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 Post subject: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:22 pm 
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Joined: 09 Jun 2009
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While watching some card gaff effect tutorials, I noticed that there was a couple of instances where the "Shape Shifter" sleight is used. Now, I've been using this sleight since before I even knew it's name, and I found it surprising that the tutorials pretty much refused to teach this very simple sleight and plugged another video that taught it and "All the ins-and-outs". I thought to myself, "Anyone who is really paying attention to the handling of the effect and watching from the spectators point of view could easily backwards engineer the slieght."

Now like I said, I've been using that sleight since before I knew there was a name for it, but the prior thought made me question something on the ethics of magic. I know I have seen people do effects before and was able to tell from my experience how it was done. If I "Backwards engineer" an effect, am I robbing the creator of the effect? In my eyes, no one really "owns" a sleight or maneuver. You can own the teaching material and try to sell it, but if it's easy to figure out why should I spend money on it? I just change the presentation and BAM, my own effect.

Note that I am not advocationg watching a video over and over again so you can backwards engineer an effect, that sucks. Just perhaps specific sleights seen at a glance.

-Archangel_G


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:55 pm 
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I have also done Shape Shifter for many years and no one ever said anything, or hinted how it was done. Laymen are not as determined to figure out tricks as magicians are, which leads to a magician over-thinking not realizing just how much knowledge that they have obtained over the years. Since I have been in magic so long I rarely ever see anything that fools me, and I am able to watch effects without a critical magician eye. Took awhile to be able to do that, but it is important so that you are able to enjoy magic and see it the way spectators see it. You have to turn off "magician mode" and see the trick how it is supposed to look, and look where you are supposed to look.

I used to only watch magic from a magician's point of view and it was pretty boring. So I worked on forgetting what I know, sort of like a self-hypnosis technique; and this allowed me to enjoy magic again. Most spectators are just watching to be entertained, and have no clue what is coming. Magicians watch something a million times if they have to, and don't sleep for weeks until they worked out a possible method. Spectators usually do not care, and forget it eventually as they have their own thing to do. So as long as you put the work in and practice and rehearse effectively you will be fine. If something even slightly fools me I cherish the moment. But there are only so many principles. I watch first as a laymen, and as a magician later. I always hope I am fried by an effect so that I can savor the moment for as long as possible, and go back to that time as a kid where wonder seemed so real.

Most specators are not there to backward engineer all of your tricks. And if you are proficient at what you do, and they have never seen the trick before, you have a huge advantage. Sure you get the occasional heckler or idiot, but those are far and few in between if you are doing your magic properly. Reminds me of one of the many essays that I wrote years ago, "Magicians Being Fooled" viewtopic.php?f=10015&t=133659


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:16 pm 
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born to perform.

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Ethically i think its ok to copy another magician or reverse engineer material if its for your personal use only. eg your not selling or teaching it to others. Also your not using it to compete in a magic competition. But to use at gigs something you've reverse engineered i think is ok.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:16 pm 
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I agree with sirbad. Not all spectators are trying to figure out your tricks.
I think that if you frame or position your magic as entertainment, the audience will just watch to be entertained and not try to figure out your magic. But if you position your magic as a trick, or a puzzle, the audience will accept the challenge and try to reverse engineer your tricks. It's all in the presentation.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:39 pm 
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I also recommend reading an essay written by Tommy Wonder in his Books of Wonder, "When Tricks Become Transparent". In the end it does not really matter whether they figured out how you did your trick, or if they think they figured it out. But more importantly will they remember you? No one has not called me back to a gig because someone thought they figured out one of my tricks. When it is more about entertainment as opposed to challenges, it is a lot easier.

Several years ago I had one guy trying to make up every possible fake explanation that he could while trying to figure out how I did my effects. None were even close, and in fact pretty silly; he had to be drunk or just really stupid. So I told him something to the effect of "Millions of people are sick, starving, murdered, and dying every day; and your whole life revolves around trying to bust my card trick." The small crowd erupted with laughter and he did not say a word after that. I love hecklers as they allow me to demonstrate my improv and comeback skills.

But as I said I have not seen many over the years, namely because I present my magic as entertainment not as a puzzle or a challenge. Even though I could if I wanted to, but you never want to alienate your clients if you want to make a living. Also when you do paid gigs the people want see you, you are less likely to be confronted than if you just went out and did "street magic" for random people. People who are in a hurry to get to their next destination, not be bothered by a stranger with a deck of cards.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:16 am 
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My origional query doesn't have to do with the spectator, it has to do with magicians who will see a fellow magician or an add for an effect and be able to add it to their repitoir without purchasing it due to backwards engineering.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Magicians probably do that all the time, especially cheap ones. But I always support the creator and just buy the effect, because no one knows the handlings and subtleties better than the one who created it, and they give a lot of tips based on a lot of experience with it. So in the end you are only cheating yourself out of knowledge.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:17 pm 
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So you think then it's a better idea for me to purchase, say, the material for the Shaoe Shifter? Even though I managed to figure out this sleight all by myself? That's where I think the lines become a bit blurry.

You make a fine point, and I have precious few examples where backwards engineering has been a tool for me to learn sleights. Typically, I always viewed it more like this. If I can't backwards engineer it, if I am truely fooled (And I do try as best I can to addopt the eyes of a laymen), then the effect and sleight of hand used is of excelent calibre and is worthy of my money to learn (Pending it fits my persona and style). But is this a vain point of view?

If I can tell what's going on in an effect, I've already learned the secret. I can learn the "ins-and-outs" through my own experience which is a FAR better teaching tool.

-ArchAngel_G


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:51 pm 
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Generally only beginners and intermediate magicians buy tricks that fool them. Basically they are buying secrets because they are still more of a laymen than a magician. However more advanced magicians and pros do not buy effects for secrets. They buy effects that they can use in the real world and will entertain laymen. As you get more experience you can't judge an effect by whether or not it fooled you because as your experience increases you are less likely to be fooled completely.

Most laymen have never seen magic up close and personally before and it will all be new to them. Magicians tend to forget that. I always buy effects even if I can figure them out 100%, because as I said there are tips and handlings that you won't know about. Plus if an effect is that good that you want to use it, it is worth paying the creator for the time they invested in it. Otherwise most would call it stealing and it comes down to ethics.

The older and more experienced that you are the more ethics become important to you. That is why most of the exposure videos on youtube are by kids. Broke kids who do not respect the art, and got stuff for free so they give it away as easily. You don't see seasoned pros or adults doing those videos usually, or trading magic. With today's technology anyone can rewind a video a thousand times until they figure it out. But that does not justify stealing someone's work. Misdirection plays differently in real life than on video, and in real life there is no rewind button.

Most magic is not meant to be repeated, because the 2nd time it is easier to follow what is happening. Back in the day at magic shops if you saw a trick and liked it, you had to buy it right there and then and there was no rewind button. I started doing Shapeshifter in my home back when Street Magic first aired. But I still ordered the book and companion DVD later to get the full scoop and handling tips, as well as support the creator. I also believe in Karma, and I love having the good kind. But as a professional the cost of a DVD or trick pales in comparison to the amount of money you will make from gigs, and it may even save you from some embarrassing problems later on, and make you aware of some stuff to watch out for.

A magician being fooled means little. There are "magician foolers" all over the place, yet they are not good workers for the real world. Magicians don't pay my salary, so I buy effects that will entertain laymen. They are still fooled yes, but more importantly they have a great time and become part of the experience and remember it. This leads to repeat bookings and referrals. As I have said before I have seen master card manipulators, and sleight of hand masters bore audiences with no presentation skills. ("Yeah so what he has quick hands") And I have seen magicians with little sleight of hand ability entertain a crowd with great showmanship and presentation ability. The method is not the trick. Being fooled does not necessarily mean being entertained, and being entertained does not mean being fooled all the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:05 am 
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You seem to keep missing what I am saying, and jumping to wild conclusions. At least you finally mention it's a question of ethics. You almost make it seem like I need to list credentials.

I personally have been around magic now for 14 years (Though there was a 3-4 year break in the middle when I had essentially given up on it due to loosing my perceived audience, so we'll just say 10 years). For the first 3-4 years, I was highly involved in the magic scene working with guys like Stephan Soule, taking lessons from Steve Dobson, and alot of other names in magic out here in the North West. I've a large collection of material I learn from, to books on NLP for audience management, Card College volumes, Strong Magic by Ortiz (This was almost painful to read, but very elightening), and just about any teaching material by Ammar. To this day, stuff still fools me. Maybe it's because I am not looking at it as critically as I could, or I am purposefully adopting "laymen's eyes" (Which you said yourself you do) when I see magic because I love it so much. I think I WANT to be fooled, so I can feel once again that wonder of impossibility.

Remember the current example is the "Shape Shifter". It is the only one I can think of that I managed to learn (A long time ago) just by looking at it.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:01 am 
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I am not jumping to any conclusions I am simply saying that is pretty much the case. Whether it is your case or not I don't know. I am simply saying that if you can't spend $30-$50 to learn the full ins and outs of an effect, "something" is wrong. Kids who lack money try and reverse engineer tricks on Youtube all day because they can't buy stuff, or are simply thieves who are too cheap to spend any money.

But as I said this hurts their performance because there is a lot of tips and subtleties they are missing. I personally never perform anything that I have not bought. As a professional it is not a big deal to buy material and to learn it properly. Those who lack experience assume they know it all and don't need the book or DVD because they figured it out from watching video. But they forget that the camera doesn't blink. Especially when they pause and rewind it repeatedly. My philosophy to beginners or even advanced magicians wanting to learn an effect properly? Just buy the darn trick. You will be glad that you did in the end, on many levels. If I didn't buy an effect I would always wonder if there was something I was missing.

Years ago I figured out Healed and Sealed and did it myself. But then decided to buy it just to be sure I was right. I was glad that I did, as there were tips in the book that I did not think of right away. Tips based on a lot of experience by the creator. Better yet were tips and some downloads in the PO forums which helped tremendously. It never "pays" to be cheap.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:13 pm 
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I think the topic is straying a tad because you are not actually talking about an effect. This is a sleight. And I think that changes things a lot. Sure Chad Nelson sells a dvd which features one sleight(the clip shift) but it also teaches about 5 different applications for the move plus 8 routines with the move. Thus, you are actually buying an 8 effect DVD that all feature one sleight. Can the same be said about the Shapeshifter DVD? I personally don't know. Can Shapeshifter be used for anything other than a change? Can you use it for a Pass? a control? A double undercut? If not, then the going rate for a single sleight download varies between $5.00-$10.00. Why does the Shapeshifter sell for twice that?

So yes, Archangel, it is good that you question your ethics on this touchy subject. But you are not the only one who should question your ethics. If Chad Nelson caught flack for releasing a "one sleight" dvd, even though that one sleight has about 5 different applications and you learned 8 effects, then the creators and producers of the Shapeshifter DVD should certainly stand with their feet in the fire as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:19 pm 
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It is not a one sleight book or DVD. DeSouza's Deceptions:


Includes:


•Shapeshifter: One card, held at the fingertips, instantly changes into another in this eye-popping move that has been popularized by the likes of Allan Ackerman and David Blaine!

•Twin Transpo x 2: Two cards are chosen and signed, then vanish from the deck, only to appear inside the magician's wallet. They are removed and transpose with each other repeatedly under impossible conditions, then finally, the face from one card transposes with the back from the other, leaving the magician with one double-backed card and the spectator with one double-faced card, with both signed selections on each side!

•Collection Agency: A lightning-fast version of Roy Walton's classic Collectors! Three freely-chosen cards appear face down and interlaced between four face-up Aces in the blink of an eye!

•Quad-Ringle Plus: A borrowed finger ring frees itself repeatedly from a length of rope, at times unexpectedly, at times visibly, then finally, it vanishes, only to appear inside a card case that was resting on the table from the outset!

•Die of Destiny: A spectator freely chooses a card, then replaces it anywhere in the deck. So far, sounds familiar... But then, with the help of a blank die and a fertile imagination, she first eliminates clumps of cards, then individual cards, until finally, she arrives at one lone card. Slowly, carefully, she turns the card face up, revealing it to be her selection! Marc's beautiful approach to this Claude Rix classic is worth the price of the book!

Plus Miniature Bowling Ball From Briefcase, Snowflake, Copper/Silver My Way, Picasso's Bill,The Cover Change, and so much more! DeSouza's Deceptions is pure, audience-tested deception, lavishly illustrated with over 220 photographs. Hardcover, color dustjacket. 142 pages. Includes Companion DVD of Live performance of routines and tips on sleights.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:37 pm 
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That sounds like a great value. This is where I had seen it sold.

http://www.ellusionist.com/shapeshifter.html

If you can get it in a book...by all means. I personally prefer books for most card work.


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 Post subject: Re: Backwards Engineering
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:00 pm 
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Yeah E is a joke and they overcharge for everything. I have never ordered from there and I can't stand their ridiculous black forums, way too hard on the eyes. I checked them out back in 2003 and never went back since.


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