“The Aerial Exit” Aftermath and Afterthoughts Part 3

One day after “The Aerial Exit”, we had a corporate gig for the launch of Sharp’s brand new 3D LED TV. We presented a customized show for channel partners that included an interesting mix of illusions that were specially designed for the launch. Most of Monday was spent refining presentations that we had prepared the weeks before including custom props and script.

So, after getting back from the gig after dinner with the team that supported this event, I started working on the last installment of my “coverage” on “The Aerial Exit”.

Before I share some behind the scenes stuff on the mega illusion, here is something that has not been publicly highlighted although Channel News Asia and Today mentioned it. I have just been informed by a friend via Facebook that he saw the illusion covered in Taiwan TVBS News. Cool!

If you were at “The Aerial Exit” on Sunday and stayed back till after all our media interviews, you would have witnessed a surprise post-show act. Just for the media and over a hundred fans, Ning & I made the 5 participants reappear in the cage. The stunned participants were brought back in the exact same position that the audience last saw them.

The participants were relieved to be back and we released them from the cage and let them down stage for a quick briefing and “health” check. Subsequently, all the participants were interviewed by the different media outlets.

Now that we have wrapped up our 8th mega illusion and our involvement with the Explore Singapore! 2010 campaign, I thought I would share some of my afterthoughts on the entire project.

First, a big thank you to the National Heritage Board for choosing Ning & myself to be the stars of their biggest campaign of the year. From feedback they have received and attendance records, all our shows and mega illusion have been big successess and our brand brought mainstream media & public attention to the campaign and museums.

We know we have been able to showcase our brand of magic & illusion to a new demographic group and people who had never watched us live before have become fans of our work. So, it was a great win-win partnership.

We are proud that national organizations and brands such as the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Press Holdings and now the National Heritage Board have taken a leap of faith to work with non-traditional personalities to create a draw for their campaign and events. We hope that we have broken more glass ceilings and more of Singapore and Asia will see homegrown world-class magic talent.

With the support of local and international media, both mainstream and magic media, we are proud to continue to put Singapore on the world map and be recognized as innovators and individuals who continue to push the envelope and create something different never before seen in the world.

It was timely that our appearance in The Amazing Race Asia coincided with the Explore Singapore! 2010 campaign so we got significant media exposure on multiple platforms.

Ning & I are also proud to be able to give local magicians opportunities for work. As the Explore Singapore! 2010 campaign was crafted around a magical theme and our shows; over the weeks, several museums booked roving magicians to perform close-up magic to visitors as part of the fringe activities. We are happy to give these opportunities to other magicians and appreciate their efforts in warming up the audience and putting them into a magical mood for our shows & mega illusion.

From a promotional and event highlight point of view, all indicators would suggest that “The Aerial Exit” was a huge success – for the live audience in attendance, media reports and online buzz.

Personally, I am confident that this mega illusion matched up (if not exceeded expectations) to our previous mega illusions and the general public and media were once again wowed with an original mega illusion. Several commented that they felt it was the most amazing and spectacular of all our visual mega illusions.

From the magic technical stand point, I think this is one of our most elegant illusion designs to create a multi-layered deceptive mega illusion that withstood test conditions and scrutiny. As I’ve mentioned in my blog before, I have never seen a combination of illusion methods to create the illusion that we did 24ft in the air.

I personally see the evolution in the sophistication of my own illusion design approach and methods. I’m always pushing myself to do new things and explore methods we have never used before. And, I think “The Aerial Exit” has given me personal growth as an illusion designer.

While many can conceive an idea, designing a workable illusions solution can prove challenging. Turning the design to a final physical illusion is another ball game altogether and I’m pleased that our team put together the entire mega illusion with little hitches.

We actually set up the illusion one full-day before the actual event. This is typically necessary to ensure that all technical rehearsals can be done. This mega illusion included music design that I had already done in the studio but had to fine tune on the spot. So my laptop was set up and patched in to the audio mixer at control.

This is the first mega illusion we have ever done in Dec. Being a traditional rainy season, we typically avoid staging an outdoor mega illusion in this month, but the date was set by the client due to the time of the campaign.

We were prepared for flash thunderstorms as those were in the weather forecasts. So, during set-up day, we were prepared with various waterproofing methods. Being a scout, “be prepared” is a motto I live by and sure enough, literally 30min after I asked for the waterproofing materials be laid out on stage in case of rain, it started pouring.

To the credit of the Concept:Magic team, they scrambled and covered the main illusion equipment. Only 5 – 10% of the illusion got wet although we were all soaked to the bone… well everyone except Ning maybe… I made sure she was safely dry with our personal belongings!

Technical rehearsals went accordingly to plan, even with the delay due to the rain and we wrapped up the day (or night) before midnight. That is actually a record for us. We have never wrapped up a mega illusion set-up of this scale before midnight. Careful planning and time management ensured that we were right on schedule and nothing was left out.

Before, we set off for the night, the team made sure the illusion was 100% waterproofed and protected. As we expected, a flash thunderstorm occured in the early morning but when the team arrived for set up the next afternoon, everything was dry.

One challenge in staging outdoor illusions is to figure out waterproofing. Over the years, I had my fair show of illusions actually being left out in the rain ( by errant and basically irresponsible event producers who had taken charge and care of our equipment but chose to leave our props out in the rain because they did not want to get wet). So, I’ve developed several methods to protect our illusions from the elements.

The main illusion apparatus is now back in our studio. The illusion was designed to pack down for touring. In fact, the cage breaks down and the platform base of the cage actually breaks down into 3 different pieces, a technical design that I’m particularly proud of.

We did dump the 5 concrete blocks that kept the cage elevated off the stage since it is unlikely we would need them anymore and I really do not want 5 big blocks taking up space in the studio.

I hoped you enjoyed this journey through the process of “The Aerial Exit” since we first announced it, to its successful conclusion. All I can say, is that our next mega stunt is 100% different… again 🙂

You can read Ning’s thought on “The Aerial Exit” here.


About J C Sum

International Headline Entertainer, Content Creator and Investor
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