Visuality of effects

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by 2ndDeal, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. How important you think the visuality of an effect is? Letting spectators see the moment of magic? Visual colour changes, quick effects etc.
    What about the downside? Lack of surprise moment, (card they were holding for a whole trick turns to be their selection etc), dramatic build, etc that often comes with visual effects.
  2. They both have their place; quick, visually interesting tricks can draw an audience in and get them in a frame of mind where they are willing to concentrate on a more drawn out trick.

    Good openers are often quick and flashy, but much of the time good closers tend to build a lot of suspense and not be very flashy at all. Gemini-style tricks make excellent closers because of the high degree of impossibility.

    I always get stronger reactions from the less visual stuff in my repertoire; assembly tricks, spelling tricks, prediction tricks. But I have to get my audience to a mental place where they are willing to buy into the magic first - and I do that with quick, flashy, visual tricks.
  3. I think it's what really blows people's minds about magic. If you don't actually see it happen, it just seems like you missed something - but when you see the magic right before your eyes, it's different somehow. I'm not amazed when someone says "Here, hold this card - look, your card has changed!" because I know he's just handed me a different card. But when he says "watch this" and does a snap change, even though I know what it is and how it's done, it's much more entertaining.

    And it's even more so if I don't know what he did.
  4. I believe that visual magic reigns supreme.

    The message I want to pass to my spectators is that his eyes are not as reliable as he thinks they are, and hopefully cause him to question the concept of perception. For me, extremely visual magic is the way to go.

    But I think it really depends on your performing persona. It happens to suit me.
  5. Look at the TED talk that Bayme posted in the news feed. The guy talks a lot about mystery and what one doesn't see. What your audience doesn't see can be much more powerful than what you choose to show them. Stuff that happens under the curtain...
  6. I performed for a group of students the other day. My usual opener - attempt to find card, fail, change the card. Then do it again, this time with a visual change. Then change it one more time, by rubbing the card on my sleeve and turning it over to reveal the change.

    Reactions start well with the first change (non visual), jump even higher with the second, visual change - and then go through the roof with the third, non visual, change.

    I have two routines which follow a similar structure - I use either one as my opener mostof the time - and it has been my experience every single time that the final change - the non-visual change - gets the biggest reaction out of all of them.

    Visual changes are eye candy, and very impressive. There's something perhaps more magical about an implied change though, which came as a surprise to me. I did it one time as a throwaway and was knocked back by the level of reaction, and now it's an important part of my routine.
  7. But think about what spectator sees.
    Spectator is not going to think you gave them wrong card, they think "How it is possible that card I was holding all the time turned into different one".

    Of cource, these are just opinions.
  8. There is a very big difference between what a spectator actually sees, and what he thinks he sees. He'll remember what he thought he saw later, and he'll begin to doubt it. But what he actually sees is a different matter.
  9. I don't think you have any hard data to back up that assertion.
  10. Since I don't think you can get any hard data to back it up, I don't see this as a flaw. After all, you don't have any hard data to the contrary, either.

    But here's the soft data.

    How many times have you performed a trick for someone, and he's amazed, and then a day or two later he comes back to you and says "I know how you did that"?

    With a non-visual effect, the explanation is frequently workable. Even if it's not how you did it, even if it's more difficult and less reliable, often the explanation you get for a non-visual effect would work. Sure, I use a DL, and the layman's explanation is that I palmed a card... but the end result is the same. Between the time I showed you the face of this card, and the time I put the deck on the ground, I changed the top card of the deck. That's a valid explanation.

    But with a visual effect, the explanations are insane. "Okay, so when you did the trick you hypnotised me, and that one time when I blinked you made a secret hand sign that made me keep my eyes closed a long time so you could switch out the card." It's hard work not to laugh out loud.

    Think about your own experiences. Am I wrong?
  11. Short answer: I cannot recall a single time when that has happened. Perhaps because we perform for different groups of people? Your example raises another issue - sure, anyone can take a stab at the explaination for a one step, hit and run effect like a single card change. Without context, it becomes a puzzle to solve, and we're a puzzle solving species. I open with a series of card changes, then engage on a different level with a different style of effect. If I'm doing my job right, the audience gets caught up in MY flow, and it's no longer about figuring out how it was done, but about enjoying the ride. This is easier with adults performing to adults of course - it's harder with my students, but it's still do-able.

    Part of the problem with the situation you are talking about it that I don't really perform for people I know, who can find me several days later and discuss my tricks. Most of my audience members are strangers. What I do know is that on a fairly regular basis now I find myself having conversations with my friends, family and students which go along the following lines:

    "Hey, I was talking to so-and-so the other day and they said that you performed at their office event...they wouldn't stop going on about all this crazy stuff you did, they were really impressed"

    To which I look my best to look modest and unassuming, of course :) I never hear "and they had this theory on how you did..."

    When I do get to chat to people afterwards about the show - either minutes, hours or days later - the issue of method rarely comes up. I believe it is because I create a non-challenge environment with my magic - it is entertainment and I allow my audience to allow themselves to sit back and enjoy it. I would also conjecture that by showing a well structured routine consisting of a variety of different tricks, that the audience has less chance of becoming hung up on the workings of any one in particular.

    By the by, the only crazy explainations I've ever had posed were for visual tricks; "heat sensitive cards" being a strong contender.

    Your point about "hard data" is well taken, but consider my underlying point: your writing style was very definitive, authoritative even and as you say, there is nothing concrete to back it up. Opinions based on experience are a far more honest way to represent one's views on a question such as this one. It seems like everyone is an instant expert once they hit the internet, and I think the best thing we can do in the interests of fruitful discussion is to have more of an attitude of "I think this, because of that". This means that everyone knows who to take seriously and who not to.

    In the interests of research, I had a look through my DVD collection. Traditional routine logic says that you close with a very strong item. Here's what I found:

    In the non visual camp:
    John G - "Gemini Prediction", "Ultimate Fate"
    David Regal - "Flight of Fancy" (not cards!), "Deep Guilt Aces"
    Bill Malone - memorised deck, Cards Across
    I also draw attention to the "Super Closer" from Full Metal Jacket

    Visual Camp:
    Greg Wilson - Fism Aces, Revelation in Spades. Although on Double Take he does wrap things up with an ambitious card ending with a card to box, which could go either way.

    Perhaps this says more about my DVD collection. Maybe it doesn't say much at all! But it's interesting nevertheless.
  12. Agreed, this is a cultural difference. Most of the people for whom I perform are engineers I see at work. While I don't see them all day to day, a puzzle they can't immediately solve is filed away for extensive study, so even if I haven't seen someone in months, the first thing he thinks of when he sees me is that trick I did.

    85% of my work is with Microsoft. There is no such thing as "non-challenge" there.

    Exactly. With a non-visual trick, any number of rational explanations can be posed... but with a visual trick, people are rapidly forced to go off the deep end.

    This is an opinion based on experience. I'm just more confident in my experience than most, because as a project manager, analysing the past to predict the future is what I do for a living. That doesn't make it any more valid than your experience - I'm just more comfortable saying what my experience means.

    Of course, making confident predictions is also something of a habit for those n my profession... and while we're quick to accept the accolades for a correct prediction, we're just as quick to point out why we can't really be held accountable for an incorrect prediction.
  13. Heh. The microsoft line made me chuckle - a challenge environment indeed!

    With the insight into the cultural differences, I can understand where your point of view comes from. Especially the issue of dealing with problem solving, analytic minds on a regular basis. Out of interest, what kind of "non visual" tricks have you tried for your co-workers? I find that some of the best material I've ever done for people like this has been on this end of the scale - no kidding. So I'm curious to hear what you've tried for them.

    I feel that I didn't make my point very clearly. Of course your opinion is based on experience, but I would have liked to know what that experience was when you stated it in the first place. Now that I have that insight, I am better able to relate your experience to my own.
  14. #14 2ndDeal, Feb 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2008
    So this went to Shodan vs. CDarklock.
    CDarklock sayed that it's harder to recontruct a visual effect, such as visible color change.

    I think that this is a thing that you generalized, and it should not be generalized. If you do a delayed transformation with a double lift, spectators are going to die of astonishment. But, I do agree that then certain type of spectators reconstruct it.

    But this is an example of badly constructed trick. Let's take a very good one. Neither Blind nor Stupid by Juan Tamariz is not a visual effect. But spectator simply cannot reconstruct it. So, not every non-visual effect is recontructable (terrible word).

    I do agree that visual color change is almost impossible to reconstruct, but what is the effect? I've done Snap Change as a part of routine, and nowadays people ask to "do again the trick were you switch the cards really fast". Maybe it would have worked better on another contest but you got my point.
  15. You've expressed my point more clearly than I did - that simply constructed tricks are easier to reconstruct, whereas more sophisticated choreography is much more likely to withstand analysis.

    I think it comes down to style vs. substance in the end.
  16. Now I finally realized your point ;)

    It seems that I underrestimated t11 forums. Instead of dozen crappy answers like "vizual effectz are cool" , I got a few with valid arguments.
  17. Triumphs, reversed cards, and holdouts don't play well. If the "magic" happens concealed, it doesn't impress anyone because they can identify where you concealed something. Even if they don't know what happened, they know where and when it happened, which is enough for them to feel they've got it figured out.

    If you don't generalise, you can't say much. You end up saying "some tricks are good, and some tricks are bad, and who can say!" - which may be perfectly accurate, but it's also perfectly useless.
  18. Darklock, I think the issue with the "non-visual" tricks you are trying for your co-workers is that they are structurally simple. Triumph is a great trick, but to an analytical mind the process of deduction is straightforward. If you're willing, I would like to propose an experiment - that you try performing for your co-workers the kind of non-visual tricks that I have had a great deal of success with when faced with similar people. If you're interested, drop me a PM and we'll talk more - I'd be interested in the results of such an experiment!

    Either way, thanks for the productive discussion.
  19. Dude, I keep saying I'm not that good a magician. Did you miss the memo? ;)
  20. It's nothing to do with skill; in fact, it is most often the case that easy or self working tricks have the most complex structure to them, because they have to do the work for you.

    That list of closers I put up before - most of them are tricks you could teach a monkey to do, but they are very clever, very subtle. These are the kinds of "structurally complex" tricks I'm referring to.

    Sleight of hand is often an inelegant way to get things done. Think about a card to pocket trick - the method is usually very unsubtle, which is precisely why it is difficult to do well. So "structurally simple" is not about skill, but about the kind of trick you are performing. Some of the most difficult tricks I can think of are structurally simple, and all of the easy ones are complex.

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