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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Request input on modifying Kurotsuke and/or Gauci's Body Language Effect (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jlevey
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Bear with me, gang... I am trying to work something through and I need your constructive and thoughtful input on something that may be quite obvious to other memebrs, but is not so obvious to me...

In his thoughtfully written Inner Thoughts post dated Oct. 14th, 2003, Fellow member John Clarkson shares the fact that he performs a variation of Gauci's Body Language effect, by incorporating 11 Marbles (or balls) instead of only the 5 that come with the original Gauci BL kit.

I have performed the Gaucie effect with the 5 marbles and find that it generates a very positive audience response (they are entertained, baffled and --yes, even amazed). Still, the last time I performed this there was a mathematician in the group who quickly pointed out that the odds of guessing who does "not' have the black ball on the first try is simply 20 percent, which is impressive, but not a miracle. Then as the performer progressively eliminates the remaining 3 white balls, the odd move more and more in his/her favor each time. By the time the performer has whittled it down to two volunteers, one with a white ball concealed in their hand and the other with the sought after black ball, the odds are up to 50/50 chance of "guessing", so the miracle impact factor seems to be progressively reduced to pure "chance" at this final phase. Of course, admittedly, the performer's ability to tell a entertaining story that is filled with drama,will make this effect a winner (and memorable)with any audience. But is it "amazing"? Is it incredible? Not necessarily with those odds described above. I therefore am beginning to wonder if John Clarkson's idea of working with a greater number of marbles that the requisite 5, is the best solution when a performer wishes to amp up the odds against him/her divining which volunteer "doesn't" have the black marble. Of course, the effect still becomes progressively less of a miracle as the performer eliminates one after the other volunteer that holds the white marble, in a way so that when the performer is finally down to the last two, he/she still is left with a 50/50 chance of determining who has the white and who has the black.

So, in my mind, the biggest miracle would be to have 11 volunteers (or 13 for that matter, with the 13th being the unlucky one with the black marble), each holding a marble with only one having the black marble, then on the very first try --after walking in front of each and every volunteer and staring them down and/or reading their body language, minds, etc., the performer slowly (and very dramatically) walks in front of one of the 13 volunteers that is holding there outstretched fist with the marble hidden inside and (again dramatically, in a loud voice --or what ever voice suite the performer's particular style and person) announces confidently (or accusingly)... "YOU" have the black marble --open your hand! Upon opening their hand the black marble is seen by the entire audience in one quick and impactful moment. The other volunteers can now verify that they ,in fact, hold a white marble. End of the routine.

Perhaps I am way off base with this and should stick to the traditional five marbles (with only one of these five being the black one) and reveal the black one last --in Max Maven's dramatic style of looking at one volunteer as if he is about to accuse them of having the black marble, then swirling around to the other volunteer, to proclaim that"they" in fact have the Black and the other the white! (or something to that effect).

In addition, even if the drama is increased by making the odds of determining the black marble on the first try (1 out of 13! ... what are the percentages?), it is Loooooong to hand out 13 marbles, then walk in front of 13 different volunteers to eye them over (head to toe) to read their body language (after all this is the name of this effect! , before moving on to the next volunteer, and onto the next volunteer and onto the next... you get the idea --it's downright long!

Thoughts, insights, suggestions, comments --

Jonathan
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dr z
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Jlevey your math friend might not know math so good.....???? the odds of 5 "guesses" in a row is not 50%..... maybe I don't understand what you mean????
jlevey
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Dear Dr. Z... you are right, my math is terrible, so I welcome those who have a good grasp of the math to enlighten me and teach me the proper odds and percentages of hits and misses for this great effect.

Jonathan
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Mr. Mindbender
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You moved this thread while I was replying, so here's my repeat reply!

___________________________


Leave it to a math guy to spoil all the fun!

I'm not a big math guy myself, but I do know that you can make numbers tell many different stories. For example, although he's right that your last choice is 50/50 -- what are the odds of you getting the entire sequence correct. On the first marble it is 20%, the next is 25%, the third is 33%, and the fourth is 50%. Again, not a number cruncher, but isn't the odds of getting all four perfectly correct a 1 in 120? (5x4x3x2)

I could be wrong, but think that's about right.

But as you pointed out, it's not as much about the numbers as it is the presentation. In fact, you could talk about the odds getting easier as you go along, but at the same time, getting harder to be right every single step of the way -- but the bottom line is, right now, at this moment, the odds are actually 100% because you just saw spectator #1 exhibit the tell tale sign of lying, he licked his lips (or whatever you want to say) and now you're absolutely, 100% positive that he's the one holding the black marble!

Take your bow (and your marble back).
jlevey
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Mr. Mindbender thoguhtfully wrote...

"...But as you pointed out, it's not as much about the numbers as it is the presentation. In fact, you could talk about the odds getting easier as you go along, but at the same time, getting harder to be right every single step of the way -- but the bottom line is, right now, at this moment, the odds are actually 100% because you just saw spectator #1 exhibit the tell tale sign of lying, he licked his lips (or whatever you want to say) and now you're absolutely, 100% positive that he's the one holding the black marble!

Take your bow (and your marble back)."
-----------------------------
Jonathan responded by saying...

"...All great points, Mr. Mindbender.

But from what I recall, you leave the black for last to uncover --well sort of simultaneously if yo take Max Maven's great (and dramatic) approach of staring at one of the last two volunteers as if you are about to accuse them of holding the black, then swinging round in a flash to face the other volunteer and confidently accuse him of having the black and back to the other who has "the white... or something like that. Or, Mr. Mind Bender, do you affirm your decision, that the person holding the black marble is that person earlier on in the sequence?

Please describe the sequence to your routine, if yo are comfortable doing so.

Many thanks."

Jonathan
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Mr. Mindbender
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I actually do this a few different ways, depending on the situation (seemingly impromptu, a parlor, larger gathering/stage), but in each situation, I know from the beginning who has the desired object.
jlevey
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Can you be more specific, Mr. Mindbender, as to when you go for the black marble and in which situation (and perhaps why?).

Also, as mentioned above in my initial posting, I am very interested to have input on the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating more than 5 marbles (ie. 11 or even 13), into the BL presentation.

As well, are there any mathematicians (or actuaries) out there in Magic-Cafe-Land that can shed more light on the numbers, odds, and percentages of "getting it right" --say in a 5 marble routine versus a ten marble routine (twice the percentages?)

Is Mindbender right in his calculations (which he admits being uncertain of), that in a group of 5 marbles...

"...the odds of you getting the entire sequence correct. On the first marble it is 20%, the next is 25%, the third is 33%, and the fourth is 50%. Again, not a number cruncher, but isn't the odds of getting all four perfectly correct a 1 in 120? (5x4x3x2)"
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Caliban
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Quote:
On 2010-02-12 22:36, jlevey wrote:
I performed this there was a mathematician in the group who quickly pointed out that the odds of guessing who does "not' have the black ball on the first try is simply 20 percent, which is impressive, but not a miracle. Then as the performer progressively eliminates the remaining 3 white balls, the odd move more and more in his/her favor each time. By the time the performer has whittled it down to two volunteers, one with a white ball concealed in their hand and the other with the sought after black ball, the odds are up to 50/50 chance of "guessing", so the miracle impact factor seems to be progressively reduced to pure "chance" at this final phase.


The maths is wrong there. Those figures are the chances of you being wrong - not the chances of you being correct. The odds of guessing who does NOT have the black ball on the first attempt are actually 80% - there are 4 chances of getting it right and only 1 chance of getting it wrong. On the second attempt the odds are 75% in your favour, on the third attempt 66.66666% in your favour, and on the final attempt it's 50/50. So it does get progressively more difficult as you go along - rather than easier. But the odds are always either in favour of you being correct or 50/50. It's only the with culminative effect of all your guesses combined that the odds are against you.

The combined odds of eliminating all the white balls and leaving just the black one are only 1 in 5 (20%) - exactly the same odds as trying to find the black ball and getting it right on the first attempt. Theatrically, however, it does seem more impressive to correctly eliminate the white balls one at a time than to simply locate the black one - even though the odds are exactly the same.

An effect with a 1 in 5 probability of being correct is not over impressive, which makes it quite a difficult routine to present effectively. The procedure is too long to repeat it several times, so you need to find a reason for the audience to care about something that's going to be correct 20% of the time just by chance.
IAIN
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I think, maths aside, its a question of making the journey seem interesting and "impossible",rather than the actual maths of it all...its an effect where it is a more visual display of whatever internal process you sharing with the audience, in how you achieve what you do...

are you reading their thoughts?
body language?
something else?

take the audience through that process with you, show them, share with them...and they'll forget about the "chances"...
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Caliban
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I totally agree with Iain.

For those interested in maths, though ... Mindbender's odds of 1 in 120 are what the odds would be if the white balls were numbered from 1 to 4 and you had to, not only find all the white balls, but locate them in correct numerical order!

If it doesn't matter what order the white balls are found in - the overall odds go down to 1 in 5.
jlevey
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Very insightful (and helpful) comments indeed. Thanks.

Of course, I full agree with Ian's and Caliban's perspective --that the impact of this effect is virtually all in the journey. And a fun and amazing journey it can be when the story, audience interactions and rhythms/timings/timber of the performers voice, and of course his/her facial/body expressions of the actual presentation itself are well done.

Still thanks for putting the math into perspective. I agree, not calling attention to the odds is the right way to go --it's just that with some audiences there may be a member that attempts to shout it out and enlighten the audience in an attempt to reduce the impact factor of this effect. Still, if the performer is in control, has engaged the audience effectively (every single member), and they have (as Ian to aptly put it) joined him on his journey, not a peep of dismay nor of challenge should come form any audience members --since, they too are swept up in the moment of fun and drama.

It may also help if the presenter himself, convinces himself in his very own mind that the odds of finding the black marble are a million to one. He doesn't of course try to fool the audience into believe this non-sense, but the fact that he is convinced the odds are heavily stacked against him may well be one way to add to the verbal and visual drama of his whole presentation. Hope this makes sense --though many of you out their might feel this approach is wrong, or unnecessary. I still find it tends to work for me --well perhaps it did until my last show when that one audience member pointed out the odds were "not" so spectacular Smile

Of course, more comments and insights are welcome at this point, as well I would be interested to hear from any fellow members that "do" use more than five marbles in their presenting of this potentially GREAT effect.

Jonathan
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MagicbyCarlo
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It cracks me up that one person can throw us into such a spin. it has happened to me on an occasion or two.
Let's face a fact regarding this effect isn't a miracle by itself, but in the context of a series of demonstrations it's a strong piece (with proper presentation). This is why presentation and placement of an effect in a set is so important. For example if you do Kurotsuke after MOABT or a good card calling routine, it doesn't have punch. Also the one person who claims it's not impressive because of the odds, hasn't considered the fact that you perform this regularly and get it right EVERY time. So the weakness regarding the odds must be addressed is in the presentation without drawing attention directly to the odds. Consider as well that 1 in 5 odds aren't positive depending on the context. If you only had a 1 in 5 chance of surviving a situation with little or no reward, would you be willing to embark on that situation?
If you look at Richard Osterlind's "Bank Night" presentation, he mentions that he has never lost the game (or something to that effect). That takes the odds to a much higher level.
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jlevey
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...well said, Carlo. Many thanks.


Personally, I have found the input offered here on this thread to be most helpful.

Again, much may be obvious to most of you, but not all.

More comments, insights, perspective and discussion on this topic are invited.
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Perform it twice and the possibilty shrinks to 20% X 20% = 4%...
Caliban
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Quote:
On 2010-02-13 12:04, MagicbyCarlo wrote:
Consider as well that 1 in 5 odds aren't positive depending on the context. If you only had a 1 in 5 chance of surviving a situation with little or no reward, would you be willing to embark on that situation?
If you look at Richard Osterlind's "Bank Night" presentation, he mentions that he has never lost the game (or something to that effect). That takes the odds to a much higher level.


I think that hits on the big problem with this effect. Unlike Bank Night, Russian Roulette, or any of the current "spike hidden under a bag" routines - the black ball effect has no consequences for getting it wrong. Those other routines have similar odds, but because there are consequences for failure, the audience knows that you can't afford to fail 4/5 times and must get it right every time. They also have a reason to care whether you get it right this time or not. With the ball effect, you really could just take a guess and it wouldn't matter too much if you were wrong.

A 1 in 5 effect with nothing at stake can easily fall flat. It's not naturally interesting in itself - it requires a skilled performer to make it interesting by adding an engaging premise.
jlevey
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Great points, insights, discussion...

Keep it going!


Jonathan
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MagicbyCarlo
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Quote:
On 2010-02-13 12:44, Caliban wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-02-13 12:04, MagicbyCarlo wrote:
Consider as well that 1 in 5 odds aren't positive depending on the context. If you only had a 1 in 5 chance of surviving a situation with little or no reward, would you be willing to embark on that situation?
If you look at Richard Osterlind's "Bank Night" presentation, he mentions that he has never lost the game (or something to that effect). That takes the odds to a much higher level.


I think that hits on the big problem with this effect. Unlike Bank Night, Russian Roulette, or any of the current "spike hidden under a bag" routines - the black ball effect has no consequences for getting it wrong. Those other routines have similar odds, but because there are consequences for failure, the audience knows that you can't afford to fail 4/5 times and must get it right every time. They also have a reason to care whether you get it right this time or not. With the ball effect, you really could just take a guess and it wouldn't matter too much if you were wrong.

A 1 in 5 effect with nothing at stake can easily fall flat. It's not naturally interesting in itself - it requires a skilled performer to make it interesting by adding an engaging premise.

I don't think it's a "big" problem. As premise, context and presentation are important to every effect.

From the standpoint that for many of us the first experience with this effect was Max Maven's "Kurotsuke"; a presentation and premise based on a game played in the royal court of Japan. I think we have to try and understand why THIS effect appealed to us? Was it method? If so, why do people move away from the original "no tech" version? Or was it the premise? If you think about it: What was at risk for Mr. Maven? (read on)

To paraphrase something Whit Hayden wrote in "Chicago Surprise": We should always initially learn and present an effect exactly as the creator of the effect did. It helps us understand the elements that make the effect successful.

My own presentation incorporates my real life experience in law enforcement. It's about separating the innocent from the guilty; a valuable skill in the detection and investigation of crime. I think everyone needs to find THAT personal element after understanding the dynamics of the effect.

In terms of risk, the risk will be what you lead the audience to believe. Like Mr. Maven, it could be your reputation as a mind reader/performer which is at risk if you fail. You can imply this without out right stating it. If you use a story, the character could have had their life depend on discovering who held the black ball. Yes, the bare bones effect needs some drama, but I don't think it's a big obstacle to overcome.
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Just look at a beatiful routine from John Riggs that I had the priviledge to watch before it was published for the mass...

It's a coin toss?... It's a fifty / fifty gamble?...

Maybe it is, but how many of us would gamble our lives (for real) if you knew you had 1 in 2 possibilities to get killed?

Back to John's routine... In his case, the script, and the ideas he uses to evoke the proper emotions are what sells the whole thing.
Then you'll rise right before my eyes, on wings that fill the sky, like a phoenix rising!
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Quote:
On 2010-02-13 14:31, MagicbyCarlo wrote:
[I don't think it's a "big" problem. As premise, context and presentation are important to every effect.


That's true enough. My point is simply that many effects are naturally interesting in themselves, whereas this one isn't. It has to be made interesting.

With this type of effect, I think much depends on the persona of the performer. I perform a great deal of mentalism professionally, but I also perform magic as well -I don't have a show that's exclusively mentalism. Some would argue that the mentalism I perform is "mental magic" just because of the context - I'm not hiding the fact that I'm a magician when I perform it. I mention this because, I don't think the marble routine works that well as a magic trick. If I'm performing magic, there are far more impressive things I can do than identify which of five marbles is black. This routine is much more effective if there's a pseudo method that the audience believes to be true - and they don't think of it as a trick at all. It's perfectly possible for a magician to achieve that: I can credibly claim that one of the skills a professional magician would learn is how to read body language or tell when someone is lying - but it takes a lot more thought to really make it believable. I suspect that this effect is more ideally suited to those of you who sell yourselves only as mind readers or body language experts, just because the believability of the premise is the biggest factor in making it interesting to watch.
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Hate to say this but it looks to me as though it is the presentation, not the method or the props, that is the problem. If the performer creates the impression that he is simply "guessing" who has the black ball he's missing the point. What he is supposed to be demonstrating that he KNOWS who has the black ball -- a BIG difference. Sounds to me that someone understands the method, but not the premise.
Dick Christian
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