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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » In depth discussion on Sword Basket theory (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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john wills
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Yes, that's very important GENUINE swords and spear, not metal strips with some wooden grip.
MagicalMotivator
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HighClass,

For a more "traditional" presentation of the SB check out Milbourne Christopher (he has a very great way of showing it empty even though I am not a big fan of showing it empty and well as some nice general touches):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ7piQlO770

For a serious presentation I would suggest doing it as a "historical magical piece"; providing a yarn about why this illusion was first performed. For example, something along the line of a "young princess" proving her true love for the peasant man she wanted to marry, against her Father's wishes. (Any conflict driven story would work). In this case she is dressed in a tight fitting, traditional Hindu gown. The swords go in (each sword can represent something if you wish). She survives, but when she emerges she has a quite large, billowing wedding dress on to complete the tale.

Swords should be as large and realistic as possible. The centre post can be a transformation piece of the illusion. In other words the post has a skull on its top, but once in the basket the Princess's magic has the skull burst into flames and disappear, transform into a flower, be a large jewel that changes colour, etc. And after the centre pole transforms the swords can magically removed themselves from the basket prior to her coming out.

To make this really large use an overhead direct beaming down light and haze a little smoke into the air. As well you could build a backdrop piece to fit into the look and feel of the illusion and at the end her betrothed 'flash appears" to join her. BLACKOUT.

By transforming this into a "story" you can up the effect quite drastically.

Another different approach would be to present this as a historical piece and actually set the basket up in front of the audience as you explain different aspects of the illusion.

Just some ideas. Have fun with it.

Rick
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HighClass
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Wow, lots of great thoughts and ideas... I really love the skull idea... And agree That a story can at least hide the fact that the trick may not be that great... Also when people talk about "real" swords what is the part that looks fake? The handles or the aluminum blade itself...
MagicalMotivator
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Handles and the blade both. You can tell a cheap aluminum sword from a real replica.

The type of sword used depends on the "flavour/theme/storyline". Best to go to a sword shop (tons of them around now with replicas) and take a look at what they have. But be prepared $ wise. 4 good replicas can costs more than the basket itself. Broad swords are the largest and most ominous looking, but nay not have the look you need. Indian sabers have been used a lot as have eastern blades. Obviously blades with a sleight curve have an advantage. Again best to check out first hand what is available.

Also when real blades are rapped together there is a real feel and sound to them that is quite apparent. But again it all depends on the presentation used.

Enjoy.

Rick
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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I was quite impressed with Christopher’s opening and ending. I have some comments about the middle.

On a large stage it’s a good idea to set the basket on a small platform of the correct style, so any idea of a trap won’t enter the audience minds.

I think it’s more effective to thrust the swords in slowly and deliberately, especially with the spear.

When he withdrew the swords he held them by the blade, a no-no I think, as it kills the idea that they are razor sharp.

If the basket is turned so the narrow side faces the audience instead of the wide one, there is a good optical illusion that the basket is much smaller. (It was a very nice traditional basket by the way.)

Again, the ending from his sit in the basket was impressive. There are a lot of details and nuance to bring to a performance of the sword basket (often overlooked) that can make or break how effective it is.

Magically, Walt
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Magic Monkichi
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Penn and Teller also go over a brief bit of some information on the basket illusion on their special in India.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB0Lexfqm_o (basket starts around 7:45-7:50). Not long but some interest information.
HighClass
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Great information, I am assuming there is a general consensus on the fact that the swords need to look as authentic as possible, I am assuming that in the case of spears, there is a little more room because people are not that familiar with spears, but the still should look heavy, sharp, and real. Now what is everyone's take on how the swords should be thrust into the box....

Slow and deliberate! Or fast and making it appear as if it is random!

I think both have some good points but please share your answer and why.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Why “Slow and deliberate! Or fast and making it appear as if it is random!”

The performer must be clear on what the effect is ABOUT for him, what the PLOT is, what the MAGIC moment is, and where in the plot it occours. This carefully thought out scenario will determine the mood, style, order, and perception to the audience of what has been demonstrated.

So it depends on the effect you want to create:
a) That is assistant is stabbed then restored and does not vanish
b) That the assistant has vanished right away then swords thrust
c) That the assistant vanishes near the end after being impaled

If it’s (a) you want to thrust slowly as if you’re shoving the swords through a living body (the Fakirs sometimes used goat blood.. eww.)

If it’s (b) you want it to seem the basket is empty right away, so you thrust fast as “proof” that they’re gone.

If it’s (c) again you want the illusion of a solid body being pierced, then the body does not “vanish” until you step into the basket.

So… is the person “killed” then brought back to life (a) or do you make them vanish and show that by filling the basked with swords (b) or do they suffer the pain of the swords, the body vanishs at the point you get into the basket, then tthey reappear alive.

A few other things to ponder…
--When they step in the basket do they fit?
--Is it such a tight fit the magi has to force the down?
--Do they “dissolve” under the cloth as it sinks down?

After the swords, I think the spear is needed to fill the center of the basket. It can also be thrust if hard and thudded on the floor a few times (quite chilling.) I also thing it is imperative that the magician sit in the basket if the assistant is meant to “vanish” at any point.

So you have three (or four) stages of magic and/or torture:
--Why/how the body goes into the basket
--The insertion of four swords
--The insertion of the spear
--The filling of the basket with the magician’s body
There has to be a build and crescendo, more drama and excitement evolving at each stage.

Magically, Walt
“Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic”
by Walt Anthony
www.LeapingLizardsMagic.com

"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
john wills
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Spellbinder,
Excellent!
paulapaul
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Rick and Walt offer such rich thoughts. My offering is more about mechanics than motivation. Here is my 2 cents worth. For me, the basket was a tempo-changer and a spunky bit of fun. Not comedy, though.

I did show the inside of the Basket.

I used the illusion for years. There are a few things I did to make it play well. I used a good vanish – which got applause easily. I used very punchy music, and had strong music cues for the “miracles”. I did not stop long for applause for the sword penetrations, which did not draw applause easily. And, sitting in the basket was done to a strong music cue, with “sell” moves – which sold quite well. Now, details on each.
1. The vanish: Rather than wait for the assistant to be fully in place, this vanish happened instantly. All you need is for her body to be even with the lip of the basket. Here is what it looks like: Cloth goes over assistant, tap cloth & assistant's head 1, 2, 3 times. On the 3rd tap, pluck the cloth slightly upward and instantly let it drop. A light weight cloth will waft down a bit more slowly than a heavy one. Once it settles, I pause, look at the audience, LET MY SHOULDERS DROP, give a small smile and look back at the place where assistant used to be. (No big arms open styling. The soft sell is plenty.) Then I pick up the basket lid and place it on the basket as I remove the cloth. This action, plus picking up the first 2 swords, gives assistant plenty of time to do what she needs to do. I’ll send you a couple more notes by PM.
2. Sword Penetration: A practice I used in all routines was to make a chart after each show as to where applause came and when. Then, I would discourage applause on the moves that got weak applause. This made the strong applause moments get applause even easier. The sword penetrations never did that well on a scale with the other effects in the routine. However, I DID cue the audience that something special had happened by looking at them briefly while moving to remove the swords. Moving is the key to killing the applause.
3. Punchy music: I. too, had plenty of comedy already. I needed a pushy tempo. I used a really punchy, drum-laced “amazon” sounding number by Yello. All I have to say is “Yello”, and you know there are tons of cues to work with. I edited the heck out of it. It was named something like “The Jungle (Yes To Another Excess)”.
4. The strongest effect in the routine for me was sitting in the basket. It always got good applause by itself. Here are the things I did to punch up the applause: Stood in basket, with slight pause before sitting. Upon sitting, I looked at audience, spread my arms beside me (and beside the basket), opened my hands and then immediately dropped my hands AND SHOULDERS and laughed. Nice laugh. I usually rested my hands before me, sometimes under my chin. I also cheated, big time. As I sat down, the music ended. There was a 3 second pause before music started again. Once it started, I stood up.
5. Sadly, you have hit the high point of the act, and still need to finish the routine. I used the reappearance of the assistant and the Company Bows as one applause cue. Better to bundle them and get out of Dodge rather than labor the moves that follow sitting in the basket.
I hope this gives you a bit to chew on. I sure loved having the basket for a good 3 minute piece that helped in the overall structure of my show. And, as has been pointed out, it is easy to schlep and gives a full-stage moment in your offering.
paulapaul
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The music was a combination of "Great Mission" and "Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess". I edited out all the talking, and timed the accents to the effect. My edited product ran about 2:40. Yes, it's a 1980s release. But, Yello is my hero, still!
HighClass
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Wow, thanks for all the info, I love this type of in depth discussion on magic effects. I think if more people discussed effects like this there would be less "bad illusions" thanks all of you for the detail and time you have put into the posts.
magic4u02
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This post is not to bust on anyone or point fingers. It is simply sharing a point of view and backing it up as best as I can. A few suggested they would not do the chair suspension as it lacks in any real "wow" facor or "oompth". They feel that it is too easy to figure out and therefor becomes boring.

As many know I love the illusion and I feel it gets a bad rap a lot of times. I will tell you that this illusion (when performed properly and with a good routine) plays amazingly well, entertains like crazy and yes.. WOWS people. I perform this illusion a lot of times and I always get great repsonses from it.

TRUE STORY: I performed this illusion just yesterday outside at a birthday party with people at weird angles. yes that seems crazy, btu I knwo the illusion well enough that I can handle any situation I am faced with. Everyone stopped to watch the illusion and routine. not just the kids, the adults stopped and came over to watch as well. Everyone was silent and yes jaws did drop. I heard a lot of amazing reactions. I am used to it. It happens a lot because when performed properly, this really does sell.

How do I know this? How do I know it works well and that it amazes and entertains? People TELL me. I do not even have to ask them and it is not just children. I had 3 full grown men come up to me and without me saying anything (not a word) the first thing out of their mouths was THAT chair suspension illusion. No lie. The comments they were giving me was amazing.

"Loved the show it weas great but that chair trick you did was simply awesome. how in the BLEEP did you do that!" His words and not mine.

"The show was fantastic and you are so good with the kids. I even loved the show. But I must say, that chair floating trick you did was CRAZY cool. I have no idea how you did that and I am still baffled. thank you."

I swear I am not making this up. These are comments I heard from grown men who were not provoked in the last. they came up to me to talk about it.

Now once again this is not iamed at me putting anyone down. It is just simply to say that the chair suspension CAN be an amazing illusion. It CAN baffle and amaze just like any other illusion. it is all in 1)knowing how to properly perform it and 2) having a good routine.

Hope this helps.

Kyle
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David Charvet
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Here's a great performance of the sword basket by Fred Keating from a silent home movie at one of Meyer Silberstein's magic picnics in 1957. (Music was added, although I am sure this is not the music Keating used. This film also has some wonderful silent footage of other "greats" including Blackstone, Vernon and Flosso.)

http://youtu.be/EZ7GJuf3d4w?t=1m1s

Notice the way Keating "sells" the effect. Certainly one of the best performances of the basket I have seen. Of course, Keating was and ACTOR. As usual, it isn't the prop, it's the performer.
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