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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » My Experience with Misdirection (14 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Magic Oli
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I've been doing magic on and off for around 12 years and I am still no technical master of sleights or effects, however: even though learning sleights and perfecting them is hard, the hardest thing about learning magic is learning misdirection. Misdirection is extremely sensitive, if done badly it could lead to people thinking you are misdirecting them and then they will search for the 'dirty work' that's going on. On the other hand, when done well even the best of us magicians are fooled.


Why is it important?


To me, what makes a great magician is not how invisible their pass is, or how many coin sleights they can do flawlessly or even how many tricks you can perform. To me it's how well you can manipulate your audiences attention to where you want or need it. If you can do this well, it doesn't matter how bad your technique is, you will have a good chance of fooling your spectators. I bet any money you've done a vanish and someones said it's in the other hand, it doesn't matter how pefect your technique is, it will happen, but with a little bit of misdirection the probability of this happening is smaller


Misdirection Myths


"If you point at your hand that "has the coin" when doing a vanish straight after the move, people will believe it's there"

What a load of Sh*t! I can't tell you how many beginner books you'll find in a local library encourage this, it's rediculous. If you put something in your hand naturally in everyday situations you don't bloody point at it to prove to someone its there, so when it's done in a trick people get suspicious. Please for the love of our holy God don't do this. It makes you look like the uncle that does a few tricks, not a professional magician.

"If you state what is 'happening' people will believe what you are doing"

People aren't stupid, they have eyes and don't need you to narrate everything you are doing. A big no no is over emphasising what you want them to think you're doing. i.e. "I will tuck this hanky into my closed, empty fist...". This screams I'm not doing what I'm telling you! People will assume your fist is empty and won't think twice until you tell them it is. People, in general, don't believe magicians, they know we are up to something and will assume that everything you say is a lie if you draw unnecessary attention to it.

"The more you talk the more people will forget about what suspicious move you've just done"

If you talk for ages after doing a move people will begin to suspect that you are trying to distract them, especially if you are unnatural in your speech. Keep things casual and people will relax and not be so suspicious, the moment your tone or style changes people will start the analyse every move you do.


How do I study Misdirection and make my misdirection better?


I honestly didn't know the answer to this question until a few days ago. The answer is, buy Tom Stone's penguin live lecture. I watched this a few days ago and it has completly changed my way of approaching misdirection. He doesn't bore you either. The first routine is taught almost in full (apart from the striking vanish by david williamson) and Tom breaks it down piece by piece justifying each move with the fundamentals of misdirection. Forget books, you can't learn misdirection from books because you need to see it performed (especially if you aren't a more advanced magician).

My views on misdirection have changed from being that of an "it's too hard" attitude to a "this is more important that anything sleight or gimmick" viewpoint.

Forget about buying the latest gimmick, do yourselves a favour and invest in Tom Stone's Lecture it will make your magic better, I guarantee it.

Thanks

Magic Oli
Terrible Wizard
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Cool! I too would like to learn more about misdirection. Was that the focus of the lecture, or was it just part of the lecture? More details (and maybe a link), please Smile

And if anyone knows of other great books, DVDs or examples of audience attention management please let me know. Thanks.
Magic Oli
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Terrible Wizard,

It was a good portion of the lecture but the rest of the lecture is very informative too Smile

it can be bought here: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/3490

The techniques taught are too valuable to be exposed on the Café, this is brilliant stuff. Greg Wilson is a very good example of someone who manages and misdirect his audience, I suggest watching him perform.

Thanks,

Magic Oli
Kabbalah
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I don't know what to say just now, except... Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
"Long may magicians fascinate and continue to be fascinated by the mystery potential in a pack of cards."
~Cliff Green

"The greatest tricks ever performed are not done at all. The audience simply think they see them."
~ John Northern Hilliard
Andy Young
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Just to be clear, point can work for a vanish. I do it and works great for me. I typically point upwards while a coin or small object is in a FP. This makes my hand appear to be empty. So you need to understand that it can be a subtle way to show the other hand empty.
Terrible Wizard
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Magic Oli, just to be clear I wasn't asking for exposure of techniques and methods!!!
Invisticone
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I also found Tom Stone's lecture very informative as far as misdirection is concerned (his vanish of a ball while holding it at the fingertips all the time was very amusing).
Invisticone
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By the way, the whole first hour is mostly about misdirection, using a couple of tricks to demonstrate the principles.
MagicKingdom10
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Misdirection is often my favorite topic of study. I like this article about "soft cuts" and "hard cuts" in choreographic misdirection by Jarle Leirpoll. Tom Crone also has an excellent online piece about misdirection in mentalism. I learned a lot from them.
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Dick Oslund
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Dariel Fitzkee wrote a whole book ("Magic By Misdirection") pub: 1945. Like Maskelynne and Devant's "Our Magic", the "theory" can be a bit dry, but the real stuff is there IMHO.
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Malakim
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From a Onlooker point of view I found that most magicians use a lot of misdirection which is described under the Name of NLP.
They use the knowledge of how our Brain works.

"Now do not look at my right hand" is probably the best way to make people look at the right hand since our Brain thinks positive first and afterwards adds the "NO".

Maybe whoever is interested in Misdirection might want to take a look at the works of Richard Wayne Bandler and John Grinder eg. "The Structure of Magic I: A Book About Language and Therapy. 1975" or the following works.

After reading and working on this topic I find myself suddenly in the know when misdirection is taking place much more often.
Magic Oli
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Malakim, what does NLP stand for?
Malakim
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Neuro-linguistic Programming = NLP

I believe Derren Brown uses a lot of techniques derived from this Field of research. But not only for mentalism but also for misdirection it is an interesting field. To know how our brain works and how it reacts to specific acts is quite interesting.
Terrible Wizard
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I think Derren Brown's claims to using NLP are mostly bunk, just like a mentalist's claims to be using the power of their mind to bend cutlery. He may utilise a small amount of NLP stuff, but mostly he doesn't - and I do believe he's shied away a lot from even claiming or implying that he does now. NLP is, I think, mostly considered a pseudo-science rather than something credible - though I'm no expert on this.
Malakim
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It does not really matter if the Main Topic NLP is a pseudo science or total bolloks. The interesting part for this thread are the ideas and information about how our brain works and reacts to language.

The example above is easy "Do not think of purple Elephants" will make you think of purple Elephants because our brain comprehends the positive part first and reaches the NOT after it already thought of the purple elephant.

Furthermore I guess it would be nice to know how to tap best into the creative thinking of the audience or maybe make them remember things ... and so on.
Magic Oli
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But making someone think of something by saying it isn't programming their brain
Malakim
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Maybe I have language problems.

No it is not. NLP is a field of studie which comes from Psychology and Therapy. For a misdirection you do not want to perform a Therapy.
But alongside this topic (NLP) a lot of facts about our brain and how it works are discussed and used. That is knowledge which is quite useful when trying to (mis-)direct people.

Is that now understandable? I do not say that NLP or its Techniques are to be used, I state that the knowledge transmitted with this (pseudo) science about the human brain and how it works is useful.
Terrible Wizard
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That makes better sense, Malakim Smile

I like the article MagicKingdom10 linked to, very interesting.

And, yes, Dick - I'm looking for a copy of Magic By Misdirection, it looks like another classic 'no-effects' read that I could do with (I've finished Magic & showmanship, and am half way through Maximum Entertainment). I like making the tricks I already do better! Smile
Black Hart
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Hello Magic Oli

"A big no no is over emphasising what you want them to think you're doing. i.e. "I will tuck this hanky into my closed, empty fist...". This screams I'm not doing what I'm telling you!"

How very true!

All my effects are scripted and I also use misdirection quite a lot. I build this into the script so that the misdirection is mostly by action, my personality (or rather personality of the character that I play - The Black Hart) and the presentation itself.

You will find that if YOU think about the misdirection then you will unconsciously telegraph this to your audience.

My effect 'Power of The Tarot' needs a simple reset afterwards. I very often pick up the Tarot cards that I have been using and re-set the effect right under the noses of the people I have just performed it to. I just pick up the Tarot and do it as I am talking to them. No one has EVER realised what I am doing. It just takes confidence.

Anyway Magic Oli you have taken the first and most important step by thinking about your misdirection. Well done and good luck.

Smile

Keith Hart
Black Artefacts, manufacturer and dealer of weird, bizarre and psychic magic: www.blackhart.co.uk
Magic Oli
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Thanks Keith Smile
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