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Topic: Card Manipulation Routine
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 26, 2011 06:37PM)
So I have been working on card manipulation now for maybe a year. This is a video demonstrating my progress thus far.


Be kind with your feedback...
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Aug 26, 2011 07:34PM)
1st I need to know your source material you used.

Then only if you want to really know, will I comment.

I will say a good start, but now you have to un-learn some things.
Message: Posted by: Fábio DeRose (Aug 26, 2011 07:37PM)
I enjoyed it. I love he fact that you smile and actually look like having a good time doing it.

Technique-wise, for just one year you're doing very good. Keep practicing, keep smiling.
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 26, 2011 08:55PM)
Wmhegbli - The material I have studied is McBride's three Card Manipulation DVD's. The routine is a take off on Tony Clarks Award Winning Card Routine. Im very open to your thoughts. I am aware that it is not performance ready, just arrived at enough of a milestone to post progress.

Fabio - Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Aug 26, 2011 10:03PM)
I see, most of your errors are more on the body movement and methodology of the moves then with the technique portion of the material.

You must have a mental picture of your reason for your actions. Such as, see the fan of cards in the air then reach out for them. I never seen an anti-clockwise direction in producing a fan of cards. Do it your way, exposes the method. Go back and "study" the McBride videos. It is an up and down movement after the reaching out to drop the cards. This is a quick short action, not a large hand and arm movement.

Perform the actions in front of your body, not at the side. Go back and look at the placement of the card for single card vanishes. Your get ready is all wrong, thus you are having problems. It is all in the details, not the methodology only.

Don't "Bop" to the music, the music is to set the "mood" for the actions, not to dance to. Stand up straight, you are hunched over your table.

Then this is a big one, do not look at your fans. You are trying to look around and see the full face of the fans. This is a mistake many starting out make. Your head will block the audience from seeing the fans. This is one thing that a mirror helps to eliminate. Look in the mirror, but on stage you will only see the edges of the fans being made.

I think the booklet by the late great Marlo will help you as well, it give to techniques.

I also noted you opened with a deck vanish, then tried to do a growing cards effect, anyway, that is how I visualized it. There is a reason the Vanish is at the end of the Diminishing Cards, it covers the vanish and give the performer some place to go next.

This new thing of putting a card in your mouth or between your teeth, it is unsanitary and does not look good, as there is no reason for it. Daniels at least does it to hold a card for comparison when he does the Diminishing Cards. Just to do it, because you seen others do it is not a good reason. If your hands are full, then it a logical place to take a card of course.

I would have much liked if you cut out the McBride cards to Jumbo, remember they are not suppose to be known they are connected cards.

Single card productions try to have a rhythm to them. Produce 'drop', then the other hand produce 'drop', not produce and produce and drop both, as this leave you with nothing and your audience nothing to focus on except your empty hands.

I would have like to see your Dynamite boxes as well, with the TNT logo, it would look better then a box of cards case.

Like your backdrop and twinkling stars as well. I hope these tips help. Just go back an look at your reference material for more then how they are done, look at the performers presentation, body stance, arm and hand movement as well.

Thank you for this look at your efforts, it was fun watching you.
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 26, 2011 10:11PM)
Very insightful comments. I appreciate them very much. I'll give you words strong attention. Thank you.
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 27, 2011 12:38PM)
Okay having thought about your comments a bit, I have some thoughts. Overall, I agree with most and have questions about a few of your comments.

First, what I agree with...
*The focus on body movements and methodology rather than just technique. I appreciate you taking the discussion there. It is probably obvious where I am not proficient yet with technique. I also did slouch to much and as you said, need to stand straighter.
*The unsanitary comment related to the card in lips is interesting. I wouldn't have thought about this, but if it bothers you it will probably bother others and should be avoided.
*I agreed with your comments about methodology. Especially in regard to beginning and ending phases. I'm don't think everything in this routine is logical at this point. I vanish a deck in the beginning and then end with jumbo and card fountain. I didn't do the diminishing deck sequence in the beginning. I was concerned that it was a bit tedious and lacked punch. I may just prefer to leave the McBride Jumbo Decks out of this routine, as you suggested, and end with the card fountain.
*I also very much agree with your comments about the rythem with the singles in the final phase. Also the comments about the shorter arm movement with drop after the split fans. I agree totally and am working to improve these techniques now.

Now, what I question...
1 - Boping to the music is wrong? I actually thought this was one of the things I liked about the routine. I thought this displayed a connection to the music and came off fun. Should you really not move to the music?
2 - Counter Clockwise Fans are bad? A left handed fan is easier to do counter clockwise. Is this really to be avoided? Why? This is the reason I have opted for manipulation cards with 4 indices. I could otherwise go with standard Bee Cards. Do I really need to learn a reverse left handed fan?
3 - Only do manipulation in front of you? I thought doing effects to your side is fine as long as your body is not blocking the view of the audience. I agree that my technique needs to improve, but do I really only need to do manipulation in front of me?

Keep in mind that my comments are not meant to be defensive, but only to promote discussion and help myself and others at my level grow and understand card manipulation better. I look forward to others joining this discussion as well.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Aug 27, 2011 01:28PM)
Tony, I would like to say this was my observation of the video. I only give this as help, nothing more. What I meant by the anti-clockwise movement may be wrong as I just re-watched the video. It was your movement of your right arm up to about the 1 minute mark. That large sideways swing and awkward movement. You have to extend your arm more and make the swing look natural.

Most productions should be in front of your body, there are times when reaching to the side is okay, but with your have turned stance and poor posture, it looked not sharp and natural.

About music, if you want to go on Dancing with the Stars, bopping is okay, but I thought this was a card act. The music sets mood. You music is fun, light and happy country tunes. Therefore you smile and conveys that. Next time you watch a TV show or movie, compare the music to the actual action on the screen. They have no relation to each other most of time. It is only set the mood, as in the star is walking down the street, but he is getting close to the killer, so the music quickens because any minute he will be face to face. The music speeds up, but the star is just standing there, and the killer gives up. As an audience member you watch more closely when the music quicken, your brain said something is about to happen. What, don't know so I will put off going to the kitchen for a snack.

I actually was not considered to continue in a competition once for bopping to the music. Music in a magic Act is to set mood for the audience and actions only.

I don't mean for these comment to degrade your or your efforts in any way. You posted and I commented, I am being as kind as I can, and as constructive as I am able to be.

Good luck!
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 27, 2011 01:50PM)
Thanks wmhegbli - I'm not taking your comments personally. I'm just interacting with the ideas.

Knowing that you were critiqued in a competition for boping is interesting. I see you point with the background music. It is interesting. Also - I get what you are saying at the 1 min mark.

Thanks again... I'll keep working at it.

Also - for those concerned about exposure... I'm not going to keep this video up very long because of the flashes and potential exposure. FYI.
Message: Posted by: Fábio DeRose (Aug 27, 2011 05:32PM)
I say keep bopin'.

You look like having loads of fun doing it, it seems natural to you so, as long as it does not become anything cheesy (Which it is no at all) and / or exagerated... I say go for it. Just don't make it a habit and choose the righ moments to stay still.

Keep a sharp technique, take the good advices ad most of all enjoy what you're doing.
Message: Posted by: DJ Trix (Aug 28, 2011 05:05PM)
You are very likeable.
Message: Posted by: billappleton (Aug 28, 2011 11:51PM)
Put yourself out there, get some comments & review, hear some expert advice, make some improvements.

Great thread!
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 29, 2011 12:36PM)
Thanks for all the feedback guys. Here is the next rendention in the routine. Still not perfect, but improved. I'm going to have to put it down for a while and come back to it in a month of so. Feel free to give me some feedback while the video is live.

This is a great way to practice, btw. Working for the camera makes you feel the pressure of performing. Then getting feedback is like paying for professional consultation. Thanks everyone...
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Aug 30, 2011 02:09PM)
I have now removed the links to the routines discussed above. Both videos were too weak at this point to keep active. Thanks for all the comments and help.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Sep 30, 2011 09:39PM)
Just out of curiosity, Tony, do you belong to a magic club and/or have friends in magic that you can session with occasionally and to whom you can turn for constructive criticism and advice? When I was getting started in magic (back in the 60's), I belonged to a magic club for teenaged magicians. The club met at Virginia's finest magic shop, under the guidance of members from the local IBM ring, among whom was Bob McAllister. The owner of the shop--Earl Edwards--had been a professional touring magician prior to opening his shop. Although there were very few magicians in the area who did card and billiard ball manipulation, there were quite a few magicians who were part-time pros, and from them I learned a lot about showmanship and what Monk Watson called "the professional touch."

In the introduction to my book that's been in progress for a couple of decades now :) I acknowledge four major influences on my evolution as a magician: 1) Henry Hay (from whose books I learned the basics of showmanship and manipulation); 2) Lewis Ganson (whose _Routined Manipulation_ series complemented what I had learned from the Hay books), 3) Carlo Tornedo, a Swedish magician whose act with cards and billiard balls inspired me to seek out the resources I would need to become "that kind of magician" as opposed to "box magicians" and 4) Earl Edwards, who pushed me out of the relatively secure arena of performing for magicians at magic clubs to performing for non-magicians in public venues.

As to Henry Hay's comments about the immense value of starting in magic with a manipulation focus--Don't get me wrong; I have all kinds of respect for magicians whose acts use generous amounts of apparatus. But in general I think those of us who got started doing manipulation have a distinct advantage over those of us who got started doing the Ball in Vase and Grant's Temple Screen.

As Henry Hay/Barrows Mussey says on page 11 of the AMH (in Chapter 2: "Hard Easy Tricks and Easy Hard Tricks"):
-----begin quote-----
Some notion, at least, of magical acting can be taught in a book; but it takes time to sink in. The time required to memorize a self-working trick is not long enough.
The time required to learn a fairly simple sleight (a manual artifice) probably will be long enough for you to absorb the acting that goes with it.
-----end quote-----

So the fact that you've already devoted some considerable time to the art of manipulative magic speaks well of your commitment to our art. The fact that you were willing to post videos of your act for Café readers to comment on and/or critique speaks well of your commitment to improve your presentation skills.

When I was getting started in magic, we used to speak of paying our dues by doing performances for the public at what in New York might be called "way, way off Broadway." I've heard old-timers speak of some of the lower end vaudeville houses as being "places where it was okay to be bad" because they were part of paying your dues to become "good." I'm not saying that it's okay to be "bad." I'm saying that one can't expect to become a master overnight. That's why in the Middle Ages there were guilds that provided a novice who had potential the opportunity to progress from apprentice to craftsman to journeyman to master and (I suppose in rare cases) to grand master.

I think the Industrial Revolution and progress in all areas of society led to minor as well as major changes in the education process as far as tradespeople were concerned, and I do consider the performance of magic to be a trade. (I mean that in the most respectful sense--or as I'm sure more than one magician has said in his advertising literature: "There are tricks in all trades... but mine is all tricks.")

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
P.S. My own apprenticeship with Earl Edwards included the added bonus that Earl was well-respected by many full-time professional magicians whom I had the honor of meeting when they came through Norfolk, ranging from full-time illusionists like Joe and Georgi Smiley to sleight of hand artists who worked the sideshows of the circuses that came through town.
Message: Posted by: Tony Thomas (Oct 7, 2011 07:24AM)
Thanks Anatole - good advice.

I am a part of a very good Magic Club - Ring 199. We have three past international presidents that are regular attenders, and a very active local circuit, plus several full-time professional magicians & authors (card books, etc), who attend the meetings often. I think we are in a great time where we can still take advantage of personal relationships (mentoring), plus get the added effect of having virtual relationships around the world for mentoring and feedback. Whenever the club meets and I can attend, I always come prepared to perform. I encourage every club attendar to do this.

I had set a goal for myself that by the end of the summer, I would have a card manipulation routing worked out with music, etc. My club had lectures sceduled for the monthly meetings, and so I couldn't perform, and I saw this thread as an opportunity to accomplish my goal and mark my progress.

I think there is great value in having performance venues where it is okay to still be developing in your skill. I'm not sure there are places like the ones you mentioned that are still around. I think performing for kids in some environments, or charity environments can fit that bill today, but I would love to see more performance opportunities "way off broadway" for up and comming local artists. Today we have such access to "the best entertainers in the world" at the touch of a button, through netflix, or some other method, that our standards for what is "good enough" for the stage is very high.

I do appreciate everyones help.