The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

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erdnasephile
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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby erdnasephile » April 14th, 2018, 11:09 am

Leonard Hevia wrote:Caveney published an article in Magic years ago about that Zig Zag controversy. A magician here in the U.S. built a version sometime around the early 1970s? and began to perform it without Harbin's permission. Caveney also published an article in Magicol about that pirated copy of the Harbin book and how to tell them apart.


The Zig Zag article was a great read. I'm surprised it took the perpetrator so long to finally confess since he had been caught out so easily.

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erdnasephile
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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby erdnasephile » April 14th, 2018, 11:20 am

Is it true that each legit copy of the Harbin book has the purchaser's name and the book number hand written in the book?

If that's so: for those of you who have seen the phony Sander/Mann abominations, did they just omit that page or are those lines left blank?

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 14th, 2018, 1:34 pm

Jim Sommers of Chicago was, I believe, the guy who starting making copies of the "Zig Zag Lady."
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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Leonard Hevia » April 14th, 2018, 3:11 pm

Mr. Sommers got away with it for a time because the world was less connected in the 1970s. Stealing is not acceptable behavior but you can see why he nicked it: It's the perfect illusion. No special lighting required, no threads, no bad angles, can be done surrounded, and it's self-contained. What's not to like? Steinmeyer liked it enough to design his own variation.

It served in good stead for many illusionists, for a while anyway.

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby performer » April 14th, 2018, 3:11 pm

It was indeed Jim Sommers. I remember it well. Harbin was furious and that was the reason he put out his book. I think that made things worse. Cutting off the nose to spite the face.

I remember seeing vividly the first time it was ever performed at the London Palladium. I saw it on Television and it created quite a sensation at the time. Oddly enough I am still not entirely sure how the trick is done mainly because illusions are not a particular interest of mine. I did see Fay Presto doing it in close up walkaround. That amused me greatly!

Alas the trick has been done to death now.

Anyway here is the very performance I first saw on TV all those years ago. I still think Harbin did it better than anyone else, not least because he talked when he did it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McNj0WTVCjQ

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Joe Mckay » April 20th, 2018, 6:23 pm

Robert Harbin has a lovely presentation for the Torn & Restored Newspaper over here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rWcCuNYcrc

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 20th, 2018, 6:55 pm

Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby performer » April 20th, 2018, 7:44 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:the zigzag
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTdjbgb9OHA


Too late! I was first! I have already posted that one!

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 21st, 2018, 11:11 pm

Whoops, You're right performer. Here's a clip of his Aztec Lady
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Jack Shalom » May 12th, 2018, 1:35 am

I just started reading Early Harbin. Man, that was one clever, out of the box (sorry) guy. Usually methods turn out to be humdrum in magic; but his were the kinds of methods that I fantasied as a kid.

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Joe Mckay » May 12th, 2018, 7:17 am

I have Harbin x 2 which contains Early Harbin and Harbincadabra (all of the Harbin material from Abra magazine).

Some books I can fully digest after a single read. Or two at most. But I am still trying to wrap my head around these books since they deal with the type of magic I am not used to reading about. So I don't have much of use to add to what Jack says.

That said I thought it was hilarious that in one of Harbin's tricks he uses a fly as the method for the trick!

Also - in The Genius of Robert Harbin - an interesting patent is described. It is for a TV that can produce 3D images without the use of glasses! This was something he came up with a long time ago. I don't have the book to hand, but probably as far back as the 1950's!

Talk about a creative genius! I would love to see more coverage on this idea in the magic community. Even though it was not a magic trick - it is a wonderful example of Harbin's creativity. And it would be fascinating to know if the idea would have worked. And why it never caught on.

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby performer » May 12th, 2018, 7:51 am

Somebody once mentioned (I think it was Billy McComb) that Harbin made far money out of his Origami books than he ever did out of magic. I believe it. They were very popular at one time. And I remember when I was a kid seeing him do Origami on British television although only his hands were seen. I am not even sure if his name was mentioned and in fact I don't think it was. It was a segment on a kid show called "Mr Left and Mr Right" You were supposed to get a sheet of paper and copy the actions of his hands so you could make your own origami model. Although he went fairly slowly I could never get past the first three or four folds.

I still remember coming across him in some fairground or other presenting a sideshow illusion. I vaguely remember him being very friendly but there was only me and another person there. He didn't do the illusion whatever the hell it was. I wish I could remember the incident better. He didn't seem to be making much money. I am not surprised the Origami paid better.

I met him at the Magic Circle a couple of times. He seemed to be a very nice man.

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Tom Moore » May 12th, 2018, 8:57 am

Aurostereoscopic technologies (basically 3D without glasses) have been around as long as 3D film has but there’s a couple of basic physics and geometry fundamentals that have stopped the technology from becoming practical and viable for anything more than a single viewer. I’ve worked on 3D film technology in rides / shows and I’m quite sure every designer you could name has done some work on it but it’s one of those ideas that almost certainly can’t be solved.

The primary problem is position (of the images, of the reflective surfaces, of the viewers) such that even if something is out of position by 1/1000th of a mm, by a fraction of a degree or a tenth of a second then the brain refuses to accept the illusion. One of the big European ride manufacturers has developed a system of pseudo autostereoscopy which is workable but essentially relays on the fact that the viewers position can be relatively tightly controlled and which uses phenomenal computing power to tune the images and (literally) track your eyes and project data straight in to them in order to create the illusion of true 3D. This isn’t actual 3D though as each person viewing the film isn’t seeing true images as though the objects were real and anyone outside the recognised tracking hotspots would just see a blurry mess.
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Joe Mckay » May 12th, 2018, 9:42 am

A few years ago - this hack (by a computer scientist called Johnny Lee) for the Nintendo Wii went viral. Although sadly it seems Nintendo never did anything which this ingenious idea.

It looks similar to what Tom describes in the post above. A way to create a 3D image without glasses. And you have freedom of movement at the same time.

I am not an expert in these areas. But this one idea seemed really compelling. It felt like a genuine breakthrough when I was saw it. Even now I get excited by it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbinp

Postby Tom Moore » May 12th, 2018, 12:19 pm

No that’s a completely different idea, it’s nowhere near 3D, it’s basically a pseudo depth illusion. This is widely used in modern smartphone displays to create a depth perception illusion ( http://www.idownloadblog.com/2013/06/28 ... explained/) and does it all without glueing IR tracking dots to the viewer. What he’s “discovered” in that video is how to do with a wii remote something that the rest of the 3D world nailed about 10 years earlier with cheaper hardware.

Proper no-glasses 3D requires two totally separate images (one for each eye) plus a knowledge of where the viewer is positioned so that the focal planes can be tailored to fit them - fine when you only have one user but every additional viewer you add the more complicated it gets. Because you’ve doubled the amount of work.
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Joe Mckay » May 12th, 2018, 1:09 pm

Thanks a lot for the information, Tom. It is nice to hear from somebody with real knowledge of this area.

In case anyone is curious - I will give a quick outline of the Robert Harbin patent.

The frame rate for a TV is 24 frames per second. Harbin's idea was that twelve of the frames are of a close-up of the object in the camera.

And the other 12 frames (they alternate) is of the object from further away.

Apparently - this creates a blur effect in which the object seems to project out (or into?) the TV.

Also - I found a cool app for the iPhone X that makes use of the head-tracking method mentioned above to create cool depth perception illusions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywlETLIIvX4

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Re: The Fate of The Magic of Robert Harbin

Postby Tom Moore » May 12th, 2018, 2:52 pm

The most common way of storing/recording 3D films now is by storing alternate images on alternate frames of the tv signal or frames of a film but running at double speed because anything slower than 24fps looks “wrong” to the brain (see my previous comments). More complicated modern solutions involve merging the two images in to one digital HD frame but with each line of pixels alternating between the two images - it solves synchronisation and ghosting issues because both images are projected effectively at the same time rather than 1/24th second apart.

The harbin idea wouldn’t have worked “properly” partially because of the low frame rate but also because for 3D to work the viewer has to be in a known position so that the image recorded looks correct to them from that position, otherwise again the brain notices that the shadows etc in the 3D object aren’t quite “right” and refuses to allow you to perceive the proper 3D effect.

A similar idea to the harbin one is the “Pulfrich effect” which produces a mild 3D effect by exploiting how the brain processes depth information in moving images / films. Again though whilst the theory is solid the actual effect produced is tiny because your brain notices that the other depth clues aren’t being provided so surpresses the illusion.

Quick demo of the principle https://youtu.be/Q-v4LsbFc5c
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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