reading vs video

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 12/11/02 07:18 PM

do any other beginers find it hard to grasp an idea from just reading it and tring to work out the handling? I can watch a video and get the trick or slight in min`s. but when i try to read how to do a trick it`s hard to know if your doing it right. mybe i`m just no good at visualizing whats happening.

Postby Randy Sager » 12/11/02 09:34 PM

You may have heard this before, but I will say it again.

If you are going to use videos as your main source of learning magic, you run the risk of running into the copy cat ilness. It makes it way to easy to copy word,for word move by move someone else.

Tho books may at first seem harder to glean information from.In my opinion (as well as many others) Books are the best way to go besides personel instruction.
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Postby Dave Egleston » 12/11/02 10:52 PM

Videos are OK if you're using them to supplement the books you're reading - We have enough young magicians who stutter and have the nervous giggles - emulations from those who are tryng to master card tricks the easy way -
I don't think this post will be of much use to those who have already made up their minds on Books vs. video - but if you read some of the posts on this forum - You'll easily see those who are comfortable with the written word and those who aren't.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/12/02 02:13 AM

Originally posted by neil atherton:
do any other beginers find it hard to grasp an idea from just reading it and tring to work out the handling?
I can remember reading Expert Card technique and Bobo's and having some moves elude me. In fact, the Ramsay mid-air vanish still does.

However, once I saw the routines and moves from both audience and exposed perspectives, I could quickly move ahead.

Watching is good for seeing WHAT. For me, I tend to find better discussions of WHY and WHEN in written material. This may be due to time constraints on the video production, and may be addressed in recent videos.

The pitfall the other posters have mentioned is about confusing the WHAT with the HOW. The HOW someone does something is very personal, and imitation of personal style tends to fail in performance.
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Postby Guest » 12/12/02 07:26 AM

Watch the videos and enjoy. Use whatever you learn from best.

Postby Guest » 12/12/02 07:49 AM

I like reading a book and also viewing a companion video/dvd. This should become the standard format for all future magic-related publications. It [seeing the demonstration] is especially helpful for the beginner and intermediate level magician.

Postby Michel Huot » 12/12/02 08:44 AM

I totally agree with Kevin,

besides, and maybe i'm wrong, I think it that the fact of having companion videos would help to sell more books. Sadly, book sales are gooing down, i'd give it a try. Camirand does a wonderful job combining the two. Sometimes, you just don't know how a trick or sleight look like and by seeing it, WOW. Then you go back to the book to learn. Personally besides a few exceptions, explanations of a trick on video bores me but never the performance section (then again). I'm a book guy but there is so much to learn from WATCHING a good performer. AND there is so much to learn (probably more) from watching a bad performer. :p
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Postby Guest » 12/12/02 11:08 AM


Video should be use to learn sleights and others manipulations so you can grasp them quicly and know exactly how to perform them.

Books should be use to learn routines and tricks so you can come up with your own material, presentation and patter and not a copycat of the original performer!

Get out of the casual

Postby Larry Horowitz » 12/12/02 12:12 PM

Here's a perspective I don't believe I've seen mentioned before.

Let us ignore which is better, books or video. Just simple fact, there are more books then video. They have been publishing magic books for a few hundred years.

Therefore, like it or not, you must train your self to learn from books in order to improve your magic as much as is possible.
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Postby Guest » 12/12/02 01:02 PM

I disagree. Use whatever method(s) work best for the individual's learning habits. Sure, books have been around longer, but that's not a fair comparison of the two mediums; that's just a fact. If I were a serious student of magic and not just a hobbyist, I would also seek professional lessons from a teacher of the craft.

The Ortiz book/video sets are great, and more artists should consider the same.

Postby CHRIS » 12/12/02 02:28 PM

A lot has been said regarding book vs video. I think all posters make good points. Some observations from my side (partly already mentioned in other posts):

i) people learn differently. Some can pick up more and faster from a book, others from a video, and the third can only learn well when personally instructed.

ii) people change over time and so the optimal teaching tool changes as well: For a bloody beginner who hasn't seen much magic, videos can be a very good start, even if he copies every detail and every aspect. Most of us went through such a phase, even the great ones did. It is a healthy and often necessary phase.

Later on books can provide much more substance and depth and videos will be most useful in the performance only kind, or to demonstrate a key move or special technique. I agree that in general video is not the right way to teach all aspects of a routine or move.

iii) Learn from all forms. There is no general right or wrong. I think it best to use all mediums to stimulate as many aspects of your sensory facilities as possible. Read and imagine, watch videos and observe, talk to people and listen.

Each form and each medium has its strength and its weaknesses. The written word is great in capturing with racor sharp accuracy every nuaunce and detail. An illustration povides a great frozen image to look at and ponder, sometimes very difficult to achieve even in personal instructions. The video provides timing and pacing and visual and audio information which is hard to capture in text and illustrations.

For me the best combination are ebooks which combine text, illustrations and videos, like the Card College 1 and soon to appear volume 2.

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Postby Guest » 12/16/02 10:24 PM

Kevin and Chris make a good, oft forgotten, point. Several years back Neuro-Longuistic Programming highlighted a truism, but neglected, issue. Given 5 senses, each person has his own individual ways of being "accessed" for learning. For some the circutry favors visual learning, for others tactile, others hearing etc. Then there are the different combinations of these which comes first second ,third etc.? One can get a,b,c,d or a,c,b,d, or a,c,b,d etc.and that is only using 4 of the 5. So is there any BEST for each individual in the universe? My own preference is more and more in this direction: not to purchase any effect that I have not seen first or can be seen on tape. Maybe that is NLP programming, maybe it is just that advertising words cannot be fully trusted (as Stewart James in 'Open Prediction' history knew well). Jon Townsend's experience is similar to mine; "is THAT what it really looks like?" Much easier.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 12/23/14 03:50 PM

There are lots of secrets in a good, well-written magic book that reveal themselves with each reading.

Even though the words are exactly the same and never change, they uncover a new layer each time.
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Postby Rick Franceschin » 12/24/14 02:59 PM

There's no question, in my mind at least, that if you want to pursue a solid foundation in magic your going to have to rely upon print resources. There is a historical progression in magic literature that one must experience in order to truly appreciate our art. Personally, I especially love books like Stars of Magic, Greater Magic, Modern Coin Magic, and Expert Card Technique because in their hard expository style they tend to lack an author's voice, leaving the imaginative aspects of the study to me. Later books penned by authors like Lorayne, Kaufman, Minch, Burger and Racherbaumer often offer the kind of deep insight one needs in order to develop as a thinker and hopefully as an artist. I've been a teacher for almost twenty years and almost reject the notion that there are people who simply can't learn from print text. People with a learning style that heavily leans towards one mode of learning are rare. All that said I think that videos, particularly some produced over the last few years, are really helpful and enjoyable. Certainly, nothing beats watching a live performance in order to understand how an artist works, interacts with spectators, uses timing, builds impact, etc. Ultimately it comes down to what you want to get out of magic. If you like to watch a video, learn a trick, show it to a few friends or strangers, great! If you want to consider yourself a student of magic and are deeply interested in all that magic entails, print resources will have to be a significant part of your education.

In your original post you mentioned that as a beginner you find it harder to learn from books than videos. That makes a lot of sense as... you are a beginner. Many magic books, say the Royal Road to Card Magic, must be cracked, so to speak. You look through a book until you find something you can learn, practice, and eventually do well. You then go back and try it again. Eventually, it all starts to make sense. With a book, you have to figure out and learn, with a video you are basically mimicking; thus, the sense of discovery and learning is lost. Magic literature has an inherent language and sensibility that must be acquired, in time you adapt and doors slowly open. There's a learning curve there for sure, but the rewards are far richer in the long run.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/24/14 03:14 PM

I've been reading and re-reading Cliff Green's Professional Card Magic since I was 14! Almost every time I find new details that become clear to me in the murky text.
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