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TeddyBoy
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I have seen the "structure" of a trick referred to generally, but I only have a broad intuitive understanding of what this term actually means. I would like to know if there are references that describe in some detail the conceptual building blocks that a trick comprises. At this point I am not interested in the construction and structure of an entire routine, only the conceptual parts of a single trick that would enable me to create my own "magic." For example, judging from the name of the Ortiz book entitled Designing Miracles, I would guess that it may describe the subject of my interest. Any others?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
funsway
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I have pursued this notion over the decades, finding little by way of support. So, I have endeavored to create such a process
based on by business development experience and instructional theory education, and more.

The sections I have created and shared with others fall of deaf ears, mostly - considered boring and unnecessary in general.
Most folks find it easier to just buy or steal a routine, start switching sleights and phases, and then complain that it does work right.

Yup, a magician might take years perfecting a routine for every action, nuance, word, gesture and psychological moment -
but the "student" thinks he can learn it all from a myopic video in an hour and master everything in a week.

This is by way of suggesting that "the structure of a single magic effect" cannot have validity without understanding the All of the elements of a complete routine.
It is like saying, show me how to bake cake without knowing who will eat it and what the party is celebrating.

I can give you a list of ingredients and mixing instructions but not guarantee success of the party. It is a WHAT and WHY problem.
Further more, you may wish to understand why 350 degrees and only a 9X13 pan. Change those and it doesn't come out right.

Trying to encourage you here, but remember the quip, "If you do not know where you are going, any path will get you there."

Another simple answer to your question is, "Decide what your audience expects and will perceive and work backwards to selecting or designing an effect."

What effects have you mastered? Why are you unhappy with them? What venue do you prefer? Is this to be impromptu or stage production?

What is you favorite magic effect? Why? etc.

So, your quest is noble and thinking "right on," and I will help as I may. Write ken@eversway.com and I can give you tidbits of a book in progress.
actually two Ebooks to be opened side by side. One with the step-by-step instructions for an "ultimate close-up routine" - the other with more detailed
support and analytical material including an alphabetical Appendix defining every Move, Sleight, Stratagem and Concept referenced in the first book.
Sections in both are mirrors: Organizing/Planning, Preparation Script, Analysis Script, Visual Script, Secret Script, Verbal Script, and Action Script.

The Support eBook also has Insights on themes relevant to understanding what is going on in the observers mind such as
Concealment, Presence, Appreciation, Collocation, Emergence, Psychological Ploys ...

Just explaining the difference between "empty" and "nothing there" can take several pages.

The Ortiz Book is a good read but focus on themes and skills as a basis for inspiration and creativity.

I am "romancing a routine" through Inspiration, Collocation, Emergence, Synergy and Divergence.

It is hoped that by taking a student through a complete understanding of one simple routine design, he/she will be prepared to do their own.

A work in progress for 40 years that might finally be completed this year.

I look forward to chatting with you. Ken
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Nikodemus
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Designing Miracles is brilliant. Reading books like this is much more interesting (for me) than just learning yet another trick.
He analyses how people tend to think automatically to instinctively make sense of what they see - and thereby how you can use that knowledge to deceive them.

My own opinion (as a beginner who likes to think conceptually) on "structure" -
it is a generic term, which you already understand intuitively, as you stated. It's not a simple or deterministic formula though.
The structure of a magic trick could be compared to the structure of a play, book, ballet, or musical composition. Or a building or a piece of engineering. When it works, it just works. And it seems so simple and natural. The effort and skill that went into its creation is NOT obvious. If it is obvious, it's a sign that something is wrong!

There is a huge amount of choreography in magic tricks. Things that look spur-of-the-moment are carefully scripted - eg. At exactly what point does the performer reach into his pocket for a pen.
TeddyBoy
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Thanks to you both for your insightful responses. You both like the Ortiz book which is a relief since it is on my shelf, albeit unread. Funsway, your comment " focus on themes and skills as a basis for inspiration and creativity," seems a bit too advanced for my comprehension. I would like to be able to dissect a trick like I would dissect, for example, a joke: stage 1, the set up; step 2; the climax of the set up, and step 3, the irony (i.e, punchline). Perhaps a scientific experiment is a better metaphor: stage 1, creating an experimental system; stage 2, an idea (i.e., hypothesis) driving an experiment; stage 3, the result and explanation.

I used to think I was good at deconstructing/reconstructing processes, but with magic I seem to hit a wall. It probably means I do not really understand the tricks I can do. It's a shame but maybe that will change with more time and concentrating my efforts. I hope that maybe I am taking Funsway too literally in his statement that a trick alone cannot be understood but requires the context of a routine because I am nowhere near creating an entire routine, let alone one that that is conceptually consistent. Heck, w/o understanding the concepts how do I create such a routine? Back to square one. I will soon take advantage of Funsway's and Ken's "tidbits" offer.

Thanks for your time, attention and thoughts. Smile
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
funsway
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I will try and make the process seem less daunting. When I refer to the "context of a routine" I mean that you need a perceived end result of the use of the new creation.

There are endless variations of a fake transfer of a small object. Some focus on the "flash" of a coin in the receiving hand using Persistence of Vision as a ploy.
Other focus on the palming method in the Passing hand. Others with learning how to act as if the Receiving Hand holds a coin when it does not,
or movements of the Passing Hand when it does. None of these are "new tricks" - just handlings, sleights or possible Event Modules.

The question of which pass or technique to use depends on the overall illusion you are attempting to present to an observer. Why is the coin place din the other hand?
Why is the Passing Hand now doing something else? When will the fact of the "gone gone" be revealed? What thoughts will enter the mind of the observer at that moment?
How do you eliminate suspicions or "close the door" on the ability to rewind? (acquitments)

Thus, you may desire to create a new sequence of moves to provide a new Fake Transfer illusion. Why?
Unless you have an end result in mind as to what the observer will perceive as astonishment, then there is no motivation/need to create something new. Framing? Context? Routine? Whatever.

Yet, in the process of playing with known and possible Fake Transfers you may get an idea for a new effect! (emergence) You suddenly realize that the observer will be expecting something to occur
based on their "knowledge" of where the coin is, combined with a convenient location/posture of your hands. You play with building on these "unique conditions" and evolve a new technique
for apparently showing the Passing Hand to be empty. Hardly a great trick but something that could be incorporated into a complete effect or routine.

As an example, a little story. At our local Magic Circle several members had an interested Chop Cup variations. So, I prepared a little something for the next meeting.
I started with the traditional sequence: ball in cup, pour into left hand, cup mouth down on table, show ball in hand, lift cup to confirm empty, ball to pocket, cup lift to reveal ball return.
Then I "tricked them!" I suggested that one spectator try it. I had him pick up the cup and drop the ball inside. He did this and peered inside to see if the ball rolled around, then showed it to others.
Next I had him pour the ball into my left hand and place the empty cup mouth down on the table. Ball to my packet and shown empty hand.
Then I tipped over the cup to reveal that the ball had transported back. Lots of goofy reactions and comments. Such fun!

The sleights and moves I used are not for open forum, but the reason this worked is because of the expectations of this specialized audience.
Since they expected me to use a Chop Cup they were perceptually blind to other options, moves and methods.
Yes, I created a new trick/effect - but so what. It is useless in any other setting. But the thrill of innovation and creativity was still there - my reward.

Sequel: over several years I played with techniques for handling a cup and a ball "other than" what is traditional. I studied old C&B texts and chatted with Bill Palmer.
I adapted moves and sleights for thimble, coin, ring and billiard ball effects. I experimented with various cup designs and shapes. Etc.

In the process I developed new sleights, effects an Event Modules. Documenting them is another matter. In order to share or teach these I had to do the work of breaking each down into component parts.
I had to research credit for some and invent new names for others. I had to preform these new creations in front of live audiences in order to refine and modify.
Most I have abandoned as being too "setting specific" or requiring sleights no one will care to master.

Most of all I learned that most spectators could care less -- never appreciate the refinements and superiority of my new method. Did I meet or exceed their expectations? That is all that matters.

So, enjoy the calling to create something new. Enjoy the thrill of innovation and the "ah-ha" experience. But you need a reason to create a new effect.
Look to the desired end result and work backwards. Ask how you and your audience can together create a situation in which magic can happen? Is there a hole waiting to be filled?
Is there a gap in the flow of anticipation/surprise or tension/release for which a new trick can help? Then get on with it!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
Nikodemus
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TeddyBoy,
Do you watch a video demo, and then try to work out the method? It's great fun - and a useful exercise.

Are you working on anything specific at the moment?
In the abstract, the idea of developing your own magic is perhaps a bit daunting. Bit it's different when wrestling with a specific problem. I haven't been doing magic long, but have already come up with a few ideas I am pretty excited about.
funsway
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Quote:
On Aug 2, 2020, Nikodemus wrote:

Do you watch a video demo, and then try to work out the method? It's great fun - and a useful exercise.

A


I disagree, and find this in conflict with your first posting.

A new effect is best learned incrementally, one block building on the support on the previous ones.
There are many nuances and hand postures to be learned in addition to sleights and move and psychological ploy.
It may have taken the creator years to work out all of the interlocking parts.

When you observe an effect on video you are not seeing it as a live audience would - only as a single cameraman viewed it (and a director perceived the importance of actions)
Still, you initial reaction may inspire you to learn it and even understand the principles involved.

repeated viewings however, especially with a view to dissection or "figuring it out," can bias your ability to learn the essential elements later on.

Not only will you gloss over the essential WHY elements of the routine, but will be in conflict when you "guess" as to method is proved wrong.

Yes, video demonstrations of the individual steps and sleights can be useful. I am speaking about attempting to learn for the artificial complete viewing.

Also consider that many psychological ploys only work with the human mind's perception, not a static video image. Many great effects may be disregarded based on video dissection.

By analogy, consider the reading of a novel vs seeing a movie made from it. With the reading you can let the book rest in lap while your imagination creates the characters and scenes.
You can even role play what you might do faced with the problem/adventure of the story. No possible if you see the movie first.

Your mind will be biased as to what the characters look like and the edited version of events in the video viewing.
When you now try and read the novel, the ability role play is destroyed or minimized. Any image of a character you imagine will be in conflict with what the director decided.

Part of the power of magic effect to create astonishment is the balance of anticipation/surprise or tension/release.
This is reduced when you know the ending, and with it any possibility of, "seeing it as the audience might see it."

So, it might be Ok to watch the video once for inspiration. then do you dissection and analysis in memory alone, NOT be reviewing the video.

Yes, if you can determine or guess at method from your mental role play it can be a good exercise, but you would still be biasing any later attempt to learn it.

Another way to look at this is that the most important parts of a magic effect is the parts you do not see. Guessing at what these might be can lead to error later on.
A sleight is best employed in a "never happened" flow of events. Too much dissection can reveal flaws in performance rather than choice of wrong sleight or timing.

Video learning has its place and value - but not in the dissection or evaluation of a magic effect or routine.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
Nikodemus
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Hi Funsway,
I think you are over-analysing!

The original post refers to TeddyBoy wanting to create his own effects. Trying to figure out how an effect is done, is a good way to exercise the relevant problem-solving skills. (It doesn't matter whether you happen to see it on video or in a live performance.) Obviously when doing this, you will come up with your OWN ideas of how you could reproduce the effect - not necessarily the same method as used by the performer. And you will therefore be limited to principles you already know. But it's useful nevertheless. How else is one to develop the skills for creating one's own magic???
funsway
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Niko - I guess you missed my point, or I didn't emphasis it sufficiently --

By trying to just understand "how it was done" - a focus on sleight, ploy or technique you are ignoring all of the subtle work that went into the original creation -
the parts that make it work as a presentation, audience engagement, acquitments, timing, etc.

Any later attempt to learn the effect from the creator will be biased by your earlier guessing or analysis.
You may now be in love with your own variation and miss out why the original sleight was selected.

Additionally, when the original is on video there is a temptation to view it again and again and increase the bias.

Your final question begs the question of why do you want to create your own magic effects/tricks? Why do you wish to develop these skills?
One way to develop creative skills is to embrace incremental methodology rather than "reverse engineering."

Again, there is nothing wrong with role playing an observed effect in mind to see if you can figure out how it was done. It is any repeat viewing that is the problem.
This mental role play is using imagination as well as analytical skills - and can lead to creating a new sleight or method beyond "principles you already know."
Why do you feel limited to principles you already know? Innovate new ones. Say, Wouldn't it be kool if ..." and figure out away to do it.

The biggest thing I get from videos of magic effects is to notice annoying similarities that detract from "must be magic" as an outcome.
For example, if every demonstration of coins across has a different treatment for the final coin, I ask, "How does this shift impact the observer?
How can I handle the transportation of the last coin to be consistent with the early phase? Why did the creator choose that particular approach?"
The I get busy ...
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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TeddyBoy
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I think the key takeaway is when Ken states "But you need a reason to create a new effect..." I have not reached this point and am uncertain that I ever will b/c I really do not see myself a performer. I just love learning card magic, sleights and tricks and do not see myself going beyond the 69 yo hobbyist that I am. However, the challenge of developing a "new trick" entices me. But if it requires having an audience and understanding its expectations, then I am searching up a dead end street. What drew me to Ortiz's book is that on the surface it seems to provide a somewhat structural/mechanical approach that I could attempt w/o the need of performance experience or a comprehension of an audience's expectations. Hopefully I will find some way to at least give it a shot just for the challenge, since I am retired and not intending to do this for a living.

But thanks for all of your thoughtfulness. It is very much appreciated.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
landmark
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Good information here. I just want to comment a little bit more on structure in general for a magic effect.

The story of magic is: Condition A turned into Condition B through some Impossible manner.

So, to strengthen a magic effect, the performer must make clear:

1. The absolute reality of Condition A at the beginning.
2. Eliminate in the audience's mind all possible ways that condition B could occur.
3. The absolute reality of Condition B at the end.

If the audience does not believe or was not made of aware of each of these conditions, no magic occurs.

Every sleight and line of script should be pointed to reinforcing these three points.

There's a lot of leeway in there, but if even one of those points fails, you've got nothing.
funsway
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Landmark - a very worthy clarification. (and not as wordy as mine) Smile
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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blackiyto
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I think you are over-analysing!
TomB
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Tommy wonder vision of wonder DVDs (and books)

Fitzkee magic by misdirection (trilogy if you want more)

Strong magic by ortiz.

Maximum entertainment by weber.

There are of course some classic theory books too.

The secret to magic is not the prop or sleight of hand. These books will teach you how to think like a magician. Once you know the correct theory, then create your routine. The secret sleight or mechanical prop will be used to create the desired effect.
TeddyBoy
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Thank you all. If only I could think like a magician. I hope it is something that can be learned as I have each of the above referenced sources. Maybe Eugene Burger is correct, I already have enough tricks. Now I should try to understand them better, in part, by performing them. I guess the way I am going about it is kind of like learning dance steps, but not getting out there on the floor to experience them coming together. This has been a fruitful discussion for me, thanks to all of you.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
blackiyto
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Thanks for information.
192.168.100.1 192.168.1.1 jpg to pdf
TeddyBoy
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Landmark, that seems to be a concise bare-bones analysis, which is very useful. Thank you.
So many sleights...so little time.
Cheers,

Ted
EndersGame
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Quote:
On Jul 29, 2020, TeddyBoy wrote:
I would like to know if there are references that describe in some detail the conceptual building blocks that a trick comprises. At this point I am not interested in the construction and structure of an entire routine, only the conceptual parts of a single trick that would enable me to create my own "magic." For example, judging from the name of the Ortiz book entitled Designing Miracles, I would guess that it may describe the subject of my interest.

You're absolutely right that Darwin Ortiz's book "Designing Miracles" covers this very well. I highly recommend it.

It's also available as an audio book, read by Darwin himself - I've listened to the entire thing and found it excellent.

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