A Lesson

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Morgan B, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. I just wanted to talk a bit about something...but I need you to watch this video first, then finish reading the rest of my post...go ahead...we will wait.


    Great, so how did you make out? Interesting lesson right?

    What does this have to do with magic...well, this can be applied.
    This is what it is to be really misdirected. This kind of misdirection makes people feel “magic”, not like they were fooled into looking away while something else happened out of their line of sight.

    I often see misdirection used and done poorly. Magicians will think – well, I made them look away, so this is misdirection. Misdirection is an interesting tool, but often misused.

    Making someone look away is not really misdirection...actually, many pros will tell you that it should be called direction. What made the above clip a powerful message...well, if we played along, we missed the moon walking bear, but why? We were focused on the wrong thing – however, they didn’t try to hide the bear, or make us look away – they had us invested in watching. This is good “direction” as we were directed to watch the white team, and block out other information; however, never did we feel that we were forced to look away or cheated. They didn’t tell us to look away, or make a joke, to flash something quickly across the screen...actually, the item we missed was moving slow and deliberate...even trying to draw attention, yet we still were misdirected away from it.

    My point – when you are doing magic that needs misdirection as part of the success of the effect, figure out ways that you can build moments of focus, attention and relaxation where the misdirection occurs naturally. This sounds odd, “make something happen naturally”, but there is truth to it. When you make a joke, everyone will relax a moment...when you ask a question to someone, they will all look to that person for an answer...and that person will look at you. However, better misdirection happens in the moment that something else is being focused on – like the spread of the deck with your left hand, while the right plants a card under a glass. However, this kind of misdirection...even though achieved easily, takes much more timing and practice to make it appear as you didn’t make them look in one spot, while the dirty work occurred.

    Below is an example from a master – Tommy Wonder


    Here is an example of what not to do – as this is a PERFECT example of someone that is doing something to distract, rather than direct. This is poor misdirection, which only accomplishes a reaction, but not a long lasting impression of seeing magic. Once the surprise dies down, the only thing they realize is that it happened when they weren’t looking.


    Strong misdirection does not make people feel like they missed something, but missed nothing and still didn’t see it. Use it wisely and remember, subtle use of our tools leads to a stronger long-term impact.

    Good luck.
  2. You have a point, but I think everyone tries to go for subtlety rather than a blatant distraction. Some don't, but those people will inevitably use their own method regardless. Misdirection is very situational; sometimes you've got it, and others you'll have spectators that will burn your hands no matter what you say or do. That is why I am an ardent opponent of effects that RELY on misdirection other than ones that are AIDED by it. I would rather perfect my sleights than gamble that 20/20 people I'm performing for (on all sides of me) are misdirected by something. Sometimes you can get it to work, but let me tell you, the reason that cup and ball routine worked is because that guy had the sleights down, not because of his "direction."

  3. Jajaja, when it said, "there were 13 passes" I was yeah!!!! in your face test!!!! when it said, "did you saw the moonwalking bear" I was like WTF!!!!! jajaja It made me laugh...

    Morgician, friend, I really hate your threads, everytime you post something new, I have to take a look at my routines again and recreate them from cero, ;) you gave me another mean of what "misdirection" means. thanks for making me think again about my routines...

    great post man, have a nice day:D
  4. Thanks RDChopper,

    Glad you had the same experience I did...I think there is a lesson here.

    Sun & the Sky - I don't agree all try for subtlety, and I do think that some that do think they are going for something more subtle in misdirection - OFTEN don't achieve it.

    Misdirection can be created, it does not have to be situational. It has nothing to do with the audience - when an effect is created properly, their is built in misdirection. For the guy that "burns your hands", misdirection actually becomes easier for him. Attention is the necessary thread that binds misdirection. I have never had problems misdirecting someone that is focused, but rather moreso, unfocused on watching me.

    Which makes me believe this lesson is MORE valuable to you than you realize, as if you are struggling to misdirect someone who is focused on your hands, then I would guess your misdirection falls under the category I warned of. You are relying on natural moments, rather than created moments of tension and relaxation, as seen by Tommy Wonder - and discussed in many sources - I recommend - Gary Kurtz' "Leading with your Head", as it will change your understanding of misdirection to direction.

    Tommy Wonder doesn't achieve misdirection based on just his moves, because even flawless technique does not create misdirection - you need to study that routine more, and others like it, to really understand why it works so well.

    I think it is good that you do effects that don't rely on misdirection, and are aided by it, but two things.

    One - not learning how to use misdirection properly limits you and your magic...it would be like not learning a sleight because it was too hard. With proper understanding, you can do these effects well enough that you don't have to avoid them.

    Two - like you alluded to, using misdirection aids in all your effects in covering movement, so using it properly in these moments makes your moves invisible...rather than a cue for when the moves are done.

    I appreciate your post - but I think you really just highlighted how many feel, and the post IS a basic introduction to how misdirection can be used to benefit you...it is NOT advocating to rely on effects that use 100% misdirection, but instead talking about the proper use of misdirection.

    After reading your post - I am certain you should rethink your stance and see what you can add to the structure of your effects...so it isn't a hope that someone doesn't see something, but you know for sure.

    A good friend of mine calls it - living in the moment of misdirection - he says it's a feel. You know that nobody is watching at that exact moment, and that you have a window of alone time. The trick is creating this moment so it is as seemless as your tangible technique.

    Instead of evaluating what you think you know, feel free to ask what you don't. When I start a thread, it is not to fill up space, it is because I feel something can be learnt through the experience.

    I hope this thread generates questions, thoughts and comments - as this is a principle we all take for granted....actually.....

    Aaron Fisher once sat with a select group and talked for over a hour on misdirection and it's misuse...then went on to make tour of it, if I am not mistaken. Honestly, it is worth it's weight in gold!

    That being said - if you feel you have nothing to learn from this topic...and that things "just happen" - well, continue your form of progression, but I would rather be in control of my outcomes, as this is an option.

  5. No matter how many times I've watched that performance, and no matter how well I know his techniques, Tommy Wonder still manages to misdirect me over and over again.
  6. Me too...so what does that mean? We are smart people...and we even know the methods for the most part.

    What it means is that the construction of the effect forces us to be directed at key moments - this is the creation of this "moment".

    Ring a bell and I'll salavate...we are all creatures of stimulus and response, survival mechanisms - so how can we address this to the magic we do?

    So misdirection, again, is not just supposed to "happen", it is created with structure.
  7. Wow dude this was probably the best post i have read in the last couple of months! That video of Tommy Wonder had me in awe as well!
  8. Dear Morg, hey man, you well? Thanks for offering your knowledge and experience, finally the chance has come.

    I'm a beginner in most aspects of my presentation, what i too thought misdirection was only the moment when someone looks away - in other words i believed myself to be misdirecting sucessfuly when performing, after learning that was only directing and not misdirecting, many questions rose.

    Like you said, being able to make someone who is focused misdirected as opposed to someone who is scattered, that is really amazing. I have always wanted to learn how to do that, can you give me any advice? Examples of routines or effects would be very helpful.

    The "moment" is chained down to so many aspects - introducing misdirection into it is a new thing for me, meaning more work to be evaluated. Like the second video of the guy blantly distracting the person from noticing the card in the right hand while he plants the deck into the pocket, how can we avoid that? How can we avoid to distract and learn to misdirect?

    If you can help my improve here - normally when i need to misdirect, i break frame, my friend likes to call it the "Arena"; for example moving back a slight bit while i talk, or gesture with my hands. Is that more of distraction than misdirection? If it is, can you tell me ways of proper misdirection?

    Thanks Morg.
  9. As Morgician recommended, you should get Leading with Your Head. Its a great book that is all on presentation, misdirection, and psychology for magicians.

    Great thread Morg. Always good to hear from you on here. Your advice is invaluable.

  10. Ace to Z Magic - thanks for the kind words and the friend add. Tommy Wonder did stuff dreams were made of, and that cup and ball routine is one of the finest.

    Hey Skak - good to see you in this thread - much to be learnt. PM me your personal addresss, as I will send you a better explanation of what you need to work on.

    Misdirection is better termed direction because it is not about distracting, but about bringing attention to something else. The example of the moonwalking bear and the basketballs is exactly that. It wasn't that we were forced to look nowhere, but that we were focused on something else.

    Some of the techniques you are using - body language, gestures with hands...when used properly can work fine, but at the wrong time or for JUST to misdirect, can cause a moment where the audience later says..."oh, but I looked away". This is poor misdirection - it will achieve the goal of having the audience miss the moment, but the audience will realize that. Good misdirection occurs when you are NOT looking away, but still miss the moment. I think many magicians stop at the adage - A large motion covers a small - but never build more about misdirection than that.

    Two books, that in combination, will REALLY help you understand this are "Designing Miracles" by Ortiz and (as I mentioned before) "Leading with your Head" by Gary Kurtz. Get your hands on these, and read them - they both are theory based and will help you do magic that creates natural moments of misdirection. 5 points by Juan Tamariz would also help in creating this, although perhaps not as directly as the Kurtz, an eventual must read.

    Added as posts occur while you type - Thanks Doug - good to see you.
  11. Thanks Morg, i dont have any specific questions right now, i will PM you when i do.
  12. I think on top of knowing when to create misdirection, one of the major obstacles to performing artists would be audience interaction. Often there is no single rule to misdirection that is applicable on all crowds. I think different audiences require different methods of misdirection. The ability to do so effectively would depend on the ability to receive feedback on how the audience is reacting, and a wide spectrum of knowledge regarding various misdirection techniques so as to be confident to adapt to the situation.

    Just my rookie two cents worth. >_<

    Nonetheless, this thread is a great read. =)
  13. Omg, i was so scared when watching that video. I thought that a picture of a bear would pop up with an insanely loud screaming sound that would scare the sh*t out of me. :(

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