(Close Window)
Topic: Confusion between Technique and Presentation
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Aug 7, 2004 06:51AM)
I've wanted to put this forth for so long. So here goes nothing...

From my observations of the Magic scene, there seems to be a confusion between technique and presentation amongst Magicians...

It seems that most Magicians feel that they're one and the same thing.

I'll give you an example...

Remember when the courts decided that Copperfield's "Flying" PRESENTATION was illegally copied by that French Magician (I forget his name)...

What was illegal wasn't the technique that he employed in order to achieve the illusion of flying, as the performance of the illusion of flying in itself is in the public domain, but rather it was that the presentation of his routine was exactly the same as Copperfield's. Right down to the sweater and jeans!

Why in the world would he copy Copperfield move for move, wardobe for wardrobe? I haven't the faintest idea...

And that's my point, Magician's tend to copy another Magician's ROUTINE exactly as they'd seen it...

NEWSFLASH!!!

WE DON'T HAVE TO!

Use a different Presentation!

In another thread, someone insisted on following Lance Burton's Floating Birdcage by building his own birdcage!

WHY DO THE SAME PRESENTATION?

Float something else! Float a crystal ball, a sandwich or your kid's freakin' hamster! Not only would it be more original, but you also won't be ripping Lance Burton off!

If you understand the different techniques and usage of bases, why rip off Steinmeyer or Gaughan by building an Origami? Build something else that looks and is presented differently!

Just because you use the same guitar, doesn't mean you have to play the same song!

The techniques are only tools to help us in putting together a presentation BUT the presentation can CHANGE!

This really gets under my skin because I can see that we can do sooo much more with Magic if each of us "writes our own songs", so to speak! Our potential as an art that could possibly touch millions is hindered by our inability to realize our own creative potential (me included!)...

That's all I have to say!

Sorry for the rant...
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Aug 7, 2004 07:17AM)
Pakar Ilusi writes: ". . .we can do sooo much more with Magic if each of us "writes our own songs". . ."

How very true -- and how, unfortunately, not happening!

Even worse than using someone else's presentation is to perform the magic using the dreadful presentation usually included with the instructions!

Theft is bad enough, but THAT is intolerable!
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Aug 7, 2004 07:21AM)
Peter Marucci writes...

"Even worse than using someone else's presentation is to perform the magic using the dreadful presentation usually included with the instructions!"

Lol! Now that's the truth if I ever heard it!

Who writes that stuff anyway?
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Aug 7, 2004 12:16PM)
Maybe the word should be "wrote" since none of it seems to have been updated in the past 100 years! :)
Message: Posted by: EvanSparts (Aug 7, 2004 12:22PM)
Rants are ok and sometimes we need them I posted a rant called Canyou make my bill disappear in the tablehoppers forum.
Message: Posted by: Sk8rDave (Aug 8, 2004 04:49PM)
Although I agree with both sentiments of this thread, "patter included in magic tricks usually sucks" and "we should all work to come up with our own presentations" I thought I would add that it's very easy to tread on what Copperfield considers his territory.

An acquaintance of mine who used to build illusions considers the thin table to be a staple in illusion building so an illusion using a thin table can't really be considered original. Sort of back to the original argument, he thinks new presentations with old techniques shouldn't be considered original and proprietary. He's an illusion builder so the method is all he cares about so I understand how he could make that mistake.

At one point he crossed Copperfield by making a laser sawing, using a thin table. As far as this guy was concerned he was making another sawing with a thin table and a laser instead of a blade. Copperfield saw it as stepping into his territory since he was performing a laser sawing at the time. Copperfield's lawyers faxed this guy a cease and desist letter along with over 70 pages of trademarked material.

Here's where it gets interesting, a friend of mine who bought illusions from this guy showed me a copy of this list. It included trademarked items such as, "performing a levitation with the moon in the background" and "white shirt with black pants". Those are the only 2 I remember after all these years but the list of trademarked items seemed so common that any magician could unknowingly stumble into Copperfield territory just by coming up with a good and original presentation.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe trademark is something you just say you own but that real ownership doesn't get determined until you try to defend it in court. Consequently, coppefield with a list of trademarks that covers practically anything magical and his lawyers could effectively ruin any magician who threatened him by claiming improper use of his trademark and forcing the magician to pay for a lawyer to defend himself. That's just a little scary.

Dave
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Aug 8, 2004 10:44PM)
Dave writes: ". . .(Copperfield's) lawyers could effectively ruin any magician who threatened him by claiming improper use of his trademark and forcing the magician to pay for a lawyer to defend himself. That's just a little scary."

True.

And, unfortunately, that's the nature of the game.

A friend of mine was threatened with a suit by a VERY large insurance company -- even though he wasn't remotely involved in their business -- because the wording of his ad was "similar" to one of theirs.

The representative of the company said that a court might rule in his (my friend's) favor but "by that time you'll be broke" from trying to defend himself against an army of lawyers that the insurance company could field. Plus he would have to spend literally years in court.
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Aug 9, 2004 04:56AM)
You're right Peter... Lol!

EvanSparts, thanks... ;)

I see your point Sk8rDave...

Actually, that's all the more reason to be original I think...

But I agree, it's never on the side of the "little guys"...

*Sigh*
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Oct 6, 2020 04:13AM)
I'll bring this discussion back up and see what younger minds thinks.

And the young at hearts. 😋✌
Message: Posted by: tommy (Oct 6, 2020 11:09AM)
If you define your terms; technique and presentation, then I might be able to understand the issue. Techniques to card guys are the mechanics, the moves we use, which are not presented but hidden.
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Oct 11, 2020 01:47AM)
[quote]On Oct 6, 2020, tommy wrote:
If you define your terms; technique and presentation, then I might be able to understand the issue. Techniques to card guys are the mechanics, the moves we use, which are not presented but hidden. [/quote]

I thought I did in the first post?
(albeit for an illusion presentation, not cards).
Message: Posted by: tommy (Oct 11, 2020 02:16AM)
Are you believing what you see or seeing what you believe?
Message: Posted by: Pakar Ilusi (Oct 22, 2020 02:36AM)
[quote]On Oct 11, 2020, tommy wrote:
Are you believing what you see or seeing what you believe? [/quote]

In Magic?

Neither.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 31, 2020 05:40PM)
In a profession where people brag about how well they do the "Vernon Cups and Balls Routine" is lack of originally in presentation that shocking?

You would be better off buying a donkey and finding a windmill.

Magic thrives in that small space between inspiration and copying. I don't think it "should" be that way, but it certainly is.
Message: Posted by: Pop Haydn (Nov 1, 2020 12:51PM)
[quote]On Oct 31, 2020, Dannydoyle wrote:
In a profession where people brag about how well they do the "Vernon Cups and Balls Routine" is lack of originally in presentation that shocking?

You would be better off buying a donkey and finding a windmill.

Magic thrives in that small space between inspiration and copying. I don't think it "should" be that way, but it certainly is. [/quote]

As it is in music. Most singers should not write their own songs. You can be original in presentation without changing any of the words. The majority of bands that make money are cover bands. I think being original can put you on the top, but it can just as easily kill your career.

There is nothing wrong with being an entertaining but not very original act. They often make the better money.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 1, 2020 10:16PM)
I am not seeking "original" in all things in that way.

I would like less rote copying.

Your music example is quite true. Elvis neve wrote a song and it didn't seem to hold him back much did it? BUT when you look at the artistic genius that was the King, certainly he is not rote copying is he? I mean listen to him sing "Steamroller Blues", and listen to James Taylor do the same song that he wrote. Same with "Never Been to Spain". Listen to Hoyt Axton and then listen to Elvis. He DID something artistically with it.

When a magician generally says "here is my version of the Vernon Cups and Balls" what he is really saying is "watch me do everything Vernon did move for move and listen to me repeat every single word". To me this is artistically bankrupt.

Mind you this is just one opinion and others mileage may vary.
Message: Posted by: Pop Haydn (Nov 1, 2020 10:47PM)
[quote]On Nov 1, 2020, Dannydoyle wrote:
I am not seeking "original" in all things in that way.

I would like less rote copying.

Your music example is quite true. Elvis neve wrote a song and it didn't seem to hold him back much did it? BUT when you look at the artistic genius that was the King, certainly he is not rote copying is he? I mean listen to him sing "Steamroller Blues", and listen to James Taylor do the same song that he wrote. Same with "Never Been to Spain". Listen to Hoyt Axton and then listen to Elvis. He DID something artistically with it.

When a magician generally says "here is my version of the Vernon Cups and Balls" what he is really saying is "watch me do everything Vernon did move for move and listen to me repeat every single word". To me this is artistically bankrupt.

Mind you this is just one opinion and others mileage may vary. [/quote]


If an actor presented Hamlet and kept changing Shakespeare's words, it wouldn't go so well. You can present a unique and original piece of art without changing the words or moves of a classic. Originality is great if that is what you need to do, but presenting a classic with thought and understanding is also artistic.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 1, 2020 11:54PM)
It indeed would not go so well.

I guess it just depends on the outcome you desire.

I agree that being original simply for the sake of being original is not a useful goal at all to me.

I personally believe there is a difference in Hamlet and Vernon. What that difference is I would have trouble articulating in a coherent fashion mind you!

Maybe my problem is the same I have with all art. I dislike bad art. Poor copies are the heart of my objection I guess. Hamlet done poorly is still done poorly even though it is word for word.

And to your point poorly done original anything is no better simply for it's originality.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Nov 2, 2020 03:13AM)
The difference between a copy and a forgery is that the forgery tells a lie about itself.

It is one thing to copy and another to do so with the intention of inducing somebody to accept it as genuine.

I never made any real money counterfeiting.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Nov 3, 2020 05:02AM)
[quote]I never made any real money counterfeiting.[/quote]

Good line!
Message: Posted by: Pop Haydn (Nov 3, 2020 12:26PM)
[quote]On Nov 1, 2020, Dannydoyle wrote:
It indeed would not go so well.

I guess it just depends on the outcome you desire.

I agree that being original simply for the sake of being original is not a useful goal at all to me.

I personally believe there is a difference in Hamlet and Vernon. What that difference is I would have trouble articulating in a coherent fashion mind you!

Maybe my problem is the same I have with all art. I dislike bad art. Poor copies are the heart of my objection I guess. Hamlet done poorly is still done poorly even though it is word for word.

And to your point poorly done original anything is no better simply for it's originality. [/quote]

I think that the actor who read Hamlet poorly did better than he would have writing his own lines--if he can't act Shakespeare's lines, his writing will probably not be any good either. Predictably not as good as Shakespeare. He still won't be able to act his own lines.

Still, many actors from Olivier to Branagh have performed Hamlet with originality and conviction without changing a word.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Nov 3, 2020 04:58PM)
I am not familiar with the David Copperfield French case but it seems that he copyrighted “Flying” as a play and when Shakespeare wrote his plays, copyright didn’t exist.

Are we confusing things which are and which are not copyrighted with things which are or and which are not technique or presentation?
Message: Posted by: Nikodemus (Nov 15, 2020 07:56AM)
"Trademark" is a completely different concept from copyright. A trademark is (in simple terms) a logo or sometimes a catchphrase.
https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-getting-started/trademark-basics/trademark-patent-or-copyright

Copyright law may be different in the USA than here in the UK. In UK law (as far as I know), every artistic work is automatically protected by copyright law - there is no need to "register".

There are limits to what you can reasonably claim to be your unique artistic creation. Wearing white shirt and black trousers would be nonsense if taken in isolation. But if you took a photo of Copperfied wearing a certain outfit, in a certain pose, with a certain background, these things together could conceivably be considered to create a distinct artistic impression. So he might have a case if the whole lot was replicated. Which I think is what the French guy did?
But NOT against every magician who walks onto the stage in a white shirt and black trousers! And also he could not claim copyright over the act of "flying" or "levitating".

It's also worth remembering that many lawyers send out warning letters because they know people will be intimidated. Very often they do NOT take further action if you rebuff their claims.
(In the UK I am pretty sure you could complain to a lawyer's professional body if they threatened to bankrupt you even though they had no valid case. That would be considered an abuse of the legal process. Of course it happens in reality - but they would be foolish to put it in writing. Also it would be terrible publicity!)


I am not 100% sure of this, but I believe Methods are not copyright (because they are not visible). They could in theory by patented - but it is prohibitively expensive.
The best pragmatic protection for methods has traditionally been secrecy.
Nowadays with information so easy shared (eg free YouTube tutorials), the best strategy seems to be to publish (ie sell) your material before someone else exposes it.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Nov 15, 2020 01:29PM)
Best to copyright one's script me thinks.