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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Zoom Or Remote Online Performances (66 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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imgic
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Got an email other day from Murphy's Magic promoting "Top Tricks for Virtual Magic Shows"

Great marketing on their part...
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Mindpro
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Since this topic has gotten terribly derailed and somehow become a place to post bad video and try to pass off and attempt to adapt general business as entertainment business advice, it would be nice to see this topic get back on track. There are other forums for posting "look at me" videos. Few posted here really have to do with or further the topic.

Several weeks have gone by and I have now viewed 110 of these virtual performances, some by some very high-profile and top names in the industry, and most are hideous and completely miss the point. I am embarrassed for the performer just watching them myself.

Of the 110 that I have watched that were either submitted to us for representation or asked to evaluate, only 5 made my cut as good enough for market.

There were some consistent traits with almost all of them...

- All had terribly low production value
- All were typical performance-only, with their regular performance material
- Most just turned a single camera on and attempted to do their regular performance
- Of those that tried to use some"TV-magic" most were terrible and hack presentations
- 11 also offer a "magic lesson" usually at the end, mixing terrible formats in the same effort
- Almost all had terrible audio
- Only about 18% has any live interaction/participation
- Most had terrible engagement and eye contact
- Some were shot with the performer at full-length making 7/8s of the screen empty or void
- Almost all were missing beats and would be stepping over responses and reactions on the viewer's end
- Only 5 even attempted to use a different presentation created for the medium
- Only 4 of these five were actually produced well
- 85% of these were one-shot, unedited, with no post-production at all
- Nearly all of the performers looked like a deer in headlights and relied solely on their performance material, no personality or engagement or utilization of the digital format
- Nearly all performers looked like your cheesy "Uncle Joe" that poorly attempts to do cheesy magic tricks at family get-togethers and holiday gatherings
- Every single one of the 110 were charging far less than their normal performance. The typical price was $150, often less than 1/2 or 1/4 of their regular supposed performance rates.

I could go on, but really this is enough and plenty to see the results and a larger scale.

So I have seen enough using the "wait and see" mentalities mentioned earlier in this thread. Yes, if you don't adapt and do it someone else will. They have and the results are screamingly clear. To those that chose to do nothing at all, may have come out the winners.

The other real winners were the few that took the time to learn the medium, made the investment into what was needed to meet the needs of the medium and industry and put in the time and effort including pre-production and actual serious post-production to do it right.

I see these last 30 days has spawned two terrible "courses" on how t be a "virtual Magician" or "how to do virtual shows." Save your money as most only describe some of the mechanics of using Skype, Zoom, and the new Google Meet. Of course, they offered "virtual performance" material, which was just telling how to adapt regular performance material to a virtual format - "simply perform as you normally would, but have your camera zoomed in tight on your mat, performance area, and hands." These are quickly thrown together in a pdf and offer no real useful beneficial content.

Rpierce, Danny, David Copperfield, Charliecheckers, and myself have all said the same thing - there could be an opportunity for those that learn the medium/market first. The other bandwagon jumpers will soon create an image and stereotype that will likely be associated with "virtual magic shows" as we are already seeing.
Ray Pierce
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I'll admit that I've spent a lot of my life in technical production and preaching for the advancement of better production values in all aspects of online work. That being said, we were just shooting some footage for an online live streaming event... all professionally yet responsibly shot with the crew maintaining social distancing guidelines with everyone in masks, etc. and we were all discussing the content currently on the air... and I don't mean YouTube of FB but the currently being produced content for network night time shows. The Tonight Show, SNL along with many others are frequently being filmed on iPhones. Basically ANYONE could now have the same production value as a network show. There is a current trend for "authenticity" and a distinct lack of production values. Singers are recording with nothing other than a small fixed camera on them, shows either using zoom or creating the illusion of it by a fixed single camera shot. Some that do have better quality are actually being downgraded to suggest that it is from an onboard laptop camera. Now, taking that into account, these situations are typically coming from those who are already very well known in the industry and are using the contrast of professional production values being dropped in favor of the more relatable "zoom" type qualities as an example of their accessibility and ability to relate to the rest of us. If you are already a star, there is something humanizing and authentic about being able to show your abilities with the least of technological accessories. It brings out a very desirable quality of your work. I'm just not sure that works for the rest of us. I've seen people trying to produce a professional quality product from home and some are quite good while ultimately still having the quality of a public access cable show. It's leading me to the thought that it is important to provide clear and clean content but it is even more important to be able to connect with the viewer in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, magic in particular will always suffer in 2 dimensions. It will NEVER be as good as witnessing it live so we're already in a negative state online. Yes, make sure you have clean audio and a good visual signal, try to mix up the shot to keep visual interest but more than anything... move your audience, create content that transforms them. Charisma, nuance and subtlety are even more critical on the small screen and we can see it when it's there and even more when it isn't. The lack of acting and communication skills are exposed the closer the camera gets. That's the reason that real stars don't suffer with the lack of technology, it reveals their true talent. Before you do a show, just keep asking if there is real value in what you have to say and can you say it in a way that connects with and moves people. I feel that is the single greatest difference between good and simply mediocre content in today's online market. I'll be interested to hear from others.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
thomasR
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Excellent points Ray. I’m looking forward to seeing you on Franz’s quarantine talk tomorrow night. Franz has often mentioned on his interviews that everyone is on an even playing field now.
Dannydoyle
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Magic on any telecommunication device is 180 degrees different from performing magic live. Working on Broadway is different from TV and film. It is just different.

Most magicians don't do magic well in front of an audience. Without one it is really strange to watch.

But so much of the theory simply does not apply. I remember talking to Charlie Schilien about why he never wanted to be on TV. Eugene Burger made the same sort of point on one of his videos.

In real life the magician is in control of SO much, and if done right everything the audience perceives is under our control. Life is little boxes of pictures that we control where and when and for how long people may look. Think Thurston and the ducks. More contemporaneous Derren Brown and the banana.

On television, or YouTube or whatever streaming thingie you want to name it is ONE box. ONE picture. ONE thing. The misdirection to do something that will blow people's minds such as a card under their drink can NOT be done on TV without generous editing. Once you do that editing people know SOMETHING happened and they know exactly WHEN it happened. It removes SO much of the mystery.

So you are left with more mechanical means to accomplish effects. Not entirely, but more often.

Ray has pointed out the shortcomings of personality and such.

To be fair I simply have not watched many of the offerings. The first attempts, including some of the stuff offered here are just so sad. It is heart breaking. I am just not a fan of what is being offered. It is like watching guys try to come up with promo videos. Bill Maher is having trouble doing his monologues for God sake. Watch Wrestling for 2 minutes with the empty arena shows and tell me an audience doesn't matter.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Great points Ray, I agree. There is a huge difference between an established celebrity or star as this appears more intimate and personal rather than cheap and desperate. Even many of the late-night shows still have intros, outros, bumpers and other production elements making them much different than magicians trying to do this on the quick and cheap.

Also another key point is the audience is getting these television productions for free at their leisure, whereas magicians are selling this for a price to the consumer, and that consumer also has expectations for the price they pay. Expectations are many and extremely different when pay and entertaining value come into play.

Now...

with all that said the poor virtual shows problem will subside shortly. In the next 2 - 4 weeks many states will be allowing other types of non-essential businesses to open with curbside business, much like many restaurants have been allowed up to this point. You will still not be able to gather in crowds but will be able to remain in your vehicles. My prediction is this will lead to live curbside, sidewalk, drive-up magician performances. Magicians will perform on the sidewalk or curb and mini-vans full of birthday party kids will pull up and watch as the magician will perform his show for the kids enclosed in the van/vehicle. This will also lead to drive-up busking too.

Get ready, here it comes...
thomasR
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Mindoro... regarding the drive up entertainment. One of my variety friends (he’s an equity actor and a stand up comedian) has been doing drive up entertainment in his neighborhood. He stays in the car, rolls down his window and sings a favorite song or 2, tells some jokes etc. It’s something I guess!
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Apr 30, 2020, thomasR wrote:
I’m looking forward to seeing you on Franz’s quarantine talk tomorrow night. Franz has often mentioned on his interviews that everyone is on an even playing field now.


lol... Yeah, We've been friends for many years, I can't wait to see what comes out!
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
FrankFindley
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On the topic of improving the act, I love this quote from the "The Birth of Virtual Magic" article in the latest issue of Vanish magazine:

"I’ll share with you a surprising element of virtual shows that I did not expect: the opportunity to get visual feedback from each member of your audience.

I can imagine how amazing this offer would have been to any of us five
or ten years ago:

Ok, Magician: We’re going to put a camera on the face of EVERY
audience member while they watch your show. We’ll record their
reactions to every trick. Afterward you’ll get to watch it and see their
reactions to every word you say and every move you make. You’ll see
when they’re interested and when they’re bored. You’ll see when they
are surprised, amused or astonished. You’ll be able to fine tune each
moment of each trick to create optimum engagement. And then you’ll
do another show, we’ll record the face of every person again, and you
can review the footage and make your show better.

How much? $10, $50, $100 per person to study their reactions? Sold!" - Kostya Kimlat

This is a very interesting point. Another factor which may drive the continuation of virtual live magic is the sales process. If one can do some knock out magic virtually live with prospects, it could significantly boost bookings. Net, any time spent perfecting virtual live magic format now could be well leveraged later.

And of course there is the PR potential many performers have already been leveraging. I wonder who will be the first magician to perform from space? Quick, someone call Elon Musk!
thomasR
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Thanks for posting frank. Interesting thoughts!
Gerry Walkowski
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It's probably just me Smile, but I can't see myself doing any of this stuff.

I'd almost rather giving up performing altogether if this is the future of entertainment.

Gerry
FrankFindley
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Just a few more thoughts.

As Copperfield noted, this is a new media form for magic that we are slowly learning how to best use. There are a lot of interesting nuances with which magicians are experimenting. One is that the face tends to be much more prominent in the framing. Each audience member feels that the magician is looking directly at them. Another is that there is only one angle. Ryan Hayashi has been working a lot with these two points on his channel and getting feedback to refine his act. Note the expressiveness of his face in his billiard ball routine.



Another reality is that the performer controls their relative size which is fixed for each audience member. So effects which are impractical for stage, because some audience members would be too far away, work excellent in this format. And more standard production items easily "fill the stage" by the magician coming closer to the camera. In this highlight reel from Mat Franco's facebook virtual show, he and Jeff McBride take advantage of the aspect control. Mat performs the rarely seen nowadays diminishing cards while Jeff fills the screen with a beautiful Hughes Magic bouquet ala Patrick Page style production.

https://facebook.com/matfrancomagic/vide......92967988

Another type of magic making a comeback online is fire magic. While many of us have cut back on fire use because of inherent risks at locating , this is less of an issue streaming from a controlled set. As an example, Jay Mattioli makes good use of it in his trailer.

thomasR
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Thanks for posting Frank! In my opinion Matt Franco and Jeff McBride’s performances in particular are ones to watch for good ideas.

Our very own Café friend Ray Pierce did a really nice routine with Mental Photography last night on Franz’s show! That’s always been one of my favorite tricks, and his routine was so much fun!
TomBoleware
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Quote:
On May 2, 2020, Gerry Walkowski wrote:
It's probably just me Smile, but I can't see myself doing any of this stuff.

I'd almost rather giving up performing altogether if this is the future of entertainment.

Gerry


This most likely is the future of entertainment. Or for some anyway.

This could very well be your competition when things get back to ‘normal.’

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

www.tomboleware.com
Nash
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Hi gang

So the time has came, my virtual show is up and running: http://www.NashFung.com/virtual-magic-show
I also see a lot of back and forth between people about this. So first and foremost, I'm not here trying to change anyone's minds.
If you don't think a virtual show is the way to go for your business. Totally understand.
But if you are interested in doing so, I'll be happy to be your guinea pig and share my developing knowledge to help each other.
Disclaimer: No lies, I'm still learning as it goes, but here's what I have learned so far:

Materials: I've been doing this virtual show for about 2.5 weeks now, and from personal experience I can tell you the concerns that it won't be as interactive as a live show is largely overblown. That truly depends on your choice of materials and how well you present yourself on screen. Allow me to brag for a second as I usually don't: in my live stage show I take a very brain science approach in crafting a truly interactive experience. One thing I had learned is the more we trigger our audiences' senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing), the more engaged they'll be. In my live shows I have devised many materials that will literally get the entire audience up and moving, or effects that tap into their taste + tactile senses. If you are doing a virtual show, this is going to be even more important. I'll let your creativity take charge, but when it comes to choosing materials, I suggest magic that not only tap into their vision + hearing, but other sense as well. And generally I try not to do any "instagram" style magic. I find that quick snappy visual tricks don't go over as well on virtual land as people might disregard them as "you are just moving faster than the camera can pick up". But I can be wrong since I also know a lot peers are using those materials primarily Smile

Technical: The most help I've gotten so far is from my friend Chris Ruggeiro who had been doing podcasts way before this pandemic. I think when it comes to learning this medium, we need to learn from those who had been at it. If you haven't a DSLR camera with a decent lens yet, I'll highly recommend you getting one. Pick up an Elgato HD60 S so you can hook up your camera to your streaming platform.
Get some softbox lights, it will make a night and day difference in your video quality. I got these from Amazon for less than $200 (https://www.amazon.com/Fovitec-Photography-Continuous-Equivalent-Softboxes/dp/B00KC5Z9P4)
Chris also has great point about your studio setting. How you decorate your set creates a huge difference in the viewer's experience. The studio set up depends largely on the performer's style. I'm more a "laid back let's kick it in my home studio" vibe kinda guy, so I try not to set up my banners or glamorous backdrops. Not to mention I literally only have a 8 x 4 area in my house since my 1 yr old girl run around like she own this b!&^H HAHA. Personally I feel strange looking at banners + backdrops when I know it is someone's home. I just feel more connected with the performer and ... more authentic? But then again, that's just me.

Also, I try to do magic where the camera can focus on my torso and head instead of doing effects where I'll be standing a few steps away from the camera. This is something Michael Kent had covered and its true, it just looks weird visually, and a little disconnected when we stand away as we are use to seeing people up close on video chat.

Platform: I'll suggest using Zoom or Microsoft Teams or other platform where the audiences' faces + voices can be heard. That is what adds to the overall experience. I've seen some virtual shows where the audiences interact via chat (ex. YouTubeLive, Streamyard, etc...). To me, that really hinders the human experience and interactivity between audiences.

As with any new medium, it will have its pros and cons. The feedback has been tremendous though and the demands are coming in. In my state, we forecast that events with 50+ attendees will be banned until mid-july at the most optimistic prediction, gloomy view is it will last into the Fall. There's no way I can withstand 0 gigs between now and then. So if you are in a similar boat, I hope this help giving you some perspectives on how to produce a virtual show.
Don't give up, don't EVER give up.

NashFung.com/virtual-magic-show
Mindpro
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Quote:
On May 2, 2020, Gerry Walkowski wrote:
It's probably just me Smile, but I can't see myself doing any of this stuff.

I'd almost rather giving up performing altogether if this is the future of entertainment. Gerry



Quote:
On May 2, 2020, TomBoleware wrote:
This most likely is the future of entertainment. Or for some anyway. Tom


Why would this somehow be "the future of entertainment?" Did theater stop when movies came out or television? Did live sports stop when broadcast t.v. came on the scene to broadcast games?

No, not at all. Live entertainment is a live medium and experience and always will be. People will be jumping at the thought of getting back to this, sooner rather than later. Virtual shows will be gone or remain only for bottom-feeders.

How could anyone possibly think this?
TomBoleware
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Oh I agree Live entertainment will always be around. But I wouldn't count on it being in demand no time soon.

But yes one day in the future it will come back, but by then people will understand that they now have
other options. Those who have done good with it now may very well be the new competetion.

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

www.tomboleware.com
thomasR
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Thanks Nash, great information and great tips. The podcasters have been doing the home studio thing for a while and I agree they can be very good resources to see what works for that setting.
TomBoleware
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Well said Nash.

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

www.tomboleware.com
TomBoleware
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I see more and more doing it every day. I admire their determination to stay in touch.

Tom
"Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week"--Lori Greiner

www.tomboleware.com
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