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panlives
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Hi Friends,
What books/DVDs/teachers, performances would you recommend for someone who is trying to grasp the sublime subtlety of what we call “misdirection”?
Someone recommended Mr. Wonder’s “Books of Wonder” as having some of the best thinking on the topic.
Thanks to all,
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
Bill Palmer
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Magic by Misdirection by Dariel Fitzkee has the whole inner and outer structure of misdirection laid out and dissected minutely. The fundamentals are here.

Tommy Wonder's books have some great more recent thinking on the subject. I disagree with one of Tommy's ideas, and that is that we should not call it misdirection, but we should use the term "indirection," instead.

I don't think it matters what we call it, as long as we understand how and why it works.
"The Swatter"

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sethb
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There is an excellent pamphlet on the basics of misdirection by the late Al Leech, called "Don't Look Now." For $8 it's a pretty good deal; click HERE for more information.

Another good resource is "Strong Magic" by Darwin Ortiz, which discusses many other performance skills in addition to misdirection. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Donnie Buckley
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I never thought it should be called misdirection either. I prefer just calling it "direction" when I'm working with it. I do appreciate that it's a term that the laymen know and "think" they understand, which actually help out a magician who really applies direction to his work.

Besides Fitzkee's treatise, I think the Al Scheider Technique DVD series have some wonderful ideas on them in regards to the spectator's thought process during a magic routine which are very beneficial.

And the Tommy Wonder's Visions of Wonder L&L DVD series include some terrific advice on how to practice using simultaneous motions when it's not necessary for an effect, as well as his explanations on how he builds conflict and emotions into his presentations.

Five Points in Magic by Juan Tamariz is a short, but great, read on the specifics of your posture and presence to create decepetions.

There has to be others that I'm just forgetting...
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The principles of misdirection are not hard to understand; the difficulty comes in applying them. Plus, there is a certain knack to it that only comes with experience.

In my opinion, good misdirection requires a good amount of planning and forethought, as well as a fair amount of nerve and lots of practice. When I started, I got caught with my final Cups & Balls loads about once every third or fourth time. But the more I performed, the less I got caught. I still get caught once in a great while, but it's more the result of sloppy work (timing is off) or eagle-eyed specs than poor technique. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
panlives
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Quote:
On 2010-06-18 12:19, sethb wrote:
The principles of misdirection are not hard to understand; the difficulty comes in applying them. Plus, there is a certain knack to it that only comes with experience.

In my opinion, good misdirection requires a good amount of planning and forethought, as well as a fair amount of nerve and lots of practice. When I started, I got caught with my final Cups & Balls loads about once every third or fourth time. But the more I performed, the less I got caught. I still get caught once in a great while, but it's more the result of sloppy work (timing is off) or eagle-eyed specs than poor technique. SETH



It is my belief that the principles of non-superficial misdirection are exceptionally difficult to understand and should not be taken for granted; they should be studied methodically and assiduously.

One’s reading should not be restricted to the world of magic alone. Professor Richard Wiseman’s book, “Quirkology,” as well as the excellent “Mind Hacks” books, by Tom Stafford & Matt Webb, are prime examples…

… this almost begs a new thread: what books in the non-magical genre have given you the greatest insight into our discipline?
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
Bill Palmer
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The amount of difficulty inherent in understanding misdirection is inversely proportional to the amount of understanding a person has of how to move and behave with consistency. Basically, the magician needs to understand the silent script and how it is reflected in his demeanor.

A good example of this is found in some of Frances Marshall's work. She speaks of performing a particular production. She had not rehearsed the trick, but had merely practised it with the empty production device. During the dress rehearsal, when she tried to pick up the "empty" tube and place it into another device, she found that she couldn't lift it without straining. One very important aspect of misdirection is the ability to handle the loaded prop as if it were empty and vice-versa.

This same knowledge is required when performing various sleights.

Good misdirection is often very "quiet." A famous 19th century magician wrote: "...where sleight-of-hand is involved, the quieter the movement of the performer, the more readily will the spectators be deceived."

Two of the most important parts of misdirection are simulation and dissimulation. The concepts are simple. Making them fit you may not be so simple.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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The Burnaby Kid
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Some more for the list...

Gary Kurtz's Leading With Your Head.

Pretty much anything by John Ramsay.

John Carney's Carney on Ramsay.
JACK, the Jolly Almanac of Card Knavery, a free card magic resource for beginners.
bdekolta
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I am surprised Slydini's name hasn't come up. There are some strong ideas to be gleaned from a study of his work. A nice primer is "The Art of Using the Lap as a Servante" in The Stars of Magic. While you may not want to lap you can study this and begin to understand how Slydini directed attention and used focus and relaxation to guide the effect.

A big second for the Al Leech book. Really good little book.

Ramsay <-= yes!

Tamariz 5 Points and the followup The Magic Way. 5 Points deals with the physical and Magic Way the mental.

Chapter 1 of The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley Vol. 1 had some useful thoughts for me.

One thing I see too much of is distraction masquerading as misdirection.

That said I once sat across a card table from Tommy Wonder. He performed most of the routines he is famous for including the one where the egg appears on the table. I can assure you that none of us around that table felt distracted and we were all genuinely surprised at the appearance of the egg. We never felt distracted at any point in the performance. It was a great lesson.

I had the same experience with Slydini on several occasions.

The Card Under the Drink is the perfect effect to practice with. How do you do the effect and not leave the person feeling that if you hadn't distracted them they would have seen you load the card. Andrew recommended Gary Kurtz' book and Gary dissects his way of accomplishing this there. There are other ways.

Just some quick thoughts. Hope something is useful.

Dan
Donnie Buckley
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Great point Dan.
The laymen think that distraction is misdirection. You can make this misconception work for you though, and produce some fun close-up presentations with it.
Lawrence O
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The Magic of Ascanio Vol 1 especially (but not exclusively) the pages on rhythm and In Transit Actions
The Magic of Slydini ... and More by Karl Fulves
Tim David also made an excellent and very thorough series of Videos on misdirection

Leading with your head is very strong on presentation but not as strong on misdirection
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
Bill Palmer
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One of my least favorite phrases about misdirection is "the larger movement covers the smaller one." This is not entirely true. If a large movement is in context, it will cover a smaller one. But if the larger movement is completely out of context, it will draw attention to the smaller one.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Lawrence O
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Bill, naturally you are right. Isn't it like a sleight? If a false transfer is done out of context it will draw attention to the depositing hand where the coin remained.

Thus I'll try and explain what makes a "larger movement covering the smaller one" IN CONTEXT so that misconceptions will become harder to develop. Thus please let your experience complete, fine tune or temper the following:

A proper sleight
If we could vanish something, we wouldn't need to place it in the other hand for that: you would simply vanish it from whatever hand it is into (actually Geoff Latta and Garrett Thomas developed credible one hand coin vanishes)

Thus it is imperative, on a psychological basis, to have a reason for allegedly placing the sponge, the coin, the ball or whatever in the other hand. THEN we can perform a one hand vanish from that other hand (or wherever it is supposed to be). That's an essential principle with no possible derogation in deceptiveness.

Now how can we do this perfectly deceptively?

Let's suppose that one holds a capped pen in his right hand and wants to take out a deck of card which is in his right pants pocket. He would have to pass the pen in his left hand for his right TO BE ABLE TO get into the right pants pocket and get the deck.
One question at this stage: how can we believe that any observer would, as the deck comes out, have noticed if the cap of the pen was passed pointing inwards or pointing outwards in the performer’s left hand? They wouldn't because this passing is a secondary gesture to a main action: Arturo Ascanio used to call such small transfers In Transit Actions and Tony Slydini used to explain that "the larger move covers the smaller one".

Now in what we call a vanish there are several phases:

1) Establishing what the prop is
“People cannot know that an orange changed into an apple if they didn't notice that it was an orange in the first place.”
Similarly they cannot follow the position of a sponge if it was not initially established. We need a stage where we EMOTIONALLY relate the prop to the audience and therefore the trick to them. We are not expressing that “this is a sponge ball" taking them into your world, we are relating our world to theirs. This can only be done emotionally: it's a "clown nose", or a "make up" sponge or a "safe toy for children not to get hurt”... We bring our prop into something referenced in their world. This is the only way to embark an audience in a magic trick: the ship has to come to the shore for them to embark; if we show them the ship from far, they will not be able to embark, they will watch us but no magic will be involved just a demonstration of skill and jugglery.
If the prop is already established emotionally and we are in a further stage of a trick, its position must be established. “How could they know that the coin flew from the left hand to the right if they didn’t realize that it was in the left hand initially. Thus whatever stage we are in a trick, a sleight has to start with an initially established condition (basically perception of the prop’s nature and spatial position.)

2A) Glance at the destination of a "main action" that you create
For years, picking up the wand was the basic misdirection. This, more than a natural hand position, covered secret moves; However, it had to be announced. Tommy Wonder in his Sacramento (California) lecture performed and taught that Intent + Emotion + Conflict + Skill = Pure Magical Impact. Nowadays, it's more like tugging a sleeve, checking another sponge on the table or in a spectator's hand... The need for the intent however keeps its full power. At this stage we only glance at the destination of a coming larger movement (which in fact has no more real role than the wand but needs to be justified when it is materialized).
Let’s take the sleeve tugging for our example. After having introduced the sponge emotionally and strongly implied its spatial position, we need to announce the next intent: tugging the sleeve to cancel out any possible trickery in that direction.

2B) Pass the sponge in the other hand TO BE ABLE TO do the move that your glancing announced
This is what most young magicians call a "vanish" when it is not, but it cannot be a move where the mid stops at. We are simply passing a ball or a coin in the other hand for the right hand to be able to do something else (tugging the sleeve). To do this with the sponge on your extended right fingers, just put your thumb on it, rotate your hand palm down, and as the tips of your right fingers touch the curled left fingers (at left curled first finger level), retract your right hand slightly curling the fingers in relaxed position as the left fingers loosely close (I will come back on this at the end of this explanation). Remember, you are not doing a move, just seemingly passing something to the other hand TO BE ABLE TO do the move that your glancing announced. The “burn” in a Retention of Vision Vanish, that impresses so much the magic beginners, puts the sleight off mark if it requires getting noticed. It should be there but not be stopped at.

2C) Do the main action
We'll say here, to use another example than discarding sleeving, that we are taking out of our pocket a salt shaker with glitter in it (Fred Kaps’ feint). The right hand, which has been allegedly freed by the transfer in the left hand, then goes into the right pocket, ditches the ball, takes out the saltshaker and shows it explaining what it is: this is a main action, remember. The MAIN action, rather than the larger move (even if it refers to the same context) screens the smaller move. Thus this one has to be acknowledged. This main action is essential for it creates a step in the mental sequence followed by the spectators' logic. Since they cannot rewind indefinitely, this move becomes the one preceding the vanish and therefore it obliterates the previous movements. Since, from the performer's point of view, it is the main reason for this main action to exist, it is called an "Obliteration parenthesis". When people will rewind the trick in their head afterwards and will get there, it will be classified as initial patter and blah blah, thus stopping the rewinding process to the action coming next. It obliterates what happened before that action.

3) Establishing a pretended initial position
Just raise the left hand in a position that expresses that the ball is in there and freeze briefly. You are not making a big demonstration here. The facts have been established at Phase 1 and you are just reminding them something they know. In reality you are establishing casually where the trick actually begins for the audience. Everything before was a sort of introduction or preface. As far as the audience this is the initial moment where the trick actually begins. This is where they will rewind to when they reconsider the effect afterwards

4) Cause the magic marking the magical moment
This is a key element that virtually every your magician skips and which marks the difference between the masters and the beginners. You have here in the Café entire threads about how to do this with comments by seasoned pros like Whit Haydn, Scott Guinn supplying advice on this... For the audience this is the second step immediately following the first one, the just preceding one.

5) Create a time digression
This is a very brief and subtle step. When you vanish something, it generally isn't a vanish, it is the disappearance from a place to reappear somewhere else or it is a change of nature (a red sponge becoming a yellow one means that the yellow vanishes and a red one appears). Let's take the example of a vanish in a transposition from hand to under a cup to describe this phase: You have initialed the trick in the eyes of the audience, you have caused the magic marking the magical moment; now, for this phase (to create suspense and announce the effect) somehow focus the attention on the destination. It could be a sprinkling of the slat shaker over the cup, it could be tabling the salt shaker to be able to tap on the cup with the right finger tips (flashing the hand empty along the way to cancel the post-effect rewinded alternative that the ball had remained in the other hand). If you are using a wand it could be simply placing it under your arm pit, if you tugged your sleeve, it could be showing that your cuffs are too tight for a ball to get in there... Just create a brief suspense under some other pretense

6) Reveal the effect
Again, don't be spectacular here, the magic is the hero, you are not. Should you try making yourself the hero of the vanish, you would be challenging the spectator, leading them to be willing to catch you. Conversely, if you make the magic the hero, their imagination will concur in making the miracle. Two rules exist to that effect: don't look at the revelation, look at them during the revelation; and make a face that seems not to understand how this is done. Forget the idea that you "fool" them you can cross out this word from your vocabulary if you want to become a good magician. You are sharing your marveling in front of a miracle that you can do without knowing how it can happen. Challenge kills the magic: Dai Vernon wrote it, Robert-Houdin wrote it, Fred Kaps wrote it...

7) Focus their eyes to the future
Use a gesture or words to turn their minds to the future implications of what they have just seen, to prevent rewinding to the immediate past. For example in a C&Bs routine, the vanish is generally done to let the ball arrive somewhere else start pointing with your body (chest movement, shoulder pointing, wand pointing, open hand pointing...) at the future of the vanished ball.

So now you have a vanish that works and no misconception about the larger move covering the smaller one:
1 establish emotionally the prop
2 Obliteration parenthesis (glance/false transfer/main action)
3 establishing the time for the starting point of the trick
4 cause the vanish
5 create time misdirection/suspense
6 reveal the effect
7 turn their eyes to the future implications

All of these steps are very brief as you realize but the whole doesn't have to be. Take your time and design your vanish with misdirection, showmanship and entertainment rhythm in mind... more than technical consideration.

Tommy Wonder performed and taught that: Intent + Emotion + Conflict + Skill = Pure Magical Impact
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
Bill Palmer
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Very well put, Etienne!

Let me add just one thing to this, or, perhaps, just point out one other thing that some people miss completely.

There are sleights that are very seductive, especially when we discover them for ourselves. But for some reason, even though they hands look very nice when the sleights are being performed, they miss the mark by just a little bit.

These are sleights that cannot actually be used to accomplish what they are supposed to accomplish. For example, if we develop a method of apparently placing a sponge ball into our left hand with our right hand, but the movement of the sleight itself would not allow a genuine transfer to be made, then the sleight is no good.

So, it is very important to actually practice the "real" motion, i.e. a genuine transfer, before learning the false one.

This establishes how the hands (and the body, as well) should move when actually transferring a sponge ball from one hand to the other. It also establishes a rhythm and a pace for the transfer. Once we know that and can feel it in our mind and body, then the false transfer is much easier to learn.

With some sleights, establishing the move before the actual sleight takes place is a very good plan. For example, if you are going to do a Bobo switch during a coin routine, establish it first by performing a genuine toss from one hand to the other and then place the tossed coin on the table or into the spectator's hand.

Bobo's own instructions for this are a bit simplistic. He says to toss the coin from one hand to the other several times, calling attention to the fact that it's a half dollar, or whatever. This is not very natural and is not really a good setup for the switch. However, if you have two coins slightly to your right on a table top, and your spectator is standing to your left, picking the coin up, tossing it into your left hand, and handing it to the spectator becomes perfectly natural and motivated.
"The Swatter"

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dcjames
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Etienne & Bill -

Your experience, knowledge, and willingness to share are the epitome of 'Magicians helping Magicians.'

Thank you both for all that you do for our art and edification.

Kindest regards,

Doug
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TStone
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I'm a bit partial to the June 2009 issue of Genii, regarding this subject Smile
Bill Palmer
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That's not a bad issue. Some Swedish guy got a lot of nice ink in that one!
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Lawrence O
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Quote:
On 2010-06-22 19:27, TStone wrote:
I'm a bit partial to the June 2009 issue of Genii, regarding this subject Smile


Rightfully so

;)
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
SilvaAce
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On 2010-06-21 04:58, Lawrence O wrote:


6) Reveal the effect
Forget the idea that you "fool" them you can cross out this word from your vocabulary if you want to become a good magician. You are sharing your marveling in front of a miracle that you can do without knowing how it can happen. Challenge kills the magic: Dai Vernon wrote it, Robert-Houdin wrote it, Fred Kaps wrote it...



I love this! This is exactly what my inner soul keeps telling me during my performances!

Thanks Lawrence, I wish I had the words to correctly thank you for this wonderul post.
All you have to do to change your life, is to change your daily habits!



Carlos Silva
panlives
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Quote:
On 2010-06-24 13:24, SilvaAce wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-06-21 04:58, Lawrence O wrote:


6) Reveal the effect
Forget the idea that you "fool" them you can cross out this word from your vocabulary if you want to become a good magician. You are sharing your marveling in front of a miracle that you can do without knowing how it can happen. Challenge kills the magic: Dai Vernon wrote it, Robert-Houdin wrote it, Fred Kaps wrote it...



I love this! This is exactly what my inner soul keeps telling me during my performances!

Thanks Lawrence, I wish I had the words to correctly thank you for this wonderul post.


Agree, totally!
It’s a wondrous thing to manifest and share some of the infinite permutations made possible by this vast and strange Universe we inhabit.
To be sentient in this life is a marvel.
My preferred style is to communicate the wonder of sentience and perception rather than to arrogantly pose a challenge.
I am not claiming one style is superior to another – just my preference.
Thank you Lawrence!
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
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