Strong as an oak

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by card, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. what is a watsky?

    I think I realize now what it is about all the cardistry videos it is that I dislike so much. It's always the same video, just insert different talent. Bust shot, or crotch shot. Never a face. Never any character, or dramatic build up. Always just some bloke twirling cards and spinning them around.

    I mean props that you can do this stuff. God only knows I can't. But it's like trying to watch a Bin Stiller movie marathon. Once you've seen one movie you pretty much seen every character he's ever going to play, just insert different setting and supporting cast.
  2. If you don't like them why do you continue to watch?
  3. I thought this thread was going to be about me.

    But nice video tho.
  4. So sad. I actually like Watsky and thought he'd be in this.

    But it's the same thing as every other flourish video. Hands twirling cards.

    This is why I don't like flourishing. There's no substance. Like Draven was saying. It's just hands and/or crotch with cards flipping around.

    I really, really want to see a flourish video that actually means something. That would be awesome.
  5. I've been saying this for the last couple of years now.

    Is that a serious question, or are you just being a smartass?
  6. I'll echo Steer on this one... is this a serious question or are you just being cheeky with me?
  7. That really depends on the performer - best not to generalize. Like any art form, especially one with such built-in opportunity for variation, the limits to which it can go and how entertaining it is to watch are going to rely entirely on who you see doing it.

  8. (Sorry William). . . between you and me Shea, I think it's the crotch angles that get him to watch. . .

    Truthfully, I'd say that Draven and Steerpike are like me, they watch with the hope of seeing actual talent at work; someone who is trying to ENTERTAIN us rather than another show off looking for attention.

    If you want to impress us (me) then do a proper video shoot with distance, so we can see YOU doing what you do for a real audience. Let us see a genuine audience reaction to YOU and what you do... the trick should never be the star, nor should your skills (unless you are doing a deliberate manipulation feature, like Billiard Balls or Thimble work).

    I understand the idea of getting feedback from your peers but this should be kept a bit more exclusive; getting critical feedback from four or five guys that you know will be brutally honest with you vs. "yes men" that will lie, pat you on the back and say "great job" (a.k.a. Magic Club support) . . . which does no one any good and has gone a very long way towards the collapse of magic and loss of its prestige. In shot, Magicians have hurt the very art they claim to love because we support shoddy performers and technique.

    I can't do that kind of work, but then I've not found a reason to master such antics in 40 some years of being around this stuff. If you can't use it in a practical way so as to amuse and entertain someone other than yourself, it's not important, it's just magician's masturbation. . . and I don't say that to be mean spirited or because I "can't" do that level of work but because that's how the old timers I learned from saw so much of it and as such, there must be something to that wisdom.

    If you want me to watch a video of you working then don't shoot something via your telephone of PC Camera and don't use tons of jumpy fill footage so as to build up the drama (most folks, including merchants, that rely on such chunky footage do so as a distraction that (hopefully) keeps you from seeing the weaknesses of what they are offering - if you claim to be a magician then stop trying to be George Lucas with a camera, be a magician! BTW. . . most of the top end booking agents, will toss videos of this sort, straight into the round-file if there's more than 10 seconds of it; they don't have the time to waste on such B.S.)

    Anyway. . . if you want to get an honest opinion from others about your PERFORMANCE then show us a performance, not you walking through a trick or playing with your deck.
  9. Actually, I'm going to disagree with you a little there. Indulge me for a moment, if you please.

    I've been doing fire performances for a long time. Poi, staff, fire breathing, etc. I have seen thousands of people doing this, and I have brought dozens of people to see these kinds of performances. In talking to them, and thinking of my own reactions, I have come to realize something. The amount of entertainment available from a prop manipulation act is inherently tied to how much the person understands the skill involved, unless the skill is made to be irrelevant (as in by making the act more of an illustration to a story, for instance). Therefore, someone who knows nothing of the skill involved will probably enjoy it less than someone who knows what's going on. It's esoteric.

    Therefore the entertainment value is not dependent on the performer entirely, unless they are able to make it not about skill as I mentioned earlier. I have yet to see a flourishing video that isn't purely about the skill. Therefore, I will inherently enjoy every flourishing video less than you, Vinnie, because you're an authority on the subject and I'm ignorant of the specifics. So there may be a huge amount of variation, but I can't see it because all the moves look the same to me. And almost all the videos look the same, because it's usually disembodied hands floating in front of someone's chest or crotch.

    I will say there are occasions where the video is different. The only ones I can think of are Daniel Madison, D&D and I think the Virts. And that variation is that I generally get to see their entire bodies in their videos, or at least more of their body than just their hands and torso. So in that sense yes, the personality of the performer comes through but not due to the way they move their hands, but the fact that I can actually see the performer.

    My problem with flourishing is that it's all about what's happening with the cards, and cards are not a good prop for manipulation in my opinion. I say this because they are small, so they are hard to see if you've got any distance on the performer. If you try to make the flourishing bigger, it tends to just look like flailing one's arms around. If you're close enough to see what's going on with the cards, you probably can't really see the rest of the performer. The cards are so small that the hands stay close together when manipulating them, excepting the cases of the bigger displays.

    Prop manipulation is very difficult to make meaningful and I just haven't really seen it done. I understand the skill involved, but it all looks the same to me, and none of it means anything to me. It's all, "I spent a long time perfecting this skill, now please indulge me and watch me do it."
  10. I can't find the video now, but one flourish video that I actually liked was one set to a song. And not just "music playing while the cards were moving." This guy synced everything with the melody and lyrics. When the word "smile" came up in the chorus, he actually controlled a card that had that word written on the back to the top and held it up to his face as he beamed at the camera. He had a face. He had a personality. The video worked.

    Whenever I see a disembodied pair of hands, it's mechanically impressive, but only in the same way as seeing a robot arm programmed to throw basketballs through a hoop.

    Film nerd moment! I would actually compare it to either Michael Bay at worst (due to his ADD-addled MTV cutting style) or Thelma Schoonmaker at best (underscoring tension with rapid cuts to recreate the effect of frantically looking around in the midst of action).
  11. Novella alert!

    While I understand the example, it's not a perfect analogue. Poi, staff and fire breathing have big impact, but are limited in the variety of moves and combinations possible - with cards a much larger variety of dexterous motions is possible, should the performer want to display such variety. (As for them all looking the same, I touch on that a bit below)

    Yes and no. That does certainly play a role - but a good showman (or woman) entertains their audience with visual and aesthetic feats that do not entirely rely on a comprehension of skill; rather an appreciation of aesthetics. There are thousands of possible ways to present such an act (and you outlined a good one in your above quote) that do not rely entirely, or even mostly, on the viewer's ability to comprehend the skill involved to be entertained. It all comes down to the creativity of the performer.

    Illustrating a story is actually a common and often important aspect of a pure-manipulation performance, as it ties the moves together and gives them deeper meaning that any audience can connect to - but it is not the only way to present pure manipulation successfully.

    I mostly replied to this above, but I would like to make a further point: manipulation is inherently less audience-friendly as a stand-alone art than magic is, that is true. Regardless, it can still be used in those applications very successfully (as I have seen done and have done myself), it just requires a bit more cleverness and ingenuity on the part of the performer to make it very engaging.

    Then you are missing out, my friend. Today is certainly not the "heyday" of manipulation videos, as some of the more presentation-centric and entertaining manipulators have all but vanished (Bone is a good example).

    I agree - but I think that the degree of your lessened enjoyment is a product of the manipulator, not necessarily the art itself.

    As above, there are a lot of great videos out there that don't follow the "formula". However, many of the people who have created them have since gone quiet.

    Bear in mind that I have only just returned to the online manipulation / magic scene after a 4-year absence. So I'm used to a slightly more "old-school" style of manipulation, and some of the modern developments in the field have surprised me (and not in a good way.)

    That is certainly one aspect, among others. The editing, music, story/plot, etc all play a role in engagement.

    Manipulation isn't well-suited to a massive auditorium (the same way that close-up magic is not). It's better in a more intimate environment with smaller audiences and closer seating. That said, I think they are a fantastic prop, they just require a little creativity in adapting them to live audience performances. And as for camera work, there is a very large acceptable "middle ground" where both the performer and his/her manipulations are perfectly visible.

    I would also like to point out that "my problem with flourishing is that it's all about what's happening with the cards," is only sometimes true, and whether or not it is true is entirely dependent on how the performer wishes to craft and display their presentation. There are far fewer limits in this art than some may think. Just because many modern manipulators do not explore new possibilities does not mean they aren't there.

    That's certainly common, but please don't take it to represent the field as a whole. There are many great videos and manipulators out there that demonstrate the many, varied and entertaining things that can be done with this art.

    All in all, I understand your perception and opinion of the art given your observations and experiences, but please trust me when I say that much more is possible - and has been done - than what you have likely seen. :) A lot of things can be done with a deck of cards and a big dose of showmanship.

    All the best,
  12. I feel like this whole discussion is pretty stupid. Here's why. We have some (I'm sure) very talented and dedicated magicians complaining about card flourishing because, A. It doesn't work for performing live (either to small, doesn't get reactions, or just the same thing over and over) or B. It is boring to them because they don't find enjoyment from the creative methods that people use come up with.

    First let's talk about A. So I am I pretty avid cardist and I like to perform magic (to a lesser degree because I'm not very good). I consider these two things to be completely different hobbies. Magic is completely for the enjoyment of spectators and is meaningless without a spectator. Card flourishing on the other hand can be for the cardists own enjoyment or for fellow card flourishers across the internet. I personally don't make videos for the internet I use flourishing as just a fun pastime (similarly to something like TV or video games or something you do alone). So what I'm saying is flourishing and magic are completely different activities that just share a tool (cards). Since they are different there is no reason the same rules apply from one to the other.

    Now for B. Well I don't know about anyone else but I got into flourishing because I thought it was incredible what people could do with something so simple. Then as I continued watching more people and learning more I started caring about peoples methods and the more intricate moves they could do. That's what interests me, if that doesn't interest you then that's fine.

    But that is why I asked my question. Not trying to be a "smartass" (as you chose to call me...) I was just asking why you were continuing to watch if you knew you didn't like flourishing. Also you complain about all these "arm crotch shots", I agree most new people do that kinda thing and that does get old. But what about the experienced flourishers (for instance Ryuji who just won the Burt Wonderstone Contest) there are people who make very interesting videos with personality and feeling. Throwing all flourishers into one group of "boring the same old stuff" seems a little harsh and ignorant.

    So basically you don't see cardists saying that magicians should change their art to match our style. We don't say "Magic would be better if the spectators knew how hard that pass was you should reveal it". So magicians shouldn't be saying card flourishing should be like magic.

    Magic and flourishing are seperate things. (they can be combined but they are not unchangebly linked)
  13. @Shea, I partially agree with you in that they are separate and should not be lumped together necessarily. However, I also believe (and have demonstrated and observed) that both can be very spectator-friendly and entertaining if presented well.

    Personally I don't mind this discussion - everyone is being civil, there's no arguing and we're all just trying to achieve an understanding of each other's points of view. I wish it was always like this. xD

  14. Oh this should be good.

    Or maybe it's C) the videos just aren't very good objectively speaking.

    A slightly dodgy premise, but I understand the argument at least.

    We already have that where I come from. It's called masturbating.

    You're talking to a guy who works in mass media. Comparing you dicking around with cards in your bedroom to what I do is not a can of worms you want to open.

    Which is a bad argument because you don't even know what the rules are, but you're using this excuse as a pretext to break all of them anyway.

    You're writing this rant, which tells me no, you don't think it's fine.

    At what point did I or anyone else say we don't like manipulation acts? Maybe we just don't like bad videos or lackluster performances.

    If they don't do the same boring crap, then obviously the statements do not apply to them.

    Yes I have.

    Who said that?

    A restated premise, but no effort has been made to qualify it. The complaints are about bad presentation. Like it or not, manipulation artistry is still subject to basic rules of art, entertainment and theatricality. You don't get to blow those rules off by pretending that what you do is somehow so different that we have yet to invent a language for the hypothetical medium.

    Here's the fact of the matter as simply as I can put it. Any time someone is watching you do something, the two questions they are asking themselves are, "What am I looking at?" and, "Why am I looking at it?" The same applies to spinning playing cards.
  15. Hopefully this doesn't get too confusing.

    I'm not sure you're correct on the idea of "much wider" range of possibilities for cards than poi. Just the size and flexibility of something like poi gives you a really wide range of movements. But that's not really the point of this discussion, so let's not start that. It would just devolve into pedantry and semantics, I think.

    I've never denied the possibility of someone using flourishing in an interesting and in depth manner, but I've never seen it. I am speaking strictly as an outside observer who doesn't know much about flourishing. Everything I have seen has just been a display of skill. I continue to give videos a chance because I'm hoping that some day I will see something with depth.

    Is it really that common? Most manipulation acts I've seen tell no story and have no real meaning. This is not confined to flourishing, it applies to the vast majority of acts I've seen which are purely manipulation. They rarely tell a story, though some are artistic and engaging to me just through the display of skill combined with music and choreography. Raw Art is a circus group out of, I believe, Poland. I have enjoyed every video of theirs that I have seen, though only one or two really tell a story.

    Never said it's not possible, only that I've never seen it.

    I used to be on the outskirts of the 'scene' when it was first forming. I used to do some contact juggling and stumbled onto Handlordz back in .. oh, 2002 or so. Even back then, manipulation videos tended to just be hands doing stuff. Whether it's crystal balls, pens, cups or whatever. Few people have the wherewithal to create a decent performance by manipulating a prop.

    As I said before, my beginning in the manipulation scene was 11 years ago as a budding circus performer. I was a fairly hardcore poi spinner for about 6 years. I've seen, quite possibly, over a thousand performers. Well, if you count Burning Man last year, I probably saw a thousand performers at once around the Man. I have seen people who can do amazing things with props which seem to defy physics. But they are still displays of skill with no extra depth to them.

    But it does mean that I've never seen anyone do anything more with it. There may be deeper options available, but if no one uses them, does it matter?

    I will say this: if you can show me a video where there's some meaning and depth to flourishing, I would watch it happily and I would concede that there are more options and possibilities. However, the vast majority of what I've seen is just meaningless fiddling. You can say that there's more out there and that I shouldn't assume that what I've seen is all there is. But it's all I've seen. If you've got some links somewhere, I'll watch them gladly. But until I see something other than cards flipping around each other, I won't change my mind.
  16. As I've pointed out in another thread, Cardistry doesn't do anything for me because it's like watching a Ben Stiller movie marathon. Once you've seen one video, you pretty much know exactly what to expect in every other one in the line up.

    Cardists rely on the same thing video after video. Horribly out of place techno- dubstep music followed by either a crotch shot or a tight in shot of their hands and busts that cuts off at the neck. Never is there any build up, any drama, or any reason for me to invest myself emotionally in X kid's for lack of a more tactful way of wording this: "showing off". It's magical masturbation. Done because it makes the performer feel good and no one else.

    As an audience member magic appeals to them because there is story, there is characterization, there is build up, climax, suspense, and wonder. You have a frame to hang your emotional attachments on, and if you can't get your audience to emotionally commit themselves to your work then you're not doing it right. But with cardists there's nothing. I'm sorry but "look what I can do" stopped being endearing at five years of age.

    I'm sorry but the only real solid connection a cardist shares with a magician is that we both use a deck of cards in our act. A cardist isn't a magician. A magician may be a cardist, but it doesn't work the other way around. A cardist is a form of juggler. A variety performer who specializes in a very specific medium. I realize that I'm probably in the minority with this opinion, but it's one I feel strongly about. I'd LOVE to see someone actually make a cardist video, and make it interesting for once. I really would.
  17. Believe me, if I could I would. But aside from the fact that my performance style just doesn't work with manipulation artistry, I also have the severe handicap of being incredibly dominantly left-handed. I'm not kidding when I tell you that my left arm is about 2-3 inches longer than my right and I can't move the ring and little fingers on my right hand independently. I have to play guitar right-handed because my right hand couldn't even fret the strings.

    That said, it really doesn't have to be as difficult as people make it out to be. Let's stop and think for a second. What are some of the biggest pitfalls of cardistry videos?

    1. Bad framing of the camera.
    1a. Using tacky special effects in lieu of any interesting camera movement or angles.
    2. Generic techno/dubstep music.
    3. Repetitive moves.
    4. No natural progression or sense of flow/narrative

    So how do we get around those? Well the first is actually pretty easy to fix. Go to the library and read some books on digital video filmmaking. Most of them will have at least one chapter on cinematography and one on editing. A basic understanding of what kinds of shots look good and how to cut them together goes a long way.

    What about the music. Well, you should be broadening your horizons anyway. Perusing my iTunes, here's a short list from rock and roll that could conceivably have a good manipulation routine set to them, if not with cards, then something:

    Games Without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel
    All Over the World - Electric Light Orchestra
    Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
    Life During Wartime - Talking Heads
    No Excuses - Alice in Chains
    Sweet Miracle - Rush
    Locomotive Breath - Jethro Tull
    Some Heads Are Gonna Roll - Judas Priest (I see butterfly knives with this one)
    Blue Moon - The Ventures
    Have a Cigar - Pink Floyd
    Time Bomb - Rancid
    The Price You Pay - Savatage
    I Was Wrong - Social Distortion

    See, it's not that hard.

    Anyway, to address the third and fourth points that probably stems from the fact that the flourish/manipulation community is even more political than magic. Seriously, the way De'vo and the Bucks seem to be regarded as Hatfields vs McCoys is really obnoxious. Stop it. Learn from every source you can and don't just get your moves exclusively off of one boxed set.
  18. #19 Vinnie C., Mar 25, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2013
    Oh boy, this is getting lengthy. I'm going to try to reply only to select excerpts.

    I'm only referring to the number of objects manipulated - given there are 52 cards. On a purely technical level, it gives you more opportunities for unique motions. Presentation and routining aside, of course, as that's a whole other matter.

    Of course, and I totally grant you that. I've been steeped in this field since not too long after it began on the online scene - so I've had the opportunity to see the highs, lows and all sorts of steps in between as it has evolved. The fact that the honest possibilities of manipulation as a true art are rarely explored by modern manipulators is heartbreaking, but I'm working to help change that.

    I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant a fully fleshed-out and thoughtfully crafted performance, as in manipulation really being done "right". I wasn't referring to the vast majority of media out there which, as you pointed out, is often devoid of a strong presentation.

    Oh I know, I just wanted to make that point for everyone here. :)

    That's certainly true, and while David (De'vo) is a fantastic study in the subject of branding and persona, his presentations were still not a far toss above the norm - and were mostly just him manipulating. Even those notable manipulators who did stand out only produced a really moving or incredibly engaging video infrequently. The type of manipulation I talk about is rarely done anywhere, but is what this art needs to be compelling on a large scale.

    Indeed, as that is often all they need to be entertaining either within their niche (card manipulators) or to the public who specifically chose to see them do that form of manipulation (such as poi). But, of course, there is room to expand and adventure into working such a performance into a real presentation.

    That the possibilities exist does matter - but only up to a point. People then have to begin taking advantage of those possibilities and using them, which most modern manipulators may not do. In direct reply, no, it doesn't matter if no one is taking advantage of these opportunities, which is why I bust my tail in trying to raise the standards of a manipulation performance.

    Let me clear something up in case we had a misunderstanding - I'm certainly not arguing with you, and am not out to change your mind. I've considered this a very fun and enlightening conversation. I'm only here to present the case for manipulation as an art, and why it can be successful in that application. It breaks my heart that most people have not been exposed to what is possible with pure manipulation - because very few (if any) people are doing it that way nowadays! I certainly don't blame you for not having seen the type of manipulation I'm talking about, because it's virtually non-existent out there. :)

    I'll see what I can do about finding some links. Like I said, I've been off the grid for 4 years and have gotten a new computer since then, so I'll have to give it a hard look.

    That's hardly fair to state as a generalization. While that may be the dominant theme right now, let's not lump us all into one basket. ;)

    Great post, and I totally agree. And let me say, from experience (having served as a moderator or administrator on Handlordz, Dan and Dave, Decknique and here), the politics were freaking ridiculous. It's calmed down a lot since I was last on the scene, but wow was it crazy back then. This has unfortunately contributed to the whole idea of repetitive styles, as you pointed out. People are duplicating the styles of the people who inspire them instead of carving out their own path.

  19. look I'm just happy the music isn't dubstep

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