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Topic: Cheapish Illusion designs.
Message: Posted by: magicbilly (Oct 7, 2003 01:38PM)
Here's my dilema. I'm a close up performer but somehow a teacher at my school has heard that I do magic and to him this means all types. He's organizing a Showcase Of Talent and has asked me to perform a large scale illusion for him. He has even gone as far as suggesting I involve my Headmaster in some kind of funny yet humiliating way. Now this all sounds great fun to me but I don't have a clue what I'm going to do. I want to do something like a chair levitation or a human vanish but I don't know any methods. Also I'm on quite a tight time scale and being a student a very tight budget! Any help would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. I know its not good magical practise to humiliate people but I think I can make an exception in this case!!
Message: Posted by: Peter Loughran (Oct 7, 2003 02:51PM)
Whats your budget and time frame?
Message: Posted by: magicbilly (Oct 7, 2003 03:04PM)
Upto a hundred pounds and about two weeks
Message: Posted by: MikeJRogers (Oct 8, 2003 02:25AM)
Magicbilly, I take it you will be performing on a theatre stage yes? If so you could build a simple asrah levitation including the vanish of course. Do you know the method of an asrah? A chair suspension is way out of your budget because you would have to buy one, they are way too hard to build. You could probally do something from Mark Wilsons course in magic. Do you have the book? I was thinking along the lines of a simple arabian tent or something to produce your headmaster. If you want to vanish your headmaster you might have to build some sort of deceptive platform - do you know what I mean?

What are your thoughts?

Just post your questions or PM me.

Hope this helps,

Mike J Rogers
Message: Posted by: knightmagic98 (Oct 8, 2003 06:08AM)
Does this two weeks include the building/purchasing of the prop, rehearsal time, ad show date?
Message: Posted by: magicbilly (Oct 8, 2003 08:31AM)
Like I said earlier, I've never done any form of stage magic before in my life! I'm a close-up performer. I have got Mark Wilson's Cyclopedia of Magic but not his Course in Magic. In reality I had two and a hlf weeks (two weeks now!) but I thought I should build in some time for practise and any neccesary building that's why I said two weks o start with; so now I have one and a half weeks!
Message: Posted by: Peter Loughran (Oct 8, 2003 08:49AM)
What about getting something out of UF Grants Victory Carton illusions book.

You can build anything out of there in a day for just a few dollars, and with basically no knowledge of actual illusion building.

Now there is nothing ground breaking here obviously, but it may serve your purpose. And if some of the stuff is performed properly it can go over quite well with a lay audience.

I think the book is really cheap too, like 5-10 dollars.

When I was younger and I just started getting into illusions, I built the production screens in there, but out of wood, and added a flash pot...but all in all it used to go over great on stage. David Copperfield even used a version of the screen method in one of his latest TV specials. He used this to introduce the girl he was going to use for his "disappearing girl" illusion. (you know the one where he 'erases' her bit by bit).

Anyway, there are a few other things in that book that are worth looking at, and cheap to build. Easy to build, and can be made out of wood instead of the cardboard that they are designed for.

There may be something in there that you can use under youy current pressure status and budget(heck you will probably be under budget).

Message: Posted by: the Sponge (Oct 8, 2003 09:10AM)
How "large scale"?
there are some stage effects that would be "funny."

such as: pulling the scarves thru his body but end up pulling out his undershorts; an effect using the breakaway fan, wand, and box; the wizard's cap that is a plumer's helper underneath; etc.

or "large scale" could be the "fake" levitation where he would lay down and levitate under the sheet, then the sheet is "accidently" pulled away revealing the gaff.

Message: Posted by: knightmagic98 (Oct 8, 2003 09:23AM)
I think in reality, you are pushing too hard to get something "done". first of all, according to your own account, you have no experience with stage magic/illusions. You mentioned you are a student. So, in addition to building/buying the prop, you need to routine it and rehearse it as well as learn how to move and act onstage (this is very different from being a close-up performer) You need to take care of all of these things in addition to your school work. I think you should tell the coordinator that you are unable to help him with this particular event. Having said that, though, perhaps you could work towards working with them next year...just my thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Oct 8, 2003 09:24AM)
Depending on the audience size, and certainly given your lack of time to prepare, I think Slydini's Paperballs Over The Head would be the perfect solution in this case.


Message: Posted by: knightmagic98 (Oct 8, 2003 10:28AM)
do you really think that is the best option for him? I am just thinking of the audience management required for that effect. Also, his timing will be critical. For someone who has never been onstage before, that might be a very difficult effect to pull off.
Message: Posted by: RayBanks (Oct 8, 2003 10:49AM)
Look in your Wilson book.

I think the victory cartons may be in there along with some other simple illusiona that might be easy to build and perform.
Message: Posted by: the levitator (Oct 8, 2003 11:38AM)
Gary Darwin and Dondrake have some great books on Black Art illusions that are cheap to make. You would just have to have some control of the lighting, but in a theater, that shouldn't be a problem.

My biggest concern is the time you have to build and rehearse. Ray and Peter are right on with doing something simple with either the Grant or Wilson books.
Message: Posted by: magicbilly (Oct 8, 2003 12:52PM)
By the way, I never said I hadn't been onstage before ( because I have!) I just havn't had any experience with stage MAGIC?ILLUSIONS before. As far as being a student is concerned that doesn't matter because if it comes to it and I can't handle both doing this and working I will simply say no. similarly if I can't find the riht thing in time I will say no but this is my only chance because it is a one off event to open the schools new arts college.

By the way, could somebody please outline the effect of paper balls over head because I found a video but the description doesn't tell you.

Message: Posted by: JAEIII (Oct 8, 2003 01:51PM)
If you have Mark Wilsons book...go to the back of it and you'll find about five illusions you could build cheaply. That would be my suggestion.

Paper Balls over the head is a comedy effect, with no real magic. Did you see David Copperfield's Unexplained Forces TV special? He kind of does this effect with eggs in it. Basically you get someone out of the audience and have them sit down. You take out some paper, roll it into a ball, and say you'll make it disappear. The guy you have on stage will be amazed, but the audience will not, but think it's funny. You don't really make them disappear, you just throw the balls over the guys head.

Once again, this is comedy more then magic. The audience laughs because he has no idea you are throwing the stuff over his head.

It's funny, but occasionally you get a guy in the audience that spoils it for you. If you think you want to do this, then buy the book. If you don't do it correctly, the guy will see you toss the ball over his head.
Message: Posted by: Micheal Leath (Oct 8, 2003 02:10PM)
Personaly I think that this is one of the times that you should turn down the show. You stated yourself that you have no experience in this area. It does no good for magic for someone with no experience to try to throw together an illusion and the "perform" it. It is ok to say NO.

Micheal Leath
Message: Posted by: pyromagician (Oct 8, 2003 03:30PM)
On 2003-10-08 15:10, Micheal Leath wrote:
Personaly I think that this is one of the times that you should turn down the show. You stated yourself that you have no experience in this area. It does no good for magic for someone with no experience to try to throw together an illusion and the "perform" it. It is ok to say NO.

Micheal Leath

agree completely
Message: Posted by: knightmagic98 (Oct 8, 2003 05:13PM)
Well, I think I have made it clear by my previous posts however, I agree with Leath.
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Oct 8, 2003 08:48PM)
On 2003-10-08 11:28, knightmagic98 wrote:
do you really think that is the best option for him? I am just thinking of the audience management required for that effect. Also, his timing will be critical. For someone who has never been onstage before, that might be a very difficult effect to pull off.

Yes, I do.

I doubt any illusion he builds in two weeks including rehersal is going to look like very much more than something thrown together in the last minute.

As to managment, he has it in the bag. The Pricipal is the "victim" and the students are the audience. What better time will you have everyone on the side of the performer. Learning stage management, blocking, audience management for an illusion, more blocking. That is going to be much more difficult for him.

At least if he pulls it off close-up with the guy and gives the audience the over the shoulder knowing wink I think he can get that basic concept down in a day. Giving him several more to get the actual mechanics of the routine down. He will also have the chance to work it in the real world once or twice if he is ready, on his friends.

Too many people treat illusions as simple box jumping. It Ain't!

Even a good linking ring routine would be better than an "illusion". Infact, the rings would be more magical than PPOTH, as several have pointed out.

It makes more sense to work on the scale he is used to rather teach a new scale magic to someone in two weeks.

Thems my thoughts. Best of luck, Billy, and let us know what transipres.


Message: Posted by: knightmagic98 (Oct 8, 2003 09:55PM)
Tom, my contention is that he shouldn't be trying to attempt this at all...I agree with you that illusions are more complicated than "simple box jumping" I also think he should not attempt to do a Linking Ring routine. It is much better to do nothing than to risk the damage of being unprepared.
Message: Posted by: HarbinJr. (Oct 9, 2003 12:35AM)
I agree with the rest that you shouldnt be doing any stage illusion building with only two weeks or less let alone do the practicing that would be involved. However here is an idea that you might like. You said that you are a close-up magicician.....so why don't you get a camera and a projector and a screen so that you can project a close up arena for the whole audience. See if the school has the necessary equip so that you don't need to provide it and then do your best closeup magic possilbe. Good Luck with it!!!

Robert Long
May your dreams be touched by magic!!!!
Message: Posted by: magicsoup (Oct 9, 2003 02:29AM)
If you wanted to make anything from the cardboard book you might want to use plasitc sign board. I'm not sure but it might be cheaper than wood and sturdier than cardboard. Does it have to be a big stage illusion? There are smaller things that will play big for an audience. A rope through neck could play big, and have the audience involvement you are looking for. It's also easy. The Iron Garrote is a chain through neck (a little scarier looking) that is easy to learn. It's in your budget. I have a hard time saying no to shows. If you belong to a club you might be able to use someones arm chopper or something. I have a friend who has let me use things before, who knows, you might too. I think it's worth a try.
Message: Posted by: magicbilly (Oct 9, 2003 12:20PM)
Guys, thanks for all your support and comments. I spoke to a magician friend of mine who is big into stage magic and he thought it was possible to do a good illuson in the time frame but, after about two hours of discussion, we came to the conclusion that it wasn't the right thing for me to be doing. I spoke to the organiser of the event and told him that a big illusion was out of the question. I am now going to do a small caberet style show that will be open house. That is to say people can walk in and out of it at any time. I think this is the best solution for the dilema and it suits both my performance style and the needs of the event.

Thanks again

Message: Posted by: Dougini (Oct 12, 2003 12:28PM)
I am glad to see you made that decision, MB!

I had the unfortunate experience of failing onstage, due to a rush, and a week of rehearsal. Back then I had never performed Zombie for anyone but my mirror, and thought, "Well, I can do this..." Guess what?

300 people in the college auditorium laughed me off the stage! The gimmick made an unexpected appearance above the edge of the cloth...the cork caught the edge, and SPROING!

"Ha ha ha ha haaaaa" I was so freaking embarrassed. I swore I would never be on stage again (and haven't).

I only do close-up, and one-on-one, now. I hope no one else makes that mistake. My local magician's club tossed me out of the ring, furious that I had exposed such a treasure of magic...

Practice...practice...rehearse...until you can do it in your sleep! Don't ever attempt to to a stage act, unless you've prepared for it! Man, I wish someone had stopped me before I made an utter fool of myself. I quit doing magic for YEARS after that. Regretful.