I have a confession to make…
There’s one thing in this world that I love more than magic.
Right now I’m reading “The Lost Hero” by Rick Riordan. Yes, it’s young adult fiction. Yes, I’m loving it. No, I really don’t care what you think of me!
It’s written by the same guy who wrote the Percy Jackson books, which are also excellent. “The Lost Hero” takes place in the same universe, but features different main characters.
Like many others I was really disappointed by the movie adaption of Percy’s first book. I never really understood why. It just fell… Flat.
The basic story was left mostly intact. The characters were (mostly) all there. What was the problem?
After revisiting Percy’s world I finally get it. What’s missing is attitude!
Rick spends as much time writing about what’s going on inside the characters heads as he does telling the actual story. This is the source of much of the book’s humor.
For example, here’s an excerpt from “The Lost Hero”:
“The centaur trotted over to the empty wheelchair on the porch. He slipped off his quiver and bow and backed up to the chair, which opened like a magician’s box.
Chiron gingerly stepped into it with his back legs and began scrunching himself into a space that should’ve been much too small. Jason imagined a truck’s reversing noises—beep, beep, beep—as the centaur’s lower half disappeared and the chair folded up, popping out a set of fake human legs covered in a blanket, so Chiron appeared to be a regular mortal guy in a wheelchair.”
That kind of thing happens a lot… Mundane stuff becomes absolutely hilarious just by the way it’s described.
So how do you film that?
The answer is, you can’t. The author understands his medium. The written word allows him to do stuff that is awkward and clunky to do in other media.
Which brings me to my point. Watching a video of magic being performed is usually boring as heck. It’s not that the act is bad, it’s just that it’s not designed for video.
Live performance and video are just as radically different as books and movies. Especially when it comes to magic.
By the nature of what we do, magicians work hard to make their shows a participatory experience. In other words, nobody is truly a casual observer. The vibe and feeling of the room is another tool we use to create art.
With video, that’s gone. You’re only getting a small part of the total experience. This is the real reason we ask people to not video our act.
But wait! I hear you thinking… What about Criss Angel and David Copperfield? They do magic on TV!
Here’s a little secret… They designed their acts from the ground up with TV in mind. The result is magic that wouldn’t play all that well for a live audience, but looks great on video.
It’s not good or bad, it’s just understanding your medium. Kind of like an artist working differently with canvas than they do with plaster!
Think about it… When was watching a video of someone’s birthday party ever as much fun as the actual party? It’s the same logic when it comes to watching video of an act meant to be enjoyed live.
I’m currently working on some “made for video” magic projects to add some variety to the site. It’s a new direction for me creatively. Keep an eye on the blog for details!