Magic on TV: Editing/Stooges (vs) "Purist" - What's BEST for the Art?

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Postby Guest » 09/07/06 07:54 PM

In the first chapter of the serial "Mandrake the Magician", there is a magic show segment where Mandrake is shot in profile, holding a "bouquet". The camerman steps the shot upwards a few times, when Mandrake lowers his hands that just touch the bottom of the frame - and you all know what happens then to vanish the flowers.

Here's a cinematic technique that's used just like we would use Black Art on the stage.

It's just technique - what we do in general is we edit reality in people's minds using various techniques / devices. Depends on the venue, IMHO.
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Postby Guest » 09/07/06 08:39 PM

Originally posted by Terrence:
In the first chapter of the serial "Mandrake the Magician", there is a magic show segment where Mandrake is shot in profile, holding a "bouquet". The camerman steps the shot upwards a few times, when Mandrake lowers his hands that just touch the bottom of the frame - and you all know what happens then to vanish the flowers.

Here's a cinematic technique that's used just like we would use Black Art on the stage.

It's just technique - what we do in general is we edit reality in people's minds using various techniques / devices. Depends on the venue, IMHO.
thank you all for your elucidations, i do believe i'm "lightening up" a bit here - lol - as i do admit to being somewhat of a "purist" when it comes to magic; thanks to yall, i can now see that televised magic is a different medium altogether, and it combines magic arts WITH cinematic techniques

however - lol - it just seems it goes way too far: my post was inspired by a very serious meditation website i frequent where it was posted by one spiritual student/seeker that he saw criss for the first time last night and believes he has true psychic powers and considers him a true "guru" worthy of worship - this can be VERY dangerous to impressionable young minds; are we as entertainers responsible for how our performance influences these young minds - call me "impractical idealist" (no, richard, that was not another request - lol) but i and many of my fellow performers do indeed believe we are

also, BTW, in all the examples everyone has given, there is no BLATANT LYING - lol - and going out of frame, as you say, can indeed be done by lapping etc live, but cutting away and then coming back to the supposed same scene where but now he's not holding the flowers is not skillful magic, it's editing (cinematic special effects at best)

but, do we praise speilberg, lucas, et al as master magicians - of course not, they're master filmmakers (editors)

and, yes, i do consider criss & david among the "masters" of our craft, but that's not the point here - they would still be masterful without the BS, yes?

all that said, yall have shown me some major light here, and i'm truly thankful - wouldn't mind continuing this diatribe...

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Jon Allen » 09/08/06 03:08 AM

I think that the problems arise when the 'TV magicians' come into the real world. Having perfromed wonders on the screen using stooges, edits or whatever, they can come unstuck when asked to perfrom live. Admittedly there are certain effects that cannot be replicated live because there is no shop window, 10 ton truck or suchlike available. However, there are many effects presented on TV that could, in the minds of the general public, be performed live. However, due to the methods employed, these effects cannot be performed live. It can only lead to disappointment for those expecting the same miracles they saw on TV.

There is the rumour/story of Blaine dissappoining an executive at a trade show by not being able to levitate or do some other effects the guy asked for. Apparently when he said he was going to card tricks, the guy told him to get lost. Does this rig a bell? Does anyone know the real story???
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 09/08/06 06:38 AM

J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith, founders of the Vitagraph Company, were also magicians. Here's a description of one of their early films:

A new and sensational film, which deals in a highly up to- date manner with the international situation. A magician steps upon the stage carrying a hoop covered with white paper. Then in quick succession the flags of Germany, Russia, Ireland, England and China are brought forth and from each a soldier is produced corresponding with the flag of each nation. The magician adds a bit of comedy to the scene by producing a decidedly Hibernian policeman from the flag of Erin's Isle. The magician then slowly waves his arms in front of the American flag, and as he dissolves into thin air a striking and patriotic tableau appears. The dissolving effect from the magician to the tableau is a new and unique effect never hitherto achieved in motion photography.
You can check it out here: Congress of Nations

They were also pioneers of stop motion and drawn animation. You can see an example here: Humorous Phases of Funny Faces

Finally, they were also the ones who filmed Nate Leipzig around 1904 or so performing a number of his sleight of hand specialties (such as the billiard balls, thimbles, cards, etc.), ending with approximately fifteen minutes of footage. They provided him with a film of his hands doing the coin roll to use for the closing of his act. Sorry, but this one is believed to have been destroyed in a fire which swept through their offices in 1910. (Unless Nate was able to preserve some of his own copies, in which case I will track them down.)

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 10:18 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
It is the opinion of magicians who perform on television that well-placed edits are NOT camera tricks.
Clearly!

But do the edits mitigate the mystery?

For example, the ((alleged)) edit in the middle of the fire flash in Criss' Metamorphosis enhanced the mystery without deviating significantly from what the audience would experience in person.

The ((alleged)) edit in Blaine's Balducci, however, with the either-stooges-or-stand-ins for the OTS shot of Blaine levitating 5 feet above the sidewalk, in my opinion, smacks of a "Bewitched" episode, thus damaging the mystery through dishonesty.

The bad kind of dishonesty! :-)

P&l,
D
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 09/08/06 10:35 AM

I feel that the arguments based upon what a viewer would experience in person are somewhat irrelevant to the discussion. The fact of the matter is that it IS being shown on television and NOT live and in person. All that really matters is that the TV viewing audience doesn't believe that they are seeing camera tricks. My own personal belief is that we should use all the tools available to us in order to create the greatest mystery. The only restriction is that the audience should not perceive there to be any trickery, whether it is sleight of hand, a gimmick, or a camera trick.

Let me put it another way. If I'm sitting at a table, I can utilize lapping to create a very clean vanish. But if I'm standing, I can't really do that, and I may end up with something that is less clean. Does that mean I shouldn't use lapping when it is available to me? As long as the audience doesn't know, does it really matter?

So, just as there are some things that can only be done at a table, there are also some things that can only be done on TV. This is not a bad thing -- just be aware of the limitations as well as the advantages of every venue.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 10:53 AM

I would disagree that lay audiences aren't going to suspect camera trickery. Rather I think it's one of the first conclusions they're likely to draw when seeing an exceptional illusion on television -- even when no camera trickery was employed. I believe that's why people like Henning made a point of assuring the at home audience that what they were seeing was exactly what the live audience was seeing. I've also overheard enough comments to this effect to convince me it's so.

To a degree I believe a magician working on television should use all means at his disposal to enhance his illusions. But it's a very fine line... As long as no camera trickery is suspected, I would agree it's acceptable. If it is suspected it hurts the credability of the performer and possibly magic in general.

I for one would favor a return to stressing that what the audience at home sees is the same thing they would see in person. Just my opinion.
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Postby Randwill » 09/08/06 10:55 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:

And now, perhaps, it will be the basis upon which most magic (as it appears on TV) will be performed. It only took magicians 100 years to catch up.
Do you mean it took 100 years for magicians to realize they didn't have to actually perform magic when on television? I'm so glad we had those years. During those years I saw Fred Kapps, Jay Marshall, Carl Ballentine, Don Alan, Fantasio, Cardini, Mr. Electric, Mark Wilson, Doug Henning, Channing Pollock, Norm Neilsen, Lance Burton and many, many more do amazing magic from the comfort of my living room. I guess now that magicians have caught up, we won't have to worry about seeing talent like that on TV anymore.
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 10:57 AM

I am undecided about camera edits and other technical assistance in producing a magic show on television.

In one sense I feel that unlike a live performance where a spectator can pretty much focus his or her attention (or not) on what they want, TV forces a perspective that is uncomprimising.

Some good editing can actually help the viewer to see the illusion in much the same way they would have seen it if they were there live. One camera, no edits and one continuous shot can not only be boring to a viewer but it is not always the best way to present what the magic really looks like were you to be there.

Where it gets dicey is how the edits are used. For example if you do a vanish and the item is dropped just out of frame - I really have no objections since this is exactly what we would do if we were sitting at a table and lapping.

Showing audience reaction at the exact point the magician does the move is not so clear cut. We can claim that it is no different than what we do when we use misdirection to get the audience to look elsewhere, but I am not so sure that it is analagous.

If I have any negative reaction to what Cris and David do it's that they create illusions that mere mortal magicians like myself can not duplicate. They set an expectation I could only achieve were I to be on television. That having been said, I can agree that you use whatever is necessary to produce the magic in the eye of the beholder.

I think it would be more honest to say No special effects have been used to produce the magic rather than no camera tricks - since creative editing is essentially a camera "trick".

When Cris Angel does an "impromptu" spike through the body using a nearby fence is that any less deceitful than a sixteen year old stating "On my last trip to India I..." It's called showmanship or in the case of the sixteen year old it's called stupid. (A word that means a new magicians attempt at showmanship).

Anyway interesting discussion.

Frank Tougas
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 11:34 AM

posted by DeeBrennen: ...The bad kind of dishonesty! :-)
YES, INDEED - this is exactly the subtle point i'm talkin' bout; ultimately, in performace over time, it becomes oh so NOT subtle - lol

kudos, dee, thanks...

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 11:43 AM

[QUOTE]posted by Jim Maloney...All that really matters is that the TV viewing audience doesn't believe that they are seeing camera tricks....QUOTE]

i agree with your point(s) entirely - and, again, that's also my exact point: just can't imagine that i'm one of the only few performers who's audiences are ALWAYS saying they do indeed believe those blazing fast camera edits are extremely suspicious - most audiences, from my experience, also believe that stooges are being used, especially when the performer CONSTANTLY says stuff like "we've never met, right" etc etc etc (ad-nauseum) - what ever happened to "no need to run when they're not chasing you" (imho, one of the most effective nuggets of golden advice ever offered from the magical arts)

thanks, jim!

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 11:53 AM

Originally posted by Jim Coles:
I would disagree that lay audiences aren't going to suspect camera trickery. Rather I think it's one of the first conclusions they're likely to draw when seeing an exceptional illusion on television -- even when no camera trickery was employed. I believe that's why people like Henning made a point of assuring the at home audience that what they were seeing was exactly what the live audience was seeing. I've also overheard enough comments to this effect to convince me it's so.

To a degree I believe a magician working on television should use all means at his disposal to enhance his illusions. But it's a very fine line... As long as no camera trickery is suspected, I would agree it's acceptable. If it is suspected it hurts the credability of the performer and possibly magic in general.

I for one would favor a return to stressing that what the audience at home sees is the same thing they would see in person. Just my opinion.
HALLELUIAH, JIM - YOU'RE MY HERO - LOL

and, even still, it's not that it's done occasionally - that would be ok - it's that it's done excessively, and the reputation is mostly attributed to those ancillary non-magic techniques - i believe a performer who would innovatively/ingeniously present magic as you've so eloquently stated above will be the next truly huge magical superstar (the show's main gimmick itself can actually indeed be the highlighting of the fact that camera editing etc will never be used - and mean it of course, with some "proving" guidelines being part of the fun)

hmn... million dollar reality show idea, if you ask moi - how 'bout it, jim, lookin' for a partner?

Love, peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 11:57 AM

Originally posted by Randwill:
Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
[b]
And now, perhaps, it will be the basis upon which most magic (as it appears on TV) will be performed. It only took magicians 100 years to catch up.
Do you mean it took 100 years for magicians to realize they didn't have to actually perform magic when on television? I'm so glad we had those years. During those years I saw Fred Kapps, Jay Marshall, Carl Ballentine, Don Alan, Fantasio, Cardini, Mr. Electric, Mark Wilson, Doug Henning, Channing Pollock, Norm Neilsen, Lance Burton and many, many more do amazing magic from the comfort of my living room. I guess now that magicians have caught up, we won't have to worry about seeing talent like that on TV anymore. [/b]
AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET US FREE - LOL

thanks, randwill, was really beginning to go a lil batty, cause for a while there it seemed even the greats did not relate to my original point

VERY WELL SAID, if i may say so

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 12:00 PM

Frank Tougas: found your points very insightful, frank - especially the "fair balance" to them, as i try to be so myself

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 12:04 PM

How transparent or invisible do you believe the film techniques are when used to narrate the audiences view of conjuring?

What tells a story may also beg questions.
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 12:11 PM

My belief is that a lot of the audience participation on Mindfreak is a producer's type show. By this I mean that if stooges are used as direct assistants they may not be true stooges.That is, they are answering honestly when Angel asks them "have we ever met' and they say "no." However, they may be hooked up by Angel's people behind the scenes even though Criss has never met them personally.
Re the audience reactions: I believe that most of those are true spectators that are truly amazed by what they see albeit they may be overreacting for the camera.

On the Blaine street magic effects, a lot of those are not stooges but spectators that the producer and his staff have a lot of knowledge about. I was embarrased when David read this gal's mind re the name of someone that she was close to. And then a car drives by with that person's name written on the rear fender. Pleeezzz--too obvious.

Both Criss' and David's show ultimately wind up with only what has worked being presented so there can be no failure--at least in a technical sense.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/08/06 01:05 PM

There are two different types of magicians being confused here.

From the list presented in the earlier post (Fred Kapps, Jay Marshall, Carl Ballentine, Don Alan, Fantasio, Cardini, Mr. Electric, Mark Wilson, Doug Henning, Channing Pollock, Norm Neilsen, Lance Burton), there are magicians who did "acts" and we saw these acts presented on TV. The acts were developed and perfected for live performance in a theatrical venue. They have nothing at all to do with this discussion.

The exceptions to this in the list are Mark Wilson, Doug Henning, and Lance Burton, all of whom had at least three TV specials.

So, from the latter three, I think we all know Mark Wilson's stance: continuous shots with no editing. Great in their day, but boring to today's TV audience.

Doug Henning isn't here to verify that he never used an edit to conceal something, but he also generally seemed to use mostly continuous shots.

Lance Burton's three TV specials weren't always done with continuous shots. I know for a fact that something big on one of his shows was accomplished via an edit.

So, think back now to a TV special where everything was done in continuous shots with no edits (and thus no chance for monkey business) ... how many decades ago was that? Before MTV, before the rapid-fire editing that has become the mainstay of commercial television (and many films). You can't put that genie back in the bottle. If Criss Angel's show wasn't shot the way it is, viewers wouldn't pay attention. I'm not defending the way it's shot, that's just the reality of TV now.

But, the earliest edited effect I can recall is something David Copperfield did many years ago in one of his specials: a levitation for a small audience where a woman floated, first, straight up, then out over the audience. Needless to say, at the time (and this is 20 years ago at least), we were all shocked because there wasn't a way to achieve this without editing together two different levitations. In watching it carefully, however, you could see the audience members magically changing from shot to shot. So, it became apparent that he shot two different levitations and then edited them together to produce an effect that you couldn't otherwise perform at that time. There wasn't a peep about this in the magical press (it was all pre-Internet, of course). No one said anything, or complained about it, or condemned David. Nothing.
Now folks are in an uproar ... what's the difference?
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 01:11 PM

Originally posted by arnie:
[QB] My belief is that a lot of the audience participation on Mindfreak is a producer's type show. By this I mean that if stooges are used as direct assistants they may not be true stooges.That is, they are answering honestly when Angel asks them "have we ever met' and they say "no." However, they may be hooked up by Angel's people behind the scenes even though Criss has never met them personally.
yes, excellent observation, a very clever ruse that for the most part isn't related to my original point(s) - in other words, i have no significant probs with that kinda technique (lol)

thanks, arnie

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 01:15 PM

RICHARD K: Now folks are in an uproar...
nah, richard, relax - lol - no uproar, just passionate, & intelligent (for the most part -lol), sharing of equally valid viewpoints

we havin' fun yet?

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 01:19 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
So, think back now to a TV special where everything was done in continuous shots with no edits (and thus no chance for monkey business) ... how many decades ago was that? Before MTV, before the rapid-fire editing that has become the mainstay of commercial television (and many films). You can't put that genie back in the bottle. If Criss Angel's show wasn't shot the way it is, viewers wouldn't pay attention. I'm not defending the way it's shot, that's just the reality of TV now.
richard, it's not the mtv-style editing that's being questioned - of course it would be boring nowadays without that - it's when the editing is used TO MAKE THE EFFECT POSSIBLE that would not be possible were it not for the editing

c'mon, richard, surely you can relate to what we're suggesting here...?

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Randwill » 09/08/06 01:35 PM

Originally posted by biga135:
Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
[b] So, think back now to a TV special where everything was done in continuous shots with no edits (and thus no chance for monkey business) ... how many decades ago was that? Before MTV, before the rapid-fire editing that has become the mainstay of commercial television (and many films). You can't put that genie back in the bottle. If Criss Angel's show wasn't shot the way it is, viewers wouldn't pay attention. I'm not defending the way it's shot, that's just the reality of TV now.
richard, it's not the mtv-style editing that's being questioned - of course it would be boring nowadays without that - it's when the editing is used TO MAKE THE EFFECT POSSIBLE that would not be possible were it not for the editing

c'mon, richard, surely you can relate to what we're suggesting here...?

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex [/b]
Since Richard Kaufman is associated with Mindfreak, it is unlikely he will have anything negative to say about Angel or the techniques used to simulate magic performances on the show. This is show business after all. Angel puts him on television, and in show business, nothing is more important than being on television.
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 01:54 PM

Originally posted by Randwill:
Since Richard Kaufman is associated with Mindfreak, it is unlikely he will have anything negative to say about Angel or the techniques used to simulate magic performances on the show. This is show business after all. Angel puts him on television, and in show business, nothing is more important than being on television.
Well, yeah. To put a finer point on it, Richard is in the business of selling magic via books and magazine ads. The more people who are drawn to magic by WHATEVER means, the more people there are to potentially fill his coffers.

Criss could be doing 'Bewitched' camera tricks and Richard would say "So what?

Again, not a judgement. Merely an observation of what is.

P&L
D
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/08/06 01:57 PM

I'm not associated with Mindfreak--not getting paid, not a producer, advisor, or anything else. The ONLY reason I show my face is because it might help sell some subscriptions to Genii. I'm not a performer and I could care less about being on TV.

You've never heard me say that Criss doesn't achieve some effects by editing, have you? Some of it is so blatently obvious that anyone knowledgeable about magic knows that's the only way these things can be done.
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 02:01 PM

Originally posted by Randwill:
Since Richard Kaufman is associated with Mindfreak, it is unlikely he will have anything negative to say about Angel or the techniques used to simulate magic performances on the show. This is show business after all. Angel puts him on television, and in show business, nothing is more important than being on television.
lol - 'nuff said, randwill - although i in no way feel "negative" bout any of this stuff, just sharing views; and as GORD shared above, it's definitely a beneficial discussion to have

again, i absolutely love and feel indebted actually to what criss/david has done to elevate our art, and do indeed feel they're awesome magical entertainers overall (but still think they would be even greater if they cut out all the bs and truly focused on creating authentic magic effects just as powerful - hey, maybe that's my calling, or yours?)

also, knowing of richard as i do indirectly and semi-personally, i believe he speaks his mind honestly regardless - so if he did agree with this general consensus, he prob would say something like: "hey, i agree with you guys, but it's buttering our bread like never before & it is still great entertainment"

and it is indeed still great entertainment; again, not the original point of the discussion

so, i believe i'll express myself by actual example, now (lol - i'm an actor/filmmaker who always seeks to incorporate my first love for the magical arts in my projects)

you know what, just flashed in my mind (freak?): anybody interested in truly workshopping/networking such a "purist" show that would incorporate the best of authentic magic with an mtv-style presentation (a best-of-both-worlds scenario)? i have pretty cool connections, and full production equipment outfit, would love to get some creative peeps together into a full-fledged tv project - lemme know!!!

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/08/06 02:37 PM

I have had the opportunity to speak with Mark Wilson at length several times on this subjectthe most recent less than an hour ago. I dont want to steal his thunder as I would very much like to see him join in the conversation here. But I can say that his ideas about how magic should be presented on televisioneven in todays quick-take styleare quite valid and folks like Criss Angel, Blaine, etc. should take note when Mark decides when and where the time is right for him to make his thoughts public.

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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 02:38 PM

I wasn't trying to single out Criss Angel or any other current performer on television. I was just trying to make the point that lay audiences aren't composed entirely of fools and that most people, with knowledge of magic or not, are going to suspect camera trickery when seeing something extraordinary. As a matter of fact, upon reflection, I think they're more likely to suspect that kind of thing today. Nearly every DVD I watch contains a bonus features section in which any kind of special effects used in making the movie are clearly explained. It would seem to me a logical conclusion to suppose that makes today's viewing audiences more likely to arrive at the camera tricks explaination.

Of course things have changed and we can't expect the shows of today to be as they were in the past. Henning did his early specials live -- I doubt anybody would want to try that. And I'm sure Henning, Copperfield and others used edits, etc. to bring off some of their effects. However, the things they were doing weren't nearly so obvious as what's being done today. That's the real problem, as far as I'm concerned.
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 03:29 PM

Originally posted by Jim Coles:
...And I'm sure Henning, Copperfield and others used edits, etc. to bring off some of their effects. However, the things they were doing weren't nearly so obvious as what's being done today. That's the real problem, as far as I'm concerned.
AMEN!

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/08/06 03:30 PM

Originally posted by DustinStinett:
I have had the opportunity to speak with Mark Wilson at length several times on this subjectthe most recent less than an hour ago. I dont want to steal his thunder as I would very much like to see him join in the conversation here. But I can say that his ideas about how magic should be presented on televisioneven in todays quick-take styleare quite valid and folks like Criss Angel, Blaine, etc. should take note when Mark decides when and where the time is right for him to make his thoughts public.

Dustin
wow - very cool - can't wait!

thanks, dustin - the revolution is beginning?

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 12:14 PM

Originally posted by biga135:
...so, i believe i'll express myself by actual example, now (lol - i'm an actor/filmmaker who always seeks to incorporate my first love for the magical arts in my projects)

[b]you know what, just flashed in my mind (freak?): anybody interested in truly workshopping/networking such a "purist" show that would incorporate the best of authentic magic with an mtv-style presentation (a best-of-both-worlds scenario)? i have pretty descent connections, and full production equipment outfit, would love to get some creative peeps together into a full-fledged tv project - lemme know!!!
[/b]
...any takers, yet (lol)? - seriously, contact me, let's create something revolutionary!!!

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 01:10 PM

First of all, few (if any) working performers make decisions based on "What's good for the art?" They make their decsions based on "What's good for them and their careers."

Secondly, as I pointed out to Jon Roc some years back, the use of clever editing negates the need for the sleight-of-hand that so many seem enamoured of. No need to work months or years to perfect a necessary sleight if the object is to simply capture an effect on tape. If that is the goal rather than being able to present the effect live, then clever editing is the efficient means to the end. That the performer cannot do the effect live is of no consequence.

And even there, too often the director/performer is too lazy to think things through. I recall Blaine's presentation of the Ashes on the Palm. At no time did Blaine touch the subject, yet, there were the ashes...the loading touch having been edited out.

How much better it would have been for the camera to have done one continuous shot, starting at Blaine's right and then panning around to his left, Blaine making the necessary movement with the camera showing his back for a couple of seconds, the effect shown un-interrupted.

Pumping up a perform's non-existent skill will have un-intended consequences by creating unrealistic expectations in the minds of potential bookser who want to hire the performer to do "that levitation" when in "that levitation" he was hanging from a rig off a building that was visible to anyone standing there while the original audience takes were of a Balducci being performed out of frame.

From the earliest days of televised magic the viewing audience was always told that what they saw on their sets was exactly what the studio audience was seeing. "No camera tricks" being the announced agreement between performer and viewer. This has changed with magic as descreet effect that the viewer would see were he there, to magic as special effects to enhance a "magician" on television.

Fine, if the goal is to produce a television program ostensibly featuring a magician created or made better by clever edits. This leaves the performer a "creature of television" and not part of theatrical magic which is done in front of a live audience.

If the goal is to produce a television program that pushes a performer's live performing career, then the effects must be different...more "honest" as it were.

When the "skill" of the performer resides primarily in the ability of his director and/or editor, then the performer sells both himself and his art short. Essentially, with clever editing, anyone can be a "magician," the years of study and practice be damned.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 01:49 PM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
...Fine, if the goal is to produce a television program ostensibly featuring a magician created or made better by clever edits. This leaves the performer a "creature of television" and not part of theatrical magic which is done in front of a live audience.

If the goal is to produce a television program that pushes a performer's live performing career, then the effects must be different...more "honest" as it were.

When the "skill" of the performer resides primarily in the ability of his director and/or editor, then the performer sells both himself and his art short. Essentially, with clever editing, anyone can be a "magician," the years of study and practice be damned.
BRAVO! (on all your points, actually)

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 04:20 PM

Magic on video, of any kind, requires special consideration. If you doubt that visit MagicVideoDepot, or YouTube and read the Magic Caf and youll see that many young magicians learn their magic by watching web videos over and over again until they figure it out.

If you are putting magic on television you are required to make conscious choices about how to edit the illusions so they are TiVo proof.

That said, it seems to me that there is little difference in using editing to enhance the effect, and using misdirection. Video cameras cannot be misdirected. Im not aware of any illusions on TV recently which are solely created by editing.

Magicians complain about TV magi:
Doing magic stop standards like Be Honest, What Is It? (aka Blaines Two Card Monte) or the Ultramental/Invisible Deck.

Using edits to enhance effects.

Using stooges.

Using hidden assistants, like the borrowed spectator who is levitated in the round.

In most (every?) case it seems that the reason for the complaint is the same: I cant do that live. Its not fair because people think hes a better magician than I am...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/09/06 04:25 PM

Here's an illusion on TV that was solely created by editing: Criss Angel driving a motorcycle around in a small circle, kicking up a pile of dust, and disappearing. Then his crew "wonders" where he went.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 06:21 PM

Of the millions of people who watch a magic special, very few, perhaps a few hundred, will go to the trouble of studying the performances via Tivo to learn how it's done. This must be a consideration so far down the scale in the producer's mind as to be laughable and certainly not worth the additional time and expense. The logic of it flys in the face of Criss Angel selling his secrets after the show on DVD. Why bother studying the Tivo when you can buy or hunt up on the Internet videos Angel himself has made.

The editing it done to make the mediocre performer look better than he really is. It is taking a theatrical art form and applying cinematic or television processes to make the performance better than it is in real life because the performer or the producers don't think the performance (or the performer) can stand on its own merits.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 08:08 PM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
...If you are putting magic on television you are required to make conscious choices about how to edit the illusions so they are TiVo proof.

That said, it seems to me that there is little difference in using editing to enhance the effect, and using misdirection. Video cameras cannot be misdirected.
now THAT's a great argument for the use of editing!!! thanks a lot for that insight, bill...

BILL DUNCAN: Im not aware of any illusions on TV recently which are solely created by editing.

...can't say i quite agree with you there, bill

BILL DUNCAN: In most (every?) case it seems that the reason for the complaint is the same: I cant do that live. Its not fair because people think hes a better magician than I am...

...in ALMOST every case, yes - lol - but the original issue/point/suggestion of this thread was not that: it was that kinetic editing which the average layperson immediately believes is highly suspicious delitiriously affects the credibility of magic as an art and of the performers ourselves - i honestly do not no anybody who qualifies as "the average layperson" (i.e., non-gullible intelligence) in my vast experience that does not believe this kind of editing is solely responsible for the actual workings of the magical effect, EVEN WHEN IT's NOT

and, again, it's not the fast-paced editing itself, it's HOW it is used; an AWESOME example of mtv-style editing can beseen in all of ellusionist.com's (no, i'm not affiliated - lol) promo/demo vids, where the editing is used to cinematically enhance the experience and powerfully seize the attention, but does not in any way interfere with the "pure" handling of the effect - that's the best-of-both-world's indeed, imho

thanks, bill, your "tivo proof" insight most definitely has given me a MAJOR illumination, however!

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 08:15 PM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Of the millions of people who watch a magic special, very few, perhaps a few hundred, will go to the trouble of studying the performances via Tivo to learn how it's done. This must be a consideration so far down the scale in the producer's mind as to be laughable and certainly not worth the additional time and expense. The logic of it flys in the face of Criss Angel selling his secrets after the show on DVD. Why bother studying the Tivo when you can buy or hunt up on the Internet videos Angel himself has made.

The editing it done to make the mediocre performer look better than he really is. It is taking a theatrical art form and applying cinematic or television processes to make the performance better than it is in real life because the performer or the producers don't think the performance (or the performer) can stand on its own merits.
ahh, ok, alexander - oops, duncan, think he's kinda got us by the short/curlys now on this one (lol) - thanks, alexander, excellent and equally insightful point

Locve, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 08:17 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Here's an illusion on TV that was solely created by editing: Criss Angel driving a motorcycle around in a small circle, kicking up a pile of dust, and disappearing. Then his crew "wonders" where he went.
oh, richard, that was just one of the PAINFULLY OBVIOUS ones to almost EVERY layperson aquaintence i know (i was actually embarrrassed, truly - lol); i'm sure you (and others) got a loooooooong azz list of such stuff - lol - i do

Love, Peace, & Magic
alex
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 08:57 PM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:

In most (every?) case it seems that the reason for the complaint is the same: I cant do that live. Its not fair because people think hes a better magician than I am...
Part of the problem would be solved by not looking/acting/performing like those we see on TV. If it looks like Blaine/Angel and acts like Blaine/Angel then they must be able to perform like Blaine/Angel.
The solution is to find a look/character/act that is your own. But try telling that to kids today ...
And a few adults.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 09:40 PM

It would seem that a big reason for resorting to creative edits, stooges and the like would be due to the sheer volume of material someone like Criss Angel is required to produce, doing a weekly show. I agree with David Alexander that the editing is done to make the performer look better than he really is -- but is there much of a choice, considering how many effects he would have to master and fine tune for performance? I think it would be an extremely tough row to hoe.

My only complaint is that some of the things these guys do end up looking way too obviously like camera tricks -- even if that isn't precisely what they are. Not sure if there's a realistic solution, other than not doing a weekly show.
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Postby Guest » 09/09/06 09:52 PM

As I see it, this pretty much brings us to a crossroads. I went to college and spent a couple of years among film students and so have respect for the technology of storytelling they use. Editing, Cinematography, Montage... all useful techniques when using film or TV to communicate a story.

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
...If you are putting magic on television you are required to make conscious choices about how to edit the illusions so they are TiVo proof...
Bill, I almost agree. My concerns are twofold.

First, who or what specifically requires "you" to make magic performances TiVo proof?

Second, a judicious filtering of the camera perceived content (via editing and/or multi camera shots in real time) by definition renders the video a suspect and inaccurate rendering of an experience.

From this second finding it plainly follows that magic done on TV or presented using any "judicious edits" is its own form and does not in-and-of-itself represent what was then or can be offered live.

With that lemma in place, we may as well rest the case as proved that all magic on TV is fake and in no way represents our craft which is based in live performance. It may advertise our craft. It may serve to offer goals which we may or may not be able to achieve at this time. But it does not offer an accurate depiction of what we do.

??

I miss those OLD TV specials where they made it very clear that the magic seen by the camera is just as it was seen by the live audience and by you the viewer if you attended a show.
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