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Two people asked how we decided on the illusions to perform for “Duel Mahakarya Magician” so I thought I would share that thought process here.
The most important thing for us was to showcase our brand of illusion and represent Singapore well. So, we decided to go with illusions that we are most well-known for: “360 Sawing”, “Crystal Metamorphosis”, “Teleportation” and “Revollusion”.
We knew these illusions would also be worth the TV network’s money in having us appear on the show and worth the TV viewer’s time to watch us in action. These illusions also work well in a live TV setting and look good on TV. In addition, we were confident that no matter the camera angle or lighting, no magic methods would be exposed.
We shoot illusions for TV fairly regularly. In June, we filmed for two AXN-Asia shows; one has aired, one will air in a few months. We are likely to shoot again in Nov. Live TV, however, is a different “monster” altogether. Doug Henning used to shoot live TV for his first TV special. He then switched to taped show because he realized how “crazy” live TV was, especially for magic.
Our next consideration was the size of the team flying up, set-up time/ space and volumetric weight of freighting our illusions over. While the client picks up the bill, we did not want to spend excessively on cargo. These are all practical considerations but as Commercial Creative Artists (CCA), they cannot be ignored and will weigh in on artistic decisions.
So, we chose not to include “Revollusion” because it is quite massive and takes some time to set and strike. The “Teleportation” was out as we knew we had a limited set-up and rehearsal time. That lead us to stick to “Crystal Metamorphosis” and “360 Sawing”.
One other factor was to ensure our material looked different from the rest since we were not the sole magic act on the show.
For this particular show, the only other illusionist was Peter Marvey. I mentioned Peter in my blog before and commented that he and Franz Harary are probably the only two magicians/ illusionists in the world who perform only their own original material. So, there was little chance of too similar illusions – although the illusion plots turned out to be the same though!
With this in mind, we built the act around “Crystal Meth” and “360” with “Crystal Appearance” opening and Ning performing her “Dance of Sais” as a transition. This had a two-fold reason; it was to have Ning own the stage to establish her indivdual character (since I did the fire opening) and also to facilitate the clearing of props by the stage crew.
Seeing the response and feedback we have been getting, both immediately after the show and on Facebook since, I think it is safe to assume that we did a decent job and appealed to a large number of people. And, the people have spoken, “360 Sawing” seems to be the undeniable crowd favourite illusion! :-S It is also our most dangerous illusion to perform!
I think our prop and stage managers who also crewed the show did a fantastic job in setting up and packing down the equipment efficiently. We have a new approach to casing our illusions so it saves on time and energy. But Larry and Ade did a great job on and off stage to ensure Ning & I looked good.
One key performance index we use to see how good onstage illusion crew members are is to see how “invisible” they are. If you do not notice them during performance and you are fully focused on the performers, they are doing an excellent job. If you get to watch the video, I’m sure you will agree they were practically “invisible” throughout the act.
Many times when you watch magic or illusion acts, the crew stick out like sore thumbs. I actually have physical requirements for our crew to ensure they can be as “invisible” as possible.
A special mention should also go out to Singapore’s representative who was acting as a commentator during the show. He sat among ambassadors and representatives of other countries in the front row VIP table. He did a great job in promoting our country! 🙂