The Magic Café
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » »! » » Filming Magic-Tricks and Tips (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

View Profile
Loyal user
Montreal, Quebec
277 Posts

Profile of MitchMagic
I hope to aid all of you in filming your street performances and to allow you to get the best quality, and production possible.

Filming is an art in itself, and when mixed with magic, you get an explosion of creativity. To have a professional looking film/video, you must use all of these aspects.



The angles really depend on the effect, if there is an effect with bad angles, the most logical thing to do is to have your camera in the right position so nothing is exposed. The camera shouldn't be able to pick up any flashes, so everything must be planned out in advance as it is hard to misdirect a camera.

The first thing you have to realize when filming a performance is that the cameraman will have to act like a spectator because the people who are going to be watching the performance on film, are spectators. You'll want your camera man to be positioned close to the spectator (behind or next to). But under no circumstance do you want to get in the spectator's way, because they are the main viewers, and the magician's job should be to entertain the audience, not the camera, so if at that moment it would be hard to get a good shot of the magician, don't worry, there will be plenty of other times to get a great shot.

Different tricks call for different angles and positions, I am going to show you an example of where the camera should be. (Photo's taken summer '06)

This picture is of me performing Stigmata by Wayne Houchin. The cameraman should be positioned to the left of the spectator (arrows) filming my arm. If possible, have the cameraman film everything (arm + bodies) to get a good view of facial expressions. If the cameraman was positioned on the right of the spectator, the spectator's arm would be in the way. The camera must have a good view of EVERYTHING so it benefits the viewers on the other side of the screen once filming is complete.


You have to make sure that the camera man is in the right attitude for filming. If not, things can go wrong during filming rendering the final copy useless.

Sit down with you camera man before going out to perform, and bring these points to his attention.

Stable Camera

You DON'T want the camera to be shakey, it takes away from the potential of the video. Almost nothing is worse than a shakey camera, make sure that the camera man is calm and cool so that the stability of the camera is normal. Throughout filming many things, I have noticed that there are two ways to eliminate shakeyness. Usually I see people holding cameras like this:

You DON'T want your cameraman to hold the camera like this, the camera wont be stable and it will shake. You want to have support at the bottom of the camera, so instead of hold both sides of the camera (or only one), simply put one hand into a fist, and rest the camera on top, the other hand will be at the side of the camera.

Another way to hold the camera is to hold it while looking down at it. To do this, instead of putting your hand up into the camera strap, put it downwards into the camera strap, I find this gets a lot more stability, but the angles are harder.

Quiet Cameraman

My biggest pet peeve and something that is totally unprofessional is your camera man talking while filming. You never see this in movies, short films, or TV shows, then what makes it right in a magic video? Even if it is your dad pointing out flaws, or saying where to move, HE SHOULDN'T beca-

**** WAIT STOP, let me emphasize on something...

"Even if it is your dad pointing out flaws, or saying where to move"

This should NEVER happen, your camera man shouldn't be the one telling YOU where to move, it should be vice versa, not to sound arrogant, but the MAGICIAN is in charge, the camera man should be taking orders from you, if your camera man is giving YOU orders, it makes you seem weak, you are the main act, you are the magician, the camera man should never be giving you tips. And if the camera man can't get into a good enough position, then it is his problem, your number one goal is to entertain your present spectator, not the camera. If

Now let's return to where we were. I know it might be hard to tell you friend, parent, or sibling to (lack of a better term) SHUT UP, but it is necessary for the sake of your video.


I notice sometimes in people's videos, and even my own it is hard to see the face of certain cards, this is because of lighting. Cards are VERY VERY reflective and light just bounces off of it like there's no tomorrow. To avoid this, close your blinds so that no light can shine onto the cards, and turn the light off of your camera. Have the light shining behind you, not from in front of you, or the cards will reflect light.

"Your eyes and brain can quickly adapt to mixed lighting situations -- such as tungsten, daylight, and fluorescent -- but your camcorder has a much more difficult time. fluorescent lights often cause a greenish cast, while tungsten makes things orangish; even good ol' daylight can color your scene blue if you're in the shade or next to an open window.
How the heck do you deal with all of that?

The best solution is to try to limit your light sources, and then use your camcorder's white balance setting adjust for the dominate light source. So if you're indoors with lots of light streaming in the windows and bright fluorescents overhead, then either turn off the fluorescents and balance for the daylight, or pull down the window shades and adjust for the overhead lighting.

Once you start thinking about mixed lighting sources, you can take steps to avoid those situations. When you can't, try to limit the different types of illumination and adjust your white balance accordingly." (


Sound is another very important issue, it is very unprofessional to hear background noise, and even the sound of the camera's mechanisms.

"Whenever possible, use an external microphone, either wireless or with a cord, to capture the audio during taping. Resist the urge to go the easy route and use your onboard mic. Not only is it of less quality than a good external microphone, it will also pick up noise from the camcorder's drive mechanism." (

If you continue to hear background noise, I would pick up a good video editing software, or sound editing to eliminate the noise. I use Honestech Video Editor 7.0, it is free, simple, and comes with a ton of features.

Closing Words

All that is left is the way you perform your magic. If you do all of these things, you should be left with one sweet video. Just remember to inform your camera man about all of these items, if you don't you could be left with a very unprofessional video which will turn some online audiences away.

Thanks for reading.

Magic For Darfur
Save Us.
Christopher Starr
View Profile
Inner circle
Heart of America
1851 Posts

Profile of Christopher Starr
Your photo links are not there: Page not found.

I appreciate the contribution, but I was left wondering where the video was that demonstrated the finished result of the techinques you discussed. Smile

I use Honestech Video Editor 7.0, it is free, simple, and comes with a ton of features.

This does not seem to be free software, although the manufacturer offers a free trial.
View Profile
Inner circle
Charleston, SC
3717 Posts

Profile of mrunge
Great tips. That's a LOT of fantastic info to think about.

View Profile
Eternal Order
24053 Posts

Profile of Dynamike
You should write a book about filming with you knowledge and experience.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » »! » » Filming Magic-Tricks and Tips (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2019 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.17 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