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Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2011-03-22 17:41, kentfgunn wrote:

I think, if you keep a cups and balls routine short; under four minutes, it helps on every level. The sequence I worked out only has three effects. The balls gather in the middle, one ball jumps from cup to cup and then somehow bigger balls magically appear. I firmly believe the different colors enhance the effects and make them easier to follow.



This is actually true for almost any kind of routine, cups and balls, coins -- even illusions. If they get too complicated or if there are too many diversions, then they become difficult to follow and the impact on the audience can easily be lost. In fact, the audience, itself, can be lost. They may become bored or confused and decide to leave.

This is particularly true with story magic. I'm as guilty of this as the next guy. Sometimes, if we get caught up in a story that we are telling, we will forget that the audience may or may not know what the heck we are talking about. One way around this is to have magical things happen during the story -- as happens with Kent's cups and balls routine.

If nothing magical happens for, say, 45 seconds or so, then the audience will begin to fidget and may leave.

Punx had a big problem understanding this. When he wrote his classic -- the Heart of Glass -- he had special music composed for it. The routine lasted almost 15 minutes, with the actual "magic" happening almost 14 minutes into the story. Even though the story was good, it was too long for modern audiences. He never really understood this. Recently, I saw Torsten Pahl, a young German performer, do his edited version of this same routine. It took less than half as long and worked much better than the original.

Kent has done a masterful job of cutting away the excess and leaving the meat and bones. That's one of the things that makes this a great routine.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Andrew Zuber
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Very few people can hold my attention for an extended period of time when performing a single routine, and this is especially true of the cups and balls. Maybe when you've watched about 8 billion versions (90% of which are just slight variations on the Vernon routine) you start to get bored easily.

Master Payne's routine is a notable exception, however. It's pure theater (or theatre, since I'm in England.)
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2011-03-23 19:05, Bill Palmer wrote:

This is actually true for almost any kind of routine, cups and balls, coins -- even illusions. If they get too complicated or if there are too many diversions, then they become difficult to follow and the impact on the audience can easily be lost. In fact, the audience, itself, can be lost. They may become bored or confused and decide to leave.

This is particularly true with story magic. ...

Wasn't this one of the issues with Maskelyne's shows at Egyptian Hall? I seem to remember hearing that special programs were given to the audience to help them sort out the story, characters, etc.
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Bill Palmer
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I've never seen one of his programmes. However, I am fairly sure that his programmes had some basic plot material.

When it comes to story magic, Borodin is one of those who is really sensitive to the time/effect ratio. He did do one item that had no particular magic trick in it. It was the Little Emperor and the Cricket. It was used at the beginning of an evening show to set the mood for what was to come. It took him a few performances to fine tune it.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2011-03-24 00:34, Bill Palmer wrote:
I've never seen one of his programmes. However, I am fairly sure that his programmes had some basic plot material.


I believe it was John Salisse who made mention of the special programme to keep the audience up to speed.

Quote:
When it comes to story magic, Borodin is one of those who is really sensitive to the time/effect ratio. He did do one item that had no particular magic trick in it. It was the Little Emperor and the Cricket. It was used at the beginning of an evening show to set the mood for what was to come. It took him a few performances to fine tune it.

A performer would have to be exceptional to pull it off. I saw a convention show that began with a Sinatra impersonator, followed by some guy who went another 15 before any magic happened in his act. With an audience half filled with non-magician families, the show went down like the Hindenburg.
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funsway
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If a magic routine is viewed as a means of communications, then "phrasing" can be as important as total length. I seems that the human mind cannot hold more than seven objects/perceptions at once -- so sentences or phases of a routine should not exceed that. These pahase can be broken up or separated by gestures, patter, pauses or evne another magic effect. Thus, a C&B routine could last an entire hour if "punctuated" with diversion effects such as a Chop effect in the middle of a C&B routine.

I am not saying this SHOULD be done, only offering the thought that effect length is not the only critial factor. Methinks that music works the same way, with pasues as important as the notes -- but someone like Bill would be better able to address that apparent similarity. If we are considering "limited attention span" there are other solutions than just cutting your routine short.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Michael Baker
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I'll assume you mean "phasing", rather than "phrasing".

That being the case, this is a good point, although the concept would be venue or audience specific. Whereas there is a difference between going to a symphony, as opposed to tuning the car radio, some audiences are pre-conditioned to accepting a longer time commitment.

I think I have an analogy that may offer a different way of looking at this...

For the older readers, you may remember the Seven Up Candy Bar, popular for about 4 decades until the 1970's. It consisted of seven separate segments, each a different unit unto itself (cherry, coconut, maple, nut, jelly, etc.). Each segment told a different story, but were each part of the bigger picture.

Phasing a routine serves the same purpose. It gives short term plots with individual payoffs, but like the chocolate that covers the candy bar, there is an overall theme that ties everything together. In magic, the best of these would advance beyond simply being a uniting theme, and be a story unto itself, apart from the concerns of any individual story.
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Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2011-03-24 09:43, funsway wrote:
I seems that the human mind cannot hold more than seven objects/perceptions at once.

I presume that you meant "It seems" rather than "I seems."

I'm curious as to your source for this tidbit of information.
"The Swatter"

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Andrew Zuber
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Kinda like jazz...it's about the notes you DON'T play Smile
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Michael Baker
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On 2011-03-25 06:47, Andrew Zuber wrote:
Kinda like jazz...it's about the notes you DON'T play Smile

I like that comparison. I commented before that John Bonham knew more about what to leave out, than most drummers knew about what to play. A lot of magic could take a lesson from that kind of philosophy. Locate the epicenter of the effect and push the routine toward that. Strip away everything, stopping short of the point where it becomes as transparent as the Emperor's new clothes. Like food, a little seasoning is delightful; too much is gauche.
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funsway
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I'm curious as to your source for this titbit of information.

In graduate classes on Organizational Communications back in the 80's this was repeated theme --
you never give a person more than seven tasks or items on a list to remember.

Numerous books on neuomonics make reference to this.

Google search "memory seven items" for many articles

Some of the newer books on neurobiology make note of this.

Most importantly, as a story teller who watches audience reactions,
I have learned to break the telling into short phrases, with pauses to allow their minds to "catch up."

Thus, I suggest breaking any magic routine into descrete "phrases" of presentation --
that misy also coordinate with any "phase shift"

I guess I'll have to start writing down references on such things.

Google search "memory seven items" for many articles
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Deceptor
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Working memory is generally considered to have limited capacity. The earliest quantification of the capacity limit associated with short-term memory was the "magical number seven" introduced by Miller (Miller GA (March 1956). "The magical number seven plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information". Psychological Review 63 (2): 81–97.). He noticed that the memory span of young adults was around seven elements, called chunks, regardless whether the elements were digits, letters, words, or other units. Later research revealed that span does depend on the category of chunks used (e.g., span is around seven for digits, around six for letters, and around five for words), and even on features of the chunks within a category. For instance, span is lower for long words than for short words. In general, memory span for verbal contents (digits, letters, words, etc.) strongly depends on the time it takes to speak the contents aloud, and on the lexical status of the contents (i.e., whether the contents are words known to the person or not). Several other factors also affect a person's measured span, and therefore it is difficult to pin down the capacity of short-term or working memory to a number of chunks. Nonetheless, Cowan (2001) has proposed that working memory has a capacity of about four chunks in young adults (and fewer in children and old adults).

Whereas most adults can repeat about seven digits in correct order, some individuals have shown impressive enlargements of their digit span – up to 80 digits. This feat is possible by extensive training on an encoding strategy by which the digits in a list are grouped (usually in groups of three to five) and these groups are encoded as a single unit (a chunk). To do so one must be able to recognize the groups as some known string of digits. One person studied by K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues, for example, used his extensive knowledge of racing times from the history of sports. Several such chunks can then be combined into a higher-order chunk, thereby forming a hierarchy of chunks. In this way, only a small number of chunks at the highest level of the hierarchy must be retained in working memory. At retrieval, the chunks are unpacked again. That is, the chunks in working memory act as retrieval cues that point to the digits that they contain. It is important to note that practicing memory skills such as these does not expand working memory capacity proper. This can be shown by using different materials - the person who could recall 80 digits was not exceptional when it came to recalling words.
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kentfgunn
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Ken,

Your spelling of mnemonics must've been the eighth thing on your mind. Why isn't there a simple mnemonic for its spelling?

Plus I think you desecrated the spelling of discrete.

I realize no one likes a spelling nanny. I just found those two especially mal-apropos.

KG
Andrew Zuber
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Quote:
On 2011-03-25 09:17, Michael Baker wrote:
Quote:
On 2011-03-25 06:47, Andrew Zuber wrote:
Kinda like jazz...it's about the notes you DON'T play Smile

I like that comparison. I commented before that John Bonham knew more about what to leave out, than most drummers knew about what to play. A lot of magic could take a lesson from that kind of philosophy. Locate the epicenter of the effect and push the routine toward that. Strip away everything, stopping short of the point where it becomes as transparent as the Emperor's new clothes. Like food, a little seasoning is delightful; too much is gauche.

I think it's because I've been a musician for 20 years and my first love was jazz drumming, so it seemed to fit Smile
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Alan Munro
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I recall a Rachel Colombini routine that has a unique take on the concept. Excellent routine!
funsway
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Yup Kent -- goes to prove one should not post after being up for 30 hours.

but, the goal is to entertain, right?
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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kentfgunn
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Ken,

I too had been up to long when I made my post.
I think my post was mean-spirted and I should like to apologize.

Magic, first last and always.

Kent
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