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Elite user
Cincinnati, OH
447 Posts

Profile of freefallillusion1
Here's a new one for you (I think!)-

Imagine a two part clam-shell type acrylic prop, which is form fitting to a human body. The person is sealed inside, and because the acrylic is clear, they are totally visible. Next, the clam-shell is opened, the person exits, and the two halves of the prop are seen to be nothing but empty, clear acrylic halves. Now, here's the question- does anyone know if it's possible to build the clam-shell thingie I just described, which, if actually empty, will give the appearance of a person inside when in the closed position, but imediately become clear when opened?

Here's my idea. Imagine a scrim- it's a painted piece of scenery which, when only lit from the front, appears to be totally solid, but when back-lit, is very transparent (not "invisible", but quite "see-through"). Is there a way this concept could be applied to the acryric shell? In other words, is there a way to have the inside of the shell painted (with a special paint?) such that when it's closed, thereby eliminating all backlighting, the image of a person inside is visible, but when open, and susequently lit all around, the image vanishes, leaving just a clear shell?

This may be totally outside the realm of possibility. Has anyone ever tried to apply scrim technology to a clear piece of acrylic, and if so, what were the results? I would imagine that it's possible to some degree. However, with my requirement of a totally clear finish, I would think that the mere presence of the paint would make this very difficult.

Thanks for any ideas!

Ray Pierce
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Inner circle
Los Angeles, CA
2476 Posts

Profile of Ray Pierce
This sounds like a really fun challenge! I'm not sure there is a workable method now and this scrim method does not have the resolution to make this really good. Yes a scrim is a good device in a large-scale theatrical context but it never really fools anyone. Yes, it can create a diffusion in the background and you can "scrim through" to see behind it but never lose sight of the fact there is something between you and the background object. I would say that a scrim isn't really usable for magic but Jim Steinmeyer came up with a very clever use of scrim. I believe it was first used for Doug Henning's "Walking Through a Brick Wall" on one of his old specials. Jim has used it many times since and is a very clever technique. Outside of that, it just doesn't seem that practical.

Now is there some other optical way of creating the illusion of someone inside? There is a clear projection media that although expensive is relatively see through. If you combined a mold of the person inside the clamshell out of this media and then added some sort of projection much like the singing busts at Disneyland, you might have some potential. Of course the problem with most projections is that everyone with two eyes typically pick up on the two dimensionality of a flat projected image. Shooting 2-D onto a 3-D mold could help this work. Keep in mind I've only seen this clear projection media in a flat form so I'm not even sure if it would work in a mold. Now it is mainly used to create the illusion of a two-dimensional hologram in space. I even saw some of this on a storefront window with a projector inside the store. It was really a fascinating effect as you are seeing a full color image suspended in a clear sheet of glass. If you don't know the glass is there it's even more magical, but again... It's still flat and only in two dimensions.

It sounds like you have a fun challenge ahead of you, keep us informed!
Ray Pierce
Mike Maturen
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Inner circle
Michigan's Beautiful Sunrise Side
2726 Posts

Profile of Mike Maturen
How about somehow adapting the same concept used by the WOW! Gimmick? I know that means that the clamshell wouldn't be completely clear...but it may just work!
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
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Inner circle
Los Gatos, California
1154 Posts

Profile of billappleton
I'm still stuck on a vacuum form or drape form oven big enough to hold a sheet of acrylic the size of a human body.
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