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Profile of Kronos9326
Is is recommended to buy an illusion, or buy the plans and build your own? The only reason I ask, is that when I see some illusions online the price seems to be artificially high. My father in law (who is a carpenter by trade) says that most of the plans I've shown him, would cost no where near what people are charging, including labour.

Chance Wolf
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Inner circle
2425 Posts

Profile of Chance Wolf
I have to be brief here but the bottom line is you are paying the extra cost for two reasons.
1) Value and Rights to use of the Idea.
2) Research & Development costs (which can be astronomical especially when developing a new effect.) There are R&D Costs even with an existing idea as each builder has to actually develop his own production methods for every effect. It is NEVER as easy as just "going by the plans".
You would not believe how much time & money I spend creating a new Platform effect! And that is a SMALL effect. When you step into the Illusion hurts to count the time & money.
Also take into consideration that you are paying for Production Specialists in the craft of building magic. It is a far less formulated trade than a Cabinet Maker. No offense to the Cabinetry Trade but clearly there are many more variables and mechanical engineering that goes into an Illusion compared to typical and even custom cabinet work.
I hope this helps the pain in your wallet as I know it can seem riduculous to pay the the same cost for an Illusion as you would a decent used car Smile
Take care,
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

A DECADE of building Magic and we're just getting started!
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
15111 Posts

Profile of magic4u02
Very well said Chance. Bottom line is that you get what you pay for.
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David Le
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Profile of David Le
Watch David Copperfield. Period. Smile

Notice how he does "ONE".
But I don't think you'll pick so much up from it cuz ONE was modified for tv when he taped TORNADO OF FIRE...

but anyways, watch how DC uses black art in the most devious, clever way Smile
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Profile of briansmagic
Which illusion is ONE? I am not sure I know which one that is ....
David Le
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Profile of David Le
Appearing out of a thin platform.
the first trick in TORNADO OF FIRE......

one of the things I'm pointing out is how DC does SO MUCH with so little...... if not the most innocent-looking of props.

other "innocent looking propped DC illusion"

Flying (just the rigns and box)

but nah. technical requirements and specifications are massive, so just don't do them yet. however you can "study" his style. Smile

just my 2 cents.
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Rehoboth Beach, DE
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Profile of Cashetta
If you only think it terms of whats available and what others are already doing, you are going to totally limit your imagination. When I come up with a story and scene ideas for each segment of my show, I try not to think about what I've seen before. I focus on the effect and it's entertainment possibilities without limitations. Once I've got that... I can present my ideas to a builder for input and we begin to make it happen. You never know what the two of you can come up with!
Best of luck!
David Le
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Profile of David Le
Nah. Smile

I have my own method of METAMORPHOSIS.

no subtrunks, no twins, just the "prop" which I might call THE FRAME.

heck, I'll probably even bill the illusion as THE FRAME. and I'll do it to moby's EXTREME WAYS. it can only be done far and deep into the stage though, and I need lights to enhance the effect.

and a pretty assistant of course Smile

but as I've said, it's my own method and if I'm not mistaken it hasn't been done before.

and you guys will be surpsied as to how simple it is Smile

can't describe it in words though, you have to see an ilustration to understand it.
if anyone's interested to "build" it and market it feel free to email me

I don't expect a share of the money. just MY NAME as it's creator Smile

yeaaaaaaaah Smile
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The Beautiful State Of Maine
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Profile of Dougini
Since David Copperfield's illusions were brought up, I have to agree...

He does MUCH with very little. After assembling and disassembling some of them for shipping, I've discovered these are VERY old in principle, and are used with modern ideas. More than once I thought, "Is this it?" Wow, nothing's changed in a hundred years! The methods are ridiculously simple, but applied in ingenious ways...

The whole show is flawlessly scripted, every step planned and rehearsed. Secrecy agreements must be signed by everyone (rightfully so).

You could take every one of his illusions, change them in some subtle way, and have a brand new act! It's amazing how "generic" the stuff is, and could be used for a number of different effects. I've only worked three years in a row, each time he came to town, but learned so much...I COULD write a book (but won't).

Steve Dela
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U.K. London
961 Posts

Profile of Steve Dela
Jim Steinmeyer recently advised my about buying illusions! here is what he said.


You'll be disappointed by my ordinary advice.

Start with something simple and solid. An illusion is a very disorienting addition to an act, and the worst mistake you could make would be to get something that's not 100-percent practical, meaning that you can perform it almost anywhere. If you end up with some special prop, that needs certain sightlines, certain lighting, et cetera, you'll only use it a small fraction of the time. And for your first illusion, your goal should be to perform it over and over again so you can get comfortable with this sort of prop.

A custom prop sounds like a good idea. It sounds admirably creative. But you'll never know how to evaluate it, and it'll be tough for you to make the adjustments and corrections that are always necessary for a brand new prop.

So...believe it or not...I'd start with some classic. The Substitution Trunk. Zig Zag. Basket. Girl on Three Swords. Chair Suspension, Sword Box or Temple of Benares, Broom Illusion. (A few ideas from my props: Girl in the Puzzle, Modern Art, Houdini's Rope.) Notice that none of these start or end with people inside. No one's loaded at the top of the show, or stuck in a prop at the end of the show. Easy to perform in almost any conditions, with one assistant.

The Pendragons made a reputation with a number of classic effects (Trunk, Basket, Broom). It seemed unbelievable that they could have success with such old effects, but the versatility of these effects allowed them to work anywhere. Then again, the had their own variations on each of these illusions. That's your challenge, to direct your creativity to the presentation, while guaranteeing the level of the effect.

Anyway, that's my advice. My friend Alan Wakeling once told me, "Don't be afraid of the classics. The reason they're classics is that, if you perform them competently, they are guaranteed to be a success for you." That's actually a pretty amazing statement. "Guaranteed to be a success?" But I think he's right and his opinion is of great value.

Good luck.


all the best!
Steve Dela
Associate Member of the Inner Magic Circle
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