Today, we filmed the opening illusion for our 60min 3D TV magic special. Typically, in any show, whether a short form project or a film, more often than not, the show is not filmed in the sequence that is shown on screen. There are many reasons for that such as; availability of specific equipment, locations or talent, weather conditions and difficulty of shoots.
Our 3D TV show is also no different and we have been working on different segments out of order most of the time. After two weeks of filming, we got to the taping of the opening illusion of the show which includes our first talking introduction of ourselves to the viewers.
In reflection, I’m really glad that we shot the opening now as Ning & myself as well as the crew are now much more familiar and experienced in shooting in 3D. The time filming has also allowed Ning & myself to be much more comfortable with the show’s tone and style. All these factors will contribute to a much more polished and relaxed sequence captured on tape. The result is allowing the audience to be introduced to us in the best possible way, capturing their attention from the start.
The tone of the opening is very professional and stylish but the ending of the segment gives the audience a peek into our personalities and the dynamics of our relationship. The fun side of our “cool” persona is glimpsed which sets the tone for the rest of the show.
The opening illusion itself was the magically appearance of a full-size Harley Davidson soft steel “Fat Boy” motorcycle. The location was by the iconic Singapore River, just at the mouth of the Cavenagh Bridge, across from our Central Business District.
The challenges of doing such an illusion is that it is a complete open space. The backdrop to the illusion is the river and the bridge with no other space. The motorcycle is also huge and heavy.
I had an idea of which different illusion methods I would employ based on the final location given by the producers. When Ning & I were first choosing an opening illusion, we knew that it had to be something significant and not just a small “street magic” type. Being the country’s first 60min TV special, we also wanted to present illusions that no other magicians have presented before, whether in effect, choice of location, style or presentation.
We had half a dozen ideas and methods. The original opening illusion was supposed to be a magical production of one of the Chingay Parade floats. Unfortunately, the budget approvals from the Media Development Authority (the client) did not come till after the parade so alternatives were chosen.
We concluded that the Harley production would be a good starting point. Harley productions are always a great cool illusion but to make it different, we knew the location would be the differentiating element. I designed 3 methods that would fit depending on the eventual location.
The producers chose the Cavenagh Bridge at the Singapore River. It is a beautiful location but technically, an extremely difficult place to do such an illusion in full light with the public watching. If you ever get a chance to visit the place, you will understand what I mean.
I did a site inspection to figure out the exact method, camera placement, tracks and backdrop. The goal is always to marry the methods of the illusions with the director’s and cinematographer’s vision of how they would like the shot, composition, framing and background to be. I then try to design the method and camera blocking based on that. If it cannot be done, I offer suggestions and compromise for the best result.
Having worked on so many segments already, the production understands how we work from the illusion planning point of view. So, they give us enough room to adjust and plan accordingly yet get the shots that they want. It has been a really happy marriage so far.
The Harley production was a very smooth shoot considering the difficulty in the illusion and all the uncontrollable elements. We nailed the shot in 3 takes with a really close to perfect one.
I actually filmed the motorcycle appearance off the playback monitor when we were reviewing the footage because it looked that good. As Ning said “it is a s perfect as you can get”. This stunning illusion is one of my favourites from the show and maybe one of the favourite illusions we have presented on TV. The entire team including the executive producer felt it was a very strong and ideal opening for the show.
Check out more photos from the Harley Appearance in our full photo album on our Facebook page. “Like” the page for the latest photos and news as well as another contest we are going to hold soon! www.facebook.com/jcsum.magicbabening
This shoot marks the 85% mark of shooting for the entire show with one more elaborate segment to go. I’m still planning one more illusion for that.
Here we are with part of the amazing production crew working on the 3D TV magic special.