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Make Me Disappear

OK what I am going to talk about is very much out of context, but so is "The Apprentice".  :)

I just came from a David Copperfield show. It was well worth the money we spent getting the front row seats. It is an entertaining, funny show with lots of mind bending tricks.

In case you never saw any of his shows, live or on TV, he has two basic type of tricks. The first type is the "let me pick some random people, have them write/pick random things and guess what those things are". He throws balls or fresbees to the audience to pick people and have them be part of the show. I am not sure exactly how he does it, but I think these types of tricks are pretty much staged. I guess he plants his own people and aim really well. When he can't get it right he ends up saying "Sir, give the ball to the lady closest to you" (this happened quite a few times).
I can at least live with this answer.

The other type of trick he pulls is making things disappear. We are talking about cars, motorcycles and people from the audience (13 to be exact in tonight's show) once again randomly picked. I cannot explain this type of tricks with any scientific reasoning. I mean the only thing between you and the objects that disappear are a thin sheet of cloth. You can see under, around and in some cases even behind the area where things vanish.

In one part of the show, he takes this guy (who is an insider I believe) and supposedly transports himself and the guy to a remote island. I don't care whether he makes it to the island or not (they make it look like he does), but before they disappear, they are on a steel platform, and the platform extends to the middle of the seating area right above the audience. He stands inside a telephone booth size wooden construction which is at the end of the steel platform. The wooden construction does not obstruct our view of what is inside and around it. He pulls a white big sheet over the construction and in a few seconds he is gone with the other guy! Later he reappears in the middle of the audience above some seats! #1 how the hell did he escape from the construction which is in the middle, over the seating area while everyone is looking straight at it? #2 how the hell did he reappear in the middle of the audience? I know I wasn't looking at where he reappeared, but what about the people who were sitting there? Were they all his own people planted to those seats? I don't know.

When he made the 13 people from the audience disappear, even if they somehow walked out of the steel construction where they were seated in the middle of the stage before they disappeared, some of the people he picked were old, and they took a while even to be seated. There is time after they pull the sheet over the construction and before they pull it away again, but I can't figure out how they would have just left the stage without us seeing it all.. Not to mention that these people were holding flashlights which were moving when the sheet was pulled over the construction they were sitting in. Who were waving those flashlights which also disappeared together with the people!

Can anyone explain these vanishings and reappearings? They are going to drive me nuts! 

p.s. Sorry about this completely out of context post, but I just had to.

entell
Sunday, March 07, 2004

entell, you are from Pittsburgh?

Anon
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Maybe not much insight but i once had a conversation with a retired magician and he said :

"With big tricks it's usually the obvious but difficult solution.

If an elephant disapears from behind a curtain and you think 'There is no way they could have done that unless they had a massive crane lift it out or a fork lift truck drive up from a trap door.... how the hell did they do it.

They had a massive crane lift it out or a fork lift truckdrive up from a trap door."

braid_ged
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Ah...


The key to magic, I am told, is distraction and the fact that the trick always happens at a time other than when you think it has.

For example "How did they get out of that box is plain view ?"  They were never in it. Mirrors or projection etc....

The trick occurs not when the audience is focused on it.. but when the magician is telling a joke or introducing some distraction.

Magic is about distraction. 

braid_ged
Sunday, March 07, 2004

There's a series on TV "debunking" a lot of these tricks. You can probably rent them too.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, March 07, 2004

For most static illusions its a 45 degree mirror or set of mirrors.  Distance or travelling illusions, such as seeming to be in one place and then another are usually accomplished using doubles or twins.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, March 07, 2004

That video series I think is called the Masked Magician or maybe Mystery Magician. They'll show a modern illusion of the type you saw, then move the camera in back, do it again and show you how it worked. And it's always really obvious, like she disappeared from the box because she never got in the box, she just crouched down on a ledge behind it and hopped off behind the curtain as they spun it around.

Rick
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Entell,

You don't need to analyze - just enjoy the mystery!

http://pennandteller.com/sincity/penn-n-teller/articles/fire-eating.html

Mark

Mark Pearce
Sunday, March 07, 2004

I think the show was called something like "Secrets Revealed" and on TV about five years ago.  They had a magician who was supposedly well-known and was referred to as the "Masked Magician" (since he claimed that revealing his identity would ruin his career).  Eventually, he was unmasked and turned out to be some guy that no one ever heard of.  He did reveal some interesting tricks but they never scaled well to the Copperfield level. 

SomeBody
Sunday, March 07, 2004

The one trick I would REALLY like to figure out is the 'chick-through-chest' move Copperfield does.  You know - lock himself in a box, legs & head & arms out, and cloth instead of wood for front and back.  Chick walk behind him, and push the entire body through him.

The only way I could explain that trick is one HELL of an contortionist action to get out of the way.

I LOVE Penn & Teller.

T.J.
Monday, March 08, 2004

>"Masked Magician" (since he claimed that revealing his identity would ruin his career).

Far more devious, I do believe he had to remain masked, other wise his life would be in danger from the other magicians.

Aussie Chick
Monday, March 08, 2004

Maybe it's not so much out of context...
http://www.asktog.com/papers/magic.html

Loïc
Monday, March 08, 2004

"...other wise his life would be in danger from the other magicians."

I wonder how that would work, would they try to put him in a box with just his head sticking out and slowly push swords into it?

Then they'd open it up and he'd be OK and they'd be shocked, then they'd try to stick him in some other contraption?

Cubist
Monday, March 08, 2004

"Far more devious, I do believe he had to remain masked, other wise his life would be in danger from the other magicians. "

Actually, that was just a marketing ploy by Fox (I believe that was the network).

Other magicians in the business already knew (or guessed) who he was.  You can probably still google the pages that discussed his identity, even before he unmasked.

The Masked Magician
Monday, March 08, 2004

Part of the fun is the stagecraft, even if you know how the trick works. We had a magician do a kids party and even though a lot of the tricks were pretty transparent to the adults, it was a good show.

Disappear
Monday, March 08, 2004

when he makes people disappear it is totally random. the people who are selected end up agreeing not to disclose how he did it...copp is good at convincing people not to disclose secrets

hsmith
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

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