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 Post subject: Predictions cutting down on overall mentalism...
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:04 pm 
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This is my first essay, and it isn't that long. This is however a thought I have been toying with for a while now, and I was curious how others would respond.

The title of this can be somewhat misleading as to what this "essay" is actually about. Some people think that adding more and more predictions to a mentalism type effect makes it better. This is not always the case.

First off, let me speak of an example effect. Has anyone heard of Just Imagine by Jay Sankey? Jay's stuff is always good, and this DVD was too. This however is a prime example of possibly over-using predictions. If you are really fast paced and are working for semi-smart people, this would be fine. Otherwise, people are liable to forget the mentalist aspect of the trick because of how much they have to remember. After you reveal the shape and the color, many spectators will say, "Did I really choose that one? I can't remember!"

I see so many new magicians coming in to the magic world, inventing mentalism tricks with 47 different predictions. I am not saying I am not a noob to magic, but in my 5 years of magic, some of the new people have a very... How should I say... Ignorant Attitude about this kind of thing. Most new people think, "I know how to force a coin, and I have an Add A Number Pad, and I can switch a bill for one I know the serial number off of, and I can use a Phil Deck and force a card and a name!" and incorperate this all into one routine.

This doesn't only apply to new magicians. Some magicians with lots of experience go into it thinking that more predictions are better. I have seen seasoned proffesionals who come up with tricks that have one audience member remembering 6 or 7 cards. Of course this is an exageration, but this also allows easily for a switch, and the audience knows that.

A lot of performers (That sentence is really getting old, eh?) will tell you to write down multiple things. This is nice, but again, allows easily for a switch, which again, when the audience is reconstructing a trick in their heads after all is said and done, they will consider a switch. Bieng not that bright as many spectators are, will settle on that as thier explanation. As performers, this is not the reaction we are trying recieve.

Performance style also has much to do with it. In the last paragraph, I noted that when people reconstruct a trick, they will most likely see a switch in thier minds as the only logical explanation. If you have a performance style that makes people only remember you, and not want to know how the magic is done, then this might work. As Houdini once said, "It is not the trick, it is the magician.". As performers though, we have to be careful about connecting with each member of the audience when showing a trick like this. It could be the one audience member that doesn't get the misdirection and is only thinking about the pad of paper, they will blab to thier friends about how they think it is done.

A good solution for this that is used by many people and incorperated into thier act is multiple people to remember cards and dates and numbers and whatnot. There are concievable problems in this as well. If a performer is using a Psi Stebbins stack, and gets 30 people to remember cards, the audience will get quite bored of having so many people say, "Yes, that is my card.". This would considerably undercut the magic.

Now, as some of you are reading this, (I know some of you didn't make it this far...) you are thinking, "Hey, what about the tricks made by bad remembering from the audience?". Say you have someone take a quick glance at a 6 of diamonds and then later produce the 6 of hearts. Not only is this a quick childrens trick, but it is pretty... well... undercutting. If someone can only take a quick look at a card, they would not feel the effect to be strong at all. I advise all to stay away from tricks like this.

Again, as performers, or mentalists, we have to be careful that the number of predictions we use undercuts the magic none.

Thanks for reading!

Please criticize but be nice! I am only 13 and this is my first essay on magic!


Last edited by Popchris on Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:17 pm 
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Mentalism is a feild where much everyone have their views and stick with it. Finding your own personal style is a marveillous journey, but one of which will require a lot of your time and thoughts.

I find some good points, but again you turn around the pot and you don't digg really deep on each subjects, maybe a lack of mental experience, but it's okay.

Making multiple predictions can be done in a way, imagine a confabulation routine, there are a bunch of predictions, and it's still entertaining. Gary Kurtz end his show with a multiple prediction sequence, he asks the audience about a voyage, the amount of money they want to invest, the place where they want to go, with who they want to go... etc.

Gary then takes a rope and pull on it... The prediction is inside a plastic earth, the spectator opens it and find inside all the information that was previously said.

Of course there are ways to deals with multiple predictions, don't ray off this idea, it has been used by a lot of greats, take a look in PMM and 13 steps.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:32 am 
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Popchris...

I agree with your overall point regarding overcomplicating a mentalism demonstration or a magic trick, but I just don't think "Just Imagine" qualifies. There are really only three things the spectators must remember: a card, a color, and a symbol. It's no different from the many variations of the "triple prediction" plot that has been a part of mentalism for years -- decades, actually. From the simple Three-Way Test (in Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic) to the classic Mental Epic slate effect, to the amazingly entertaining Casino Royale, not to mention the many "Dream Vacation" variants available, triple predictions have been a staple of the art.

If your spectators are not on drugs (alcohol included) and are having difficulty following what's going on in Just Imagine, they need to drink more water and maybe eat more fish. :wink:

From the standpoint of mental effort, three items is not a lot to remember, especially when you consider that the average person can handle remembering up to seven different items with relative ease. When the three remembered items are spread out over three different people, it's even less of an issue -- unless people in general are getting stupider, which is a whole other problem with implications that extend far beyond magic and mentalism (but which might explain a lot :wink: ).

As well, you could argue that a triple prediction is not even a good example of a "complex" trick because it really is just a single magical effect: prediction, as opposed to a prediction and a color change and a vanish, followed by a pyrotechnic reappearance.

BTW, in my 35 years of experience in magic, I don't think I've ever come across a trick from a "seasoned professional" in which a single spectator had to memorize the identities of six or seven cards. Can you please cite specific examples of this? If not, I really have to dismiss that statement as exagerration.


Last edited by TheCaffeinator on Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:26 pm 
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Blitzmagic: I do have a lack of expierience, as I have stated many times elsewhere on the forums that I only have been performing magic for 5 years. Also, writing never was my strong suite, but I should say that I was not trying to convince people to stay away from multiple prediction type effects. I was just toying with the idea that mentalists need to be careful of this. Yes, it may sound like it goes without saying, but there are so many new magicians and older magicians who overlook things like this.
Thank you for the critisizm though, it was helpful.

Caffinator: It is true, what you have said, but there have been times when I have performed Just Imagine, and someone after choosing a green diamond and the card is revealed say, "Did I choose that? I thought I chose... ". These people are completely serious as well, and I don't believe it is a screw up in my performing style. Again, writing is not my strong suit, and what I was trying to convey was that people need to be careful of this. The triple prediction might not have been the best example, but it is a type of effect that can be messed up. I will try and edit this and write more and fix it as soon as I have the time. Again, I am only 13, been doing magic for 5 years, but I am determined to make this a good essay, and your critisizm has really helped. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:45 pm 
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Popchris wrote:
...there have been times when I have performed Just Imagine, and someone after choosing a green diamond and the card is revealed say, "Did I choose that? I thought I chose... ". These people are completely serious as well, and I don't believe it is a screw up in my performing style.


It's hard for us to know for sure if it has anything to do with your presentation skills without actually seeing you perform the trick. Now, no disrespect to you, but most 13 year-old who post here don't seem to think they have any problems with their presentation skills, even though YouTube provides the world's biggest repository of proof of the exact opposite.

Consider this:
1. If you are performing Just Imagine for a single person... an audience of one... there is a problem with your presentation skills (forget, for a moment, that that's how Sankey does it in the demo, since demos are artificial situations).
2. If you are not emphasising the spectator's choices at the time the choices are made, that is a problem with your presentation skills.
3. If you are not emphasising the spectator's choices again before you go for your prediction, that's a problem with your presentation skills.
4. If you are not getting other spectators involved in confirming and remembering the focal spectator's choices (see item 1), that's a problem with your presentation skills.
5. If the spectator believes that they chose a different color than the color you predicted, that's a problem with your presentation skills (the method allows for that possibility; you have to overcome it).

Those are just some things to think about. I don't want to hijack this thread and turn it into a discussion of "Just Imagine." All I will say further about it is that blaming the spectator for your problems is the easy way out.

Anyway... if you want to massage the essay into a larger statement on overcomplicating your magic, go for it. Simple three-phase predictions like Just Imagine are not a very solid foundation for doing so, though.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:52 am 
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Thanks for the advice. It might be a problem with my performing style. I don't use Youtube for my magic, although I might start. Not trying to sound... Well, cocky... but I want to change everyones view on that 13 year olds can't perform magic well. It annoys me so that that stereotype was created because of the idiots who don't practice and buy all thier stuff on E which advertises that you don't have to practice and... Nevermind. Thanks again for the advice!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:36 pm 
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If you like mentalism and you want to know how to present something in a delightfull and artful way, invest on the book Absolute magic.

It's somewhat angled towards magicians, but I feel that the book can be well applied in mentalism also.

The book is out of stock, and is quite expensive, but I can't recommend it enough.

In fact not only youtube magicians present magic in a strange way. A bunch of pre-scripted words without taking anything personal. People try to create art with their presentation but just introduce everything wrong and people are not hooked.

Those who really whish to present things skillfully have to invest a lot of money and time.

You might say that you want to change everything, but you have to work really hard. I know only a few person being able to create presentations that works with laymans, and those person are very unique.

Most of them are not known too.
~Max


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