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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Finger/stage manipulation » » Okito’s, and Zombie’s, and Astro’s. Oh My! (Floating Balls) (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Okito’s, and Zombie’s, and Astro’s. Oh My! (Floating Balls)

It seems the “Floating Ball’s” popularity has flourished this past year,
so I thought I’d help with a “Floating Ball-101” mini-overview…

Maybe it’s because in a one-person, non-stage show,
you can’t float a lady…
and the mysterious ball is the next best thing???

Maybe there is renewed interest because of the Losander versions,
or the two dynamite DVD’s by Jeb Sherrill,
of the new RNT II SBL Ball,
or David Mann’s Kinetic Sphere, and
there are going to be a bumper-crop of good products out this year!
(just wait and see…)

There are three basic forms of this astounding illusion:

--Suitable for Stage (and perhaps platform) Work is the Granddaddy:

THE OKITO FLOATING BALL
(to my knowledge no one today performs this in the intricate dance-like fashion that made this an Okito trademark, and though the basics of method and hook-up are published in several places, it is difficult to piece together an accurate picture of what it
must have been like in person.)

Closely related to this (or as close a we get now-a-days) is:

THE DON WAYNE FLOATING BALL
(Mark Wilson performed a variation of this, as did David Copperfield with a mirror-ball, and a few contemporary performers do a nice job with this larger ball, including Timothy Drake who has a video of his version. There are two hook-ups suggested in the Wayne instruction booklet.)

--Suitable for parlor / cabaret / or platform work:

A smaller version of the floating ball, but using a similar principle…

ASTRO-SPHERE
(this one-person version has been around for quite a while, but not as popular as some versions, as the plastic ball usually included is easily damaged. Here the ball floats in front of, around, and behind a very sheer see-through foulard.)

SBL FLOATING BALL
(by Rings ‘n’ Things II has a slightly improved hook-up over Astro-Sphere, and a larger six-inch, mirror-finish, aluminum ball of very high quality, and this beautiful ball just hit the market.)

--Very Flexible / Practical for parlor / cabaret / or platform work:

KARSON’S ZOMBIE
(This was a revolutionary method for a one-person floating ball, with a method different from Okito’s, that Joe Karson marketed almost sixty-years ago, and then sold the rights to Abbotts Magic Company to produce, it has been copied by many other makers in plastic, metal, and stryofoam, and there is a huge variation in qualities.)

THE ZOMBIE BALL
(now thought of as a “generic” version, there are many styles available from fifteen dollars to over one-hundred dollars, you tend to get what you pay for.

The best I now of are currently being imported from Italy by Viking Magic, however sometime during 2007 Rings ‘n’ Things II will re-produce an improved version of their ball, which was always thought to be one of the best.)

LOSANDER / WONDER SPHERE & LOSANDER BUBBLE
(the bubble is a zombie type float, which augments Losander’s other bubble Illusions.
The Sphere is a larger ball, and a dual-creation with Tommy Wonder, with a very different gimmick system, which Losander produces and sells.)

KINETIC SPHERE
(Precision Magic is the “new kid” on the block, with a very lightweight ball that has been made to float using two different methods, it may be used as a zombie set-up, or there is another internal system which allows floating without a foulard in various venues.)

-------------------------------------

--There are too many companies manufacturing versions of the ZOMBIE Type Ball to review them all here, if anyone cares to email me privately I’d be happy to give my frank opinions on the various pros-and-cons of the many styles and brands.

--There are also half-a-dozen or more Zombie Gimmicks which can in some cases improve the ease and quality of performance, my favorite is the Sommers version, I’ve heard great things about the General Grant version, Losander’s gimmick allows for some new moves and flexibility, and Jeb Sherrill’s Dream Gimmick allows for additional moves including a “peeking” over the foulard of the mischievous ball.

-------------------------------------

--If one wants to attempt to re-create the original Okito presentation, I would highly recommend the SBL Floating Sphere as the ball to adapt for that hook-up, and if a larger ball is desired, I understand that Don Wayne is again producing his floating ball in limited quantities.

--There are many books and booklets available on the Floating Ball,
if you can get a copy or download the e-version Al Schneider’s is the best I think.

--There are also DVD’s out, Tim Wright’s preserves many of the Neil Foster techniques and moves (and Foster was the unprecedented master of the Zombie).
L&L just released a DVD with several magicians giving their thoughts on the Zombie.
And as I said above the Zombie Re-Animated DVD’s by Jeb Sherrill are valuable and encyclopedic in nature.

--The Floating Ball is best routined and presented with music.
however, spoken presentations may also be effective
(in fact it was Karson’s patter which gave the effect its name).

NO VERSION of the Floating Ball is easy to do.
Consider any version to require a daunting slight-of-hand learning curve to perform effectively.
I worked for over fifteen years until I felt ready to add this piece of pure magic to my act.

-------------------------------------

So that’s an overview of what has been done, what can be done, and what’s to come in variations to make a metallic ball float and dance in space.

This commentary is in NO way exhaustive,
I’ve listed only the basics,
if you are serious about Floating Ball methods and work,
feel free to contact me at:
SanFranEntertain@SBCGlobal.Net
with specific questions
(it’s easier to email me than to PM me here on Magic Café please).

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

"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
mattmccoy
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Very Good information. Very resourceful.
Matt
hugmagic
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David Ben does perform the Okito ball and does a very creditable job with it.

Nice overview of information. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

Richard
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Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Brent McLeod
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Great over view, thanks for sharing.
mcharisse
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A good place for a beginner to start might be the Vernet Mini-Zombie that matches the Billiard Ball. The lightness of the ball and gimmick make it much easier to use than a full size Zombie.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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While I appreciate your view,
I don't really agree,
the small size makes it less deceptive.
The Vernet balls are not attractive.
It cannot be done except in a very small setting,
and a good zombie weighs little more.
If a beginner wants to work up to size,
and practice techniques, then The Thing
would by far be my suggestion for that size.
Magically,
Walt
“Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic”
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Jeb Sherrill
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I'm sorry to say that I've never been a big fan of the mini-Zombies either. They seem like a great idea, but just don't give the same impression to me. I think for a quick, two second float they are all right, but not much good for an actual routine.

Jeb
I don't believe in reincarnation, but I may have in another life.
Brent McLeod
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I agree with Jeb! Forget Mini Zombie.

Start off Zombie with a 4 or 5 inch ball & learn it properly over time.
SpellbinderEntertainment
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I far prefer the "original" standard size which is 4 inches,
for both parlor and even large stage work.

It is big enough to be seen, and the foulard to ball ratio is more impressive.

I know Jeb prefers the 5 inch, mostly because of special moves he's worked out, which may require more masking.

In any case, those to me are the acceptable sizes, the exception being The Thing, which is not a ball anyway.

Magically,
Walt
“Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic”
by Walt Anthony
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"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
Luke Sherratt
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Mike Danata had a really nice floating ball, it was a one man set up. Very nice. It's a little tricky to get the hang of and he still does it better than anyone I have seen do it. I have been working on it over a year now and its still not perfect!

Best wishes,

Luke
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Steven True
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Thanks for all the good information. I might just get my old zombie ball out, dust it off, ad give it another try. I used it a lot durig my shows on Calif back in the..well lets just say it was awhile ago. I had a great response with it and still like to see one done. I like Tim Wright doing his ad of course seeig Neil Foster was watching the great. Again thanks for all the info on the many differet kids of floating balls.

Happy Magic
Steven
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hey watch tomorrow,
I'll post a balanced review of a hot new zombie product!
Walt
“Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic”
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"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hi Luke,

I'm here in the USA and have not heard of Mike Danata's work with the Floating Ball,
I'd truly appreciate any info on that you can provide,
so I can keep up to date with the twists and turns of this effect.
My email is SanFranEntertain@SBCGlobaql.Net

Thanks so much!
Walt



Quote:
On 2007-01-09 13:39, Luke Sherratt wrote:
Mike Danata had a really nice floating ball, it was a one man set up. Very nice. It's a little tricky to get the hang of and he still does it better than anyone I have seen do it. I have been working on it over a year now and its still not perfect!

Best wishes,

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

"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
SpellbinderEntertainment
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OK Kids, it’s time to come out and play!

I’ve had the opportunity to work a little with the newest Zombie Ball gimmick to hit the market (late last year) and I’ve got to officially say it’s pretty dang cool (even “kewl”)!

Jeb Sherrill had a dream (for real, really) and from what he could remember, he made a totally new hook-up to replace his standard Zombie gimmick.

It is not like a Foster, or Grant, or Losander, or any of the other strange and wonderful ideas and/or improvements I’ve seen, in fact this one is truly, truly weird. But, weird in a very good way.

First, it is revolutionary. Because of it’s unique and single-piece design, the ball can be in what appear to be totally impossible places and positions, to anyone who knows where the ball/foulard/hand relationships should be.

OK, I’ll state it can do a few new-dog tricks that no old-dog method could ever learn.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, I’m talking about “The Dream Gimmick” and it gets it’s name because of Jeb’s dream (otherwise he’d have had to spend weeks thinking up a name so lucky him for having that dream). And if you decide (only after you read all my comments) that you want one, you can find more info or order at http://www.SableMagic.com.

Now, partly because it was born out'a the dreamworld, and partly because it’s so different in geometric design, it can also be problematic. This is NOT a tool for the faint-of-heart!

You’ve got to solve, then watchdog, some pretty involved angle problems (two, rather than the usual one, as I see it) and that means just tons of dedication and practice with this method. Each and every of those problems has a solution, and all are covered directly or indirectly on the excellent -as well as highly amusing- instructional DVD, but they are going to take effort on your part.

In other words, you can have a Floating Ball routine that will make the guys at the club wet their pants, but you’ll need to work diligently, devotedly, and determinedly, for quite a while for this to pay off in performance. You cannot take this out of the box and use it right away (in fact you need to customize it before you can use it at all, and that’s the first chapter on the DVD).

What really, really impressed me (and with floating ball things I’m darn hard to impress) was not the “basic” routine and handling of the teach-in, but instead the “second” dastardly mad and clever possibilities on the advanced portion of the DVD. It’s this second routine and handling which to my mind separates the men-from-the-boys and the women-from-the-girls, this is where Jeb takes Zombie work to another level, but once again, it has angle-ly angles you have to work to overcome.

When I first saw the demos and read about “The Dream Gimmick” I did not want one, because it seemed to me a “one trick pony” that allowed the ball to “bounce” around a bit, and peek out here and there over foulards and shoulders, and that just did not look magically impressive to my jaded mind. Of course there are a few standard moves which cannot be done with this method, but you can still shape an impressive routine.

However, now I’ve held the clever contraption in my hands, seen it’s potential, and know what it is capable of as a tool in the hands of an imaginative and painstaking performer, I admit I was selling this great idea way short.

If you do ANY kind of Zombie style Floating Ball, I highly suggest Jeb Sherrill’s two-volume DVD Set of “Zombie Reanimated” to study seriously and get some leverage with these effects. These encyclopedic DVD’s are a huge contribution to Floating Ball work, and provide a firm foundation for study of this genre.

There are going to be a few add-ons for this gimmick which allow other objects to float, but because of the geometry of spheres they work best, and I’m a traditionalist here, so don’t ask me about any anomalies.

Now… and this is a biggie… so read this….

Now, ANY Floating Ball method is simply a tool or an instrument, like a chisel or a violin.

Not everyone who picks up a chisel can whack at a slab of marble and make a “David” as Michelangelo did, nor can anyone take just a few music lessons and play the violin with the elegance and finesse of Joshua Bell.

It takes some sweat, tears, and maybe even blood to create beauty and art, along with perseverance and time. And make NO mistake, the Floating Ball at it’s best (not on YouTube generally) is a magical example of beauty and art.

That said, if a performer is willing to do what it takes, the better the quality of tool or instrument, the better the presentation, routine, art, and entertainment value can be.

In the proper hands “The Dream Gimmick” is that sort of specialized tool, and can with fortitude, bring a very standard Zombie routine to a level of Floating Ball artistry and magical beauty.

These above thoughts are of course relevant to any Floating Ball presentation, or method, or for that matter most any Magic endeavor in general.

To sum up, this is a good product, it is well made, it is well packaged (and so will arrive safely to your door) it is well documented on a good quality, thoughtfully put-together DVD.

If you’re a Floating Ball fanatic like me, or if you want to become a future Floating Ball fanatic, this is a great tool to work with, once you master move after move, you genuinely will fool yourself when you perform in the mirror.

As I said in my long Floating Ball thread, 2007 is going to be a bumper-crop year for improvements in quality and technology with these effects, and many new methods and higher quality equipment will be produced, so use these new tools with care as they hit the marketplace, and upgrade your Magic into Miracles!

As always, feel free to email me with questions at SanFranEntertain@SBCGlobal.Net.

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

"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
Marshall Thornside
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I believe http://www.sablemagic.com has been re-vamped recently and has video of the add-ons for the Dream Gimmick now.
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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You're right Marshall, thanks for the added info.
If anyone else hears about new, quality Floating Ball innovations please let us all know!
Magically,
Walt
“Tales of Enchantment: The Art of Magic”
by Walt Anthony
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Jeb Sherrill
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This thread has gotten me thinking that the planets (those mystic, floating spheres, drifting through the heavens), must have aligned strangely this year. I concede that when I turned the silver key and tracked the softly blazed trails of Randolph Carter, that I had no idea where it would lead me.

I thank Walt for reviewing the Dream Gimmick. I appreciate all his kind words and particularly his words of caution. All the inventions, gizmos and concepts are only as good as the mage mastering them. The Floating Sphere illusions will forever be my most loved and they should be done justice. Spend the time before the mirror, the video camera and your close magical friends, mastering every intricacy of your craft before taking it before your audience. Choose your music well, your garments and your style from only the best. The difference between a trick and a miracle is the time one puts into any given effect.

I genuinely can't wait to see what comes next.

Jeb
I don't believe in reincarnation, but I may have in another life.
mcharisse
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Spellbinder,

Wonderful discussion, and thanks for the information on The Thing. I do the Vernet as the climax of a multiplying ball act and am loath to part with it, but your comment on size and effect seem right on. I certainly don't get the impact as I would with a full-size ball, so size does really matter. I'll be looking up The Thing to see if its something I want to try. thanks again...
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hi Mcharisse,

There are a lot of threads on The Thing, including input by me, in the past few months.
I think it offers more presentation possibilities than the Vernet.

It is a very good product, and I think you'll be very happy with this method for spaced and shows that have angle problems or are smaller in size.

If you want to have more flexibility with a zombie hook-up download Al Schneider's book from his website as it is not longer in print on paper, he would do it fairly close and surrounded. The great thing is the size, and it can be used in many larger spaces and shows.

Feel free to email me privately if you have questions, my Thing has had several adjustments I made to fit my style and venues and the look of my show, although the "out of the box" one is good quality as well.

Watch RNT II for what I hope will be high quality and some zombie innovations later this year.

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

"spinning tales and weaving enchantment"
The Funny Titan
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Wow, a lot of great info to help with my Zombie routine, I really like the Astrosphere because of the see-through cloth. Thanks for all the info.
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