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Topic: original illusions...
Message: Posted by: briansmagic (Jul 7, 2003 07:45PM)
I am trying to come up with new illusion ideas or concepts to build. I am having trouble coming up with ideas. Does any one have a formula or procedure they follow to come up with original illusions? How are new illusions created? Any help or thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: IllusionJack (Jul 8, 2003 02:55AM)
I try to come up with an effect i'd like to see happen and then work from there. After I come up with an idea for a concept or an effect, I try to think of illusions that may already exist that can be used or modified. If an idea requires something new to be built, it always seems best to have a professional builder assist.

As for now, I haven't had any of my original ideas "built" yet. However, I prefer stories that don't necessarily need a prop box, so a lot of my ideas might not require the traditional box props, but would still require some original design.

Overall though, once you have an idea for an effect you want to accomplish, begin to think in your mind about how to accomplish it. Then, think of ways to hide those methods.

--Jack :pepsi:
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Jul 9, 2003 09:37PM)
Watch some fantasy & sci-fi movies! Get some ideas from there and look around if it can be accomplished using existing illusionary techniques!
For the actual building, I'd advice making a scaled down model first... Cheaper mistakes... Trust me, I learnt this through experience...


Message: Posted by: The Cardfather (Jul 9, 2003 10:42PM)
I found illusion ideas came easier when I was new to magic. Before the influence of what I now see on a regular basis. Try talking to a layperson, ask them what they'd like to see an illusionist perform and try to make it happen. That person is a potential paying member of the audience, that should qualify him.
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jul 11, 2003 04:28PM)
I think the way to do it is to create a scene you would like to play out and then think of the illusion that would be the central action to that drama/comedy. Then come up with small bits that would be other effects that would lead up to the main illusion.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 13, 2003 07:13PM)
I like Jim's thinking. He is rigfht in that it really is the story or actiuon and drama that needs to be thought out first. In this way the Illusion then flows into this drama on stage and does not becomes just another "look what I can do" creation.

Also, when coming up with new illusion ideas, it is always a must to make sure you have a good grasp on the principles of illusions. Study them and really understand how they all work from bases to black art etc. A good understanding of these principles will help open your mind up to new creations.

It is not the illusionary principle that will be the new and original idea. Often it is the presentation and combination of these principles that makes an idea fresh and new.

I always look at other things in our culture that are far from magic in order to get ideas. You never know where or what can inspire you to a new idea. Keep your mind open and use things from art, literature and movies. These are all great places to learn more and to feed the mind.
Message: Posted by: Frank Tougas (Jul 13, 2003 07:38PM)
I would lokk at older illusions and see what else they may be. There is a great example of this manner of thinking in the Tarbell Series,of a doll house being made into a giant slot machine, giving it an all new look.

Sword cabinets can be elongated into a broom closet and use brooms to penetrate the poor assistant.

Years ago I made a small illusion using the grandmother's necklace principle on a large scale. It is somewhere in MUM about a thousand years ago (the cardfather is right, I was better at this when I still had all my brain cells) call the Salem Witch Hitch.

I still use it when a larger type show is requested. It really fills the stage using six men, a young lady from the audience and myself.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 13, 2003 09:18PM)
That is great way of thinking and was a perfect example of what I was referring to in my last post.

In your examples, it is not the illusion principle that is really changing, it is more on the presentation and the story that you are trying to tell to the audience.

Too many magicians get caught up on thre principle thinking that if the principle is the same as another illusion, then their illusion is not different enough.

I only say to this, that the principle of how an illusion works, should never even be apparent to the audience in the first place. If this is the case, then use these principles because they work. Use these principles to create interesting and creative new illusions.
Message: Posted by: Jeff007 (Jul 17, 2003 07:33AM)
I don't think I agree that a routine has to come first. There are times when an illusion/effect may spark a routine just as there are times when an idea for a routine may spark an illusion/effect. We have come up with some of our ideas by watching movies, listening to music, trying to rework older already existing methods and effects for something completely new, or even merely driving down the road. After a while, you'll realize that your mind is always turning (whether you want it to or not), and that will eventually lead to ideas that you never had thought of before. It's always great to be as creative and as original as possible. Don't ever think a routine is "finished" either... always be open for a change if it's for the better. Also, not always will you realize if it's for the better. Being in control of your show allows you to change it back if it isn't though, so it all works out in the end for the better. ;)
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 17, 2003 08:46AM)
Thanks for your post. you are correct. Ideas for illusions can come from most anywhere. I geuss what I was trying to say is that I feel an illusion needs to be performed and thought out well enough so it does not just become another "oh i am going to fool you again, look what I can do that you can't". I see too many illusions performed with no routining or anything thought out about it.
Message: Posted by: Jeff007 (Jul 17, 2003 09:09AM)
I couldn't agree more! You are right on with your thoughts on this.
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Jul 18, 2003 08:07AM)
The magician is an ACTOR playing the role of a magician. I can't remember who first said that but someone will supply the reference, I'm sure. My point is that this applies more to the illusionist than to other magicians, because the illusionist is actually presenting a series of small plays or skits. The central character woven throughout this collection of plays is the magician. The character of this magician (the role you play) needs to be well established. He can't be a clown one minute and a serious Wizard the next. The character has to be believable and the actor has to stay within the boundaries of that character throughout.

Once you have developed the character of the role you will be playing, illusion ideas will begin to suggest themselves. And remember... think outside the box! Illusions that have to be done in a box or cabinet are expensive and restrictive. If you were a REAL Wizard, you wouldn't need to put someone in a box to change them into a tiger or make them disappear. Exhaust the boxless possibilities before you decide you have to have a shiny new expensive box in your garage.

Professor Spellbinder
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 19, 2003 12:29PM)
Nice post. Any illusion can work as long as it fits your character and style on stage. Just mnake sure you do your audience a favor and make sure you spend the timr to routine the illusion first. To me it is not good enough to just perform an illusion as a look what I can do type of effect. Your audiences deserve more.
Message: Posted by: Odini731 (Jul 30, 2003 06:20AM)
Dude, Just think of something crazy that has not been done before that is too crazy for someone to try, then figure out how it works. Its all about knowing what you want to see then figuring out how it works
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 30, 2003 06:52AM)
It is more a matter of learning to think outside the box. Learning NOT to seek other magic tapes of performance to get all of our ideas. We must really start to learn to get ideas from the outside world in which we live in. There is so much out there that can be brought back into our magic to make it unique.Do not settle for just doing the same old thing. Force yourself to be more creatiove with it. Your audiences deserve that much.
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jul 31, 2003 04:32PM)
I agree that ideas for an illusion can come before the "story" and visa versa. However, I personally like to have the story come first. Then I have a drive to create this fantasy-device in order to see my story and characters come to life. I also want to add one more thing that has worked very well for me in the past: the part the magician plays does not always have to be a magician... Think about it.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 31, 2003 05:27PM)
You bring up a wonderful point here and I hope it sparks thought and discussion. Your are right, the magician does not have to always play the part of a magician. If you come to this realization, then the doors open up to you for having more creative routines and effects.

I also like to develop my illusion routines and my acts based on the story or the presentation first and then have everything else fall into place from that. I find when I do it this way, I am keeping the presentation at the forefront as it should be.
Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (Jul 31, 2003 06:00PM)
Someone once listed the main effects possible in Illusion/Magic:
I am sure there are a couple more I missed. When I choose to create a new Illusion, my first step is to look at the above list and find a brand new category. I may be inspired by Movies/TV, a social observation or maybe watching a Science channel late at night.
Once you have discovered this new "visual mutation" then you can proceed to developing it into a workable Illusion. Well, that's easier said than done but I consider it the fun part of the process.
When designing an Illusion, you have a few choices in Design.
1) Natural/Minimized. This is my FIRST choice. To create a "non-prop" Illusion. Using recognizable components such as lamps, tables,real trunks and trays etc. The list is endless but you get the idea. You may be lucky enough to find pre-made components and modify them saving a tremendous amount of time & money. If not, your goal is to re-create the components and get them as close to the real thing as possible avoiding "thickening up" too much.
The Strong point: YOU get the credit for creating the Magic.
The Weak point: Your show is not as flashy. But in many cases that is good unless your prancing around on a Vegas stage with 105 lb. topless girls caressing your...uh...OK...back to my point.

2) Modern/Contemporary. This will be a "non-recognizable unnatural but very cool looking prop.
Strong point: Much more room for deception in design and the props are visually stimulating.
Weak point: The audience does not understand/recognize the structure giving the prop credit for creating the magic. The Illusion itself will lead you into the applicable direction.
Clearly, there are MANY more strengths and weaknesses to each option but you get the point.
I will give this more thought and post some other input later.
Hope this helps.
Chance wolf
Wolf's Magic
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 31, 2003 06:48PM)
Great stuff my friend. I enjoyed your creative process and how you mentioned the principles of magic and how they can be explored as a stepping off point for creation.
Message: Posted by: Jeff007 (Aug 1, 2003 08:41AM)
Got to agree with Kyle, Wolf, I don't think anyone could have said much of that any better. I agree with everything in your post.
Message: Posted by: Kronos9326 (Aug 1, 2003 12:09PM)
Is is recommended to buy an illusion, or buy the plans and build your own? The only reason I ask, is that when I see some illusions online the price seems to be artificially high. My father in law (who is a carpenter by trade) says that most of the plans I've shown him, would cost no where near what people are charging, including labour.

Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (Aug 1, 2003 01:32PM)
I have to be brief here but the bottom line is you are paying the extra cost for two reasons.
1) Value and Rights to use of the Idea.
2) Research & Development costs (which can be astronomical especially when developing a new effect.) There are R&D Costs even with an existing idea as each builder has to actually develop his own production methods for every effect. It is NEVER as easy as just "going by the plans".
You would not believe how much time & money I spend creating a new Platform effect! And that is a SMALL effect. When you step into the Illusion category...it hurts to count the time & money.
Also take into consideration that you are paying for Production Specialists in the craft of building magic. It is a far less formulated trade than a Cabinet Maker. No offense to the Cabinetry Trade but clearly there are many more variables and mechanical engineering that goes into an Illusion compared to typical and even custom cabinet work.
I hope this helps the pain in your wallet as I know it can seem riduculous to pay the the same cost for an Illusion as you would a decent used car :kidding:
Take care,
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Aug 1, 2003 02:35PM)
Very well said Chance. Bottom line is that you get what you pay for.
Message: Posted by: David Le (Oct 9, 2003 06:43PM)
Watch David Copperfield. Period. :)

Notice how he does "ONE".
But I don't think you'll pick so much up from it cuz ONE was modified for tv when he taped TORNADO OF FIRE...

but anyways, watch how DC uses black art in the most devious, clever way :bg:
Message: Posted by: briansmagic (Oct 9, 2003 07:19PM)
Which illusion is ONE? I am not sure I know which one that is ....
Message: Posted by: David Le (Oct 10, 2003 03:25AM)
Appearing out of a thin platform.
the first trick in TORNADO OF FIRE......

one of the things I'm pointing out is how DC does SO MUCH with so little...... if not the most innocent-looking of props.

other "innocent looking propped DC illusion"

Flying (just the rigns and box)

but nah. technical requirements and specifications are massive, so just don't do them yet. however you can "study" his style. :)

just my 2 cents.
Message: Posted by: Cashetta (Oct 10, 2003 02:02PM)
If you only think it terms of whats available and what others are already doing, you are going to totally limit your imagination. When I come up with a story and scene ideas for each segment of my show, I try not to think about what I've seen before. I focus on the effect and it's entertainment possibilities without limitations. Once I've got that... I can present my ideas to a builder for input and we begin to make it happen. You never know what the two of you can come up with!
Best of luck!
Message: Posted by: David Le (Oct 10, 2003 06:55PM)
Nah. :)

I have my own method of METAMORPHOSIS.

no subtrunks, no twins, just the "prop" which I might call THE FRAME.

heck, I'll probably even bill the illusion as THE FRAME. and I'll do it to moby's EXTREME WAYS. it can only be done far and deep into the stage though, and I need lights to enhance the effect.

and a pretty assistant of course ;)

but as I've said, it's my own method and if I'm not mistaken it hasn't been done before.

and you guys will be surpsied as to how simple it is ;)

can't describe it in words though, you have to see an ilustration to understand it.
if anyone's interested to "build" it and market it feel free to email me


I don't expect a share of the money. just MY NAME as it's creator ;)

yeaaaaaaaah :)
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 12, 2003 12:13PM)
Since David Copperfield's illusions were brought up, I have to agree...

He does MUCH with very little. After assembling and disassembling some of them for shipping, I've discovered these are VERY old in principle, and are used with modern ideas. More than once I thought, "Is this it?" Wow, nothing's changed in a hundred years! The methods are ridiculously simple, but applied in ingenious ways...

The whole show is flawlessly scripted, every step planned and rehearsed. Secrecy agreements must be signed by everyone (rightfully so).

You could take every one of his illusions, change them in some subtle way, and have a brand new act! It's amazing how "generic" the stuff is, and could be used for a number of different effects. I've only worked three years in a row, each time he came to town, but learned so much...I COULD write a book (but won't).

Message: Posted by: Steve Dela (Oct 14, 2003 03:52PM)
Jim Steinmeyer recently advised my about buying illusions! here is what he said.


You'll be disappointed by my ordinary advice.

Start with something simple and solid. An illusion is a very disorienting addition to an act, and the worst mistake you could make would be to get something that's not 100-percent practical, meaning that you can perform it almost anywhere. If you end up with some special prop, that needs certain sightlines, certain lighting, et cetera, you'll only use it a small fraction of the time. And for your first illusion, your goal should be to perform it over and over again so you can get comfortable with this sort of prop.

A custom prop sounds like a good idea. It sounds admirably creative. But you'll never know how to evaluate it, and it'll be tough for you to make the adjustments and corrections that are always necessary for a brand new prop.

So...believe it or not...I'd start with some classic. The Substitution Trunk. Zig Zag. Basket. Girl on Three Swords. Chair Suspension, Sword Box or Temple of Benares, Broom Illusion. (A few ideas from my props: Girl in the Puzzle, Modern Art, Houdini's Rope.) Notice that none of these start or end with people inside. No one's loaded at the top of the show, or stuck in a prop at the end of the show. Easy to perform in almost any conditions, with one assistant.

The Pendragons made a reputation with a number of classic effects (Trunk, Basket, Broom). It seemed unbelievable that they could have success with such old effects, but the versatility of these effects allowed them to work anywhere. Then again, the had their own variations on each of these illusions. That's your challenge, to direct your creativity to the presentation, while guaranteeing the level of the effect.

Anyway, that's my advice. My friend Alan Wakeling once told me, "Don't be afraid of the classics. The reason they're classics is that, if you perform them competently, they are guaranteed to be a success for you." That's actually a pretty amazing statement. "Guaranteed to be a success?" But I think he's right and his opinion is of great value.

Good luck.


all the best!
Steve Dela