Zombie Gripe

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby David Vamer » 11/27/08 06:01 PM

If you're going to perform a Zombie, please leave out the move in which the ball seems to want to escape, but is gently pulled back by the mage, who used the cloth to reverse the ball's direction.

Physics dictates that the ball would continue along it's chosen path, while the mage's action would pull the cloth off.

I don't know why I felt the need to get the off my chest, but there you have it.
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Postby Dave Cox » 11/27/08 06:15 PM

If we're bitching about Zombie moves, let's also include the one where you set the ball on the crook of your elbow, and it magically stays in place. Possibly because most magicians appear to be screwing it on.
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Postby Timothy Drake » 11/27/08 09:04 PM

David Vamer wrote:If you're going to perform a Zombie, please leave out the move in which the ball seems to want to escape, but is gently pulled back by the mage, who used the cloth to reverse the ball's direction.

Physics dictates that the ball would continue along it's chosen path, while the mage's action would pull the cloth off.


David.... can you tell us what you would do when the ball floats away instead of pulling it back? Would you have it float away from you and then you'd follow it around stage? I'd be curious to understand how you'd do it.

Best,

Tim
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/27/08 09:13 PM

What if you had a much smaller silver ball as well and made it as if the larger one was looking for the smaller one - so when it floats away you take the smaller one out of your pocket, wave it for an instant then put it into another pocket as the larger ball starts to follow?

Just an image that occurred while reading the question above.
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Postby David Acer » 11/27/08 11:28 PM

What if, in response to your trying to keep the ball from floating away, it turns back on you and beats you to within an inch of your life. That's a sequence I never saw Neil Foster do.
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 11/28/08 12:18 AM

David Acer wrote:What if, in response to your trying to keep the ball from floating away, it turns back on you and beats you to within an inch of your life. That's a sequence I never saw Neil Foster do.


..that could only come from the mind of David Acer. :)
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Postby Pete McCabe » 11/28/08 04:22 AM

What if the ball is trying to fly to you, but you want it to go away and leave you alone?
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Postby mrgoat » 11/28/08 10:48 AM

Pete McCabe wrote:What if the ball is trying to fly to you, but you want it to go away and leave you alone?


This interview with Teller about the little red ball seems apt for this thread*

http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/news/2008 ... ad-teller/


*pardon the pun which you will get after reading the article
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Postby David Vamer » 11/28/08 01:20 PM

Tim...If the ball really was floating away, what would your choices be? You could grab the ball. You could gather the four corners of the cloth, trapping the ball in a sort of bag, and let the ball struggle wildly until it had learned it's lesson.

If the ball was genuinely floating away, and all you did was tug on two corners of the cloth, you end up with a limp cloth and a ball going bye-bye.
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Postby David Vamer » 11/28/08 01:22 PM

David...Now THAT is a Zombie I'd pay to see. Karson's original presentation involved him using the ball to steal the soul of his assistant, which was what gave the ball it's animation.

It would be perfectly logical for the trapped soul to be pissed-off and vengeful.
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Postby Timothy Drake » 11/29/08 02:19 AM

David Vamer wrote:Tim...If the ball really was floating away, what would your choices be? You could grab the ball. You could gather the four corners of the cloth, trapping the ball in a sort of bag, and let the ball struggle wildly until it had learned it's lesson.

If the ball was genuinely floating away, and all you did was tug on two corners of the cloth, you end up with a limp cloth and a ball going bye-bye.


Of course I see the logic and physics in what you are saying but if we are going to worry about physics then we can kiss most of magic goodbye. Why cover the ball to make it float? Doesn't the cloth only add weight to it? Doesn't make sense does it?

I'll stick with this move that most use in the performance. They use it because it sells the illusion not because it meets physical laws. I think trying to gather four corners of the cloth while the ball if floating is going to look more awkward ( and telling of method) than pulling back on the cloth and having the ball follow it.

Best,

Tim
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Postby David Vamer » 11/29/08 05:19 AM

>>>Of course I see the logic and physics in what you are saying but if we are going to worry about physics then we can kiss most of magic goodbye. Why cover the ball to make it float? Doesn't the cloth only add weight to it? Doesn't make sense does it?>>>

The cloth is necessary for the method. (I know you know that, but I'm making a point about necessary mitigation in order to achieve the effect.) If you want to do it clothless, Teller has written up the David Abbott floating ball for you. It's pretty slick. Teller performs it nightly.

>>>I'll stick with this move that most use in the performance.>>>

That's the most heartbreaking sentence I've ever read.

>>>They use it because it sells the illusion not because it meets physical laws.>>>>

How does it sell the illusion?

>>>>I think trying to gather four corners of the cloth while the ball if floating is going to look more awkward ( and telling of method) than pulling back on the cloth and having the ball follow it.>>>>

Fair enough. I was just trying to think out of the box.

OK, allow me to play Devil's Advocate. When you, Tim, perform the Zombie, why does the ball float in the first place? What's the action that sets it in motion? (I'm talking metaphysical, here, not Newtonian.)
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Postby Timothy Drake » 11/29/08 09:42 AM

David,

Its fair for you to say that when I say I'll stick with the move that others use that its the most heartbreaking sentence you've ever read... but allow me to say the same for your comment of " just trying to think outside of the box" . That line is said... WAY too many times by those who ( with good intentions ) don't have the experience to make that comment. I'm guessing you don't perform the Zombie.

Lets make something clear... I know what you are saying regards the physics that the ball would pull off the cloth. That part I get.... the part I don't get is what kind of alternative you could offer. The 4 corners part wouldn't work and would look awkward in my experience and if it could be done it would look effective for a few seconds only. With that said I am ALL for new thinking and if you have a better method I most whole heartedly would LOVE to see it and use it with your permission.

I said the moves sells the illusion because it show interaction with the ball. A bit of mine causes he illusion that the ball wants to escape but you restrain it and pull it back. You only have a 2 ft distance the ball can move. Once it has done that you have to somehow get it back to you so it can move that 2 ft out again. When doing the Zombie the last thing you want is a static ball not moving. In my opinion that is much worst that the problem with physics you mention.

Here is an old video of me performing it at the end of my floating ball routine. I don't perform the Zombie as a solo bit anymore because I do a Losander Table instead these days. In this video I use the move that you don't like to direct the ball back to its basket. http://www.timothydrake.ca/fltballbg.wmv

Best,

Tim
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Postby Jim Riser » 11/29/08 02:08 PM

Guys;
I have always liked the practical nature of the Zombie but not the nuts and bolts. Many years ago as a high school magician I bought a model and worked long and hard with it. I never was happy enough with the effect to perform it anywhere besides in front of my mirrors.

I absolutely hate the equator on the balls and have always felt this was a dead giveaway that the ball was hollow/light weight.

The standard straight Zombie gimmick is worthless.

Over the past 50 years I have played around with improving the Zombie experience for audiences.

Here are a few of my thoughts - in no special order:

1. Years ago I designed a gimmick for a floating birdcage. This is articulated, folds in half, and is easily operated by one hand. Think of it as a cross between a dancing hank gimmick and a Tommy Wonder ball connection.

2. A better ball would be one without the usual large connection hole. Instead it would have a machined slot for the above gimmick's temporary attachment and an interior connector fitting. The ball halves would be TIG welded together and the weld joint ground away then polished. This would eliminate the telltale seam on the ball.

3. I have made several absolutely seamless stainless steel balls to match the light weight aluminum ball. At the end of the floating sequence, the balls are switched and the heavier ball allowed to drop into its box with a loud thunk. Any macician worth being called such can easily switch out balls behind the cloth.

4. I have also toyed around with the ball being able to freely float (no cloth) during the Zombie routine. This is doable but imposes a slight angle problem.

5. In addition I have been experimenting with a new way of doing a stage version of the floating ball totally different in method from anything done before. This method allows great ball movement and the performer is not "attached".

I feel that a combination of methods to produce a floating ball effect is a better approach than the standard Zombie apparatus as supplied by many dealers.

There is lots of room for innovation and improvement in floating ball methods.

Doing things as they have always been done does not lead to improvement of the experience for audiences. Keep what is good, throw out the less than good, and develop new methods/presentations.

As for "thinking outside of the box" ... I have never met anyone who used that phrase who ever even saw the box.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/29/08 02:14 PM

How heavy would a real five inch solid steel bearing be?

Always wondered what the context for that item was supposed to be.

Indra's net?
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Postby Spellbinder » 11/29/08 07:39 PM

My gripe with the Zombie is that the way most magicians present it is a violation of the second rule of magic, so to speak; don't do the same effect twice for the same audience. Any effect, like the Zombie, Floating Ball or Dancing Cane (to name just a few prime offenders of the second rule) that is routined to music and in which the music (not the performer) determines the length of the routine, is subject to breaking the second rule by simply going on so long that the audience is seeing the same effect more than once and by the end of the routine (if not before) has figured it out.

Like Jim Riser, my solution has been to vary the methods, which I describe in detail in my Floating Skull within the article "Visit to the Boneyard" in The Wizards' Journal #17 (on my site).

I would also like to mmention that I once saw a mime (not a magician) work with a balloon in a most interesting way. The effect was that the balloon floated up on the end of a string, but then refused to budge any further, no matter how the mime pushed and shoved it. It was like an "anti-floating ball."
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Postby Jim Riser » 11/30/08 02:28 AM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:How heavy would a real five inch solid steel bearing be?

Always wondered what the context for that item was supposed to be.

Indra's net?


Jonathan;
I have a couple bearings that size out in the workshop but am unwilling to risk my fingers trying to roll one on to a scale. Let's just say they are heavy - rather heavy.

I certainly would not want a floating one to fall onto my toe during a performance due to poor magic. That could change a dramatic act into a comedy act - for the audience that is.
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Postby David Vamer » 11/30/08 05:33 AM

Tim, I watched the vid. I think the behind the back move is FAR more convincing than the move we've been discussing.

Your "pullback" for lack of a better term, is far more subtle than the type of move I'm griping about. Yours looked more like Zombie Dressage, as opposed to Zombie Bronco-Busting, if that makes any sense.
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Postby Timothy Drake » 11/30/08 10:54 AM

David Vamer wrote:Tim, I watched the vid. I think the behind the back move is FAR more convincing than the move we've been discussing.

Your "pullback" for lack of a better term, is far more subtle than the type of move I'm griping about. Yours looked more like Zombie Dressage, as opposed to Zombie Bronco-Busting, if that makes any sense.



Yep.. Makes sense. Thanks.

Best,

Tim
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Postby David Alexander » 11/30/08 01:56 PM

Here's a guy who put a lot of thought and skill into his presentation. I would point out that he doesn't over do this and it seems to be just right in length. His music is excellent, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O1D-ukt ... re=related

Then there's Neil with his classic presentation that appears to be effortless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPHlwjYu0RQ&NR=1
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Postby David Vamer » 11/30/08 03:52 PM

I don't see why anyone would want to do it any other way than Raymond Crowe....Other than the solid year of rehearsal it would take to make it look good.
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Postby Timothy Drake » 11/30/08 04:05 PM

David Vamer wrote:I don't see why anyone would want to do it any other way than Raymond Crowe....Other than the solid year of rehearsal it would take to make it look good.


A years rehearsal isn't such a big investment in such a good effect. There is one you won't see around much.

Best,

Tim
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Postby David Alexander » 12/01/08 01:23 AM

David Vamer wrote:I don't see why anyone would want to do it any other way than Raymond Crowe....Other than the solid year of rehearsal it would take to make it look good.


Actually, it would take longer for most magicians to get to that level because Crowe started off by being a classically trained mime and developed the routine from there. A lot of magicians don't start off at that high a level of stage craft.

A year isn't much to put into the development of a commercial effect. Frakson told me it took him two years to perfect his presentation of the Vanishing Radio and he was working all the time in night clubs.
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Postby Brandon Hall » 12/12/08 07:32 PM

I've been working to craete a zombie routine I'm happy with for over two years. I completely agree with Jim and I love his thoughts. I would just like to add that, having started out many years ago as a ventriloquist, I immediately saw the connection between Zombie and a puppet. You must think of the zombie as a seperate entity with it's own motivations. As far as the "pull back" move, I prefer to allow the zombie to change directions suddenly and completely on it's own, rather than try to pull it back with a cloth.
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Postby x-treem » 04/29/09 02:12 PM

I performed the zombie some 20 years ago now. I'm willing to admit I was not a good magician as my niche was in escapes.

What if one were to add a self levitation? For the end of the routine to Zombie shoots straight up and pulls the magi a few inches off the ground before he can pull it back in and put it away.

Eh, just a thought.
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Postby rkosby » 04/29/09 09:26 PM

I like the routines where the ball seems to be suspended in mid air you you move the cloth around it, and over it.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/29/09 10:22 PM

That would be Al Schneider's BIG contribution to the Zombie: the curved gimmick and the idea that when the ball moves, your hands are still, and when your hands move, the ball is still.
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Postby Sonny Shepard » 05/07/09 04:29 AM

Tommy Wonder in his wonderful essays in the Books of Wonder also talks about the disconnect between the ball and the hands.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/07/09 08:35 AM

Sonny Shepard wrote:Tommy Wonder in his wonderful essays in the Books of Wonder also talks about the disconnect between the ball and the hands.


It's the cognitive disconnect between the solid steel ball which weighs well over twenty pounds and the scarf that leaves folks to focus on their hands.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/07/09 12:42 PM

Again, the disconnect between the ball and the hands goes back to Al Schneider's book on the Zombie.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 05/08/09 12:59 AM

David Vamer wrote:Physics dictates that the ball would continue along it's chosen path, while the mage's action would pull the cloth off.


Ah, not to put too fine a point on it, but physics dictates that metal balls don't float away under their own power.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/08/09 07:36 AM

What about grabbing the far corner for that bit so you are then holding the ball inside by diagonal corners?
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Postby Kent Wong » 05/28/09 12:44 AM

I've always struggled with the Zombie Ball. It wasn't for lack of "moves", but for lack of character. Until recently, I couldn't define what the ball was supposed to represent and so, I could not give it a definite character. Without a well defined character, the Zombie routine simply becomes a series of incongruent moves. Once I found the character, I was able to identify those moves that fit and eliminate those moves that didn't. Zombie is not about the moves you make, but the story you tell. I know I have a long ways to go yet with my Zombie routine, but here's a clip of what I have developed so far.

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid= ... 9720407905

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Postby Bizzaro » 10/18/09 07:51 AM

David Acer wrote:What if, in response to your trying to keep the ball from floating away, it turns back on you and beats you to within an inch of your life. That's a sequence I never saw Neil Foster do.


No but I have contemplated it it before. Would be funny as hell I think.
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Postby Spellbinder » 10/18/09 11:05 PM

And this is the ball that could really do some damage!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1W4OVrY ... re=related
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Postby smokemist » 11/06/09 03:48 AM

I have NEVER been a fan of this "effect". Why do you need a cloth under a ball, in order to have it float?
Why not get rid of the zombie effect, and replace it with Okito's or Wayne's effect instead?!

Simple logic really..

ps. let's put that Floating mini table in the same category..






David Vamer wrote:If you're going to perform a Zombie, please leave out the move in which the ball seems to want to escape, but is gently pulled back by the mage, who used the cloth to reverse the ball's direction.

Physics dictates that the ball would continue along it's chosen path, while the mage's action would pull the cloth off.

I don't know why I felt the need to get the off my chest, but there you have it.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/06/09 08:07 AM

Oh dear! Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of tommyrot on this thread. I do wish I had the time to educate you all on these matters. Perhaps I will in a few days.

For the moment all I can say is dearie me................................
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/06/09 09:34 AM

It helps if you set that mini-table down as if it had some weight to start. Same for that supposedly solid metal ball.
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