The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Reinvent Your Zig Zag Presentation (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

jcsum
View Profile
Loyal user
Singapore
217 Posts

Profile of jcsum
Hi guys,

A couple of magicians have e-mailed me with regards to some of the original illusion presentations and plots in my book. Firstly, the book contains over 20 original illusion design plans, but in my humble opinion, it’s the presentation plots and staging suggestions that are just as, if not more, valuable than the designs themselves.

I would like to share some ideas on illusion staging and presentation variations on Robert Harbin’s Zig Zag illusion. Admittedly, I do not own and have never performed the Zig Zag but have seen countless performances and ‘played’ with one before.

I’m sure many of you do own a Zig Zag but might have kept it in storage ever since the Masked Magician revelation. Maybe these ideas will help inspire new presentations to take out the prop and reinvent the performance of the illusion.

These suggestions are not in my book but are examples of the way I approach illusions and my general thought process. I have no doubt that it is possible that someone else might already be doing these variations but these are ideas I came up with independently.

BTW, Rand Woodbury has a great enhancement in Illusionworks that you should check out. However, it does require a significantly modified Zig Zag and an extra ‘table’.


These first few ideas are especially ideal for presentations of the illusion performed silent to music (i.e. without talking during the performance).

Add a Skirting Around the ‘Zagged’ Section:

The idea is to add a cloth skirting (colour scheme and material to match your prop) around 3 sides of the prop covering the entire center section. Using Velcro, the skirting can be pre-attached around the back and side of the prop and left to hang down. After the girl enters the prop and the doors are closed, the skirting is brought up to cover the front.

When the center section is initially ‘zagged’ to the side, the audience will have to mentally construct what they think is happening.

Most would not think that you actually moved the center section to one side since that would seem physically impossible. They might then think that you must have shifted an outer ‘shell’ of some kind to create the illusion. Thus, when you rip the skirting away to reveal the empty space, it creates a strong specific ‘Magic Moment’ that can be accented with a high point in your music soundtrack.

Although a simple idea, what this does from the visual and psychological impact on the audience is to specifically define the ‘Magic Moment’.

As a fringe benefit, the skirting will also add to the deceptiveness of the illusion as their eyes do not follow the ‘zagging’ of the section towards the central support i.e. towards the ‘hottest’ part of the illusion.

Adding to the Visual Image of the Illusion:

This does not change the method of the illusion in any way but it enhances the visual image of the illusion. After the ‘zagging’ of the center section, three neon tubes or plastic tubes with LEDs inside are pierced through each section, running from left to right for the top and bottom sections and back to front for the center section. This asymmetrical arrangement of the ‘light tubes’ creates a nice visual display, an added theatrical element and adds time to the performance as well.

Costume Change:

It will be a simple matter and an added kicker for the girl to change her costume at the end of the illusion. Use a ‘flip-down-style’ costume as opposed to a tear-away one.

2nd Girl Production

I believe Andrew Mayne also has a similar suggestion for a kicker finale for Zig Zag but this method and revelation is different.

Modify and mount the Zig Zag on a Chuck Jones’ ‘Mis-**** Girl’-type ****. This allows an extra girl to be hidden in the bottom section and **** of the prop.

The only difference in the standard presentation part of the illusion is to turn the prop to the side so that the doors face away from the audience. Thus, the principal girl enters the prop with its side to the audience. The same goes when she exits.

After the principal girl exits the prop, its front should be turned back to face the audience.

Use a cloth, fan, flag, jacket or a cover of your choice to momentarily shield the head cutout of the Zig Zag from view. Under this cover, the 2nd girl quickly stands up and puts her head in the head cutout to create the illusion of a sudden appearance of another girl. The Zig Zag is opened facing the audience to fully reveal the 2nd girl.


Audience Participation Zig Zag:

This last presentation is something I would do if I did own the Zig Zag as it suits my performance style and character. This is essentially a partial talking act with audience participation performed to a sound-bed of appropriate music.

Two audience members are invited onto stage to help out with the illusion. To make the illusion play even bigger, I will have chairs placed in a semi circle around the back of the illusion and invite spectators on stage to watch the illusion in the round. Incidentally, I use this same staging idea when performing Jim Steinmeyer’s ‘Through an One Inch Hole’.

This presentation will use the skirting ideas as mentioned above.

The core presentation is based on the Wakeling Sawing with leather restraints and straps that go around the neck, waist and one ankle of the girl. The straps are threaded through holes in the sides of the top, center and bottom sections of the. The neck and legs strap holes are on the same side of the prop with the hole for the waist strap running out on the opposite side of the prop. The idea is that one spectator holds the ends of both the leg and neck straps together and the other spectator is on the other side of the prop holding onto the waist strap – apparently holding the girl securely in place.

None of the straps need to be gimmicked but having a stopper (such as a knot in the straps) will allow the assistant the slack needed to maneuver as necessary. Those familiar with the Wakeling Sawing will understand what I’m talking about. If you are unfamiliar with the illusion, get a copy of the ‘The Magic of Alan Wakeling’ by Steinmeyer for details.


I hope you enjoyed this and maybe we will see some’ Zig Zags’ out there again!

Best,

J C Sum
J C Sum

Project ONE: The Solo Illusionist
http://www.SoloIllusions.com

The World's Largest Free Online Illusion Resource
http://www.IllusionBooks.com

The World's Most Comprehensive Resource on Kabuki Drops
http://www.MagicKabukiDrop.com

Creating Highly Successful Entertainers
http://www.BackstageBusinessAcademy.com
markparker
View Profile
Veteran user
Singapore
350 Posts

Profile of markparker
JC,

Very inspiring, excellent.

I like the idea of leaving something behind once the middle is zagged, and then suddenly removing it. It's a very nice concept.

One idea I had was to use a part body shell arrangement on the assistant and have the prop made from mostly plexi-glass sections. These are coated with a one way application film (the type used on car windows). So once the 'ZAG' has happened the boxes go clear suddenly via some internal lighting. The girl would be in the usual load position within the body shells.
The overall appearance as far as the audience is concerned being she is visibly divided into three.

Lights dim, boxes become opaque again and the assistant is restored.

Just a germ of an idea.

The other material that could be used is a trapped layer of LCD crystals between 2 layers of plexi that change direction when connected to an Ac current. This would change the plexi from a frosted look to clear instantly. I have seen this used on glass, but I am unsure if it is available or achievable with plexi-glass if it can be done some prop applications are very apparent.

I have always loved the zig zag and its a shame it's becoming extinct.

Well done again JC for this post

Let's hope a long creative thread grows here.

Best regards,

Mark Parker
http://www.illusion-designer.com - Bespoke Illusion design - Publications -Show consultancy....Vivify a collection of stage illusions limited edition of 500 copies available now.
reedrc
View Profile
Inner circle
1352 Posts

Profile of reedrc
Yeah, we had looked into and used smart glass as well. I think the use of it for illusions is going to be one of those next gem things. Everyone will eventually be using it. So many possibilities with the technology. We were developing an advanced spirit effect using four walls of the smart glass. It really came out frigging fantastic. It was probably the most expensive piece of a prop I've EVER come across. In fact it was *** expensive. But it looks cool and adds a billion percent to the effect. We're also experimenting using the stuff for table tops, advanced bevel base systems. Another effect in the works is using the material for shadow-dependent illusions. Unfortunately the technology is VERY expensive for now but those of you with huge budgets (not so many of us) can do anything. Great stuff JC. Glad to see your thoughts on this board.

Cheers

RCR
Kind Regards

Ryan C. Reed
Founder, Illusion Entertainment

designer, director, theatrical consultant, digital wizard, magic impresario, wonder aficionado, Illusioneer & dream architect.

Instagram
Facebook
The Mirror Images
View Profile
Inner circle
Michigan/USA
1980 Posts

Profile of The Mirror Images
JC

Wounderful concepts. Bringing back the old magic and giving it a makeover.

You sparked an idea for me. What about taking that section that is pushed to the side OFF. This can be accomplished with a fake face, mechanical hands and a **** that was talked about above. This is taking the same effect and modifing it a bit.

Just another thought.

Again, great ideas. Keep up the good work.

Michael
Steven and Michael, The Mirror Images
The MOST Identical Twin Illusionist
http://www.themirrorimages.com
Check out our latest new effect
- Liquid Steel NEW
- MotoBox NEW
- MotoMation NEW
- Voyager
reedrc
View Profile
Inner circle
1352 Posts

Profile of reedrc
Hey guys? Is there a VISIBLE sawing version of this illusion?
Where you see the assistant get in and there really are no obstructions and see the body the WHOLE time?

Ryan
Kind Regards

Ryan C. Reed
Founder, Illusion Entertainment

designer, director, theatrical consultant, digital wizard, magic impresario, wonder aficionado, Illusioneer & dream architect.

Instagram
Facebook
Lou Hilario
View Profile
Inner circle
2225 Posts

Profile of Lou Hilario
Quote:
On 2004-08-29 06:14, jcsum wrote:
Hi guys,

A couple of magicians have e-mailed me with regards to some of the original illusion presentations and plots in my book. Firstly, the book contains over 20 original illusion design plans, but in my humble opinion, it’s the presentation plots and staging suggestions that are just as, if not more, valuable than the designs themselves...


jcsum,
Where can I get your book? Do you have a website for this?
Magic, Illusions, Juggling, Puppet & Parrot Show ^0^
http://www.louhilario.net
ricker
View Profile
Special user
Tampa, FL
914 Posts

Profile of ricker
http://www.jcsum.com/products.html

Looks like a nice book. So is Mark Parker's, BTW
jcsum
View Profile
Loyal user
Singapore
217 Posts

Profile of jcsum
Hi guys,

Thanks for the kind words, support and input! Its great to able to exchange ideas with like-minded folks!

Mark, great challenging idea! I actually did think of a clear Zig Zag model but couldn’t really come up with anything decent. My springboard inspiration was from Steinmeyer’s ‘Perforation’ illusion from Device & Illusion and Penn & Teller’s pseudo-illusion explanation using an entire plexi-glass prop.

The application film is a great idea but I personally have not worked with complicated light arrangements in a prop and would assume the exact wiring and battery placement will need lots of prototyping.

Based on your idea, a thought came to me: First, we use a fine frosted application film (very translucent) on plexi-glass for the entire front of the prop. After the 'zag', for the center section, we have a mirror that hinges at a 45 degree angle directly reflecting the load area. Since the girl would practically be (at least that part of her body) perpendicular to the front of the prop, won’t that look enough like the girl’s middle, even though the reflection would be of her lower back and not stomach? With the refraction and distortion from the application film and a cropped costume top, this might be deceptive enough.

The mirror would have to hinged to the furthest vertical edge of the center section and ‘hinged-locked’ to the back of the main support so that it opens to the correct position automatically when the center section is ‘zagged’ to the side.

Do you think that would be remotely possible?

Are you guys familiar with Rand Woodbury’s ‘Light Wall’ principle? It is kind of a reverse black art as a method of concealment. It might have application here or any illusion that uses plexi-glass. Ryan, have you built anything like this before using this principle?


Ryan, you are likely light years ahead of most of use in prototyping in this area! Smile Is the ‘smart glass’ glass or plexi-glass? I can see the application possibilities for everything from a Crystal Casket to Clear Sub Trunk.


Michael, you essentially described Rand’s variation of the illusion but he uses a ‘*-table’ and no prosthetics.


Ryan, as for the visible sawing version, assuming we keep in line with the basic Zig Zag effect and presentation, the closest thing I know of is a variation by Paul Osbourne that allows for all three sections to be opened AFTER the ‘Zag’. It’s a combination of the Zig Zag with the Disembodied Princess, so the section proportions are different from the traditional Zig Zag.

Did Jody Baran or someone else have a visible sawing (precursor to Steinmeyer’s Modern Art) – no cover for upper body?


Best,

J C Sum

Hi Lou,

You can get the book directly from me at the mentioned website and some US dealers are starting to carry it.

Maybe you can ask your favourite dealer about it and if does not have it, he might carry it for me. Smile

Check out another thread a few weeks ago on some reviews on the book.

Thanks.

Best,

J C Sum
J C Sum

Project ONE: The Solo Illusionist
http://www.SoloIllusions.com

The World's Largest Free Online Illusion Resource
http://www.IllusionBooks.com

The World's Most Comprehensive Resource on Kabuki Drops
http://www.MagicKabukiDrop.com

Creating Highly Successful Entertainers
http://www.BackstageBusinessAcademy.com
markparker
View Profile
Veteran user
Singapore
350 Posts

Profile of markparker
Jc,

I think the mirror complicates the effect and is not needed. The frosted plexi may be an easier route to achieve the effect of a clear zig zag. You would see more hazy body shadows than live body bits, which can at the best of times can look suspicious.
I think the concept of a clear zig zag combined with your middle section left behind surprise is a strong application. perhaps the sliding middle could come out clear when zagged, leave the shell/drape behind then as the drape is removed the middle box fills instantly.
The effect being her middle jumps over.

Keep 'em coming.

Cheers

Mark
http://www.illusion-designer.com - Bespoke Illusion design - Publications -Show consultancy....Vivify a collection of stage illusions limited edition of 500 copies available now.
The Mirror Images
View Profile
Inner circle
Michigan/USA
1980 Posts

Profile of The Mirror Images
JC

Cool. Well, it was an idea that came to my head. Glad someone else thinks like me hehe.

The only visible type of sawing in half would be Copperfield's that I can think of. But that is not thirds.

Michael
Steven and Michael, The Mirror Images
The MOST Identical Twin Illusionist
http://www.themirrorimages.com
Check out our latest new effect
- Liquid Steel NEW
- MotoBox NEW
- MotoMation NEW
- Voyager
MCM
View Profile
Elite user
Minnesota
456 Posts

Profile of MCM
I have had a few ideas for "improving" the zig-zag. Mind you these come from someone who has NOT performed it.

First, the blades. I have seen discussions about how the blades were more meant to cover rather than to cut, as is common in today's presentation. Often they don't look wide enough to "do the job" of the cutting through the assistant's waist. If the presentation is to show them as cutting, why not put some nice 1" teeth on the blades, to make them a bit more menacing. Naturally, since they will be protruding out the back you have to watch out so costumes don't get caught on the teeth or a hand gets cut.

I have seen pics on the web of some zig-zags where the head is outside the illusion through a hole in the top. Would it be possible to have the feet poking out holes on the bottom as well? Then in addition (or as part of a different configuration) have the hands come out holes in the sides of the illusion rather than the front. One interesting performance option this might give is that you could move the middle section over by grabbing the hand and pulling that.
reedrc
View Profile
Inner circle
1352 Posts

Profile of reedrc
Ooh., JC. I really like the idea with the light wall. In effect the smart glass shown completely clear in the "on" position can show the space completely clear. Free from obstruction.
And show the space clean. When the magic happens the glass goes frosted. The space can be cleverly illuminated from behind as this reverse black art method of hiding space. Or "through space." This could work with frosted GLASS. Although I think white plexi would give it a too harsh a look. Maybe green frosted glass. Or regular frosted or "etched" glass.. Darn cool I think you're on to something here.

As far as mock-ups and prototypes, although the smart glass concept had to be physically tested, many of our concepts had been mocked up and tested in 3D in real-time using realistic lighting, reflections and caustics. In this event the virtual world will save thousands of dollars in mock-ups and man hours. However in any situation nothing replaces having something tangible to walk around and touch and feel. Both work great. Smile Love this thread, Looking forward to continuing this.

RCR
Kind Regards

Ryan C. Reed
Founder, Illusion Entertainment

designer, director, theatrical consultant, digital wizard, magic impresario, wonder aficionado, Illusioneer & dream architect.

Instagram
Facebook
Alex Tan
View Profile
Loyal user
Singapore
289 Posts

Profile of Alex Tan
Chris Murphy and John Taylor, both who are both great and generous people, have added their twist to the classic Zig-Zag which does make it more interesting. It even has a new name, "A Bit On The Side."

I just thought those who might be interested in what has been done might like to check it out if they have not done so.

http://www.ozillusions.com

JC,
It's great to see you around, it's even better that you are sharing your thoughts. Great posts I've seen.

It's just strange that you would share your ideas in the form of your book with the rest of the world but not with those who are right here where you call home.

When you publish a book and offer it for sale, I personally would think that it wouldn't be too difficult for a local Magi to get his hands on it if he really wants to.

But that's really your choice and I'm sure you definitely have very good reasons for doing so. It's just a pity I wouldn't be able to see your book.

Cheers,
Alex Tan
Lothar
View Profile
Loyal user
248 Posts

Profile of Lothar
I'd suggest putting a man inside the zig zag. I'm having a zig zag made. It's almost done, except for the painting on the front. My assistant is 5'9" and muscular. The figure is going to be a muscular man with a dumbell. There is going to be a sign on the top that says "Mr. Universe." It'll look like one of those cutouts you see at carnivals. When I convince my assistant to step inside, I'll remove the sign. Underneath will be another sign saying "Mr. Zig Zag." Then I'll start putting the blades in.

Mark Wilson and Melinda have zig zags with men painted on the front. I hope to continue a new trend.
Wes
"Macho Magic"
M-Illusion
View Profile
Special user
549 Posts

Profile of M-Illusion
I've went the route of making an assistant appear inside of the Zig Zag. I've also vanished the illusion at the end of my presentation. Powerful stuff!
jcsum
View Profile
Loyal user
Singapore
217 Posts

Profile of jcsum
Mark, well said. Just toying with the idea. I like the instant jumping middle idea but just wondering if it will look too ‘unreal’? E-mail me if you have suggestions to make the ‘jump’ look 3 dimensional or 100% ‘in place’ each time. I tried thinking about it but was challenged by achieving the realism if I wanted her costume to show her mid-drift. Though not necessary, I also prefer a self-contained gimmick.

But based on your suggestion, I was thinking of not exposing the clear front of the center section in the same instant. My personal staging preference is to ‘Zag’, leave the front cloth skirting in place, then hinge open or slide out a front panel that covers the front of the center section exposing the girl’s middle. A beat later, whisk away the skirting to reveal empty space. Again, my line of thought was to have the audience mentally construct the effect in their minds and then lead them down the path of impossibility. This may also make the ‘dirty work’ easier (saying that with ignorance to a better method).


Michael, thanks for your input anyway and keep it coming!


MCM, yes, I agree the blades should look more menacing or at least look like they can cut. Serrated teeth are a good idea but I suspect it doesn’t do the prop or costumes any good, even if they aren’t sharp. Maybe Harbin did use serrated blades at the start but decided to change when the blades were ‘eating’ out the slots for the blades. Smile But with a reinforced aluminum edging around the slots, using blades with teeth would be highly possible.

I am personally not aware of Zig Zags with the head above the top of the prop, unless it is not the traditional Zig Zag method. Otherwise, it would be a real ‘stretch’ of the imagination. However, see Alex Tan’s post about Oz Illusion’s design as it basically addresses the observations you made.


Ryan, conceptually and theoretically, it does seem highly plausible and exciting. But, good luck to the person trying to build the first one Smile Hope he keeps us posted! Will give this more thought in due time.


Hi Alex,

I’m familiar with Chris Murphy’s and John Taylor’s version. I do believe their version is a redesign (an excellent rework at that!) rather than a reinvention of the presentation. However, it is excellent that you highlighted it as their design is a valuable lesson to learn in the psychology of the visual look of the illusion.

One aspect of the Zig Zag that I was going to bring up is the visual design of the decal on the front of the prop. Oz Illusion’s design does reinforce the ‘fixed’ position of the girl perfectly, both in physical and aesthetic design. Franz Harary’s ‘Janet Box’ is also a good example of the importance and strength of the visual decal used to condition to mind.

My suggestion of using the Wakeling Sawing-type presentation with the straps is to also ‘fix’ the position of the girl in the prop.

Yes, you are absolutely correct to say that I have good (neither strange nor unjustifiable) reasons not to offer a book with illusions I use professionally in my own market.


Lothar, thanks for sharing your personal preference of using a male. Is there any way the motivation for ‘Zig Zagging’ the muscle guy be stronger? For example, you can start off the illusion performance by magically producing a ‘miracle’ bodybuilding supplement. Having taken the pill(s), your assistant then gets ‘Abs of Steel’. If your assistant really does have ‘Abs of Steel’, have him flaunt it. If he doesn’t, he can have an obviously fake rubber ‘Abs of Steel’ under his shirt to show off the ‘instant results’. You then put his abs to the test by putting him in the Zig Zag. Since your presentation suggests it will be a light-hearted one, this comedy element might enhance both the entertainment value and motivation/ logic for the illusion. Just my two cents…


M-Illusion, sounds great and a strong enhancement to the presentation. Would you like to share the route you took to develop the presentation and perhaps a description of the basic effects? (In no way, expecting you to reveal exact mechanics or method)


Best,

J C Sum
J C Sum

Project ONE: The Solo Illusionist
http://www.SoloIllusions.com

The World's Largest Free Online Illusion Resource
http://www.IllusionBooks.com

The World's Most Comprehensive Resource on Kabuki Drops
http://www.MagicKabukiDrop.com

Creating Highly Successful Entertainers
http://www.BackstageBusinessAcademy.com
M-Illusion
View Profile
Special user
549 Posts

Profile of M-Illusion
The presentational elements that I added actually developed over a period of time. The appearance of the girl inside was actually worked out because I needed to kill a little more time in the routine. This was right around the time that it was revealed on TV, and I continued to present the illusion throughout the entire ordeal. I don't think it suffered any, judging from the reponse from the audiences.

The vanish of the illusion at the end came about over a period of about five years. I've used three different methods to accomplish it, the first using a box (weakest response), the second using no covering at all and the third, and most powerful, using an Asrah-style vanish (without making it float).

The past few years, I've wanted to replace the illusion, and even took it out for a Modern Art, temporarily. That lasted about three months. I simply can't find anything that comes close to the overall impact it has on audiences.
Lou Hilario
View Profile
Inner circle
2225 Posts

Profile of Lou Hilario
If I were to build a new zigzag again, I would do it with a vanish of the lady while the box is shown at the back with a different design. The lady would be in a doll house position at the bottom. The head is prosthetic. And the middle would be removed and shown in another table. It would be opened showing the hips moving.
Magic, Illusions, Juggling, Puppet & Parrot Show ^0^
http://www.louhilario.net
The Mirror Images
View Profile
Inner circle
Michigan/USA
1980 Posts

Profile of The Mirror Images
I think this is a neat subject to get back to. I guess I like to see if anyone else has any more ideas to add to this piece.

Michael
Steven and Michael, The Mirror Images
The MOST Identical Twin Illusionist
http://www.themirrorimages.com
Check out our latest new effect
- Liquid Steel NEW
- MotoBox NEW
- MotoMation NEW
- Voyager
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Reinvent Your Zig Zag Presentation (0 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.34 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL