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Inner circle
New York
1940 Posts

Profile of Platt
I realize there are few alternatives, but I believe the reflection in the mirror is not generally what your spectator will be seeing. This is most relevant in effects where angles are a major issue. For instance, the Asher Twist. This is performed below the spectator's eyes. With a regular wall mirror, there's no way to duplicate the image from the spectators POV. In fact, most close-up effects, particularly card tricks, are done below the spectators' eyes. So unless your mirror can be tilted at an angle, or you always perform dead even with the eyes of your spectator, you will never see what the spectator sees. I think. Am I right on this?
Sugar Rush is here! Freakishly visual magic.
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509 Posts

Profile of Tyler_Magician
You are right. There is always a way to get around this: use a video camera. It takes more time with setting it up and everything, but it is worth it. You can play it back as many times as you want. When using a mirror, it is good to watch yourself in real time, but you can't always see everything that the spectators will see.
Sometimes when you do a trick, when you do a sleight, you will blink your eyes at the exact moment that you are doing the sleight. It is not done on purpose, but I used to do it too, and sometimes I still do. When using a camera, you can play back the trick and see what the trick loked like. A mirror is good for some tricks, but a camera is always better. You can also set the camera up at different angles.
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Daytona Beach, Florida
12 Posts

Profile of Fanatic
That's a great tip Tyler. You may also catch yourself doing things you didn't know you were doing. I like to practice my entire set with patter and all, then review it. It can be very enlightning. I used to look away when performing a cover pass,(in an unnatural, breaking rhythm kind of way). Convincing for me but not the spectator! Not any more. I still use the mirror for some quick input though. Best of luck, Mike
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Profile of Mirokai
Ok we all agree that a camera is way better than a mirror or at least it has more advantages than the mirror.
But for centuries magicians have used only mirrors to train themselves, so I think we shouldn’t despise them.

My 2 cents…
"Tout ce qui nous arrive de bien et de mal ici-bas était écrit là-haut" Diderot
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Daytona Beach, Florida
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Profile of Fanatic
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Inner circle
1799 Posts

Profile of ClouDsss
I think it's OK to train with mirrors...nothing to despise about.

However, using a camera is, of course, the better method.
Think outside the box, cos people are all thinking inside now!! - ClouDsss
Alan Munro
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Inner circle
Kentwood, Michigan, USA
5830 Posts

Profile of Alan Munro
Mirrors will always have their place because of the detail they present. The trouble is that a flat mirror may not be the right tool for the job. I use convex mirrors to see most of a spectator's field of vision. I just position it at the vantage point I wish to see from.
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178 Posts

Profile of onezero1
I believe it was Jean Hugard who recommended AGAINST the use of mirrors because it causes the eyes to widen in a sort of fixed stare which "is unattractive".
But personally I think Hugard just enjoyed doing things the hard way.
I use a full length mirror which can tilt so I just give it a kick when I want to change the point of view mid-practice.
'though it stands to reason that a samurai should be mindful of the would seem that we are all negligent.
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134 Posts

Profile of Fresh
He said that in RRTCM in the top-change section. I still practice in front of the mirror, but use a camera more often now.
Patrick Differ
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Inner circle
1540 Posts

Profile of Patrick Differ
Agreed. Agreed.
While you invest dinero in a good camera...use it to watch yourself...turn the camera the other way when you are performing. Now you can watch your guests and see what they do.
And if you are so poor that you are po', ask someone to watch you. Someone as critical as the camera eye. Someone that can keep their mouth so the flies are not getting in. Sabe?
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
Brent McLeod
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Inner circle
1728 Posts

Profile of Brent McLeod
I was shocked the first time I saw myself on Video I taped as rehearsal

The mirror had been Lying a little bit-I had a habit of looking away when certain moves were done !!!

Video is the way to go & a lot of fun!
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London UK
666 Posts

Profile of BlackShadow
The mirror lies. I used to think my pass was OK; It looked OK in the mirror.

But when I videoed it I realise that my hand seemed to cover for ages and there was a lot more movement than I thought. Granted, I was burning the hand on the vid and neglecting the misdirection that would be present, but I think you have to be as critical as possible.

The video certainly made me change a few things and practice more.
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Profile of Fandango
I have a mirror hanging on the wall, so I practice to the mirror a lot. What I find best is to set the camera up in front of the mirror. You can still see yourself in real-time (LCD screen on my digital camera is reflected) and you can always watch it back. The footage afterwards allows me to put my full attention in to watching the trick and seeing what spectators actually see, and not put half my attention into watching and half into performing. Also, it works the other way: when performing to the camera, my full attention is on performing, nothing else. The mirror does lie, but only sometimes
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Profile of Derek_R
I couldn't believe how much I was fidgeting the first time I videoed myself (on a digital camera with video facility rather than a proper camcorder - must get one of those one day). Every time I was preparing to do a move I would shift my body nervously like a bad poker player preparing to bet his house on a bluff. Even when not doing a sleight there was still loads of excess movement as I waved my hands around. A couple of rehearsals and a second, third, and fourth shooting and the difference was amazing. I usually use a mirror and somehow I'd been blind to all of this excessive movement, probably because I'd been focussing so much on the cards and coins. The video, short that it was, also helped with highlighting patter and voice problems, again things that the using a mirror hadn't helped with. I think that the methodology that suits me is to use a mirror initially and then, when I'm closing in on getting a particular routine, effect, or move how I want it, to switch to the video to fine tune everything.

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Veteran user
321 Posts

Profile of Gerald
There is no real way to simulate actual performance. A mirror doesn’t do it, a video camera won’t either. No question, these things are helpful for specific purposes, but there is no substitute for performing experience. Practice systematically, consistently and intelligently to prepare to perform. Perform the same few tricks many times for a variety of audience types and situations. Gain confidence and skill in performing these few tricks. You’ll probably learn more about the tricks by performing them than you did in their preparation.

"You can't be your own director." is a familiar bit of advice. How true this is. Have a trusted, skilled mentor watch you. Listen and respond to their advice. Mirrors and videos have their place, but there is nothing better than an experienced, knowledgeable mentor.

Best of luck!

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Profile of Byron
One of the problems with using mirrors,is that as has been mentioned before, we tend to look away or blink or do something else at the 'sleight' or 'the move'. This is because we KNOW it's coming. We don't then see these in the mirror, the audience WILL see them. Best to use a video. Set it at the distance, height, angle of your audience (as best as you can) and see what they will be seeing.
The hand may be quicker than the eye,
But the heart sees all!
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Inner circle
1391 Posts

Profile of KirkG
The mirror is just a tool. If you use it correctly it will help, if not, hurt. As to the Asher twist, just change your postion to the mirror to aproximate the spectators view, ie stand closer to the mirror. then when you back us, angle your hands, just as you would in performance. Also recognize that if you are standing and they are sitting, a completely different set of angles exist. For the most part, doing the Asher twist is less effective if the audience is seated and you are standing.

Many times I see strolling magicians try to do their same set while standing or sitting at the Magic Castle Close up room. Lots of flashing and exposure. KNOW your angles!

Brad Burt
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Inner circle
2675 Posts

Profile of Brad Burt
The problem with mirrors and the number one reason I advocate against its use for more than an quick check up of a move is that it makes you aware of only that one angle. It's much better to practice without a mirror so that your awareness is much global.

Here is an odd little method of becoming angle aware that I used in my early days to force me to pay attention to the space all around me: What you do is pick some things that you will now pretend are spectators. Place them at different heights around you in about a 200 degree arc. Place some as if it is the face of folks standing and some as if sitting. I used about 15 brightly colored blocks and used tables and chairs, etc.

Now, you perform FOR those 'spectators' using the differing heights as your referent as you work. What this does is it makes more tangible the type of situations that a close-up guy in particular gets into. I have had shows that had folks sitting at a dinning room table with other folks all around. I had just about every angle that you can imagine including folks behind me! Still I worked standing and was able to load my Chop Cup, etc. without any problem. Best,
Brad Burt
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Elite user
498 Posts

Profile of MagicMarker
If you place he camera to your left, and stand with a mirror on your right, the final tape will show your performance from two angles. The direct view of your hands from the left, and the reflected view from the right.

It's can be tricky to get it set up, but it does work.
The view will be from a much wider angle than would be normal,
but that's no bad thing.

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Inner circle
1030 Posts

Profile of DerekMerdinyan
Hello, my name is Derek Merdinyan.

For the past four years I have been addicted to CMU (Compulsive Mirror Usage). In the years I practiced infront of the mirror, I learned, created, and practiced some extraordinary magic. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that many of the tricks I'd almost entirely practiced infront of the mirror with did not perform as well for people. I didn't feel comfortable performing what I couldn't see I was doing (like when I had a mirror).

The day of my intervention came just over a year ago. A good friend of mine sat me down and confronted me and my addiction. We smashed up the mirror and bought a nice video camera.

I've been clean for the past 14 months.

[Magical] Friends don't let their [Magical] Friends practice too much in the mirror...

Ok, so some of that was bull, but you get the idea. 80-90% of my time is now spent infront of the camera, while only about 10-20% of the time is spent infront of the mirror. I only use the mirror for when I need to see exactly how something is being perceived so I can make slight adjustments to accomodate angle or visualness of an effect. After a moment infront of the glass devil, I proceed to my new friend, Mr. Camera.

Derek Merdinyan
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