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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » The Quickness of the Hand.... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Nate The Magician
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I've been thinking recently about how magicians tend to do the SWE shift (it's a color change FYI)
Most modernmagicians I've seen are all about snap changes- they like having a thing (to say it as ellusionist would) "immediately and visibly transform"- a transformation that takes a millisecond and looks like a camera trick. I've also seen these same magicians do lightning fast shuffles, Flurries of cuts, then deal cards at a hundred thousand miles per hour (hyperbole) and I've seen people do tricks a la Horace goldin- as fast as possible. I've seen versions of the cups and balls that zip along with the little balls and reach the final loads in less than thirty seconds. I've seen almost all of these things done with expert precision, a keen eye for detail- in short, the magicians knew what they were doing as far as mechanics were concerned.
It didn't look like magic, IMHO.
I personally find that doing tricks fast often messes up the effect- doing something fast draws attention. Speed can confuse the spectator- a capitol offense in the halls of magic. Speed also seems to imply, in the mind of the spectator, skill.
Skill is explicable. Magic is inexplicable. That is what makes it "magic".
What I'm trying to get at, I suppose, is that while we should practice until our moves can be done in a twinkling, we should follow that old latin proverb "festina Lente" - hurry slowly. The most poignant magical effects are direct, to the point, simple AND YET! should also look innocent and slow. That way, our spectacular dexterity cannot be the source of our miracles and every mystery remains just that.

(to clarify, always APPEAR slow- even when doing moves fast under cover. Slow looks like honest, even when it's not. Fast looks dishonest, no matter how honest it is. Thereby, using the words of my driving instructor, I caution you: "Go slow when people are around. Where they're not looking, book it!")
David Fillary
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Sometimes a bit of speed can be used to draw initial attention. I often start my 4 coin production with a quick production from JW grip, which is incredibly fast and visual. Now I've got their attention, I can being producing the others from ears and clothes, which is much more fun, then go into a slow move-less coins across (well, apart from the thumb wiggle move Smile). I do find that first production very useful for getting a gasp from at least one person, and thus focussing the attention from everyone else. I'm not a card guy, but I guess something similar could apply; if you do a snap change before they pick a card, you've quickly proven you're worth watching.

But speed is definitely overused by most new magicians and they all want super visual stuff. They obviously haven't seen how much of a better reaction they would get if it changed in the spectator's hands!
Dick Oslund
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Well, Nate and David!
Two very good posts! My Latin background loved "festina lente"! The late Carl Lohrey (old vaudeville performer, and later a 'bedroom dealer' in Dayton, OH used a similar expression when he did linking rings in the old German 'TURNVEREINS' (hope I spelled that right!)in the Dayton are. He did a very slow unlinking as he said, "so langsam wie meglig" (as slowly as possible). The old Germans in the audience would nod to each other and smile as they thought, "Ein lansman" (a fellow Deutsch mann) I KNOW that I spelled that wrong--and the translation lacks a bit, too.

You both make very good points. Of course, there are occasional 'exceptions' to the rule. Bird cage vanishes, silks penetrating through microphone stands, etc. (although Harry Jr. did spend a bit of time building up the vanish of the cage!) And, those who do the silk penetration (properly) spend a bit of time "setting it up".

I suspect that the reason so many (especially new, young and inexperienced) performers rush through a presentation is that they ARE new, young, and inexperienced! These magicians are also the ones who blink their eyes when they do the pass.

Again, I say: "Two very good posts!" I'm assuming that Nate is still in high school ("driving instructor"), I know David is in college. It's quite evident that you two gentlemen are doing your "homework".
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
C_Biskit
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I think that also, speed is incorrect in most cirumstances. would you rather turn the card over fast or slowly turn it over building anticipation? I like the latter. I can see where speed could be a good thing like in vanishes and some revelations but I think anticipation is a great thing.
BeThePlunk
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Spot on posts. Thank you.
Nate The Magician
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Well, in the case of something like s vanishing birdcage, I imagine that what one would want to do would be to look like you were holding a cage and the cage just disappeared with zero effort from you- the move, fast, the percieved move, slow.

Great posts, everybody!
Dick Oslund
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RE: "SPEED"

I'm reminded of the old (and corny!) line: THE HAND IS QUICKER THAN THEY EYE!!! --THAT'S WHY THERE ARE SO MANY BLACK EYES!!!

When you're producing the show, never forget the three "Ts" >>>>>TEMPO...TIMING...& TIME<<<<<
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Mr. Woolery
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Charlie Frye has a line in his cups and balls routine where he holds his hands over the cups, does not move them, and says "now for a move that proves the hand is quicker than the eye. Want to see it again?" The joke being that you never see him move, of course.

It is sometimes amazing how much more magical many moves appear when you slow them down.

Dick, I am going to remember that black eye line! I have to say, I really appreciate having you on the boards. You are one of half a dozen whose thoughts I really look forward to. (Many others I enjoy and learn from, but there are only a few names I specifically hope to see participate in discussions.)

-Patrick
Dick Oslund
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Thank you Patrick for the kind words! Only now, I'll have to go out and buy a bigger hat!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dynamike
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The hands should not be quicker than the eyes. The hands should move smoother than the eyes. Present manipulation at a natural pace. The spectators will have no idea what is happening.
tboehnlein
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I know I have said this before But Dick what you bring to this board is immense, if I recall your working on a book correct, can not wait to get my hands on it.
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