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RayJ

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For the purposes of this topic, Zoom was chosen because it has become a key player. Substitute any medium which offers comparable services.

Now that Zoom has become ubiquitous what with lectures, sessions and shows being featured, is it time to think about rules that might be specific to online presentations?

By rules I mean the "norms" or expectations that govern such performances. Should an online performance be limited to only effects that can be presented live and in-person? Can allowances be made for the technical limitations of some formats?

Many have only one camera and it is static. That limits the size of the "stage" and renders certain misdirection techniques ineffective. So is it OK to loosen the rules in order to level the field a bit?

Just what are the expectations, if any?

When television became a thing performers would go out of their way to stress that no "camera tricks" would be used. But that doesn't mean other advantages of the process weren't exploited. In the end, some could argue the live studio audience got to see a very different show, or at least enjoyed a much different experience.

Now what about things you can do on Zoom that you cannot do live? How about being able to access things that are out of camera range? What about being able to ditch a prop just by moving it out of frame? Certainly neither would fly during a face-to-face performance. So what is acceptable? How far can you go before magic becomes a mockery of itself? Does it matter? Is the ultimate effect the only barometer?

Black art arguably works better on camera, particularly if variables such as angle, distance and lighting are controlled. That would seem to be a benefit of Zoom and an acceptable one. Exploiting that advantage for all it's worth would just make sense.

But other inherent features might not sit so well with some in the community. Some may yet to be discovered.

What's your take on all of this?
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Dave Campbell

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Ray...

I was actually considering posting something like this a week or so ago.

Where in the recent past things were being hawked as good for live audiences, and the things that people were selling that only worked good on video were being panned. Now it seems everybody is jumping on the "looks good on Zoom" bandwagon.

I guess I'll give it all a pass for now... I write software from home and have done so for 10 years, so this whole COVID thing hasn't directly affected my income. But I totally understand the fact that performers have had to either reinvent what they're doing for a while or find another job. I'm guessing it'll level out after live performances become the norm once again.

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell
Ray...

I was actually considering posting something like this a week or so ago.

Where in the recent past things were being hawked as good for live audiences, and the things that people were selling that only worked good on video were being panned. Now it seems everybody is jumping on the "looks good on Zoom" bandwagon.

I guess I'll give it all a pass for now... I write software from home and have done so for 10 years, so this whole COVID thing hasn't directly affected my income. But I totally understand the fact that performers have had to either reinvent what they're doing for a while or find another job. I'm guessing it'll level out after live performances become the norm once again.


There is no doubt that a market has been established for "social media magic". And much of it can fit in well with Zoom performances.

Some social media magic either doesn't work at all in the "real" world or if it does it has numerous conditions/limitations.
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Dave Campbell

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I can think of LOTS of things that I could pull off on a video, live or otherwise that would never fly in person.

Forget all the deck-switch material you've read -- move your hand with the deck off-camera to do something else, when you go back for the deck, grab the 'cooler'.
No need to work on lapping -- just drop stuff off-camera.
Angles are no longer a problem -- nobody is anywhere but in front of you.
2 cameras and the whole "look at your card while my head is turned" is no problem.
If it's something you're going to sell, not do live, you can slice & dice the video to your heart's content.

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Bart

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First, regarding television shows that claim they don't use camera tricks - just a comment that there are shows that outright lied about it, or stretched what they meant by that to an extreme. For one example, cutting to different cameras in order to not expose what was clearly visible to anyone watching live.

I think that doing tricks that are only doable over Zoom is fine.

As with any show, I think the IMPORTANT part is doing a show that the audience will like, and doing it WELL. That means taking into account some things that a lot of magicians don't normally consider. Lighting, sound, blocking. And that's on top of doing things (whether they can be done live or not) that look good over a screen.

I've seen plenty of virtual shows that tried to use the fact that it was being broadcast but failed to take a lot of things into account.

   Something is ditched offscreen but a THUNK is heard.

   A switch that is supposed to be out of frame is actually seen.

   An offscreen helper is not quite as offscreen as they are supposed to be.

   The performer is so far in the shadows that you can barely make out what they are doing.

   Same with sound. They are talking, but it sounds like they are far away.

 
I see numerous discussions like this happening where some people seem just totally against anything that can't be done live. That doesn't make sense to me.

I've seen things done with black art that look great!

But, some magicians were also outraged at stooges - then they found out that some well known magicians use them every show.

So again, bottom line to me is do a good show that the audience likes and perform it well. If that means you're using things you can't perform live, that's fine.

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart

 

First, regarding television shows that claim they don't use camera tricks - just a comment that there are shows that outright lied about it, or stretched what they meant by that to an extreme. For one example, cutting to different cameras in order to not expose what was clearly visible to anyone watching live.

I think that doing tricks that are only doable over Zoom is fine.

As with any show, I think the IMPORTANT part is doing a show that the audience will like, and doing it WELL. That means taking into account some things that a lot of magicians don't normally consider. Lighting, sound, blocking. And that's on top of doing things (whether they can be done live or not) that look good over a screen.

I've seen plenty of virtual shows that tried to use the fact that it was being broadcast but failed to take a lot of things into account.

   Something is ditched offscreen but a THUNK is heard.

   A switch that is supposed to be out of frame is actually seen.

   An offscreen helper is not quite as offscreen as they are supposed to be.

   The performer is so far in the shadows that you can barely make out what they are doing.

   Same with sound. They are talking, but it sounds like they are far away.

 
I see numerous discussions like this happening where some people seem just totally against anything that can't be done live. That doesn't make sense to me.

I've seen things done with black art that look great!

But, some magicians were also outraged at stooges - then they found out that some well known magicians use them every show.

So again, bottom line to me is do a good show that the audience likes and perform it well. If that means you're using things you can't perform live, that's fine.



Bart, your opinion is as valid as anyone else's. There is something to be said, however, for rules, be they written or unwritten.

Some magicians think gimmicked cards are an abomination. Others can't get enough.

So there will always be differences of opinion.

Let's look at the music industry for a minute. Before Autotune people had to be able to sing on key. Some feel it is wrong to use it and others say so long as the sound is improved, who cares?

Is this a purist versus pragmatist debate?

I think it is worthy of discussion.

What do you tell a layperson when they recount that fabulous trick they saw on Instagram? Do you tell the truth and explain why you cannot demonstrate it because it doesn't work outside of that type of medium?

Does that diminish their estimation of magic?
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Dave Campbell

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


What do you tell a layperson when they recount that fabulous trick they saw on Instagram? Do you tell the truth and explain why you cannot demonstrate it because it doesn't work outside of that type of medium?


I guess you'd have to pull out your cell phone and show them YOU doing that fabulous trick on Instagram also 😉

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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Campbell


I guess you'd have to pull out your cell phone and show them YOU doing that fabulous trick on Instagram also 😉


There's always an out! 👍🏻
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Bart

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


What do you tell a layperson when they recount that fabulous trick they saw on Instagram? Do you tell the truth and explain why you cannot demonstrate it because it doesn't work outside of that type of medium?

Does that diminish their estimation of magic?

I have yet to be asked this for Instagram. But, I have been asked about magic on TV and my reply would be similar to what I say about magic on TV.

Just like any TV show you watch, or any music album you listen to, is done with however many takes they need, and then some editing is done, the same is true for magic you see on TV (I'll add or Instagram).

There are live performances, like you are seeing me do now - and there are performances done for the camera.

If you enjoyed it, and found it entertaining, don't you think that's the important thing?

I imagine that at some point I'll have someone other than a magician disagree and say that isn't the important part, but it hasn't happened yet.

 

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #10 
I haven't really stayed up to date with magic on Zoom other than magicians performing for magicians e.g. lectures and other "convention" type shows. Are there a lot of magicians who are finding lay audiences who will pay to see magic in a Zoom session? 

I have a friend who has done that once. I'm wondering about the long term viability of such shows for a lay audience. Will people pay a birthday party magician to "visit" the party via Zoom? Will they pay the fee the performer is used to charging? 

I think there can be a market for zoom shows to a lay audience, but it might take some real selling to find the audience and to keep finding more audiences.

I guess I'll just need to pay more attention to the articles on zoom shows etc.

Mike
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Bart

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
I haven't really stayed up to date with magic on Zoom other than magicians performing for magicians e.g. lectures and other "convention" type shows. Are there a lot of magicians who are finding lay audiences who will pay to see magic in a Zoom session? 

I have a friend who has done that once. I'm wondering about the long term viability of such shows for a lay audience. Will people pay a birthday party magician to "visit" the party via Zoom? Will they pay the fee the performer is used to charging? 

I think there can be a market for zoom shows to a lay audience, but it might take some real selling to find the audience and to keep finding more audiences.

I guess I'll just need to pay more attention to the articles on zoom shows etc.

Mike

While I am not one of them (it's taking me a lot longer to get my virtual show set up than I would have liked), there are magicians that have made a significant income off of virtual shows. I know some that are making significantly more than they were making pre-virus.

While how much in demand they are can go up and down in an area depending on how viable it is to do in person shows, with how things are in the US, I expect it to be a source of income for quite a while, so am continuing to get my virtual show going. And you can perform for virtually anyone in the world.

Even once this is over, there could easily be cost reasons that people would prefer a virtual show. If I have to "travel" 2 minutes to my virtual performance space, where it's always set up, as opposed to actually travelling somewhere, and loading / unloading equipment and setting things up / breaking them down, I'll be charging less.

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Jed

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart

Even once this is over, there could easily be cost reasons that people would prefer a virtual show. If I have to "travel" 2 minutes to my virtual performance space, where it's always set up, as opposed to actually travelling somewhere, and loading / unloading equipment and setting things up / breaking them down, I'll be charging less.




Interesting thought, although IMHO in the post - corona era, no one will be interested in virtual shows again. You see, people thought that handshakes may be a thing of the past, although, in reality, I think the minute a vaccine is created, life will go back to what it was. I'm sure there will be more use of zoom than there was pre - corona, maybe even for events where it's too difficult for grandparents to come to their grandchildren weddings or whatever, but the majority of things will just snap back to normal immediately, magic shows not excluded. 
What do you think? Interested to hear more opinions on this one.
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Socrates

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The pendulum swings, this is life. We are social beings and many have found the lockdown truly difficult. A lot of people are marketing the benefits of cyber connections but many more realise, as humans, we require far more than 2D interactions... even the screen isolates.

Magic which happens in person and exists in the memory is vastly better. Real magic is an in-person interactive experience that cannot be replaced by a TV screen - I think the zoom culture will fade for sure!
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RayJ

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Not Zoom, per se, but during the lockdown some music performers began doing live concerts and having them broadcast to outdoor drive-in theaters. Tickets weren't cheap for some and the venues packed. So some will pay to see a live performance even on a screen. I cannot imagine the average Joe paying to watch magic on Zoom. Not unless it is part of a corporate event of some sort or a part of a broader performance of some sort such as sports, music, etc.
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marv long

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Reply with quote  #15 
One of the things that I ponder (I ponder a lot [biggrin]) What happens when this ends. How long before people are willing to "pick a card"?
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by marv long
One of the things that I ponder (I ponder a lot [biggrin]) What happens when this ends. How long before people are willing to "pick a card"?


I ponder way too much sometimes. Actually, this has been discussed a lot on various fora. So thankfully we can have them name, glimpse or tell us when to stop.
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Jed

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Reply with quote  #17 
yup, same applies to the question when will it be legit to put out your hand for a handshake. I think we'll snap back very quickly. well, I hope at least.
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #18 
A storyteller shares his thoughts on Zoom in the following article... I thought you guys may find it of interest too:

https://medium.com/@Doc_the_Storyteller/to-zoom-or-not-to-zoom-720099f567d8
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RayJ

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
A storyteller shares his thoughts on Zoom in the following article... I thought you guys may find it of interest too:

https://medium.com/@Doc_the_Storyteller/to-zoom-or-not-to-zoom-720099f567d8


Definitely worth the read, thanks for sharing.

As far as technology, as we have seen on the Zoom-based Saturday Sessions, there is a wide variety of quality.  There are some of us that use iPads and have poor lighting, no good way to prop up the pad so that you can obtain a good angle, etc. Then on the other extreme is Mike Powers, who has multiple cameras (4 I believe) and conducive lighting.  Sound can also be enhanced so that your vocals are improved.  So that is something to bear in mind.  If your goal is to have crisp video with good sound, it is available to you at a price.
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Socrates

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A key segment from the article is:

"For me — and all the storytellers I know — storytelling is very much an “eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart” form of communication and connection. While there can be a semblance of this in an online performance, there is no denying what we all miss — the physical presence within a sacred space where both listener and teller witness and experience the emergence of a story. I don’t think I’m being too precious when I say that. For me, storytelling is a sacred art"

In my eyes magic is a sacred art. And I also believe it is a thousand times more powerful when experienced in person. How many times have you had somebody tell you they've seen magic on the TV screen but it pales in comparison to the experience you have just shared with them?

There is no doubt zoom is useful for connecting people throughout the world, and as you say it has been great for us here at the TMF for sessions and lectures, however there is still something lacking when we are divided by the screen... certain tricks and magical experiences are possible, and they will remain as very special memories in the minds of those who experienced them - yet for me magic is a sacred art, and one I prefer to practice in person.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
A key segment from the article is:

"For me — and all the storytellers I know — storytelling is very much an “eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart” form of communication and connection. While there can be a semblance of this in an online performance, there is no denying what we all miss — the physical presence within a sacred space where both listener and teller witness and experience the emergence of a story. I don’t think I’m being too precious when I say that. For me, storytelling is a sacred art"

In my eyes magic is a sacred art. And I also believe it is a thousand times more powerful when experienced in person. How many times have you had somebody tell you they've seen magic on the TV screen but it pales in comparison to the experience you have just shared with them?

There is no doubt zoom is useful for connecting people throughout the world, and as you say it has been great for us here at the TMF for sessions and lectures, however there is still something lacking when we are divided by the screen... certain tricks and magical experiences are possible, and they will remain as very special memories in the minds of those who experienced them - yet for me magic is a sacred art, and one I prefer to practice in person.


I totally agree.  

I recall when I saw Blackstone Jr. at the American Theater in St. Louis.  Wonderful show, full of pageantry, mystery, macabre and even a live bunny.  

I was sitting fairly high up and towards the left side of the theater.  At one point, Blackstone is producing huge silk banners and such and at one point, a live elephant walks through the curtain, stage right, and stops behind a banner for a moment and then the banner is whisked away revealing it.  There was so much going on that I'm sure nobody saw what happened.  My older brother was sitting next to me and nearly came out of his seat (yes, that really happens) and he, along with a couple thousand others created an audible gasp followed by wild applause.

There is no way that folks would jump up from their couches had that been viewed on television.  Not a chance.  But in the moment, it was truly magical.

I got to meet him later and told him the impact it had on my brother and he was quite pleased.  He was a super nice guy.
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