>>Perfection - Attention to Detail

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by arvindj227, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. #1 arvindj227, Sep 5, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2007
    Perfection & Attention to Detail

    -An instance of excellence
    -A special feature or quality that confers superiority

    When we perform magic, do we strive to be perfect? Do we want every little thing to work out the way it should? Is it alright if most of it works out? Does every little bit count? What's wrong if I don't worry about 'that little thing'?

    Those are a few questions you can ask yourself.

    Perfection is the culmination of many things. Only when all of them come together do you near perfection. I say near because it takes a LOT to achieve what you want. You near perfection every time you try to. There's an irony, don't you think? The driving forces to achieve perfection are the imperfections in what we do. Can we boldly say what we did was perfect in ALL aspects? I don't think we should. Once we say that, then there's no more moving forward.

    The important thing we need to focus on is what can/makes our magic perfect?

    Every performance, practise session, show, gig, entertainment, etc consists of many many small parts. You have technical parts, as well as non technical parts. Let's get into some of these parts and have a look at them.

    A Technical Viewpoint

    Fluency, Elegance, Class :

    Observe a person who's been handling cards for a decade or so. Take a look at how casino dealers handle cards. Just sit and observe it. Notice everything about what they are doing. Now compare yourself with them. There's a difference, isn't there?

    When I say fluency, I mean how well you know your moves. Have you practised enough? Can you be sure that you can do that move without any jerks or jumps? Do you really know it well enough? First we have to be clear about the moves. Learn how it has to be done. How it's supposed to look, what it's supposed to achieve and the outcome if any. Now once you have the moves all set, it's time to perfect it.

    Observe how a pro does what you just learnt; note every single thing about it - good and not so good. Aim to incorporate the good things into your handling and try and find out why what is not good, isn't good. Many times, there is a reason for it that you will know only upon closer observation.

    Moving on to to the elegance. I've seen many videos where the performer doesn't really care about how what he is doing actually looks to someone who isn't watching the magic itself. Someone who is trying to judge how good you are - not by your sleights or moves. But by the way you present it. Now again, here I don't mean your patter. I primarily mean the way you handle the cards for example. How you turn over cards, how you lay them down, how you pick them up. Placements of cards on the table, smoothness in transfers, rhythm and control. Every little thing matters and COUNTS.

    Aim to be classy. Look deep and perfect the way you do everything. How do you hand a card to someone? Do you take it off the deck and just give it to them? Nope, that's not detailed enough. Use your left thumb and push off the top card a bit, simultaneously bringing in your right hand in to take it. Take the card in a slightly upward movement with your thumb on top and fingers underneath. Just before the card clears your thumb, grip it a bit tighter and give it a little flick or snap. Readjust and do a little pirouette. Now readjust again in a way you would go into Tenkai and just as the card rotates towards you stop and lower your hand simultaneously turning it over with your middle finger lengthwise laying it down faceup and pushing it forward with your four fingers.

    Now, it doesn't matter if you weren't able to follow that completely. It was a very specific situation oriented method, but what I am trying to convey is the details you must look into. Why not do it normally? Nope - why settle for less?

    Practise like you never have and perfect all those tiny little things; it doesn't take long and after a point of time you will automatically start looking out. These things generally are not taught in any video. It's upto us to observe and improve. Turning over the deck in our hands, handing over a deck. Yes, you can perfect those as well. You can be consistent - handing over the deck holding it on the bottom short edge with your thumb on top and fingers underneath. It's much better than some random undecided action that just pops into your head when you understand that it's time to give your spectator the deck, right?

    Each one has a contribution to the overall effect. Something that is able to set it apart from a normal one. A special feature which confers superiority.

    A Non-technical viewpoint

    Goals, Communication, Gestures, Style, Consistency :

    Coming to the aspects of presenting. What's our style of magic? Are we doing what we think we want to do?

    I've mentioned this numerous times in other posts. We need to have goals and objectives on what we perform. How do we consider an ideal performance to be? Work towards that. You must have a vision of something. Something to work towards - something to achieve - something to pull off. A goal can be target reactions, reasons for performing the routine, what we want to achieve out of it, et al.

    The movie Hitch begins with the title character telling us that, "Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal body language; thirty percent is your tone, so that means ninety percent of what you're saying isn't coming out of your mouth."

    When we say presentation remember that it's not just patter. Patter is one of the many things that must come together to make a successful performance. It's NOT the only thing. As mentioned above, what we say itself is just 10% or so contribution.

    How we conduct ourselves during a performance - how we react, how we smile, how we show emotions; basically everything that doesn't have a move or a sleight. How do we ensure everything goes the way we want to? Simple - script it out! Not so simple - actually scripting it out.

    Just kidding, you just need to start. It's not that difficult to script. But ensure that your script is COMPLETE. It should pay attention to detail. You want to just look at a script and be able to visualize and play out in your mind how it plays out. Put in gestures, actions, placements of props, setups, methods, tone of voice, emphasis, "moments".

    It's important to know and identify the key moments. The times where the magic is shown to occur, where it is supposed to happen, where it actually happens, etc. You need to be *clear* on what is happening. Once again, we return to our goals. What are our goals? Keep those in mind and work towards it.

    Let's look a bit into gestures and style. This plays an integral part in misdirection. If you get a chance, take a look at Derren Brown's card work. He has an amazing 3 card routine which highlights the brilliance of his work. There is so much to observe in that. It simply comes across as a masterful presentation. Make sure everything you do has a meaning, plays a part to contribute, is essential and doesn't call unnecessary attention to (unless otherwise required).

    Eye contact, hand movement, redirection of attention. If we pay close attention to what we are supposed to do, the misdirection is built in. Plan out where to keep your hands, where to move them and how to handle your cards like discussed earlier. It's all very small things, but in the actual performance you may wonder, "Now, where do I keep my hands, it's got something in them!!" You do not want such a situation arising. That's deadly.

    Adopt it to your performing style. Make it sensible. An additional point to remember is being consistent. You can totally plan out what you are doing. But if it's not consistent with what's been happening before, it may arouse unnecessary attention. Check and recheck what you have planned. Try it out and observe. You'll be able to feel and sense anything that doesn't seem right.

    I don't really believe that much in 'outs'. If we are able to control our performance, we don't need outs. A situation should be handled with tact and finesse. A highly refined routine will not need to depend on an out. Unless of course there are many possibilities for it in which case it just becomes deviations of the end result. If it's that good as an out should be, then why not make it a standalone effect?

    Conclusion -

    I hope you've enjoyed reading this little article. Hopefully you'll be able to learn something and take something from it. I have not handled everything as perfection is such a wide and open topic! I kept it to certain things I felt were important and gave them detail. It is still not perfect and that's why inputs from your side are encouraged. Feel free to add on examples of attention to detail, ways you can achieve it, anything at all. We can all learn from it. Keep working towards perfection, script, plan out, think about your goals.

    I had a few more topics that I thought I would cover but we'll keep that for a later day.

    Many thanks to Chris who's been a great inspiration for some of the points discussed in this.


  2. Great article! Thanks.
  3. Thanks for this, it was a great read! Nice job on writing it up.
  4. Really good article. I spent more than an hour practicing one cut from the Trilogy (Akira to be specific) and I still wasn't satisfied. I definitely like it when everything is perfect and nothing goes wrong. Because that doesn't happen all the time for me, it leaves me with something to work on.

  5. Good article for the most part AJ. One thing I disagree with though is that you mentioned that you should perfect every move, even turning over the deck. You said that it should be done in a classy style.

    IMO, some people don't like to portray that image, and some places it just won't work. For me, I try not to get too fancy with handling the cards in general. Watch Darwin Ortiz. His card handling is very smooth and fluent, yet he doesn't do anything to fancy either. Just basic stuff (except for his sleights. I saw him lecture and WOW! Talk about some hard material right there! :)).

    Very nice.
  6. That was a great read, I read through twice and I like they way you described things with elegance and class. Everyone loves a class act (no pun intended) and the way you present it is very important. Being intricate in your work and making sure kinks and such are worked out are done well before performing is a must.

  7. Hi Steve,

    I didn't exactly mean that everything you do must be done in a classy manner. My emphasis is on perfecting and paying attention to the detail in what you are doing. Even if you aim to portray a slightly lesser experienced cardman, you should have perfected that. You don't need to be fancy, but you do need to be smooth like you mentioned.

    Hope that cleared it up!


  8. This is a very brief version of an article that appeared in 'The Magic Of Ascanio Volume 1' .
    It goes into alot of detail on the subject and gives alot of truly great advice.

    I recommend buying it,if you want to look into the subject more

    Many thanks

    Daniel Chard:D
  9. Wow! Never knew that, I don't even have that book! Though I've heard that it is fantastic. Gotta pick that one up sometime soon...



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