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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The November 2005 entrée: Al Schneider » » Happy Thanksgiving Al and Everyone! » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Dan Magyari
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Mr. Schneider, thanks for taking your holiday time out to visit with us at the Café. You are going above and beyond for this sir! I know we all appreciate it.

I wonder if you would mind addressing the whole body a bit more. When I look at your work, and granted I've seen only the clips on your web site, as well as the clip on the L&L sampler from Genii, I'm drawn to a very small visual frame. The clips on your site focus on the mid-body area (particularly the hands and arms). This is the same focus in your book ".. on Coins". The interesting thing for me is that even in watching Coins Across I'm drawn to that same mid-body area - is this your intention?

I know that you have written a little on this area I am alluding to in the Body Language section of "... on Coins". Perhaps you could direct me to your other works where you discuss and demonstrate this more fully (especially as it relates to your coin work).

Also, I just wanted to mention how much I value your honesty in letting us know what it took for you to come up with suitable clips to share with us - and then for you not to be statisfied (this is truly the sign of a master - to know that it can always be better). This is so refreshing to hear.

Thank you in advance and Happy Thanksgiving!
Everything you do -- everything -- has your signature on it. Regardless of whether you intend it that way or not. And that's how people perceive you.-George Ledo
Al Schneider
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This is a good question and the answer is quite complex.
I have not covered it much elsewhere other than saying the performer should act in a way that is clear to the audience.

There is a technical problem to address with the issue. If my face and lower body is shown along with any complexities in the background that would include, the complexity of the entire picture goes up. This means that the algorithim that compresses the video images has more to compress. The less that changes from frame to frame means the video clip can be clearer and load faster. If you watch full stage performances you will notice that the entire video can be blurred. If just a small part of the picture changes from frame to frame the picture can be much clearer. The same is true of the camera is very close to the hands so the hands fill the frame. Since the entire picture is changing from frame to frame, the overall clip is bluryer (if that is a word?)

Where people get into real trouble with this is when they zoom in and out on things. During a zoom the entire frame is changing from frame to frame. This is very costly in terms of cost of space and time.

Beyong those technical reasons there are clarity issues. I wish the audience to focus on the magic and see the coins as big objects, not little white spots on the screen. I have always been told that ones face should be on the screen with the performance. When that happens the props become very small. Also the camera moves to keep track of peoples heads and where the motion is. Today I was over at Frank's house for Thanksgiving. We watched some clips fromt he Greatest Magicians in the World. For me watching the close up guys was difficult. The pros are obsessed with keeping peoples faces in the shots and making sure the chest of the pretty women in the sceenes are on camera. The result is that the point of view is never on the object of the presentation. Sure they have some close up, but only for a moment. Then the frame gets big and the switches to here then on someone in the audience. It might be good cinematography but for magic it sucks.

But you notice even when there is a full body shot and the camera is still, you are drawn to the middle area. Here is the reason for that.

Our eyes do not gather the whole picture before us in one shot. Actually our eyes see only a part of the picture before us. To get the whole picture, our eyes dart around getting snippits of the entire scene before us. Then our mings assembles those parts and builds an entire picture in front of us. Thus our eyes do the same thing a camera does. It only reshoots those things in the frame that have changed. Thus, I attempt to keep everything above my chest still and everything below my wais still. Then the eyes of the audience are constantly recording the area where the magic is happening. The result is that the props the audience is to track appears much larger to them. If their eyes must dart all over the frame in front of the face, the eyes would need to gather all of that information and reassemble in in the brain. This causes the spectator to see the props as being quiten small to compared to the performer.

This is strange. The image before the spectator is never changing. If the only thing that changes is one location on the table the specatators feel the props loom quite large before them. If everything before them is changing, the props appear quite small before them.

Well that is the philosophy. I cannot reference this for you as it is my observation. You cah judge for youself if it works as you watch the DVD's. All of this is an effort to make it comfortable for the audience to watch what is going on. I kind of got this from watching the people I admire doing magic. Karrell Fox, Jay Marshall and Paul Howard Bahman exemplify this. The stood very still when they performed and kept the attention of the audience on the props in their hands.

Bear in mind that they stood on a full stage. But also bear in mind that they were not dwarfed by the stage. They filled it even though they were the only on on it. I believed they did this by remaining still and focusing the attention of the audience on one spot.

Those are my theories.
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Dan Magyari
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Thank you for your detailed answer.

So, if I understand you correctly these are the same considerations you have with your audience during live performances as well? And, as in your examples of Messrs. Fox, Marshall and Bahman, even though they stood alone on a full stage, they had the ability to focus the audience's attention in a way that diminished the actual size of the stage and made them "larger than life" or their presence filled the stage (sorry I may not be articulating my questions very well)?

Does this focus (kime) have anything to do with your practice of karate and its application to your magic?
Everything you do -- everything -- has your signature on it. Regardless of whether you intend it that way or not. And that's how people perceive you.-George Ledo
Al Schneider
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Dan Magyari

"So, if I understand you correctly these are the same considerations you have with your audience during live performances as well?"

This is correct.

This process was brought home to me very clearly when I watched a close-up performance of Don Alan. He performed for an audience of about 75 people. The seating was tiered or the situation in which each seat going toward the back of the room was higher than the seat in front like bleachers. I was in the back of all this. Looking back in my memory of the show, I remember his props looming large in my minds eye. Mr. Alan rarely looked at the audience. Occasionally he would glance at the audience. But the glance was very quick and did not focus on anyone. When he completed his act, took his bow and walked away from the table it was as if the room suddenly shrank. The spot where he worked suddenly became very small. That incident created a big impact on me.


"Does this focus (kime) have anything to do with your practice of karate and its application to your magic?"

No, it does not.
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Dan Magyari
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San Francisco, CA
173 Posts

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Thank you Mr. Schneider, you are giving us lot's to think about. It's time to reread your works, now that a number of new colors have been added to the mix. Also, I hope you make your way out to the West Coast sometime - I would love to take your class or get some lessons.

Best!
Everything you do -- everything -- has your signature on it. Regardless of whether you intend it that way or not. And that's how people perceive you.-George Ledo
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