Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Best Method

For along time I have believed that the effect and the method are disconnected from each other. Because method should not matter to an audience, only the effect. And because the method is unseen it really doesn't matter what method you choose, as long as the audience is fooled. I don't think so anymore.

The choice of method directly relates to the perception of the effect. Let me explain. There is no invisible method. A method always requires you to do a specific action that is seen. If you do a double lift in order to switch a card for another you need to turn over the card on top of the deck, before dealing it to the table. The choice of method prohibits you to deal the card to the table in a face up manner and turn it over there, disconnected from the deck. So naturally the effect changes. In this case the card was turned face down near the deck, so the last glimpse of the card was "connected" to the deck.

To some this might seem like nit picking, but this applies to all methods in one way or another. If I make a finger ring travel into a box that the spectator is holding I might use a dummy to show the finger ring after the spectator is holding on to the box. In this case it is much more relevant to use the dummy method, as it strengthens the effect, by making it feel more impossible.

The obvious choice in the above case is to go for a dummy, as it will fool a higher percentage of the audience. It makes life a bit harder, but it is well worth the effort.

And you can do that with every magic trick you can go further and further to enhance the magic effect. But how much is enough. Every single effort beyond "fooling" is wasted. Once the audience is convinced that no trickery could have occured it is enough. But how can you tell that you achived the required maximum of "fooling". Experience will tell.

So choosing the best method is always a balancing act between, practical, convincing and the relationship to your character.

Your character plays an important role in your choice for the best method to achieve an effect. Let me explain: If you do ball manipulation and use flourishes like a ball roll, you establish credit. And having credit allows you to get away with bold methods later on. You do the flourishes, you make the ball appear and reappear over and over again. And in the end you get rid of the ball by tossing it behind the chair. In the beginning that last method might be too much of an obvious thing, but near the end, once you established credit this method not only is extremly practical but also convinient.

Here are some tips on choosing the best method for an effect:

  • Make sure it is not the very first method a layperson would think of by the "how else"-principle aka Too Perfect Theory.
  • If you choose a bold method establish credit to get away with it before it is time to do it.
  • Choose the method that is invisible with in a logical handling. (e.g. picking up something from behind a chair as you get up on the chair, making your arm go naturally to the back rest, as not to lose balance)
  • Pick the most deceptive method, if it happens to be the most difficult, too bad, you gotta learn it then.
  • Do not trust magicians, who rarly perform for laypeople on anything concerning deception and perception.
  • Learn to trust your "gut feeling"!
  • Actually go out and perform and you will learn.
  • The beaten path is good! Methods off the beaten path require a character off the beaten path. And most often magicians do not fall into that category.
  • Humor helps to misdirect from methods.
  • If the effect is travel, teleportation or transposition make sure the method doesn't require that both objects are close to each other. Or that the hands come together during a coins across routine.

Tired now, will go to bed.

1 comment:

Kevin Chou said...

Excellent post, and I agree. There is a very good section related to this in Darwin Ortiz's Strong Magic. He also tackles the problem many magicians have with touching the deck too much which often brings suspicions he claims.