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Huw Collingbourne
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Devon, UK
201 Posts

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I'm trying to get a better understanding of classic illusion effects (particularly mirrors). I understand the basic principles of angled mirror illusions (as used in the human fly, headless lady and so on) but I'd now like to experiment with other ways of using mirrors (or other optical illusions).

Ideally, I'd like to try building small illusions at first to help me understand the basic methods and principles (never mind an elephant, I'll be happy to vanish the cat! Smile )

Any ideas on where I can find information, explanations or plans? Books? Web sites? Whatever...? Don't get me wrong: I'm not after other people's secrets. I just want to understand the principles better - then (who knows?) one day I might even invent something of my own? [ well, I'm hoping... ]

best wishes
Huw
Ray Haddad
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Mansfield Center, Connecticut
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Huw,

There is an excellent book series by the late S.H. Sharpe that contains useful information regarding the design of illusions. They are hard to find but come available now and again. They all have a similar title such as "Magician's ******** Secrets." Hydrualics, optical and etc., fill in the asterisks. They aren't exposure books as the titles might imply. They are books for the serious student of magical illusion creation.

Another source of good information particularly about mirrors is any book on theatrical or movie special effects. Pay attention to books that are mostly for stage effects as they are not relying on those abberations that cameras have which enhance illusions created. One most excellent title that can be found easily is Focus on Special Effects by Don and Marie Carroll. Even though it is camera oriented, it is one of the best out there since it deals with the camera as an extension of the human eye instead of teaching about the imperfections in cameras being useful for special effects.

Your question is a good one. Unfortunately the details of an answer from the Cafe will have to wait until you have 50 posts and can get into the secrets area.

On the other hand, the search can be as much fun, if not more, than just being handed the answer on a plate.

Best Always,
Ray
Huw Collingbourne
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Devon, UK
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Quote:
On 2002-06-21 17:48, Ray Haddad wrote:
There is an excellent book series by the late S.H. Sharpe that contains useful information regarding the design of illusions. They are hard to find but come available now and again.


Many thanks for that information, Ray. I'll start seraching for those books online (but I bet there'll be plenty of other people searching for them too!) - are there any online bookshops that might occasionally have these titles in stock? Or is it a case of checking bibliofind/Amazon zShops and so on from time to time?

Quote:
Your question is a good one. Unfortunately the details of an answer from the Cafe will have to wait until you have 50 posts and can get into the secrets area.

I didn't realise this was a perk of regular posting. I'll have to try to overcome my natural modesty Smile and start posting more frequently!

best wishes
Huw
MichaelSibbernsen
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Omaha, NE
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Don't forget Jim Steinmeyer's combined tome "Two Lectures on Theatrical Illusion: 'The Science Behind the Ghost' and 'Discovering Invisibility' ". This book would be a must-have for your research. Available directly from Jim at (http://www.jimsteinmeyer.com) or from your favorite dealer of fine magic.
Huw Collingbourne
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Devon, UK
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Quote:
On 2002-06-22 04:22, MichaelSibbernsen wrote:
Don't forget Jim Steinmeyer's combined tome "Two Lectures on Theatrical Illusion: 'The Science Behind the Ghost' and 'Discovering Invisibility' ". This book would be a must-have for your research.

Oh heck! I can see I'm going to end up spending so much money on books I won't have any cash left to buy the materials to build my illusions!

Many thanks for the recommendation. I'll add that book to my list of 'must haves' and go and check my bank balance. Of all Steinmeyer's books, I take it you feel that this is the best one to begin with?

Following Ray's post, I've just managed to track down a 2nd hand copy of "Focus on Special Effects" which I ordered right away. I haven't managed to find any trace of the S.H. Sharpe books yet but I'll carry on looking.

I've just noticed an interesting sounding book from Dover - "Magic: Stage Illusions, Special Effects, and Trick Photography"
by Albert A. Hopkins. This is very much a 'golden oldie' and so may be hopelessly outdated. On the other hand, some of Dover's other golden oldies (Annemann, Bobo, Hugard etc.) are classics, so who knows, maybe this one is too?

Anyone here have any opinions of the Hopkins book? Is it still relevant?

best wishes
Huw
MichaelSibbernsen
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Omaha, NE
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Quote:
Of all Steinmeyer's books, I take it you feel that this is the best one to begin with?


For what you are looking for, yes. But *all* of Steinmeyers material is excellent. The Complete Jarrett is a personal favorite.

Quote:
I've just noticed an interesting sounding book from Dover - "Magic: Stage Illusions, Special Effects, and Trick Photography"
by Albert A. Hopkins.


A reprint of an 1898 classic. Out of date? Perhaps, but well worth a read for its historical context. I notice a used copy on half.com for just $5. At that price you can't go wrong.
Magicduck
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Washington State
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Some of the earlier, and fairly cheap, UF Grant Illusion books, stapled together,were crude but had a number of tricks in them that used mirrors, such as a knife chest.

Another thing you might find valuable, for what you are doing, is cutting a small cardboard box and getting a few pieces of mirror. You could experiment with the "V" also with one piece at different angles. For example, the mirror is used one way in the knife chest, another in flaming head chest and yet another in duck bucket. There are few limitations, other than that the image projected is what you need for the effect.

By the way, I think the cat might be one of the most difficult small animals to produce. My experiences included howling, yowling, clawing and enough strength to really wreck the inside of a box or even break a mirror that does not have a very strong backing. Cats are a tough route to follow, unless you have one that is very laid back or you have strong kitty drugs.

quack
Huw Collingbourne
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Devon, UK
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Quote:
Cats are a tough route to follow, unless you have one that is very laid back or you have strong kitty drugs.

Alas, no! My cat is a country moggie - otherwise known as 'a trained killer'. Mice, rabbits, fingers, they are all the same to her!

Maybe I'll start with the dog - a very soft and placid brute. But unfortunately very big - a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (aka Great Pyrenese). Still, if I'm ever going to tackle that elephant, I have to start somewhere....

best wishes
Huw
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