White Magic: My Review

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scott O.(4), Dec 25, 2013.

  1. I couldn't disagree more. Think of how mind-blowing and magical the first CG effects would have been to audiences? Nowadays we're not so impressed by CG, but that doesn't mean there still aren't amazing, awe-inspiring things to be found in movies and music etc.

    I'm not sure why you want to limit it so much to what is expected of magic and what has always been done? We need to let magic develop and grow and reaching out into other artforms can only be good for magic.
  2. #82 krab, Dec 28, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2013
    The strawman name is hyperbole

    So by this logic I shouldn't have spent the last 20 years learning slight of hand. I should have taking computer graphics at Ohio State and just CGI all of my effects and only put videos up on youtube? Since you know it;s mind blowing. That's not magic. I play guitar. I'm pretty damn good at playing guitar. There is nothing magic about my playing some fiddle tunes on a small body flat top. There is something magical about making coins change and things vanish right in from of someone. It's not magic when I open two images in photoshop and make it one image. If CGI and music and tech should be called magic then all of those people would be called magicians not animators musicians and engineers. By saying any person with a computer the right software and a camera is a magician because they can make special effects that look like something a magician does then it waters down what it means to be a magician.
  3. I'm going to start referring to this particular argument, which I've seen come up time and again, as Diet Dada. All the fun and nonsense of Dada without all of the academic/intellectual underpinnings.

    As Robert Plant once said, "... you know that sometimes words can have two meanings." You're conflating magic as a genre of theater, mystery entertainment, with magic in the generic experience of wonder, fascination and generally being impressed by stuff. Kind of like how mental magic refers to magic with a theme of the mind and its abilities rather than magic that suffers from erratic behavior possibly stemming from some psychological illness or another. If you went to a show with a guy saying he was a magician, said he was going to perform a drawing duplication, and then wheeled out a copier and made a photocopy of the original drawing, you'd want your money back.

    Guys if you're going to go on like this, you really should be studying actual art and media theory.
  4. I think we are discussing different definitions of magic and I also think what I said was taken a little out of context.

    I'm not saying CG IS magic - I'm saying that at a time it could be considered so (when we're discussing "magic" as that feeling of wonder and befuddlement); but not today in our digital world. I'm not saying animators/digital effect artists are magicians and I'm also not trying to degrade/diminish magic done traditionally with sleight of hand etc.

    You playing a few songs on the guitar might not be magic, but that doesn't mean I can't get the same magic feeling when listening to music.

    I'm not trying to say that magic ONLY exists in these other artforms, I'm just pointing out that I think it CAN exist there. I love traditional magic with cards and coins etc.

    If we're talking about "magic" as a general, broad term, then I think all this applies. If we're discussing "magicians", then yes it is people who's aim (and a lot of the time, job) is to evoke that wonder.
  5. Same difference. You're expanding the definition because it sounds good, not necessarily because it's grounded in true artistic theory.

    History lesson: Special effects were actually invented by former stage magician turned filmmaker Georges Melies. Now before you go ahead and assume that this proves your point, I will contend that it does not and here's why.

    Melies was a very successful illusionist, but at heart he was very much a storyteller. He chose the medium of magic originally because it provided the quickest avenue to performing in a way that evoked the greatest sense of wonder and impossibility. When he saw the Lumiere brothers and their new invention the motion picture camera, he immediately saw the possibility. Please keep in mind that at this time film was an extremely new concept. The earliest movies were only minutes long at best. For the most part it was a carnival attraction. People paid money to see a few seconds of a man sneezing. That is not hyperbole, that literally happened. Footage of a train pulling into the station scared the bejeezus out of audiences who thought the train was going to come through the screen and run them over. It had a powerful effect on people because this was previously considered impossible. Prior to this, the closest we had come was sequential photography that was more of what we think of today as a strobe effect. I'd go into more detail, but that would take too long.

    Melies recognized two important things however. First, he saw that the motion picture camera, like still photography, could be manipulated into showing doctored or untrue images. Second and more importantly, he also recognized that people still believed what they saw to be real. With this paradigm and his knowledge of illusion mechanics, he turned the camera into just another eye to be misdirected.

    However, Melies' goal was no longer to inspire the wonder that is the defining quality of mystery entertainment. No, he sought to expand on what theater was capable of. Special effects in some capacity already existed in the theater world. A Japanese noh play written centuries ago used a prop of a large bell to facilitate an actor changing costume and mask in only a few seconds to turn from a woman into a demon. It's that old. Melies simply exploited the nature of the new technology to accomplish what previously had not been possible.

    Melies' films were primarily in the science fiction and fantasy genres. Mind, this was pre-Tolkien. These were the days when speculative fiction and fantasy were very open and wild. It was a fiercely imaginative time that would eventually produce such notable works as Metropolis, The Phantom Carriage and the Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Melies was one of the first in film.

    What Melies did was not advance the theory or language of magic as form of theater or mystery entertainment. Rather, he was helping to create the language of film as a then-nascent artform and medium unto itself. Magic is designed specifically by its mystery and the desire to leave that mystery unsolved. Special effects are not magic. They are tool in the medium of film. They are part of the language of the medium. And like any tool, they are not always called for. Do you really need pyrotechnics and CGI in a Woody Allen film?

    Here's another thing most people don't realize about CGI: most of it you never see. Or at least, you're not aware of the fact that you're seeing it. You see the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Yeah, 90% of the CGI in that movie is so subtle you don't know it's there. It's not there to add to any sense of mystery or awe. Typically it's used to enhance the verisimilitude of the scene or subtly alter a scene to more seamlessly fit the art direction.

    To sum up, CGI is to film what the double lift is to magic: a tool that is not supposed to call attention to itself, but to help facilitate the work itself. Similarly, the guitar is to music what the false transfer is to magic.

    On that note, the fact that a work has affected you may be magical in the generic emotional sense. But it is not magic in terms of genre or theatrical performance theory. The Spanish have a word for this specifically: duende, the emotional response to art. I could write an essay on that topic alone, but I don't want to ring in the new year with a case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    To repeat, your problem is that you're conflating definitions into gross oversimplifications because you think it sounds good. But that does a disservice to the centuries of academic study into art and media from those who came before us, trying to make it better with each subsequent generation.
  6. #86 Jay Adra, Dec 29, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2013
    Either you don't quite understand what I'm saying or you're just straight up disagreeing. If it's latter, that's fine and we can stop there. If the former, perhaps I should try to be more clear.

    I understand that digital effects are usually not noticed and that their job is to seamlessly enhance/assist with the storytelling of the film. I'm not saying CG is amazing magic. I was using that as an example of technology creating magic. I'm not saying this alone makes these filmmakers, engineers and inventors magicians. Merely that (whether they intend it or not), they can be creating magic.

    Magic only exists in people's minds. To evoke that wonder, people need to be confronted with something they don't understand, they find amazing, they find impossible. Speaking broadly, this is the only requirement - the medium/art form is irrelevant.

    Speaking more specifically, most of the time this art form is magic, since it is specifically designed for that purpose. That doesn't limit it to magic though.

    That is true for most people but I've watched that thing (and the many hours of behind the scenes material) so many times (and I've done some digital effects myself), I notice a lot of it :p But I agree with your point, as I mentioned before.
  7. Then the problem is that you are using multiple definitions of a single word interchangeably. In a discussion like this, that's problematic because now we have to try and suss out what definition you're using on a per-sentence basis, and whether or not you're using it correctly.

    You have to bear in mind that guys like krab and myself have pretty deep backgrounds in the arts. Between the two of us alone, you're looking at 40-odd years at least of specialized training and academic study. Compared to some of the guys who are newer to the art... we may as well be speaking Esperanto if people don't keep their word use consistent.

    For the sake of the discussion, pick a definition and stick to it. If you're talking about magic as an emotional experience while the rest of us are talking about magic as theater, we're just going to end up going off on long irrelevant tangents that will likely result in me writing more lengthy posts about subjects that no one reading is going to end up giving a **** about. Not a great formula for keeping anyone happy, me least of all.
  8. mag·ic [maj-ik] noun

    1. the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring: to pull a rabbit out of a hat by magic.

    2.the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. Compare contagious magic, imitative magic, sympathetic magic.

    3.the use of this art: Magic, it was believed, could drive illness from the body.

    4.the effects produced: the magic of recovery.

    5.power or influence exerted through this art: a wizard of great magic.

    This is the literal definition of Magic. . . do we see ANY reference to camera tricks, film editing, CGI?

    Not in the least. . . let's check the term MAGICIAN. . .

    ma·gi·cian [muh-jish-uhn] noun
    1.an entertainer who is skilled in producing illusion by sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; conjurer.
    2.a person who is skilled in magic; sorcerer.

    1350–1400; magic + -ian; replacing Middle English magicien < Middle French

    1. necromancer, enchanter, wizard.

    Again, not one mention about the "wider expanse" you are referring to. In other words it is you that is trying to redefine magic and what it means to be a Magicians. You are creating an excuse for a short cut -- a cheat -- vs. learning and actual application of mental and physical discipline.

    I can assure you, anyone competing in FISM or any other noted competition, would be run away quickly if they rolled out a TV screen and showed a video full of creative edits, stooged audiences, etc. they look for TALENT and those relying on this sort of technology are proving they lack in that department.

    I think you really need to dive into some books and learn about this craft and what it really is. Sure, many of us (myself included) have done work in creating theatrical effects, even leasing props for theater productions but in that world it is not viewed as "Magic" but rather, a special effect and yes, frequently such things create enchantment and capture the imagination of the audience, But the audience didn't come to see a "Magic Show" and will not (rarely will) see such phenomena as being such . . . a magic trick.

    George Lucas himself doesn't call himself a "Magician" though he's created a magical world (worlds) for us to fantasize over.

    Yes, the term "Magic" is used to describe things and how things affect us but that's simply turning a noun into a verb and nothing more.
  9. My point is being missed here and I think we do have different understandings/definitions of the word "magic" so I think it's best if we just leave it here - this has gotten a bit off topic from the original thread anyway.
  10. This is going to take us a little further off topic, but I have a few thoughts directed at Steerpike:

    1. Was Melies the first guy to make a quick movie of himself or someone else disappearing by pausing, leaving the frame and then resuming recording?

    2. Being fluent in Spanish, I can confirm Steerpike's use of the word duende, although it is considered the hardest word in the Spanish language to translate.
  11. I watched this special with My Girlfriend who has seen me perform magic since we been together (3 years) and I think she hit the hammer on the head when she said he was boring to watch. I agree completely. There was no personality, character or anything to pull you in. Just a dude doing some tricks. Regardless of the method to achieve those tricks, it was very bland performance wise. To make things clear she does love watching people like David Blaine, and Daniel Garcia and such perform.
  12. I agree. There was nothing to differentiate him from David Blaine or Dynamo. David Blaine took the minimalist approach far enough that it became his persona. Dan White just seemed bored himself. On a personal note, I'm not fond of the "tapping in to hidden human potential" angle. It takes the "magic" away if everyone thinks they can do it and it's a "lie".
  13. Thank you Craig for your input and resources. Thanks to everyone for all their views and opinions. If i started this thread 2 days after it aired instead of 2 hours after the fact, it may have a little more thought to it. But, still a bit of disappointment (for reasons mentioned through out this thread. Also,for reasons Craig mentioned and others justified Dan and the show. Dans a great magician and hopefully it was a great show for most people to watch. One more thing i wanted to mentioned and something i wished for...Gregory Wilson has a new show on The Travel Channel Tonight 12/30, check local listing. But, it doesn't really have to do with magic but misdirection or so it seems. God Bless.
  14. Scratch that it was the 29th! For the Greg Wilson and friends show. Did anybody see it? Have to catch a replay. I think it was called scum busted or distracted. Something like that!
  15. #95 Steerpike, Dec 30, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2013
    Yes, though I believe there is some academic debate on that. Little foggy on the particulars about that, but for the sake of argument I have heard some people dispute this.

    Doesn't surprise me. The more abstract a concept the word represents, the more difficult the translation can be, especially if there isn't a suitable analog. Lots of languages have such words such as hyggelig (Danish) and toska (Russian).
  16. Hey guys, while everyone is certainly entitled to any opinion on anything, there are a few factual inaccuracies that I wanted to chime in and correct - as some of these inaccuracies were published as facts in this thread - and they're not. Before I go on, please note that I have zero conflict of interest in this show, other than knowing Dan, Blake, and the methods used throughout the production.

    Every effect shown in the special was presented to the spectator live in the same manner it was performed on television. None of the performances or reactions were fake or artificial in any way. Every effect could be (and was) performed live for real people. Without exception, every reaction shown was genuine - there was neither the time nor the budget for actors.

    For the card on street sign effect - NO stooges and NO duplicate cards were used in any way. Was there a clever method and some secret shenanigans at work? Absolutely. Just as there is with any magic performance apart from a solo close-up performance. But the spectators live experienced the same thing you saw on screen. The bookstore routine as well utilized no stooges in any way - the girl and her reactions were absolutely genuine. If any of these spectators saw these tricks on television, they would agree that what they saw live was the same effect they saw on TV.

    Of course, any magician should use the medium of their performance to their advantage (just a stage performer has things going on behind the curtain), and Dan certainly, cleverly did so, but to restate it again, no artificial reactions were used in any part. It was mentioned early in this thread that some of the effects shown couldn't be performed solo in someone's living room. This is true. But certainly doesn't discount anything, in my opinion, as Copperfield's car appearance and lottery illusion - arguably the most deceptive stage illusion of all time - could likewise not be performed solo in my living room, either.

    Naturally, that is not to say that opinions expressed in this thread on other subjects aren't very valid critiques - by all means. I just wanted to chime in and correct those few inaccurate assumptions that I think deserve (and warrant) awareness. Myself? I thought the show had some brilliant magic and methods throughout. I certainly thought that the production company, and Travel itself, could have done much more in establishment of a richer narrative and higher production experience, but the magic itself - it was strong stuff.
  17. Thanks, JB for your input. It just confirms what I knew and have been saying all along. I also love that we have a forum like this that has a direct connection to more well known professional magicians. It truly is one of a kind. Also, I'm very happy that this thread has maintained a respectful vibe and has continued on this long. Let's keep the debate going. I have learned some invaluable things from this thread and I hope to learn more.
  18. Thank you Jb. Love you and God Bless you. Could you explain the ring on glass routine. The guy on the right was clearly in on it and you said no stooge or acting? Also for the book why did they blur out the book and not any others? Also the card on sign was justified and i understand the appearance but what about the car scene. Those 2 "people getting a tour" seemed acted. I came to terms that the show was a success and i hope everyone enjoyed it. Also i dont want to put you on the spot or call you a lair. But that didnt really excuse a few things. Anyways thanks for writing!
  19. I wasn't involved with the production and I have yet to see it still, so I'm just going to give educated guesses.

    Why are you assuming he was in on it? Because it was the only guy? More likely the set up needed a certain ring and he happened to be wearing one that worked.

    The easy answer here is copyright. They may not have been allowed to show that book in this context without paying royalties. Particularly if it's a newer book.

    I've got an exercise for you. Take a camera out with you some time you're in a car (and not driving) and start recording. Tell everyone in the vehicle to 'act normal' and see how they behave.
  20. Scott O., with all due respect, you need to get out of your tiny, closed box. You seem confined to your apparently small idea of what magic is. Open up and use some creativity. An ITR can do more than levitate objects. A borrowed ring can be switched. Once you take sleights and gimmicks beyond their obvious applications, I promise you, you will have more powerful magic.

Share This Page

{[{ searchResultsCount }]} Results