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Magician Marco Tempest Talks 'Open Sorcery' 83

bLanark writes "The BBC have a piece about illusionist Marco Tempest who uses technology to generate magical illusions. As he says in the interview unlike most magicians and illusionists he shares his techniques in an act that he calls 'open sorcery.' The techniques include using iPhone apps, and high-speed digital cameras. There is a growing band of people using and contributing to the field."
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Magician Marco Tempest Talks 'Open Sorcery'

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  • And so... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Terrasque ( 796014 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:13AM (#39472467) Homepage Journal

    And so it begins, the legends of the Technomages..

    • Only 1/2 hour. Not bad.

  • I have wondered... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:19AM (#39472487)
    Given even a little of the technology becoming available now, it'd be very easy to 'cheat' at magic. For example, an e-paper playing card. The processor might make it a little thick to handle, but it'd look just like a normal card... except it changes face at the command of the magician or his assistant. Suddenly, every card trick is a joke.

    Would this suck the fun out? While magicians may still take pride in their skill, it'd be much harder to impress an audience who realise that those tricks could be done with ease and gadgetry. I imagine television magicians have been through similar issues too: How can you convince the audience that what they see isn't all achieved with camera trickery, short of revealing your method after the trick?
    • Already happens (Score:5, Informative)

      by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:33AM (#39472523)
      As a magic fan, it's incredibly annoying seeing so many street magicians using camera tricks. The whole point of street magicians is that you're not in a studio, you've limited avenues for preparation and you don't have control over your environment.

      I blame people like David Blaine for popularising camera tricks, his 'hovering' trick is the worst. The actual trick is to position your feet in a way where the heel of the other foot blocks people's view of you standing on tiptoes on the other foot, giving the impression you're hovering a few inches off the ground. Neat trick but not impressive and it's very obvious what's happening when it's on camera. Knowing this, David then some point afterwards let himself lifted by a crane, got some actors to wear the same clothes as the people who were in the earlier trick and shot himself being lifted over their shoulders (wire was then CG'ed out). He spliced that footage with the people's reaction from the real trick and it gave the impression he genuinely performed an illusion where he hovered several metres off the ground in front of some random people.

      Rule of thumb: if a street magician has any cuts in footage, something is up; there's only a single camera and he only gets one stab at a trick with a set of people, he shouldn't need to ever cut. Also, most "how did he know my birthday and get it in that passing bus?" trick almost always involved them having an interview when the camera isn't rolling or them having filled out a questionnaire beforehand.
      • Re:Already happens (Score:4, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:43AM (#39472551)
        The Masked Magician did one trick just to show this rule flawed: He made a tank disappear. Tank was there, he lowered a screen over it, waved hands, tank gone. It was a camera trick: Camera, screen and magician were all mounted on a moveable platform. While the screen was down the whole lot shifted position to point away from the tank.
        • That one gets a bit fuzzy because it's the method David Copperfield used to make the statue of liberty disappear but he also did it with a real audience on location.
          • The voiceover on the MM show mentioned this: He said that any time it appears to be done with a live audience, the audience is in on it.

            A TV magician doesn't really need an audience though. If you just intercut the trick with *any* audience shots, even from another trick or another show entirely, I doubt the viewers at home would realise.
      • Re:Already happens (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:12AM (#39472619) Journal

        This street one is cool: []
        It's likely the burger is coming from an assistant behind that "display", but it's done quite well.

        And I'm not sure how this regurgitator guy does all that stuff - part of his illusions are achievable using the usual tricks (duplicate lock and keys), but the other stuff he does... []

        This one is not as amazing but still good: []
        I hate to be the one practising it every day though - imagine setting up all those cards over and over again.

      • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

        While the Balducci can be used on camera, it does not need one to be effective. One of the key things a "magician" must be aware of at all times is the angle of performance. There's almost always one (or more) angles where a misdirect, shuffle, palm, whatever can be viewed from and thus one must maintain control over those angles to prevent being caught out.

        Of course, some would say "but that's cheating and it's not really magic!" and I'd say "HA! YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC YOU FUCKING MORON!". It's entertain

        • "Magic" is impressive because it shows the skill of the performer. It's like gymnastics with jokes. A well done trick will be impressive even if you know how it is done.
    • by TheLink ( 130905 )

      Not every card trick would be a joke. Try doing this guy's card trick with e-paper playing cards: []

      I know he's taking the cards from his suit (and I think there are a few mistakes), but it's still impressive.

      Many magicians have been using cutting technology for their tricks. They do it well so audiences don't realize it. Powerful magnets, projectors, cameras (to peek at stuff) etc.

    • This is a good point. Largely, though, most of the people in any given audience aren't the inquisitive type, they're just there to be mystified and entertained. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but the rest of us are in the minority of people who are always looking to figure out how everything works.
      • Figuring out how a magic trick works is what people do afterwards. The point is that at the time you are unable to see how the trick is done.

        An analogy is with the "locked room" type of murder mystery. When you're reading, it is the increased nightmarishness in atmosphere provided by the apparent impossibility of the crime that is important. You know logically that at the end you will be given a mundane explanation, but during the course of the book you gain an extra shiver of horrified delight.
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      When it comes to magic, there's no such thing as a "cheat". Magic is nothing but cheats. That's part of the draw of it, the "how in the hell did he do THAT?" feeling, which is why magic is always better live than on camera.

      Which is why technique is supposed to be and should remain secret. It's no fun if you're in teh audience and know how the magician did his trick.

      When I was a younger teen I was into magic, probably started around age 9 or so until I was maybe fifteen. I read every book I could find on the

      • I'm not really sure he'll get least, not by everyone. Like you, I've read umpteen books on magic. I'm still "active" (so to speak) in the bizarre magic community. Magic has frequently relied on some form of technology throughout it's history, even if electronics didn't exist yet. It used tricks of gravity, hydraulics, chemistry, and probably a few I can't think of at the moment. Any new tech is almost immediately utilized, the newer the better so that the audience is not yet aware of it,
      • I strongly disagree that it's no fun if you know how the trick was done. It's no fun if the trick was easy. Magic is a display of skill, the "how was that done?" factor can arise purely from a "how can anyone be that good?" feeling. For example, the people who can palm CDs and other large objects. The tricks are obviously the same as the classic palming tricks, there's rarely anything truly new, but the difficulty alone is impressive.
  • Neat ideas but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:20AM (#39472489)
    Watched a youtube video of him doing a street magician style trick involving an umbrella. Was pretty obvious that it was a setup given that the woman just happened to have a plain bright red umbrella on what looked to be a warm sunny day. When a magician resorts to using tricks like I just can't enjoy the illusion. If you're going to use actors, off-camera interviews/questionnaires (so you can get info needed for 'psychic' tricks), you may as well go the whole hog and fake every aspect (you could even put in some CGI explosions) .

    I would rather see a simple trick done very well than a complex, impressive seeming trick where an unknown amount is has been completely faked (well, technically as it's an illusion it's all fake but I'm sure you know what I mean). One of my favourite tricks is a simple slight of hand: Paul Daniel's Chop Cup [].
    • Tricks with plants make me cringe. Check out Dynamo 'walking through glass' [] at some party with Rio Ferdinand. Quite simply everyone within 6' of the glass has been prep'd, including the "presenter" whose reaction is just hammed up beyond any believability. You can even seen the doorman watch the trick for a little while, then step back so he covers the exit of the "magician" through the door.

      I did like his Polo mint trick the first time I saw it, though; Simple, yet effective.
      • Watching the people outside was cringe-worthy. All except about three of them were told to remain absolutely still for the trick (so their head movement wouldn't give it away) and three of them were allowed to acteout a 'shocked' reaction. A lot of work to try and disguise what isn't really that great of a trick.
      • Watch again. The top of the door frame does not show the door moving. There would have to be no glass there, or a hole in the door. A moving door would show some reflection. If they are going to bother bringing in actors, then they might as well do some video editing.

        I think that the real trick is that there is video editing. Watch the guys holding the coat up. They don't move their faces even when the magician stands up. The Star Wars prequels had this problem. There was so much CGI, that some the actors m

    • you may as well go the whole hog and fake every aspect (you could even put in some CGI explosions) .

      Micheal Bay magic!

  • Saw him on TED (Score:3, Informative)

    by YurB ( 2583187 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:31AM (#39472519)
    He has two videos on TED, here's his TED profile [].
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:33AM (#39472521)

    As he says in the interview unlike most magicians and illusionists he shares his techniques in an act that he calls 'open sorcery.'

    In related news, a magician working for Microsoft has issued a press statement claiming that this dangerous new trend could well destroy the magic industry.

  • by tosh1979 ( 909809 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:29AM (#39472653)
    I thought they'd be all over it!
    • Have the Magicians' Alliance been informed?

      I doubt they'll really care. While some people are impressed by his presentations, I wouldn't call it magic. You know exactly how it is done.

      wikipedia: Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. A performance, yes. Magic, no. There are no secrets here.

  • If it's open, it's not really magical anymore...

  • I'm suprised no one has mentioned that.
  • I'm unimpressed. To me, magic tricks are supposed to be 'hand-crafted', wherein the person learning the skill has it come from intelligence, predictions and natural sources. As someone else said, this is a form of performance art, not magic or illusion. It's probably cool to watch, but I wouldn't say it's sorcery. It's pressing buttons and standing there moving in time with prerecorded shit.

    For anyone arguing that this is better than 'rabbit in the hat' magicians, go watch this [].

  • Sort of off topic but somehow linked, if you haven't seen it I recommending seeing this movie. It features magic, technology, and Nicolai Tesla. (So we also now have the obligatory Tesla reference as well). :)

    • Sort of off topic but somehow linked, if you haven't seen it I recommending seeing this movie. It features magic, technology, and Nicolai Tesla. (So we also now have the obligatory Tesla reference as well). :)

      Is that the lesser known brother of Nikola Tesla?

  • Brendan Patricks is billed as a close-up magician but I really can't see how this is done without some camera trickery [] (O2 advert)

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"