Fake/Computer Generated Magic vs "Real" Magic

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Maaz Hasan, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. So a while ago, I read an article about how most of Criss Angel's work was computer generated. I mean, obviously the cutting people in half in public, floating in the middle of the desert, etc. were fake, but a lot more of his stuff was also apparently fake. Now, I would really like to know how much of his stuff is fake, because I know Jay Sankey (of all people) worked for Angel for a little bit, so some of his stuff must be real right (probably the tricks he chose to teach us, and a couple others). Furthermore, he's gotten on podcasts with the likes of Penn Jillette.

    So at this point, I'm really trying to figure all this out. At this point in the discussion, I'm assuming that article was true at this point. No disrespect to Angel, but can camera tricks be really called Magic? Beyond that, can you go from saying that to criticizing David Blaine for "not performing infront of live audiences" and not being the best card magician out there? At least Blaine's stunts are real. I mean, no one critiqued Houdini for doing insane non-card stunts and tricks.

    And then Lo and behold, after almost a half-year of this continued debate in my head, Chris Ramsay addresses it in a video, and he really helps strengthen this discussion.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on "Fake" Magic and this "last group of TV magicians that are trying to convince people that magic is real, and doing so by any means necessary" as Ramsay put it, referring to Angel.
  2. Well, at least he was relatively honest by saying his review was biased.

    Here's the thing. Whether it's 'real' or 'fake' magic, do they still provide an entertaining experience? Isn't that what matters?

    I think Criss Angel landed in the magic scene was really good timing. Magic was on an uptick and his way of going about it by way of claiming he actually HAD abilities was good for the time.

    One thing Ramsey did fail to mention was that Criss Angel has had a Vegas show for a REALLY LONG TIME.

    So while his tv specials aren't where they were when he first did them, he's still doing live shows and carving a hefty paycheck.

    However, the way he did magic (special effects, camera effects, staged actors, etc) isn't something that could fly too well these days. Primarily because there is a bit of a stigma with utilizing what he does to achieve certain effects. While still an entertaining experience for the right audience, it seems that if there is any shred of doubt that a stooge is used, the whole thing sucks outright.

    I think that when technology advances more, I'd imagine we'll see a new Criss Angel-esque magician. I also highly doubt hat Criss Angel is the 'last of the group of magicians trying to convince people that magic is real'.

    People have caught up to magic pretty well these last several years and we haven't been able to utilize technology as much to keep us 'ahead of the curve'. Then again, with people being so attracted to magic these days. I'd imagine it's incredibly difficult to be way ahead of the curve anyway.
    FirstFlourish and Maaz Hasan like this.
  3. Criss pushes the limits and in my opinion he pushes it a little too far. I have watched almost every episode of Mind Freak and I can't think of a specific time where he would have used computer graphics to accomplish his effects. Other magicians have Zack King (If you want to call him a magician) Stuart Edge(I'm pretty sure he has) and Yif (I read a recent interview where he confirms this) all have. I would actually say that with the advent of You Tube and other social media that the use of computer generated effects has become more popular than in the past.

    Criss does use cuts and stooges. I like what Chris Ramsay says about this. When Kyle Marlett consulted with Criss Angel we talked about TV magic. He said that as long as the effect could be performed live it was game. This means that the method can change but as long as there is a method that works live for the same effect than it's all good.

    I don't totally agree with this. It takes a fairly lax view of what makes an effect and effect. Angel once performed the Doug Henning motorcycle vanish in precisely the same way that Henning performed the original. Of course he could perform this live. The issue though is that when it came to the episode it was edited out of order. This made the effect just different enough from Doug's that you really couldn't replicate the exact sequence of actions live. I think that these small changes affect the effect.

    So, I think that editing things out of sequence is pushing the boundaries too far. I don't see any problem with the magician using camera frame as if it was the audience, in this sense the camera becomes another spectator.

    Stooges can be used in the theater but they, just like every other method, need to be used sparingly. When a layman guesses at a tricks method they spit out the same 5 or so things; trapdoors, magnets, it went up their sleeve, mirrors and stooges. These are all used from time to time but when used skilfully they should be undetected. Things like "Sleeveless Sleeving", "Instant Stooging" or "pre-show work" all use these methods but they take some time to separate the effect from the method.

    It is sometimes argued that stooges on TV are the same thing as assistants on stage. This isn't true at all. When Joanie Spina worked with David Copperfield or when Melinda worked with Lance Burton EVERYONE knew they were in on it. They are part of the production staff of course they know what is going on. When Criss pretends to find who he is going to saw in half on the street I don't think it is the same thing.
    Maaz Hasan likes this.
  4. Well magic to a lot of people means "Being able to do amazing things, and being able entertain people at the same time" . To be honest look at all the tricks we learn, magic is an amazing method of sharing joy and happiness while at the same time being mysterious , our ability to make people question whether or not what we do is real .......... that very thing is what makes it magic in my opinion that thinking is what makes magic exist .

    So when it comes to people like Chris , I too have watched him for a long time ... and he was entertaining cause it gave us the benefit of doubt and in doing so made us open up google to see whether what he did was real or not but the whole process was entertaining overall and whether what he did was edited or not ( probably was ) ,still it entertained. You see the thing is magic is to entertain i don't think how you do it is really a big deal as long as you don't mess up in front of a lot of people cause that's sad.

    But to the question at hand, magic at any rate requires some sort of set up or method, In my opinion edited magic using CGI or so is not the type of magic that's good for the world cause now days people don't always believe ... and so when people do magic on T.V that's edited... then well people stop wanting to believe. However if we are to do a trick in front of someone or even on a platform with full spectator involvement they feel we know what we are doing , not saying they believe it but they give it a chance at the very least .

    Magic is magic people will forever be interested in it but at the end of the day i think doing magic live in front of an audience with their involvement makes it more interesting and slightly more believe-able. Edited magic on T.V i feel will soon start to lose appeal unless someone finds a different way to go about it. Overall edited magic in my opinion is not the best way to spread magic and doing it for people in the flesh is better any day.

  5. Criss' audience wasn't the people there with him, physically. His audience was the people at home watching TV. That has to be remembered when discussing Angel's work. Also, another thing to remember, Criss Angel is very successful, monetarily. His net worth, according to Google, is a little over 4 times that of Blaine. He's also got a slew of awards from various magic organizations.

    When they say "camera tricks" in reference to Angel they're usually talking about cuts and careful edits. Like the time he levitated a frisbee, then made it fly to someone to catch - only the guy who caught it was also standing right behind him when he levitated it.

    I never really liked Angel's shows so I haven't seen much of it, so I don't have much in the way of examples of anything he's done.

    I don't think Angel's the last guy who plays it straight. I mean, if anything, Blaine is still doing specials and he plays it real, too. I know a lot of guys who work straight like that, but none of them are on TV. There's a lot of different styles of magician out there - some of them are very small niches and they are not easy to locate or learn.

    Personally I think the way to deal with the advances in technology is, ironically perhaps, to go as low tech as possible. Use methods that cannot be done via technology. I think this is why so many magicians end up "migrating" to mentalism the longer they perform.
  6. One of my favorite examples of this is Zach King. Not exactly what you'd consider a "real" magician, but really, he kind of is. Magic is all about the affect, and whatever means of getting there, so long as they work, are perfectly valid in my book, sure we can look down on stooges and cgi as cheating, but if they allow us to do stuff that would not otherwise be possible, I see no problem with that. Just that, as with any other method, they need to be used responsibly, not because someone doesn't want to do the work for something that doesn't absolutely need them.
  7. So, in response to what you guys have said, can the "camera magic" be called magic? Lets call camera magic an art. Is camera magic the same art as real magic, or is it something else, similar to mix between an optical illusion and a street hustle?

    In the example with Zach King, King almost always puts an effect out that shows the fact that it was just a camera trick. He isn't claiming to do the art of magic like Criss is. He is claiming to do a camera trick, so I don't think he can be considered a magician, because he isn't tryig to be one.
  8. Getting into the murky area of definitions here. Everyone has a different definition for these things.

    Personally, I do not think Magic is an art in and of itself. It is a craft, a tool, that can be used to create art. Just like paint and brushes.

    I don't think something that is just visually striking is necessary magic, hence I don't consider Zach King's work to be 'magic'. I think of it as 'video magic' sometimes, but not magic. Fun fact, a friend of mine went to college with Zach and actually ended up teaching him some 'real' magic to perform at a presentation.

    I don't have time for a long post right now, so I'll leave it at this:

    If magic is going to be an art is has to be meaningful. Therefore things that are just pretty are nice to look at, but not necessarily art, regardless of how they are made.
  9. Is magic not meaningful? I always look at Magic as the connection with your audience, not the effect. After all, the magic is in the presentation, not the effect, and the presentation relies on the connection with the audience.
  10. Magic can be meaningful but it's not inherently meaningful. The performer has to inject meaning.
  11. You could say that about any form of art. I mean, I could draw a beautiful picture that has no meaning, or I could draw the simplest picture ever and put a ton of meaning into it, couldn't I?
  12. Yes, I suppose you could say the same thing about any art. To change Christopher's quote:

    If sculpture is going to be an art is has to be meaningful.
    If film is going to be an art is has to be meaningful.
    If drawing is going to be an art is has to be meaningful.
    If writing is going to be an art is has to be meaningful.

    For me art needs to evoke an emotional reaction. That's a little different than Christopher's definition but they're not mutually exclusive. To paraphrase Max Maven, magicians have accomplished the amazing task of taking something inherently profound and made it completely trivial. Maybe it would be better to say that it needs to be just a notch beyond an emotional response for me.

    David Copperfield talks about it in this interview at 9:15

  13. Josh Burch already touched on it, but yes, you can say that about any form of art.

    It's really difficult for me to put into words, because to my art isn't something you can define beyond the concept of it. After years of thought, I have created my own definition of art: Art is a conscious creation that evokes and/or inspires an emotional reaction or deep thought.

    That's the best I can do. If you're wondering, no, I don't think it's good enough, but I have never been able to come up with anything better.

    To me a painting is not art by default, either. I could rub pigments onto a piece of paper to create a very rough image of a house. That's not art to me. But if someone else looked at that and suddenly had an emotional response to it, it could be art to them. Art is subjective. You can do your best to put meaning into a piece, and it will usually hit home, but it won't work for everyone. Which is why it's so good that there are so many different styles of performers out there.

    Magic is, at least these days and to me, almost never art. It's often beautiful. It's often very clever. But it rarely gives me an emotional reaction and it rarely makes me think about things. This is my biggest problem with magic and why I had so little interest in it until so late in life (comparatively).

    I strive to make my performances meaningful. Do I always succeed? Not even close. I have a few that I consider to be really good. Those few have the potential to be art to most people. That's as good as I've done so far.
  14. Camera magic can be called an art yes, but it can never be the same as real magic that's done in real time for an audience. Camera magic is a different sort of entertainment but none the less it is a form of entertaining but i don't think it can ever come anywhere close to being same to real magic ....
    Maaz Hasan likes this.
  15. That's interesting because I almost always make an emotional reaction to someone no matter how minor it is. Even if that reaction is just a little bit of pure child-like wonder, which is my favorite reaction to instill. In the end, as long as I ca tell a story, or instill some emotion, I feel like I'm doing "magic" (as in the reason for magic blah blah more philosophical definition).

    However back to the point, are Camera Tricks the same form of [art, entertainment, whatever you want to put] as Magic? I think not, because there is not that same emotional bond, or even a bond in general. I mean, even when you talk about magic on TV, eve though someone like Penn & Teller, or David Blaine create a bond that targets their audience, they somehow manage to include us into it. I mean, even when I was watching Beyond Magic on TV, I saw some tricks that actually blew my mind, and had that same sort of emotional bond, obviously on a much lower level then in person, mainly because I physically saw Blaine directly interacting with an audience. He used a routine that wasn't just one trick long, and started as an interaction with the audience, not just a one trick thing that he was doing for the camera and letting people watch. However, with the Big Tricks that Criss used CGI for, I did not feel that some emotional bond.

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