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Topic: Don't try to hide it (sleights that require misdirection)
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Jan 10, 2007 12:11PM)
This came to mind in a recent question someone asked in a PM about the top change. The person who asked about it already knew the basics but just asked me for more detail. This is such a common issue in magic, especially close up magic, that I figured I'd start a discussion about it here. Hopefully I can help some of you to not have to learn it the hard way like I and so many other magicians did.

There are many sleights that rely heavily on misdirection the moment the move is executed. I already mentioned the top change so I'll use that as en example. When performing the top change you usually have to misdirect them at the right moment. Not always because there are some routines where you do the top change while they are focusing on the deck (Paul Harris's routine where a 2 turns into two aces comes to mind) but you usually have to direct their attention someone else while the move is done.

This can be scary when you first learn it. You can practice the move for months and have it down perfectly. But doing it in front of people is very different then when you are just practicing. It's easy to think they'll catch you doing it. But the only thing that would really cause them to see it is if you look like you are hiding something.

I use to do this. I'd come to the moment then I had to perform the top change. I'd look at my spectators to make sure they weren't watching. Of course they where watching because I was performing for them. So I had to pause until their eyes look somewhere else such as at my face or the person next to them. They obviously knew I was hiding something when I paused.

I'll tell you how I got over this. Basically, I stopped caring if they saw it. I know that might seem silly but it's really how I was able to improve my top change. I just did the move. I didn't look to see if they where looking or not. I just kept my actions flowing. For instance if I was holding a single card in my right hand and the deck in my left. I would show them the single card. Then just do the top change as may hand turned the card face down.

I'm not saying that you don't need misdirection. Of course you do but not all misdirection requires them to look the other way. Another form of misdirection is to cover a move with a natural action. In the matter of the top change, the action can be a hand gesture such as pointing toward someone or something. Or under cover of picking something up. But the point I want to make is I don't have to wait for them to not look. My actions suggest I'm doing something but while I'm doing that I'm secretly switching cards. They can see me do it but they don't know that I changed cards. All they know is I pointed at something or picked something up.

This same kind of thing applies to many other moves. For instance there are some card routines where you secretly turn the deck over. Or a half pass (Half the deck is turned over). Secretly loading a card under a glass is another example.

When you have to do things like this find an action that covers that move. Then just use that action while executing it. But don't wait for them to look the other way. That pause only tells them you're hiding something.

I hope I was able to explain this right.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Jan 10, 2007 01:14PM)
Another thing that helps is to have your own focus on something such as the deck while nothing is happening for a moment or two, then look up right into their eyes/the general eye level of your spectators. Because nothing was happening for a few moments the second you look up, so will they. It is in this moment that you can execute a move that requires misdirection.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 10, 2007 01:19PM)
I'll second that, Ron. My wife is super hard to fool. Once I had to top change. I made a comment and when our eyes met, I went for the change. The moment my hands moved, her eyes darted downward. I was already committed to the move and I went for it. looking at her face, I could see her burning my hands. Her reaction at the conclusion, confirmed that the move flew by her.

I think that the mechanics of the move are similar to a second deal or a monte throw. The split second that the borders pass each other, is the only tell. Also the fact that the fingers move so little, I'm sure people have seen it happen, but it just doesn't register.
Message: Posted by: DomKabala (Jan 10, 2007 01:32PM)
I guess the hand is quicker than the eye... but noise will get you every time. It must not "speak".
<<<KRaZy4KaRdZ>>> :)
Message: Posted by: DStachowiak (Jan 10, 2007 10:03PM)
On 2007-01-10 14:32, KRZ4kardz wrote:
I guess the hand is quicker than the eye... but noise will get you every time. It must not "speak".
<<<KRaZy4KaRdZ>>> :)
Smoothness is more important than speed, if you can go for it confidently and smoothly they'll never see it, but if your movement is jerky or panicky it sends a signal that you "did something" I try and get them to look in my eyes when I do a top change, and I may pause, but I don't "freeze", I try to stay natural and relaxed. This is much more important than speed, and also helps prevent "talking"
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 10, 2007 11:41PM)
The issue when facing a larger audience is that not everyone will make eye contact with you. Walking around a little bit before executing the sleight helps a lot, as a bigger movement will distract their attention.

Message: Posted by: ToasterofDoom (Jan 11, 2007 06:46PM)
I wonder if this advice will disencourge those from learning proper misdirection... :)
Message: Posted by: R.S. (Jan 11, 2007 08:05PM)
I find that mace works wonders as a distraction.

Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 12, 2007 12:25AM)
I define misdirection as a combination of body language, spoken language and body movements. Bringing the three elements together is an art in itself.
In that sense, a shift of the body position is a misdirection.

Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Jan 15, 2007 08:04AM)
Jaxon says some interesting things (as indeed you all do). I think he has something when he says to almost not care if they see the move or not. The purpose behind this I would add is to help you to relax - DStachowiak said smoothness is more important than speed. If you are too tense it will be difficult to be smooth - thus Jaxon's tip is a good mind-set to be in. Importantly, he does not dismiss the notion of needing misdirection either. I use the tips of others above here - both the notion of looking at them and waiting to see they look at you and take their eyes off your hands but I also think the gesture movement is important and I ally this to the notion of a large movement covering a small one. I actually say "your card will fly out of your hand and move to mine and vice versa (gesture)... keep your eyes on your card... did you see it go (gesture)" At some point during all that patter I do the TC move! You can see that the patter invites/allows movement by your hand... and I also tell them to look at the card in the spec's hand! They invariably do. If they don't, the hand gestures are too smooth & too quick for them.
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Jan 15, 2007 08:09AM)
Oops sorry about the word 'think' at bottom I had deleted some text and missed it. I wasn't making a profound point.
ps when I write above "and I also tell them to look at the card in the spec's hand!" clearly what I am doing is telling them not to look at my hands but the spectators' hand. I am misdirecting them by telling them what to do. YOu might think this would not work but because I am telling them that the card in their hand is going to fly out and they tend to believe that the magic is supposed to happen there, they do as they are told. I misdirect them (partly) by telling them not to look at my hands!!
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Jan 17, 2007 03:28PM)
I believe the common denominator here is -

* gesturing with the hand holding the card (that is going to be top changed) - moving hands allow us to execute the move naturally

* leading the mind of the audience with our words - misdirecting their attention to other places and synchronising the words to match the action of the top change via the hand gesture and body movement

Let us also not forget that along with the technical execution, our presentation and characterisation during the performance would help tremendously too.

From the posts above I can see that many of us have our own style of performing and presenting an effect using the top change. There is no perfect and ideal method but if any of our method works comfortably and the audience cannot catch the execution then it works.

I believe it takes a lot of testing with different type of audience to find that comfortable method.