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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Criss Angel - Storm Drain illusion (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Patrick Miller
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I saw it when it first aired. I wasn't impressed with the cambra magic. But I like leapinglizards' take on how could it be used as a springboard to comeup with a real illusion. Criss is doing a TV show and uses a lot of cambra magic. A LOT
johnnymystic
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I liked it and thought it was pretty neat when Criss rolled up the manhole cover, who cares how easy it was to perform for the camera, I've had plenty of friends who saw it also and they had no clue as to how itt was done.
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docmagik
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I'm with Pete and johnny on this one. Mark me as being squarely in the category of "There are no bad methods, only bad circumstances for methods."

I realize that some magicians see magic as being a puzzle, a riddle that, once solved, comes with its own reward--you get to do it for other people. Same way you can tell someone a riddle once you've figured it out.

What a lot of people who have been around magic for a long time forget is that this sense of "How did he do that?" was a side effect of something else. A side effect of that first moment when we saw something that absolutely, positively, should not have happened. It was only after we'd had that "amazement" button pushed that we stopped and said to ourselves "How did he do that?"

As we immerse ourselves in magic, the "How did he do that?" moves to the forefront, and begins to replace that sense of amazement in our minds. We start to see magic as "only" a riddle, and come to perceive as this method as "cheating" or that method as "unsatisfying."

Or, as we learn the difficulties involved in many magical methods, our sense of wonder begins to shift. Rather than be amazed at the miracles we used to think were happening, we begin to be amazed at the skills of the performer, the incredible talent displayed in his ability to accomplish his tricks.

What we forget is that, in the beginning, it wasn't about the riddle, or about the skill--it's about the amazement! The method is secondary. The goal of the method isn't to be "honest" or "satisfying" or even "skilled." It's the effect that's meant to satisfy. The only thing the method should do is stay out of the way of the amazement. If the method inhibits the audience's ability to be amazed, that would be the only problem with the method.

In the case of "camera tricks," they do inherently pose problems, if only because so many people are hip to them. In fact, lots of people thing TV magic is done exclusively through them. When you use a camera trick as a method, you're looking for trouble the same way as if you pulled out a really fancy cup/vase with a round lid and put a ball in it, like the trick everybody had in their ten dollar magic sets when they were kids.

But lots of magicians still do tricks that are variations of the cup in the vase, and here, I think Angel overcame a lot of the difficulties in this method. He left it as one continuous camera shot, and, if I remember right, used his gloves to "mark the spot." And this whole thread is a testimony to the fact that it did its job--it created that "sense of wonder" that magic is meant to create.

I'm by no means arguing that the perfomance was flawless. The biggest weaknesses in Angel's shows is not with the method--he's got a good enough budget and technical help that the methods are surefire. The problems are with his presentations, which he doesn't have time to refine and polish over years, the way a regular magician can. A lot of times, he's probably doing tricks he just thought up or bought a few days before, and so his presentation can come across like a sixth grader who just practiced a couple of times and is running in to show his mom.

In this trick, for example, I would have had the bottom of the cover be black when it was rolled up. A little touch, but I think it would have added to the "cartoon" feel. And, I would NOT have actually used the word "cartoon" in the performance. The "Ah-ha!" moment in the audience's mind happens when the viewer thinks "It's just like a cartoon!" I think it's stronger to let the audience think that for themselves than to beat them over the head with it. But that kind of refinement only comes with performance and familiarty with a trick, and having done it multiple times. It's clear that he's kind of nervously filling in the silence because he's not all that sure how it's playing.

But again, both of those touches are about refining the effect on the audience, because ultimately, that's all that needs to matter. The audience can shout about camera tricks or about how its all done with mirrors or about palming, but they don't really understand what's going on in front of them even when you break out the mirrors and the camera tricks and the palming if you acknowledge what ideas audience is coming in with and find ways to address it.
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