out why it is expensive to build a quality prop. It is a knowledge of a lifetime that a quality builder is sharing with you. You really get what you pay for.
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magicofCurtis
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Many interesting view points. Bottom line is you are paying for a pro..... Keep in mind you usually can make a deal with some builders..... WINK... A major builder who has built a few pops for me wanted a huge fee for a prop..... I simply said, I love your work, and love the effect but my wallet would not allow such.... He understood chuckled and gave me a deal... Some builders will help the working magicians that does not always have that HUGE budget if you show the respect for their hard work and design....

Just my 2 cents....
Magical Dimensions
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Hello Everyone

So the bottom line is this. Just because I may know or are better then another person I can charge anything that I want! Because I am the master! All bow down to me for I am the Mac Daddy of the table saw!

Ray
Kevin Ridgeway
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Ray...
This is not directed AT you...But your kind of thinking is why some people never attain 'riches'. No one makes money if they only have a 50% profit margin (thats charging double for what your costs are, for those that didn't know.)

People that understand 'business', especially manufacturers and SOME retailers, know that in order to make real money you need to be charging 5 times your costs.
Ringling Brothers gets it, the manufacturing company we do side work gets it and so do people that are not happy just making a few pennies above their costs.

So along your line of thinking, you should be complaining about the jeans you buy for $30 that cost less than $5 to make. The t-shirt you buy at the mall costs less than $3 and in some cases under $2, yet you pay $15-20 for it. We have an item we sell for $15 and costs right around 50 cents to make. There is a preceived value to it and people are willing to pay it.

You also state the illusion that costs $10,000 only costs $2,000 to make. Do you know how many hours were involved in making it? Let's just say there were 40 hours involved. How much do YOU feel his time is worth...surely you feel he should make more than the guy at the convenience store making $10 an hour, right? How about the guy managing the store for $20 an hour? So lets just say you feel he is worth $30 an hour...although personally I feel it should be at least worth $40. So at 40 hours times $30/hour that equals $1200. How much are materials? With your formula again, this allows $800 in materials. But alas, there is no profit...he was paid for his time, now he needs to charge for real profit.

Lose your 9-5 hourly wage mentallity and you will not only see why that illusion costs what it does, but you may also find out what it takes to make real money.

I noticed you served in the military, I appreciate your service to our country. You of course did that for beans. But now that you are out...look at ways to afford what it is you desire in life.

Hope that helps.

Kevin
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