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.
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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.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby Guest » 12/12/02 07:26 AM

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

Briefly

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
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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.
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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.

Chris....
preserving magic one book at a time.
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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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Postby magicfish » 02/14/15 02:30 AM

No comparison. Video can never compare to the writings of a talented author.
If you are a good reader, you will receive instruction from a book that can never be equalled by video.
That's not to say video can't be helpful. It can be very helpful in many ways.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 02/14/15 04:28 PM

For those who really believe they find books difficult, simply read the text onto a recording device and play it back.
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Postby Aaron Sterling » 02/14/15 06:43 PM

I realize this is an old thread, but there are exciting upcoming developments here -- at least in my eyes -- so I figured I'd say something.

First, the answer to "reading or video?" really depends on your goal. What are you trying to learn, and what effects are you focusing on? If you're interested in sleight of hand card magic, books have much more material -- both broader and deeper -- than DVDs. If you're interested in levitation, there are important books (though the most significant ones on stage levitation are out of print), but a lot of published material has only appeared on DVD.

And if, like me, you're interested in the scientificization of effect creation, we're only about a generation away from this being a reality. Between the searchable text database that Conjuring Arts has built and is building, and the searchable video performance database that a different body is building, we're getting closer to a tool for people who are more interested in plot than in secret methods. I'd like to be able to look at every known performance of Effect X, and see which plots and presentations are possible given currently-known methods. Then it's "just" a matter of finding new methods to perform previously-unavailable plots. That kind of search is still hard to do, in part because the magic market is set up to sell secrets, which I don't much care about, so I have to read between the lines a lot when I'm trying to research a particular plot.

I don't think I'm alone in this preference, either. One successful performer I know watches DVDs much more often than reading, because it's more important to know what people are doing than it is to know how they are doing it.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/14/15 08:23 PM

Aaron Sterling wrote: . . . the searchable video performance database that a different body is building . . .


Can you expand on this? I don't know what you are talking about.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 02/14/15 09:19 PM

I think he means youtube. It's searchable and full of cutting edge magicians, and all you ever see of them is their hands and their close-up mats. :D
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Postby Brad Henderson » 02/15/15 12:15 PM

because when magicians see what other magicians are doing, it is easier for them to come up with new ways of presenting that in no way resemble the performers they are copying.

yeah, good theory there.

how has that been working out for us?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/15/15 03:58 PM

Magicians have been copying the presentations and handling/methods of other magicians for hundreds of years. Video has not created that situation.

The only really bad thing about video is that it's more difficult to learn from because the footage goes by so fast.

And, many people have created good magic by misreading, or misunderstanding, something they have read in a book.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 02/15/15 04:31 PM

Dani DaOrtiz has contributed some seriously wonderful material to Genii in the past year. One of those was a card stabbing routine, two methods for tossing a card into the deck and stabbing just above a selected card. I read it first and tried it, rather, butchered it, like a little girl learning to tap dance for the first time. Then I watched the video and saw how casual and wonderful it is supposed to look. I am now much better at it. Trust me, "Copying Dani DaOrtiz" looks much better than "original Steve Bryant."

I am still a book-first person, but just saying ...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/15/15 05:23 PM

Dani is from the same school as Berglas and Tamariz. It's very helpful to see the psychological nonchalance in action. Does that mean I'm contradicting myself?
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Postby John Signa » 02/15/15 08:44 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The only really bad thing about video is that it's more difficult to learn from because the footage goes by so fast.


Many DVD players have slow-motion capability.

When I want to learn a move from a DVD, I watch it on my computer where I use an app I created to control DVD player using voice commands.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/15/15 09:28 PM

Smarty pants!
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Postby IanLand » 02/16/15 01:12 PM

In Thee Olden Dayes of Yore (1980s) I rarely got to see any of my heroes actually perform, unless they lectured in London. I remember seeing the Marlo video in 1982 and being ridiculously excited to finally get a chance to see him work, to hear him speak. The only person I knew who had a video player that would play an American VHS was Martin Breese (in the UK we use PAL encoding vs the NTSC encoding used in the States), and after watching the video at his place I then never got another chance to see it until years later, because I never again had easy access to a video player that could play it.

So, I like DVDs and live lectures and all that palaver. It's a great development. I still prefer to read when I'm learning something, but it's fantastic to have access to so much performance material.
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Postby Aaron Sterling » 02/17/15 11:07 PM

Bill Mullins wrote:
Aaron Sterling wrote: . . . the searchable video performance database that a different body is building . . .


Can you expand on this? I don't know what you are talking about.

Hm. In the conversation where I learned about this, it wasn't presented as a secret or anything, so I figured it was ok to refer to indirectly in a public comment. But it isn't my project to announce, so I won't. Sorry. You definitely asked a fair question. Anyway, there's a video project coming down the pike that excites me tremendously.
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Postby Aaron Sterling » 02/17/15 11:17 PM

Brad Henderson wrote:because when magicians see what other magicians are doing, it is easier for them to come up with new ways of presenting that in no way resemble the performers they are copying.

yeah, good theory there.

how has that been working out for us?

Again, I suppose it depends on your goal, but, given how I measure things, my answer to your question is: extremely well. It's a lot easier to be certain you're doing things that no one else is doing, or that no one else has ever done.

As maybe an off-topic comment, the tremendous difference between in-person comments and criticism, and internet comments and criticism, still surprises me, though perhaps it shouldn't. Internet comments seem much more pessimistic.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 02/18/15 12:36 AM

because history has taught us What to expect.

there have been many projects over the years which have touted the lofty goal of empowering magicians to achieve new heights and break new ground by virtue of access to greater amounts of information carefully collected for them.

so now we have 18,000 magicians doing twisting the aces with a West Virginian accent.

now if your goal is to commodify magic, to have a stage of people each doing lances dove act in unison, you've got something.

it's not pessimism. we've just danced this dance before.
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Postby Aaron Sterling » 02/18/15 01:10 AM

Brad Henderson wrote:because history has taught us What to expect.

there have been many projects over the years which have touted the lofty goal of empowering magicians to achieve new heights and break new ground by virtue of access to greater amounts of information carefully collected for them.

so now we have 18,000 magicians doing twisting the aces with a West Virginian accent.

You will drive yourself to despair if you focus on what other people do. I don't care what 18,000 other people are doing. I care what *I* am doing.

The database of the CARC helps me, and the fact that a lot of people published their secrets on DVD over the last few years helps me too. If other people use those resources as crutches to avoid being original, that's on them. I'm very glad those resources are available to me, and to the people I choose to work with. They are a tremendous help.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 02/18/15 01:07 PM

good to know that you only care about yourself and how magic can serve you.

but if big picture isn't your thing, then best not to comment from a perspective that suggests you have any idea about issues that impact the world beyond your room.

(and the pdf's of carc is an un equivalent comparison to a database of performance archives)
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Postby Aaron Sterling » 02/18/15 02:01 PM

Brad Henderson wrote:good to know that you only care about yourself and how magic can serve you.

but if big picture isn't your thing, then best not to comment from a perspective that suggests you have any idea about issues that impact the world beyond your room.

(and the pdf's of carc is an un equivalent comparison to a database of performance archives)

You aren't the only person who has suggested to me that it might be best not to comment. Someone recently told me that there was nothing to be gained by posting on this forum. Given that, probably I'm foolish to respond to you, but I will anyway. It does seem bizarre to me that I seem to be a lightning rod, that when I post here, threads get hijacked, with people responding to me instead of dealing with the points in the OP. Even more bizarre because, from my perspective, I am just saying things that "everybody knows."

So, to summarize my thoughts in hopefully a clearer way:

1. Determine what your goal is when studying the magic of others. Based on that goal, determine which books, video, personal instruction is best for you to achieve your goal. If someone tells you, "Books are always better," that person lacks a nuanced approach to magic research.

2. We're only about a generation away from a scientific approach to effect creation. Something like magicology, along the lines of musicology. Databases of written and visual publications are a key ingredient, and they're well on the way.

3. It's easy to criticize the work of others. Lots of people copy, and even the most original inventors and performers have weeks (or years) when they aren't very good. It's much more difficult to lead by example, to create things that inspire others. But it's worth doing, and it's worth trying to do.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 02/18/15 04:50 PM

you have no idea what you are talking about.
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