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kipling100
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Hi, I put together a quick demo for my card manipulation and would like some feedback if possible.

Link:
http://www.putfile.com/media.php?n=magic-demo

It's not a routine, but just some sequences I've been working on.

Thanks for your help,
Kipling
stuartmagic
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Hi Kipling,

I think that what you have put together is excellent your actual technique with the cards is spot on . It would have been a lot better though if you had filmed it against a plain background and maybe not in a T shirt . I know that it is only a demo but it would have looked much better. One bit of advice if you don't mind and this applied to me when I was starting with manips. Try not to look at your hands all the time , and smile !. Also the main point I noticed is that you almost had your back to the camera. You should be face on with the manips being done at the side or a slight angle as those sitting on the right of you would just be looking at your back all the time. Keep up the good work and maybe have another go at it . Overall though as I said at the beginning your manipulation technique is spot on it is the presentation that needs a bit of work.

All the best.

Stuart.
peter teagle
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Nice!

I thought your perfect productions were great!

How long have you been doing manipulation? I only ask because I've been doing it for a year but I'm not at your level, yet!!

peter
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the application of technique is art."


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b-gann
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I thought it was quite nice I agree though with your back was to the camera, but as far as the actual manip it was good. how long have you been doing manip w/ cards.
magic4u02
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I just watched your video and thank you for posting it there for us. I greatly appreciate your determination to learn the moves and skills involved in card manipulation. Let me try and go over a few things I saw in your demo video in hopes that it might be helpful to you.

- A common pitfall for all manipulators, and one I also fight myself on is the idea that we tend to do our manipulations in a 90% angle format. By this I mean our body and back is 90 degrees from the audience. This is a problem becuase you tend to block out the entire right side of your audience. I noticed you battled this yourself often in your demo. It is a common pitfall and certainly not a hard one to fix if you are conscious of it.

The best advice to overcome this is to keep your body and back at a 45 degree angle at all times. Move your arm a but forward so that you are opening up your viewing angles and site lines for your audience. This should help.

- You have killer skills and it shows. You have demonstrated you know the moves very well. However there are a few thinsg I must point out that weree seen but are commom pitfalls that can be overcome. The manipulator tends to want to do 2 things a lot in a card act

1) you want to constantly show your hand back and forth and empty.. or what we foten call hand whiping. We all tend to do this too much to prove the hand is empty. We really do not need to do it too much to prove to the audience that the hands are empty. Doing it too much becomes overkill.

2) We learn so many awesome moves that we want to use every single one of them in an act. We start to do the manipulations for ourselves and not for the audience. This is also easy habit to find yourself in. In a lot of ways, less is more. Do not feel you need to show every move to an audience,. The key is that your entertaining them.

- Keep in mind that to an audience, the card vanishes and the card appears. Anything more then this can become redundant fast. This means a card manipulation act should consist of skill (of course) but more importantly the use of good tranistional effects and layers to add to the act to let the audience enjoy the manipulations even more.

- Another thing I noticed was the common mistake of doing the moves way way too fast. You really need to slow yourself down. I know it is hard when the music is playing and the adrenalin is pumping. However, do the moves much much slower and the audience will be given proper time to see them and enjoy them and it makes for better entertainment. The great cardini as well as Channing Pollack did card ,manipulations very slow and methodical. The moves were slow for a reason and therefor gave the audience a chance to really see what was going on and enjoy the vanishes.

- Another key element to work on is to place in pauses in your routine. You are not giving the audience enough time to react to what they just saw. I do what is called a 3 second mind count. After a sequence, I will smile and hold the pose for the audience while I count 3 seconds in my head. This is a perfect que for the audience to know when to applaude.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you. You certainly have great skill and have what it takes. Now it is time to take those awesome skills and put them into an act that entertains at the best level possible.

Kyle
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kipling100
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Wow, thanks everyone for the advice. I didn't expect to get such detailed responses, and I really appreciate it (this forum is great). Kyle -- you're absolutely right. I need to keep it simple and entertaining. I have a few videos of Cardini, Pollock, and Nielson. Cardini blows me away with moves I already know (I think?!).

One question for you guys...about standing at the 45 degree angle. I learned from watching Jeff McBride's set, and although he does mention not turning your back to the audience in his videos, I do notice several sequences in which he also turns 90 to do a lot of 2 hand productions. I just can't seem to get the same hand positioning unless I turn 90, and alhtough I can compensate by moving my left hand closer to my body, I just don't like how it looks. (I don't know if I'm making sense here).

Peter, I've been doing card manipulations for about 6-7 years on and off. it's fun isn't it?

Thanks again for your help...

Kipling
magic4u02
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Kipling,

Not a problem at all. I hope some of my review and suggestions were of help to you. You certainly have great ability and your skill is very far along. I can see that you put a lot of effort into learning them.

Now you just need to take those moves and place them into an act that gives your audience the best of you as you can give them. An act that is not just skill alone, but leaves them entertained. It looks like you are well on your way to getting to that point.

You can use your moves and some of them are killer I must say. The idea though is to slow down the moves you are doing, put in timed pauses when you get done a sequence and do not feel like you have to show every move in your repitoire. Keep iy enytertaining and use just the moves you need to do in order to keep the enetratinment value for the act.

As far as the body positioning and language, it is really something that you must video tape yourself doing and watch. I made the bad mistake of practicing in front of a mirror too much. I realized that when the mirror was away from me, I suddenyl froze because I became too dependant on it.

Video makes it easier for you to see what you are doing right and what is wrong. I think moving your body to a 45 degree angle for most of your moves, will help your site lines for your audience better. Yes, some of the moves may require you to move your body more to a 90 degree angle.

However, if you do do this, you can remedy the problem by not combining too many of these 90 degree angle moves back to back. If you feel you need to for a sequence, then turn your body to the other side for the next sequence. In this fashion you are addressing both siudes of the audience and showing them you want them all to see what you are doing. It works quite well and may solve some of your problems.

May I ask you a tough question? Your moves are killer and I really admire your hard work. You do some great stuff. Now what do you want and expect to do with what you have learned? Where do you want to take your card manipulation skills? I ask because I think you have great skill that can and should be shared with others.

Kyle
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kregg
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Kipling,
All you need to to is open out to the audience. Like Neil Foster once said, "You're not paying to watch the show kid."

Well done,
Kregg
POOF!
GrahamFishman
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The moves are there all you need to do now is slow it down. somthing that I was told that helps me a lot is to do the moves so that you think they are to slow. kyle had a very valid point that it is "overkill" to do to much hand washing. even I my act I do not do a single piviot because you should not have to prove that fact that your hands are empty. simple showing the palm is enough (natural and relaxed of course)

hope this helps
graham fishman


ps. interact with your audience more
magic4u02
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All good points here. I think every manipulator fights with going too fast. I know I still make a conscious effort to slow my maniplation sequences down and I tell myself that everytime I hit the stage to perform them. I even go as far as having signs in my case to remind myself to take my time and to add in the pauses I need to have in the routine. It comes with time and practice but going slower will have it rewards.

I would love to hear where you want to take your maniplative skills next and what are your goals for them. You have great skill and it would be awesome to see them come together in a nice act if that is your intentions.

Kyle
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kregg
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Music is a great tool for magicians. That said, dissect your act like a musical arrangement. Speed (time signature) is the enemy to a score when that is all there is to the piece. As relentless as a song like Flight of the Bumble Bee is, the use of eighth notes instead of sixteenths or thirty-seconds builds tension and drama. Naturally, there a other factor's like key signatures, tempo changes and brief moments of silence.
Try not to think of speed as the enemy, instead, use it as a weapon.
POOF!
magic4u02
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Certainly one needs to learn to pace themsleves in any manipulative act. You can use pacing to build suspense and intrigue into an act or to build up to a finally. However, I see too many manipulators just going way to fast from the start and their entire acts are so fast paced with the moves, that the audience really has no time to enjoy them or to applaude what they are seeing. You need to pace the act to give them that time.

Kyle
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Sam Tabar
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Hi kipling,
I'll go straight to the point.
- First, you tend to be too much at a 90 degree angle as kyle said. Try to remedy this by adding some body english to your manipulations. Imagine you're leaning on a wall so that all of your audience in front can see the productions and not just the other half of them.
- Second, you must pace your productions. Give it a pause after every production. People can't take all of that stimulus of seeing cards/fans produced one after the other. Give them time to appreciate what they have seen. Space out one production after the other so that it won't seem like you're just producing cards from the back of your hand. Make the audience believe that the card are plucked out of thin air.
- And lastly don't keep staring at your hands. This will give the impression that something is gonna happen there at that precise moment that you look at your somewhat empty hands. That's what I call "unconscious handwashing". By looking at your hands, you kind of telling you audience, "look at my empty hands produce a fan of cards". Resist the tempation to look at your hands.
"Knowledge comes from finding the answers, but understanding what the answers mean is what brings wisdom." - Anonymous
Kent Wong
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Kipling,

First of all, I think your technical skills are fantastic! I only dream of ever becoming as good as you are. The hours an hours of practice that you must have put in really show.

Now, you have to realize that I'm not a card manipulator. I do some ball manipulation and a little work with coins, but my hands have never felt confident manipulating a deck of cards. So, if you don't mind, I'll apply a little of my other experiences to your video. Here are some of my comments:

1. Music - in a silent manipulation routine, the right music is essential. As many people have suggested, it can help with the pacing of your manipulations and prevent you from thinking of the moves themselves. Instead, your mind and body get into the rhythm of the music and you literally go through the motions.

Music will also set a proper mood for the magic to happen. It can inspire emotions in both the performer and the spectator. Decide what you want to say and how the spectators should feel - then look for the music that can help convey that message and those emotions.

2. Meaning - this is just my personal quirk, so take it for what it's worth. I have always believed that magic should have meaning. This should also apply to manipulation routines. For instance, if you take a look at Cardini and his skill with cigarette manipulations, things always seemed to happen for a reason. Cardini himself never seemed to understand the reason himself, but the reason for the magic was clearly conveyed to the audience.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that magic should be more than a guy on stage doing neat things, all the while suggesting how great he is. So, think about how you are going to introduce the routine to your audience.

For instance, if this is going to be in the middle of a show, suggest that you would now like to do a card trick. Pretend to look for your deck of cards and then realize that you don't have one on you. Appear to get a brilliant idea as the music starts ...

Just a few thoughts.
Kent
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kipling100
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Thanks for all the comments! I'm really learning a lot from everyone's advice.

I have a specific question about music, for those who mentioned it in their posts. So you usually pick the song first and then create the routine around it, right? Also, I heard once that you should avoid music with lyrics. What do you guys think about that?

Brian -- thanks, I'll watch out where I'm looking from now on. I'm guessing it's probably better to look at my hands after the production?

I'm definitely going to work on my pacing and suspense.

Thanks again!
Kent Wong
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When I developed my multiplying balls routine, I envisioned the theme and mood I wanted to convey. Then I looked and looked for music that would dovetail with that theme and mood. I didn't care if the song had lyrics so long as the lyrics worked with the routine.

Once that was done, I decided which moves to incorporate into the routine, looking at the lead-in, the routine itself, and the finish. This approach ensured that I had a reason for the routine and that every move was properly motivated by that theme.

To be quite honest, I don't know if this was the "right" way to develop a routine like this. All I know is that it worked O.K. for me.

Kent
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Farrell
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There is no right or wrong way to develop a routine. that's why it's art.
magic4u02
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Let me post an article I wrote a while back on creativity for the manipulator. It may shed some light on this topic and give others some ideas on how to add and give your audiences soemthing more. This is just food for thought.

How To Put Creativity Back Into Your Act!!

I decided to write this article out of numerous requests I have received from many magicians and manipulators on the subject of putting an act together. How do you keep it creative and different and why is it not the best to just do an act of pure skill alone.

My first question to anyone putting an act together may seem a bit strange or sound like I am being too harsh, but read on and I think you will see what I am referring to. Some of these tips relate to manipulative magic, but the tips can be used for any type of an act.

My big question to you is: WHY!!!!!

I told you that it may seem a bit strange, but let me go on now to tell you about what I am referring to.

To a magician, we are fascinated with cards and flourishes and vanishes and anything related to manipulation. It amazes us by the technique and the method and skill involved in doing the executions of the routines. This alone keeps us striving to learn more and peaks our interest and curiosity.

However, this is often NOT the case with a lay audience. A lay audience does not see manipulative magic in the same way we do. They do not understand the techniques and skills involved and nor should they if what we are doing is supposed to be magical.

With this in mind, the audience often will say to themselves... "WHY". Why is this magician doing the same thing over and over again.

Why? Because the magician knows he is doing different vanishes and each one is slightly unique. However the audience only knows that the card vanishes, the card returned and now your doing it again.

This is why an act of manipulation is very hard to do well if your doing it for 7-8 mins in a normal act time. You do not want your audience ever going "Why" at any time in the routine.

So how do you work around this problem of boring your audience to tears? Well that is where research and creativity comes into the picture.

It gets back to the point that in a manipulative act you must give the audience "more". It is not good enough to simply show an 8 minute act of pure skill alone doing moves that appear the same to any audience.

So how do you give your audience more? Well you can give them more through the use of themes, character, style, pacing, transition effects and emotional response to just name a few.

Let me go on to talk very briefly about each of these I just mentioned. Each could be an article all in itself but I will just give you my tips on each one for now in hopes you can grasps what I am referring to.

- Themes: You can give more to your audience in any manipulative act if you simply add in a theme to the act you are doing. This can be a generalized theme in regards to the objects all relating that you are manipulating, or the act itself can be themed around a storyline. In this way you are performing a small 8 min play that just so happens to have magic in it. The audience can relate to the themed objects or the story and get more involved with your act and with you.

- Character: Every act you do should have a strong character present on stage. The audience needs to be able to connect with this character. If you can connect the audience with you, then they become more attached to you and can relate to what you are doing on stage. Ask yourself if your character is suave, comical, athletic, hip, sad, down on his luck. Each of these can become a strong character that can be conveyed in your stage movement and even your music.

- Style: With style, I mean the way you move on stage and the way you conduct and hold yourself throughout the act. It is something that must be learned over time. It is those little things that make a huge difference to an audience liking you or not. It can be the way you pause at the right moment and look at the audience and wink right before a big production. It could be the way you move and look and smile at the audience as if saying thank you without moving your mouth at all.

- Pacing: The way you pace and time your act can make a world of difference to an audience. In many manipulative acts, the audience is being barraged with too much visual input. They can not follow it all the time and so start shutting themselves down from even watching what it is you are doing. You must pace your act and place in it pauses that give the audience a chance to catch up, breathe a bit and give them a chance to applaude you before going into the next sequence.

- Transition effects: These are the simple things you can place into your act that changes it up a bit and ads so called "spice" to the act. It gives your audience something more to watch and breaks up the act from being too repetitive. For example: You could be doing a billiard ball act. You do a few vanishes and produce the ball. The ball gets tossed up and as you catch it it turns into a white silk. You do a knots of silk effect and the not becomes the ball again. In this way the ball to silk becomes a transition effect that gives your audience something more to be interested in.

- Emotional Response: This is a HUGE one and can work so wonderful if done well. If done right it can make your audience connect with you long after you have left the stage. It is causing an emotional response in your audiences by allowing them to connect and relate to your character and the predicament presented on the stage. It can also work closely in with the theme you are presenting.

Every person in your audience has experienced something in common. What is common to us all is emotions. We have all felt fear, love, confusion and happiness. These are common to every person know matter who you are performing for.

So if you can connect with them on one or more of these emotions, you can get that audience member to really relate to you because they are remembering a similar situation when they too had that exact same emotion or situation happen to them. they can relate.

For example, your manipulative act could be all about this guy at night who is just trying to reach a bus to get home. It is late and he misses his bus and the entire world seems to be passing him buy. He sits on a bench to wait for the next bus and turns on his radio. He drifts off to sleep only to awake moments later. He realizes that magic starts happening to him even though he does not know exactly why it is. Through out the act the magic that happens to him causes him to smile and to realize that life is full of wonder even if we may not always see it.

Now this is just a very vague example but you can see how the entire act could be a manipulative routine but now you are relating to them a story of a very well defined character with a well defined theme. You give them an emotional response to the act because most can relate to being in a similar situation in their own life. In this way they relate better to what you are doing on stage.

Now these ideas are not meant to be the bible for a great act by any means. They are simply some of my own understandings on what I have experienced that has really worked not only for myself but to other acts that have really "made it."

They are meant only to be reviewed and given some thought to. Take even one thing from them and I think you will see your act reaching your audiences in a whole different light.

So I simply ask you to ask yourself. WHY?!

Sincerely,
Kyle Peron
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Bill Hegbli
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I believe much has been said about your skill. The only thing I can see is your positioning as stated above. Many beginning manipulators make the same mistake of wanting to view the cards being produced from the standpoint of the spectators.

The proper position is that you should be able to see the cards in your right hand when back palmed. This will allow the audience member on the left to view the card productions. It is very uncomfortable at 1st, but with time and rehearsal you will get use to the positioning.

Arm swing from one single card production to another is more distracting then magical. I would suggest you produce several in one position before changing position to the next.

Look at your audience or in this case the camera more. Do not watch your productions until they are produced. To say it another way, your audience should not see more of the back of your head then your smiling face.

Produce you last fan with conviction. This will announce that it is the finale, that is if you do not have more or something else you will use as a finale.

If you study the videos of the Masters, watch there stage positioning and how they stand and relate to the audience.

Good work and keep it up, you are on your way.
magic4u02
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Great advice. Another thing to mention is to get out of the habit of performing and practicing infront of a mirror. I used to do that early on and then I realized that 1) you become to dependant on looking at yourself in the miror and 2) the mirror gives a reverse image of what really is being seen. I use a video camera and have it set up in my rehearsal area. It is a great tool and you can film from different angles as well.

Kyle
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