Illusioneering for the Real World

Illusion design is a tough endeavor in the field of creating original magic. On a pure creative level, it is no more admirable than creating a new piece of card magic; but what separates illusion design from creating a card effect is the need of technical fabrication knowledge as well as the difficulty and cost of protoyping the illusion. It is for this reason that there are so few creators of original illusions as opposed to magicians who create card effects. And also why high-end illusioneering is a much bigger business.

Illusion designers like Andre Kole, Jim Steinmeyer, Mark Parker and Franz Harary are amazing and they create illusions  for commerically successful performers who work for lay audiences on a regular basis. There are also several  illusionists who are more well-known as performers but have contributed so much in terms of original illusion design. David Copperfield, Jonathan Pendragon, Mark Kalin, Ayala, Brett Daniels and Greg Frewin immediately come to mind.

In Asia, illusion creators and designers are few and far between… or maybe, they are just unknown to the general magic community. Asia has literally hundreds of expert world-class manipulators and stage magicians but illusion designers are an almost inexistent breed. I have the good fortune of being the voice of illusion design from Asia and have designed many illusions for our shows… afterall, necessity is the mother of invention. But, it is an honour for me that many magicians across the world who have built my original designs from illusions in my books.

“The Impossible Teleportation” mega illusion, where I teleported 50 storeys in 5 seconds, is probably my most well-known and ‘bankable’ original illusion creation. Nothing has ever been done like before –  a real-time teleportation while surrounded in front of a live audience of 10,000.

In “Ultimate Magic”, “Crystal Metamorphosis”, “Dreamscape: The Realm of the Sandman”, “Revollusion” and “Extreme Burn” are the illusions that get the biggest and strongest reactions from the audience.



Of those, “Crystal Metamorphosis” and “Revollusion” are original creations while the other two features our original presentations for existing illusions.



Our team chuckles at magicians who just don’t get why “Revollusion” works. It amuses us when we hear comments from magicians who say, if you bring out a giant industrial fan… you have to walk through it. I guess when a magician shows a deck of cards, the spectator must choose a card so that the magician can find it…. going by the same tunnel-minded logic.

But any theoretical debate on the strength of a magic effect for a lay audience, is ended when observing the reactions it gets from a ‘real-world’ audience. We are priviledged to test our material in front paying audiences 6 days a week so we develop a very keen sense of what works and what does not for a commerical lay audience. One reason why we secured our 5-episode TV appearance was MediaCorp was because of “Revollusion”. The Hong Kong producer working on the show highlighted this illusion because it was dramatic, menancing and caught him by surprise – all elements which make for good TV.



One illusion that has taken a beating over a 4-year period on its road of evolution and refinement is “Full Throttle”, a motorcycle illusion sequence. Continual lay audience feedback helped to modify my original illusion to its current form. We just featured it last week at the BIDVest conference to make the CEO magically appear and it got a tremendous ovation from the audience!


bidvest21Photos from Larence Liu’s Photo Journal

Come by “Ultimate Magic” anyday to watch our illusions live – you won’t be dissappointed!


About J C Sum

International Headline Entertainer, Content Creator and Investor
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4 Responses to Illusioneering for the Real World

  1. cardistry2007 says:

    i finally got off my ass and went down to the arena, ive got to say that it was worth it to watch. the crystal metamorphosis was magical, it was very nice to watch not to mention the interaction between jc sum and magic babe, some parts were hilarious. not to mention the finale, which was really awesome. wont say much so that i wont spoil the fun. 😉 well done guys. let there be season 3!

  2. Whodunni says:

    In the end, what is magic? magic can be said to be the techniques used to achieve what seems to be the impossible. others may say that it is the end results or even the amount of engineering that is used to create the magic. I think there is no one correct answer. To me, as long as your audience are enjoying themselves, it really doesnt matter what was used, as long as they smile and laugh. Just my 2 cents. 😀

  3. Khai85 says:

    I’ve heard of David Copperfield and Pendragon. Never heard of Mark Kalin, Ayala, Brett Daniels and Greg Frewin before..

  4. Aaron says:

    hey the dreamscape thingy sounds interesting.. that must be something from season 2, since i haven’t seen it before. i’ve got to catch it on the 28th!

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