GET THE MOST: How to watch a magic DVD
I wonder how many of us truly get the most out of our magic purchases. It's funny- we can be so content with just learning one cool new effect... that we miss out on all of the principles of magic, the possible uses for the techniques taught, and we dismiss whole effects based on the routines provided to house them.
I hope this thread can help you guys get the most out of the next magic DVD that you watch, or at least get you to watch it from a different perspective.
How to watch:
1. THE PERFORMANCE(S)
This might just be the most important part of every magic training dvd, whether it is a single effect, or multiple routines. It's important not to skip straight through to the method, despite your curiosity. You'll notice many subtleties that the performer utilises when performing his/her effect, which may not be in the explanation section.
Watch the performance twice. Once, as a layperson. Then, as a magician, where you would:
LISTEN to the patter. How does the performer use language, inflection, volume, and tone during the routine to his advantage? What words does he use that stick out to you, that make the patter unique? How could you emulate this patter, without imitating it, and still make it suit YOUR performing style? How often does he speak, and where in the routine does he utilize silence (and why) ?
WATCH the body language. Does the spectator ever get involved in the effect? Can it be done in their hands (and is it performed that way in the performance) ? Is the spectator ever conditioned, through touches or gestures, by the performer? Where is misdirection used? Why is it used at that moment, and why is it effective?
OBSERVE the routine structure. How long is the routine? Do you think it should be longer, or shorter? Are there multiple phases? If it's only one phase, what would be a logical effect to follow it? Is it strong enough to be a closer, or opener?
2. THE INTRODUCTION OF PROPS
When watching the DVD, often the performer will introduce himself, and show you what you'll need.
What do you need to accomplish the effect? Are they props that suit your character (Would your character carry these props)? If not, what could be substituted? Can the props be altered to help promote you in any way? Do you use these items in another routine already (and if so, is this effect a logical introduction or following effect to that routine?) Could you even combine these effects, creating a unique showpiece?
How portable and convenient is it to carry the props on you?
3. THE METHODOLOGY
THIS is the part we all love. Learning the secret; how it works.
LISTEN for techniques. Do you already know the sleights and moves required? Are you proficient with them? Does the performer give you any tips on making the moves invisible, silent, or otherwise deceptive? Why is this technique used, instead of an alternate technique or sleight? Does it make the effect stronger? Can the techniques, sleights, or skills be used to make an existing effect that you perform more hard-hitting?
LISTEN for alternatives. Often, the performer will give alternate methods to perform an effect. Which method hits hardest? Which is most practical? Would you perform more than one, depending on the situation? Can the alternatives be used to enhance other effects in your repertoire?
WRITE DOWN the new techniques. If you don't write them down, you WILL forget them. The more principles of magic that you can practice and write down so that you remember them, the more magic it will be possible to perform.
4. THE ROUTINE(S)
Often, the routines taught on a magic DVD are centered around ONE principle used in a CREATIVE way, or around a PROP itself. The LOOPS DVDs are an example of the latter- it's billed as a training guide in using LOOPS.
The effects taught are no doubt amazing, and require time and practice to perfect to get the fullest possible use out of them. However, it's important to remember the potential that the props have BEYOND what is shown as an effect.
LOOPS, for example, are capable of an INFINITE number of miracles. The training DVDs teach techniques in using LOOPS, and provide routines that you can practice the techniques with.
What would get you further- doing one trick (ie: Garcia's LIFE), or properly learning how to use LOOPS to their fullest potential for many different effects?
And here, we come to the point of this GET THE MOST article:
You're not getting the most of your magic DVD by only learning to perform the routines- you get the most by learning the techniques and principles behind the routines, and then applying them to your magic.
It's great to learn the routines, but also remember that everyone else who purchased those DVDs will also be learning those exact routines. What will set you apart more- performing someone else's published effect very well, or performing your OWN effect that you've created based on techniques from the same source?
Try to look at the routines as basic effects. They're either transpositions, transformations, vanishes, productions, etc... (let's suppose the effect is a vanish).
Look at the method being used to vanish. Can that be improved for you?
Look at what is being vanished. Can you vanish something else?
Look at the vanish. Can it be turned into a transformation or used in a transposition?
Look at the angles. Is it possible for you to change/improve those?
Look at the clean up. What can you do to make it more natural?
Look at the gimmick. Can it be improved to be more versatile?
Above all, try to learn the TECHNIQUE over the ROUTINES. It will serve you better in the long run.
5. THE PSYCHOLOGY
The WHY it works... possibly the most interesting part.
Ask yourself why this magic is deceptive. Is it the timing and misdirection? Is it the speed? Is it based on feints, or being done "fairly" and "openly"?
Can you change that? Perhaps the entire structure of the routine would work better for you BACKWARDS.
Here's a funny story- we have production boxes at the magic shop where I work. It was one of my first days, and I was left alone for a few hours as my boss went to send some packages. A customer asked to see what one of the boxes did.
You might know the kind- dragon production box, with a door in front and a door on top...
Anyhoo, to make a long story short... instead of showing it empty, and closing it, and pulling out a bunch of silks; I opened it, showing it to be an empty box. I then placed in a bunch of silks. Closed it, made my magical gesture, and opened it... showing the box to be empty, and the silks vanished.
In many cases, a production can be made into a vanish. And vice-versa.
In many cases, a transformation can be a step for a visual transposition.
It's up to you to decide which you'd like to do.
Time for the bottom line.
You could perform ANY effect in ANY way you want. There are no rules in magic about how effects MUST be performed as taught. WHENEVER YOU CAN, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
Learn the techniques, STUDY the performances on the DVDs, and APPLY the techniques learned in unique ways. Sometimes, simply messing around with different props and some principles of magic will spawn a genius new idea.
Just remember to experiment, and not just stick to the exact routines taught.
It's not like those are the only possibilities, or the best.