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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » What is your opinion on video editing magic ? (25 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mark Williams
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On Apr 21, 2017, danaruns wrote:
Part of it, for me, is that video is intended to record and preserve a magic performance, not falsely create the appearance of one that never occurred. Absolutely anything is possible with video technology, but none of it is magic.



Although, I edited in a bunch of quotes in my own video, the magic still remains. Take a look...

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


Best Magical Regards,

Mark Williams
"Once is Magic!! Twice is an Education!!"
Mr. Woolery
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Dana stated my feelings exactly. Please re-read her most recent comment and assume a big "ditto" from me.

I'm not sure why this is hard to explain to you, Jacob. If what you see on camera is not an accurate representation of what is seen in person, it is a deception of an entirely different sort than what is achieved by sleight of hand or tricky props or misdirection. It isn't about who actually does the editing in the back room. What matters is that the editing in what makes the "magic" happen. When you posted a link to one of Zach's videos, I responded why that isn't magic. Who does the editing does not change the situation. Either you are performing magic or you are pretending you can perform magic.

If my whole purpose is to deceive, I can just tell you lies. I just ate a Snickers bar. My IQ is 144. My dad is a helicopter pilot. There! Am I am magician, now?

I am sure you actually understand what we are all telling you. You keep arguing against it and I can't see why. You asked for opinions. We gave you the requested opinions about video editing, then you started telling us that we are wrong. I don't get it, buddy. I just don't.

-Patrick
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On Apr 22, 2017, Mr. Woolery wrote:

Either you are performing magic or you are pretending you can perform magic.

-Patrick


an interesting statement that can be applied to every performance by a magician.
In one sense, we all "pretend at magic" and hope the observers at least might think, "So that is what real magic looks like."

but, I understand that here the reference is more towards "is the performer creating the impression that they are the cause of the illusion," or
"Is the performer merely the MC or stage manager of an illusionary event?"

Those that feel "it is all about entertainment" may see no distinction.
Those who feel that performance magic can (and should) have an affect beyond entertainment will realize that neither option deals with the important issues.

One (for me) is whether today's audience is capable of appreciating a good magic performance, or are they conditioned to skill demonstrations and shock as "being magical?"


As to editing -- all things seen on a TV or Computer screen are edited. Someone else has decided on the angle of the shot, the degree of close-up, the lighting and sustain on a scene.
In a live performance the observer gets to enjoy the personal choice of such things -- and embrace the energy of the crowd, the smells and other distractions of life, the bias of what came before this trick and what came after -- and the stories told after by others who shared the experience.

Many posts here address "who" should do the editing, and this is an important distinction. Some address "what is edited out and what is added." Also important.

but please, do not confuse these considerations with that of whether ANY magic event seen on a limiting screen under the direction of another can be the same as experience a magic effect live.

Sadly, I feel that most in a live audience today will already judge a magic performance against what the can find on YouTube as an "explanation."

Their thinking has already been edited. Their world view has been edited. "Magic" as I know of it has been edited out altogether.

They do not complain that the photo of an Arby sandwich does not resemble what you get at the counter. Why should they care how the "magical" event is orchestrated?
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Terrible Wizard
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Good points funsway Smile

One thing that affects my opinion is how I view magic as a skill based performing art, like juggling, music, stand-up comedy and ventriloquism.

If the skill is taken from the performer and placed in the editing suite, I feel a bit cheated and bored by the show - its not magic, it's movie making - something I wasn't looking for. Just like if I watched a ventriloquist show and the puppet voices were simply being dubbed in at a later stage.
danaruns
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Do you consider this video to be "magic?"



(Here's a direct link in case the embedding didn't work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Q0BB8-2nA)

If so, how? If not, how is the Zach video posted by Jacob qualitatively different than Action Movie Kid?
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Ben_Fox
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Using video editing to create effects that can't be replicated in person, or to misrepresent the reaction of spectators seems awful self-destructive to me, especially for a professional. At some point, that bill has to come due -- the people whose checks you're cashing notice that people don't start freaking out in reaction to a torn-and-restored card like they do in your videos, or that there's always some reason you can't perform that one effect you do that no other magician can replicate. Over-promising and under-delivering is one of the most surefire ways to lose customers that I can think of, the customers in this case being the people booking you. I just can't see how doing something like this is anything but a Bad Idea (TM) for someone trying to pay the mortgage with magic.
funsway
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Quote:
On Apr 24, 2017, danaruns wrote:
Do you consider this video to be "magic?"

If so, how? If not, how is the Zach video posted by Jacob qualitatively different than Action Movie Kid?


opinions, right?

no magic here except maybe the jumping into the puddle. The Zack is upbeat, creative and based on helping others.

The other is destructive, depressing and of little social value. I feel sorry for the kid having his perceptions mangled,
and for the parent who thinks this is a good way to prepare the child for life.

The first might encourage a viewer to use their imagination. The second might get a kid to kill someone. No magic there!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Mr. Woolery
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Funsway, your ventriloquist example is perfect. That is exactly what I was attempting to get at.

In fact, it reminded me of watching a Jeff Dunham DVD a couple of years ago. Good show. Then I watched the bonus material and realized that at least one skit had been shot twice. Peanut's hair fell off in the out take. There was a good recovery, but the skit was reshot and the do-over was used. This was presented as a live show and the very strong implication was that it was a one-take performance.

I felt cheated. I felt lied to.

I felt like the contract with the audience had been violated.

Part of why Depeche Mode's 101 is my favorite album by them is that it tells a lot about how well that band could do a live concert. Cheap Trick Live at Budokan is iconic for a good reason. The live recording made that band.

If people found out later that what was advertised as a live performance had really been faked up in a studio, they would feel cheated. It could ruin a band.

But isn't the sole extent of the contract that people pay to hear music?

I've got a two word answer to that one. Milli Vanilli.

I might never be the Metallica of magic, but I promise I will never be a Milli Vanilli of magic, either.

Patrick
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Funsway, I'm puzzled by your reaction to the Action Movie Kid. How is the kid having his perceptions mangled? He acts out a scene using his imagination (whether it's a scene he invents or one the dad suggests.) Then the dad adds in special effects after.

So, the kid (a) has the chance to exercise his imagination, and (b) learns not to trust everything he sees on video. Imagination and skepticism are vital life skills, as is the ability to find a balance between them. The kid is getting an early education in all of that, at the same time he's getting fun playtime with his dad.

I genuinely don't see the downside there. What am I missing?
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Dana, your question has made me think a lot about how I define magic and where I draw the line. If I'm honest, I haven't come up with an answer that feels completely right yet.

The best I can come up with is that it's a difference of presentation. Zach presents himself as a "digital magician". Therefore, I consider it magic.

Action Movie Kid is presented as (logically enough) an action movie.

Just to be clear, I don't think "presenting yourself as a magician" is the ONLY requirement for being considered a magician! But I do think it's one of many.
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On Apr 30, 2017, jacobsw wrote:

So, the kid (a) has the chance to exercise his imagination, and (b) learns not to trust everything he sees on video. Imagination and skepticism are vital life skills, as is the ability to find a balance between them. The kid is getting an early education in all of that, at the same time he's getting fun playtime with his dad.

I genuinely don't see the downside there. What am I missing?


For me, you are making huge assumptions here. There is nothing in any study I have read that supports either claim. I am bothered most by (b)

Please provide any evidence that this experience will teach a child "not to trust what he sees on a video."

Instead, consider that he will trust what is seen on a video over what is experienced personally. Add to that the social reenforcement of peers as he grows older or the concept
that vicarious experience is preferential to actual living. Many studies on that.

Here in Tennessee we had an eight year old shoot and kill a six year old girl because he would not play the game he wished.
He took his father's loaded rifle from a rack and aimed it though a window "just like he saw on TV." He knew how to fire it from playing video games.
Yes, the father is being prosecuted for facilitation by having a loaded gun. His parental love extended to often saying, "I'd just shoot the ***."

Imagination might include pretending to hold a rocket launcher and pretending to see an explosion on the hillside.
Here, the kid is not "imagining" - he is seeing the results of actions that are socially irresponsible, that one can use power to destroy without consequences.

Pretending to have super powers might relate to "imagination." So, use it to save a kitten or a human life, or maybe bring feed to disaster victims.

But to destroy? There is no magic in that. And no useful lesson either. I do not see where this kid is being taught to use imagination -- only to get what he wants through power.

I have fought in a war and been disabled. I have also saved a human life though quick action and personal sacrifice.

The second was magical. The first was not.

Imagination allows me to consider what that person is doing now because of my actions.

Remembering friends killed in Viet Nam does not require any imagination. Wish I could pretend it never happened, though. That would be magic.

I read yesterday that the typical American teenager does not have a "developed personality." Later they will borrow one from YouTube or a sitcom.
Their having "no imagination" is cited as being one cause. They are conditioned to selecting between options provided by someone else.

and you do not see ANY "downside" in this? None?
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Wilktone
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I personally don't find Zach King's and the Action Kid's videos to be completely relevant to a discussion on video editing in magic, excepting that they help us define what we mean by "magic" on video. To me those videos don't represent magic using digital editing in part because there's no effort to deceive the audience as to whether those visuals are real or not. The target audience of those videos is mostly going to know that it's done with editing.

Whether or not it's ethical or "cheating" an audience to edit magic videos is going to exist on a continuum and the diving line is fuzzy for me. In general it doesn't bother me, with some caveats. Here are some thoughts.

Jacob mentioned in the last page that early film and magic were closely related. When moving pictures were a new thing it was considered pretty magical on its own. Magicians (and mediums) did take advantage of editing techniques that look obvious to us today, but at the time many folks wouldn't understand how it was done. I'm not familiar enough with the history of magic to comment on whether magicians who did editing in their film performances were criticized by other magicians for it, perhaps someone reading this has some background to share. Here's an example I found:

https://youtu.be/43bskj6tRoI

There is always audience manipulation going on in any performance. Some magicians feel that an audience will vicariously experience the magic through a spectator volunteer and so will often select a volunteer based on large reactions. If you're filming magic and your target audience is your screen audience, they will be vicariously be experiencing it through the eyes of the live spectators. Is it much different to use edits and cuts of audience reactions to make them bigger? If so, is the difference to you because it isn't an accurate recreation of a live experience?

If it's accurate recreation that you want in your magic video, what are your thoughts about recording multiple takes of a routine and then splicing them together for the best overall effect? Technically, the end product is not what actually happened, but it represents the best of what did and is theoretically an honest depiction. What about magic performances that aren't deceptive unless they are experienced on video in the first place?

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDB3DD9076D172100

Marco Tempest doesn't claim that his cell phone camera tricks are "magic," but they do blur the line. He doesn't use any video editing, but the effect that you see is not a recreation of what you'd see live. If someone video records a magic effect in such a way that there is no video editing, but is an inaccurate recreation of what a live audience sees, does that make it less magical?

Good editing is supposed to be invisible. If a magician has a video edited in such a way that you don't even notice it or even think that video editing was involved in the effect, does that make it less magical for the audience? I guess it depends on the specific audience and the purpose of the video in the first place. I think we all agree that the line is much more towards being an honest recreation of the live experience if it's a demo for magicians or potential client.

Personally, if it's mean for a lay audience and the editing is not noticeable, then I'm fine with it. If it's poorly done and becomes too obvious, then someone involved in the production screwed up. It might be not necessarily be the magician's fault, in some instances. For example, a random camera change might expose or help a magician. In one case we might complain that the camera was changed away from what we wanted to see while in another we might complain that they should have been more careful to not expose the method.


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Wilktone, you ask about editing in order to give false, but better, audience reactions or splicing together multiple takes to give a false, but better, presentation.

In my opinion I dislike both of those things and find them annoying if I watch TV magic. Knowing that have been done, or even suspecting their use, dulls the edge of the effect for me - it becomes less a great performance and more a manipulative work of editing. I want to see the raw skill and personality of the magician working with a real audience, not the skill of the editor. I mean, do enough takes and any idiot can be made to look like a miracle worker getting the world's most over-the-top reactions.

My preferred, and pretty much the only kind, of TV magic show I can watch is a performer on stage or at the table performing to a live, real audience in one unedited take. Like they used to do! Smile
Aus
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I think it cheapens and trivialises magic to use video editing no matter how we define it, the proof is in the eating. Have a look at these videos and tell me which ones you think are video edited. The Modern day audience isn't dumb and you don't need Sherlock Holmes style deductive ability to smell something is total BS.

Take Dynamo's walking through glass shop window and see the mediocre reactions form all the spectators then compare that with David Blaine Coin Bite routine. No Comparison, you can't help feel that something is totally off in the Dynamo clip.

Dynamo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ4EQPWY4-c

David Blaine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgy5nO1DSoo

Magically

Aus
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Penn Jillette on on Camera Tricks.



Magically

Aus
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Nice clip.
Wilktone
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In my opinion I dislike both of those things and find them annoying if I watch TV magic.


Quote:
I think it cheapens and trivialises magic to use video editing no matter how we define it. . .


Those are fair opinions, but I still think that individual opinions on the use of editing exists along a continuum. It's worth looking at both real examples and considering hypothetical examples to see where each of us personally draws the line and why.

Quote:
Knowing that have been done, or even suspecting their use, dulls the edge of the effect for me - it becomes less a great performance and more a manipulative work of editing.


The same might be said of any particular method to create a magical effect, though. Some folks don't like card manipulation routines, for example, because no matter how well done it seems to be more of a matter of "Look how well the magician hides the cards behind her hands," than "Where are those cards coming from?"

Consider Erdnase's famous quote, ". . . it's one thing to put a card into the palm and turn the hand so it is out of view, but is altogether another thing to put it there in such a way that the most critical observer would not even suspect, let alone detect that action." Hypothetically speaking, if the video editing is so well done that it's invisible and the critical observer doesn't even suspect video editing, does that make the video less magical?

Quote:
Take Dynamo's walking through glass shop window and see the mediocre reactions form all the spectators then compare that with David Blaine Coin Bite routine. No Comparison, you can't help feel that something is totally off in the Dynamo clip.


Thanks for posting the videos as examples. That helps me understand your point better. What are your thoughts about Blaine's use of editing doing the Balducci levitation? Is this from the same Street Magic show that he did the bite out quarter routine?

https://youtu.be/w6CNvFnlPL0?t=1m25s

Regardless, if you suspect that Blaine recorded his bite out quarter routine many times and they used the video with the biggest spectator reactions, does that cheapen the magic for you?

Quote:
Penn Jillette on on Camera Tricks.


That was interesting too. Jillette does acknowledge that his opinion is not necessarily shared by other folks watching magic videos. It's worth considering the difference between what a magician feels while watching magic videos and what is felt by a lay audience. The analogy that comes to mind here is that some magicians really appreciate a pure sleight of hand performance over one that uses gaffs or gimmicks, but the overall effect to a lay audience might be pretty much the same.

What about this routine by Penn and Teller? Do you consider it "magic" or simply a bit? Does your opinion about the routine change if you learned that the effect was created digitally afterwards, rather than simple camera perspective?

https://youtu.be/2U5aSsrDQig

Hypothetically, let's say you watch a magic video where the video editing is invisible and central to how the effect is created. It's so well done that you don't suspect, let alone detect, that video editing was used. Do you find the performance magical? Does your opinion of the magic change when you learn it was done with video editing? How is this different from a lay audience learning that the basic method for any routine?

Are magician opinions on the use of video editing inherently different from that of a lay audience? Should we at least acknowledge the target audience of a magic video and the impressions and reactions of a lay audience when discussing the inherent value of video editing?

Dave
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I'm not sure that the dislike of card manipulation is sufficiently analogous to viewing editing as non-magical - the key difference being that even if I dislike manipulation I still locate the skill in the performer, where it actually is, and not in the video mixer.
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The same might be said of any particular method to create a magical effect, though. Some folks don't like card manipulation routines, for example, because no matter how well done it seems to be more of a matter of "Look how well the magician hides the cards behind her hands," than "Where are those cards coming from?"

Consider Erdnase's famous quote, ". . . it's one thing to put a card into the palm and turn the hand so it is out of view, but is altogether another thing to put it there in such a way that the most critical observer would not even suspect, let alone detect that action." Hypothetically speaking, if the video editing is so well done that it's invisible and the critical observer doesn't even suspect video editing, does that make the video less magical?


We all see the sun rise in the east, enjoy the scent of a rose and experience a jolt of fear when we are woken up in the middle of the night by a loud noise. We as magicians need these base level of understandings so we can bend and distort them with the tricks we do. I understand that and for a layperson who's ignorant of our ways it could appear to be all magic.

For us however its a different story because we know better, we are on the other side of the curtern because we know whats possible and not possible with the practical means in which we deceive. We are limited by practical limitations in our methods in real life performances, where with camera tricks there is no limitation.

Dynamo did do a live tour not so long ago and I didn't see him walking on water, levitating up a double Decker bus or walking through a shop window on his tour. He simply did standard parlour and stage stuff that's available to all stage magicians.

To me camera tricks are setting a dangerous precedent where magicians in real life aren't going to be comparable with magicians on TV which in my view will eventually be deduced by the average person to the point that most will question every performance of a magician on TV.

Quote:
Take Dynamo's walking through glass shop window and see the mediocre reactions form all the spectators then compare that with David Blaine Coin Bite routine. No Comparison, you can't help feel that something is totally off in the Dynamo clip.


Quote:
Thanks for posting the videos as examples. That helps me understand your point better. What are your thoughts about Blaine's use of editing doing the Balducci levitation? Is this from the same Street Magic show that he did the bite out quarter routine?

https://youtu.be/w6CNvFnlPL0?t=1m25s

Regardless, if you suspect that Blaine recorded his bite out quarter routine many times and they used the video with the biggest spectator reactions, does that cheapen the magic for you?


No that would be ok as long it was a genuine response and the trick wasn't staged in away that would have altered a real response. What we are seeing is genuine.

For the very same reason I would say yes for Davids levitation because camera tricks were used, it would cheapen the magic for me.

Quote:
Penn Jillette on on Camera Tricks.


Quote:
That was interesting too. Jillette does acknowledge that his opinion is not necessarily shared by other folks watching magic videos. It's worth considering the difference between what a magician feels while watching magic videos and what is felt by a lay audience. The analogy that comes to mind here is that some magicians really appreciate a pure sleight of hand performance over one that uses gaffs or gimmicks, but the overall effect to a lay audience might be pretty much the same.

What about this routine by Penn and Teller? Do you consider it "magic" or simply a bit? Does your opinion about the routine change if you learned that the effect was created digitally afterwards, rather than simple camera perspective?

https://youtu.be/2U5aSsrDQig

Hypothetically, let's say you watch a magic video where the video editing is invisible and central to how the effect is created. It's so well done that you don't suspect, let alone detect, that video editing was used. Do you find the performance magical? Does your opinion of the magic change when you learn it was done with video editing? How is this different from a lay audience learning that the basic method for any routine?

Are magician opinions on the use of video editing inherently different from that of a lay audience? Should we at least acknowledge the target audience of a magic video and the impressions and reactions of a lay audience when discussing the inherent value of video editing?

Dave


Firstly I don't accept the premise of the question that video editing is invisibly done because in my experience nothing I'v seen over the last 20 years has represented that. It's like a person politely laughing at a joke they didn't find funny, it all comes off generated and insincere and anyone with some base level of social intelligence can see that. Most people who push video editing always seem to do so to the extreme which in the end subverts the deception their trying to create.

The Penn and Teller clip wasn't magic it was a parody of magic which they weren't trying to pass off as anything else so I'm not sure what your trying to highlight with that example.

Your question in regards video editing verses methods used in real life performances is different, magicians establish quite early the premise that trickery is being used in the physical domain where someone using video editing doesn't. The audience may not know how we are doing it but the simple fact that they know we are doing the impossible with means that are possible just adds to the mystification. At the end of the day we are not misrepresenting ourselves in a fashion that video editing does, in fact we are very open about it, or at least most of us are.

So does someone revealing a secret method in magic and the existence of video editing cheapen the the experience in each of their own cases? Yes but for different reasons. Magicians don't reveal their secrets because we know magic is an art and skill and maintaining the audiences experiences by not trivialising things down to how they are done is our main goal, video editing trivialises magic by implying there is no skill or art and just by a turning of a button that is how magic is achieved. We all know magic is more then that.

Magically

Aus
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Quote:
On May 3, 2017, Terrible Wizard wrote:
I'm not sure that the dislike of card manipulation is sufficiently analogous to viewing editing as non-magical - the key difference being that even if I dislike manipulation I still locate the skill in the performer, where it actually is, and not in the video mixer.


Fair enough, T.W. I'm going to play devil's advocate for a bit and make some assumptions about your opinions, so I apologize in advance if I'm mischaracterizing your thoughts.

What about the magician's on-stage assistant who is doing the real heavy lifting to make an effect work? How about the off-stage crew who are the ones controlling the wires? The stooge brought on stage from the audience? The lighting technician who makes sure that the method can't be noticed from the house?

I assume that you're fine with those methods. One of the differences between those methods and video editing is that the above happen in real time, as the magic is being presented to an audience. Is your opinion then that the skill of the magician (or assistants) needs to be performed so that they happen in real time?

If so, what about the skill of the carpenter who built the necessary apparatus? Or the machinist who designed and built the coin gaff? Those happen prior to the performance. I assume that you're also fine with that.

What makes the skills of the video editor different from any of the other examples of magical support above? Is it because it happens after the performance? Is it because the skill of a video editor isn't as honest as the skill of a lighting technician or stage crew?

Quote:
Aus wrote:
Firstly I don't accept the premise of the question that video editing is invisibly done because in my experience nothing I'v seen over the last 20 years has represented that.


Perhaps, but perhaps the reason you haven't noticed invisible editing because it's invisible?

As I mentioned above, a change to a different camera view is, by definition, video editing and this has been widely used to make magic on video more deceptive (and occasionally with poor editing, exposing a method). Are you fine with that technique of editing? Where do you draw the line?

But even more importantly, what are the thoughts of a lay audience? You may not be fooled by some clever video editing, but if a lay audience is, does that matter to their experience of magic?

Hypothetically speaking, we could video record a performance of a classic effect and make it appear it uses a classic method, but actually achieve the effect through video editing. At the end of the video the magician does something that disproves the method you thought and you were fooled. Does that change your experience of magic?

Again, I feel that the most important thing that we should be thinking about is what the spectators of a magic video feel. Do they suspect video editing? If so, even it the performance was "legit," it probably doesn't matter. Their experience of magic isn't as powerful. On the other hand, if they think what they see on the screen is the same as what they would see live, then does it matter?

Dave
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