We have one more segment to film for our 3D TV special. For the last segment, I will be filming this particular segment without Ning as she will be out of the country but her short absence in the show is logically explained. But now, I get to do acts without her stealing all the best stuff…*evil laugh* Just kidding babe!
I will be presenting two acts for this segment that will be filmed at the East Coast Xtreme Skate Park. This segment is designed to reflect youth culture and extreme sports so the acts are to reflect that theme.
This was the toughest segment to design for as nothing we had naturally fit into such an environment or theme. Practical limitations such as time and budget also are considerations. Fortunately, the limitations are not so strict that it stifles our creativity but I also did not want to spend so much time and money developing an act that will only be used once.
Another consideration was the director’s vision for the specific location of the magic. He wanted it to be in the bottom of the skate pool, on the concrete ground with skaters and bikers surrounding the pool on top and on the pool ground. An alternative was to do it on the top of the dividing wall of the two smaller pools so it is literally in the center of the park.
Obviously, we can’t be drilling into or modifying the landscape of this multi-million dollar skating facility. My original plan was to do a levitation of a person balance on a board between two BMX stunt bikes. But, I was not 100% keen on that although it fit the environment as it was still, by and large, a regular levitation.
A slight change in a previously filmed segment has allowed me to try something that will fit perfectly for the Skate Park. I will also be able to utilize all the specific locations that the director wanted. It is going to look large-scale & impressive and take advantage of 3D filming, something always factored in for this show.
While I will be attempting a stunt that others have been done before, what will make this presentation so different is the location and elements around it as well as one other “small” subtraction. In the context of the overall show, it will be a great addition, adding solid content to our Harley Davidson production at the start of the show and the Bus Vanish mega illusion finale. I won’t give out an spoilers now so wait for the footage or photos after the shoot.
For this TV special, we strived to present illusions and acts differently based on effect, choice of location, style or presentation. It is an art & science in itself to find a difference that has commercial value and not just for the sake of being different.
On reason I think we have been successful with our live shows and mega illusions because our acts feel different to the mainstream public. The 3D TV special was also the result of being illusionists who had “different” material that would look good on film.
Magicians are generally drawn to the same effects or routines to them. There is just something in our DNA, the magic geek in us that just like certain effects or routines. That is a reason so many magicians feel, look and are essentially the same and interchangable.
When I see one of the modern-day generic cane/ dove acts, I do sigh when I see all the time and effort these talented but slightly misguided magicians put in to do an act that looks just like any other act. If they put in the same or just half the energy to think and experiment with how they can feel and look different, they would be so much further in the game.
As a commerical creative artist, one must realize that the general mainstream audience does not like/ appreciate the same things. It is a conscious struggle at times to give up these effects or modify them so that they have commerical mainstream appeal.
Being different is not just about changing the colour of a silk handkerchief used to produce a bird or producing 4 canes instead of 3. I suggest a simple intuitive test. If it feels different it is. If it feels familiar, it probably is.
Another skill to learn is develop an eye and sense of what makes something feel different.
Let me give you an example. The classic sawing a girl in half (especially with the girl lying down on a table covered with two boxes) is considered an old and hackeyed illusion for many. Even if you change the colour of the box or music, it is still the same. However, imagine if the person you are sawing half is not your pretty female assistant but is the President or Prime Minister of your country. That changes thing completely and will peak the interest of anyone, especially the media. The concept of being able to get access to the President or have him even involved in such an act becomes more intriguing than the illusion itself. But, imagine if you could do that… that would be a completely different illusion (in the eyes and minds of your audience), even though it is the same illusion.
Not completely surprisingly, I will be speaking about creativity and the value of being different in my talk at TEDxNTU this coming Sunday, the day before the filming of this Xtreme Skate Park segment.