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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Early David Copperfield Levitation Question (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

John
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Dear Magical Fraternity,

I just saw David Copperfield's show on December 28th in Las Vegas. It made me nostalgic for the excellence of his early takes on the classics - his elegant floating ball, his dancing handkerchiefs, his calypso dancing ties, etc. As I was searching for those I came across this levitation I had seen before but forgotten about -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jks2wYvlb4

It follows a short and beautiful dancing cane routine that is not on this particular clip - but his dancing cane was a wonder in itself and a simply stylish and gorgeous way to set up this levitation - classic Copperfield.

My question is this. Is this one continuous performance?

Specifically, after he sets the hoop down after double hooping the floating woman there is a camera cut and the character of the woman's floating radically changes. I can understand what is happening if there is a camera cut and what we are seeing are two different performances. Technically that might not be considered a "camera trick" because what would be being seen by the audience - and the camera - each time would be absolutely accurate and undoctored footage.

However if this is actually one continuous performance I am entirely flummoxed by what is going on. In any case, of course, it is a thing of beauty and I so appreciate Copperfield making it happen - even if only on TV. Also tying the levitation together with such a lovely presentation of the dancing cane is brilliant and icing on the cake. It is worth a search to find that complete version of this effect.

But could anyone definitively say whether or not this is one continuous performance or two performances edited together for TV?

Many Thanks
Bill Hegbli
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The Floating Lady illusion is Thurston's version, rarely seen today.

I have no idea if this television performance was shot in one setting or not, most of the time retakes are necessary. Very strange question, why would it matter if it was 10 retakes.

It can be done on live stage. In the book description, Thurston's floating lady can go out over the edge of the stage, and float over audience's heads.

David has brought so many old never before seen Illusions back so the audiences of today can witness them. So grateful to him for doing so and in many cases improving them.
Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

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John
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Dear Bill,

Thank you.

I am not familiar with Thurston's version.

The reason for my "strange" question was my pondering whether methods were switched and edited together from two different performances to make one single performance from two different presentations and two different methods. The camera shot from behind - as well as the movement of the woman so far forward towards the audience and away from the curtains - (assuming the audience are not shills) and after the double hooping so near to the curtains upstage - unless there was a change of methods and the editing together of two different performances which relied on two different methods - has left me flummoxed.

Thanks for the tip about the Thurston heritage of this particular performance. I appreciate it. I have no idea now how the performance of what is seen on that video is accomplished. I too appreciate the legacy of Copperfield's presentation, personalization and improvement of so many of the classics.
John
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Here is a clip of a Thurston performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADWR3bxB16A

Obviously Copperfield's version has made several significant leaps forward.
Magic Researcher
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Definitely NOT Thurston's version. Most likely Harbin version with a couple fake shots from the back side. Misleading video with the add in clips.
Repeating a falsehood often and loudly does not make it true.
jimhlou
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Have to agree with Magic Researcher on this one. Standard mechanical levitation with misleading video starting with the back side shots.

Jim
Ray Pierce
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We always say that the best magic uses multiple conflicting methods which cancel each other out. This was utilized in the original "Muppet Movie" long before CGI was available. They utilized different methods for concealing the operator for each time they shot a scene from a different angle. To help you understand if you haven't been on a film set, they usually have one camera and they first shoot the master shot which covers everything, then go back for "coverage" which means repeating the scene to get every angle and close up of all the participants from different view points. They might shoot one scene dozens of times from different angles and with totally different set ups and lighting to cover one simple scene. For the Muppet Movie, every time they changed the camera angle, they used a different method of concealing the puppeteer. When all of the angles were edited together from the many different takes, it created a false reality that wasn't possible in real life. You assumed you were seeing one continuous shot filmed with many cameras at the same time when in fact you were seeing many different set ups, some with totally different methodology edited together to create what appeared to be one seamless shot. Nothing could be further from the truth. If David cleverly adopted similar thinking, it could possibly explain a lot of his early TV work.
Ray Pierce
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Fungineer
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To Ray's analogy, does this constitute camera tricks in this instance?

And agreed on the above about the Thurston method which is actually Kellar and Maskylene if I'm not mistaken.
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Jan 22, 2017, Fungineer wrote:
To Ray's analogy, does this constitute camera tricks in this instance?


That's a very personal question that we each have to define for ourselves. To me, if a live, viewing spectator is fooled, then it's ok. In the case of these "cinematic" exercises... let's just say that if you were there viewing the process in person, you might not be fooled in any way. You might find it interesting that of all the Emmy's he won, many were for Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video, Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing and even Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects. Even if the public didn't know, the entertainment industry did. He was a consummate artist that used every trick in the book. Would you call it a "Camera Trick"? That's up to you.
Ray Pierce
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Scott Alexander
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It's the Harbin Levitation with a bunch of "extras" for TV.

Although he did do the straight Harbin Lev live.
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makeupguy
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I had a friend who was in that audience for the levitation way way back then.

it was brilliant.. it wasn't done in one shot... the rear and over the head shots were still brilliant... and yes, the audience knew how it was done.
Ray Pierce
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Most of those audiences saw how a lot was done. You can light something for an audience or you can light it for video, but seldom both. He always shot everything first dry (without a live audience). Once they had the shot, they brought in a studio audience for the reaction shots. Unfortunately to match the earlier footage, it was lit for camera and many things were clearly visible. Choices.
Ray Pierce
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Bill Hegbli
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Ray, I was totally shocked when Luis De Matos, for his Floating Ball effect, said when they televised it, the audience could see everything and were prompted when to applaud. I have never read anything about this TV vs. real audience lighting problem.
Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
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