Late Night Conversation – Lecture at the 3 of Clubs Magic Convention

This past weekend I lectured at the 3 of Clubs Magic Convention in Coquitlam, BC Canada. In the talk I discussed my stage setup for shows, branding, marketing materials, advertising, newsletters, and evaluations. There were a few additional topics that I discussed live at the event that aren’t included in the below video. You’ll just have to attend in person if you want to hear everything!

Read More…

Automatic Amazing Show Photos

d5200I recently decided I wanted to get a new DSLR camera so that I can get more photo’s from my shows to use in my marketing materials. I wanted to spend about $1,000 and I started searching online for a camera that could take nice clean crisp photo’s in low-light conditions. Since most of my shows are indoors without any extra lighting I needed needed something that could take photo’s in that environment.

After some research I narrowed it down to three choices:

All of the camera’s have their own strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately I decided on the Nikon D5200 because of the price point and low-light performance.

Anyway, this post isn’t really to recommend a camera. What works for you will depend on how you want to use your camera and how much you’re willing to spend. The more you spend though the better the pictures will probably be.

Interval Timer

I didn’t know when I bought the camera but it has a feature called Interval Timer Shooting. As the name suggests, it means you can automatically take photo’s at regular intervals!

interval timer shooting   interval timer shooting2

On the first screen you can select between Start Now or a Start Time. In the next screen you set how often you want it to take a picture. You can set the interval by hours, seconds, or minutes.

Today at a birthday party show I setup the camera at the back of the room on a tripod. I set the camera to auto-focus then I set the clock to start taking photo’s 5 minutes before the show start time. Then I set it to take a photo every 2 minutes. After the show I had about 20 photo’s automatically taken for me during the show! Here’s a small sample of some of the pictures:

Timer Photo 1

Timer photo 2

Timer Photo 3

As you can see the results turned out pretty good! Next time I’m going to set the interval timer for a much shorter time like 30 seconds. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Working with a Video Camera

A great way to improve your show is by filming rehearsals and live performances. Your video camera is your best friend because it helps you see your show the way others see it. 

Whenever I’m working on a new routine I always rehearse it in front of a camcorder first. I use three different types of camcorders to record; a webcam, my cell phone, and a camcorder.

1. Webcam
I’ll usually film rehearsals with my webcam if I’m looking to quickly share my video with someone else for review. With a webcam and Youtube you can go to the upload page and click “webcam capture record” and record directly from your webcam.


Once you are finished you just click save and your video will instantly be saved onto youtube without any extra uploading. The one drawback of working with the webcam is that because the lens is designed for a video chatting the viewing angle isn’t very wide so it can be difficult to get everything into frame. But if you stand back far enough from the camera you should be able to get everything to fit into frame.

The footage quality on my webcam isn’t the greatest but there are full HD camcorders available on the market now.

Here’s some footage I recorded with my webcam:

2. Cell Phone Camera
I’ll use my iPhone camera  to rehearsal material when I’m not in front of my computer. The thing that’s nice about the iPhone is that its easy to watch and replay footage immediately. It’s also easy to upload online, or transfer onto the computer. Because each clip is saved to a new file it also makes it easy to delete bad takes and just keep the ones you need.

Here’s some footage I recorded on my iPhone:

3. Camcorder
I don’t often use my camcorder for rehearsal because I have to capture all the footage from the MiniDV tape onto the computer which takes a long time. Its easier instead to use the webcam or my iPhone instead.

Instead I use my camcorder to film live shows with a tripod at the back of the venue.

Unlisted Uploads to Youtube

I upload entire full length shows and rehearsal footage to youtube so that other magicians and directors can critique it for me. But I don’t want this footage to be public so instead I upload them as an “unlisted” video instead. An unlisted video means that anyone with the link can view the video but it won’t appear in my public channel or in the regular search results.

unlisted to youtube

Camera rehearsal tips:

  1. One technique that I’ve stumbled across is to go back and watch old performance footage. If you film your show and watch it that same day you’ll remember every detail about the show and you won’t be able to separate your internal reality from the footage you’re watching. By watching old footage you’ll forget what you were thinking and you’ll be able to see the show more closely as the audience experienced it.
  2. Save your footage so you can go back to review it. I’ve recorded lots of different ideas that I’ve found useful later on.
  3. Watching yourself on video is a painful experience, but keep doing it over and over again and your act will improve because of it.
  4. Take chances while rehearsing on camera. Its a safe environment to try out different ideas before you get in front of an audience.

I’ve talk with lots of performers that don’t have ANY performance or rehearsal footage AT ALL!! How can you possibly tell if the material is any good if you’ve never seen it yourself?!? In this article I’ve shown that you don’t need anything fancy to get started. Even if you don’t have a camcorder, you can start recording with your cell phone camera, the webcam on your laptop, or a cheap external webcam.

Share a link to your rehearsal footage in the comments below!

Rare Cardini Footage

I don’t want to post too many video only posts but this video was too good not to share. On Facebook Tom Stone linked to this rare footage of Cardini performing.

Cardini (Richard Pitchford) performing coins and cards for some lucky people on a cruise. This rare footage was shot by Dr. Morris Young, and hasn’t been seen for 50 years. Edited and restored by Magicbymax Steven Max Droge Productions.

How to get Media Attention

Getting on local TV or in your local newspaper isn’t as hard as it may seem. All you need to do is write a press release that’s relevant to the general public. That second part is key. You need to make sure that your story is relevant to the reader/listener of that media outlet otherwise you have no chance of them picking up your story. Submitting something that looks like an advertisement as well is a quick way to have your email sent to the trash folder.

Topics I’ve used for press releases in the past include:

  • Upcoming public performances
  • Winning awards at magic conventions
  • Winning local business awards
  • New show products (My DVD)
  • Working new markets
  • Working with show directors or script writers

Anything that’s exciting in your business you can write about. If you’ve just moved into a new city for example that would be an excellent time to get the word out about your services.

Don’t be daunted with writing the perfect press release. When I’ve had my stories picked up in the past, usually the journalist will give me a call or send an email with some further questions. Just make sure you follow the basic press release structure.

Read More…

Finding your Fitness Secret

workoutWorking out and eating healthy is important.

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about working out in a magic article in the first place. How is fitness related to magic? It becomes cystal clear when you realize that the single most important aspect of your performance is your body. Audiences enjoy watching sexy assistants on stage, but you should also look as good as possible too. Working out and eating right will keep you in peak performance shape. That means you’ll be presenting the best possible version of YOU for your audiences.

Working out never really seemed important to me. It wasn’t until I made the distinction that my success in magic was also related to my health and fitness level. I didn’t want to end being one of those old magicians with the big belly that you see sitting in the back row at a magic lecture.

I believe that if you have to use your will-power to force yourself to workout its never going to become a lasting part of your life. Just listing the facts about how being more active will improve your life isn’t going to change your behavior. Instead you need to find a workout routine that you enjoy enough to turn into a habit. That could mean joining a soccer team, finding a gym buddy, or perhaps marathon running like my friend (and fellow magician) Scott Burton.

Read More…

How to Produce a Touring Illusion Show – Interview with John Kaplan

When I was getting my start in magic John Kaplan’s “Magic School Bus” show was one of the first live magic shows I ever saw. I remember that it was a fundraiser for an elementary school in Penticton, BC. Almost 20 years later and John is still touring Canada with his show, commanding thousands of dollars per show for himself and earning thousands of dollars for his clients.

Since he’s obviously on to something I wanted ask him how he did it. It turns out he’s leaving this week to tour a month long tour in New Zealand and Australia, but he found enough time to do this interview with me. But first, Who is John Kaplan?

kaplanJohn Kaplan’s career began, as most magicians’ do, when he received a magic kit at age 9.

Inspired by the life of Houdini and determined to make magic his life’s work, after high school John became a sorcerer’s apprentice, finding as his mentor Micky Hades – author, publisher, illusion builder and inventor of magic tricks (such as the world-famous “Micky Hades Improved Finger Chopper“) – and it was from Micky that John learned the business side of the magic business.

Early contest wins and TV appearances gave John a running start as he pursued his childhood ambition.

Many interesting career high points followed, including promotional shows that saw John escaping from straitjackets, making cars and people disappear, headlining gala shows for major sporting events, performing on cruise ships, in comedy clubs and being Jay Leno’s opening act.

In 1989 John created, produced and starred in his own theatrical production “Johnny’s House”, leading to years of creating theme shows for amusement parks and shopping malls, where he developed his acclaimed “Santa-via-Satellite” program currently licensed in over 60 markets worldwide.

In addition to his performing career, John’ s business-building programs, effects and routines have been well received by the magic community.

However, it’s his unique approach to the fundraising market that’s given John his greatest success. During his 30+ year career he’s performed thousands of shows in over 500 Canadian towns and cities, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for school and community groups with his Fundraising Magic program.  Read More…

Video Interview with Tommy James – We Live and We Learn

Earlier this week Tommy James made an interesting post on The Magic Cafe. Here’s that post:

I have something I NEED to share with everyone who has purchased my Lop Sided Cyclops or intends to buy one in the future. We all need to learn from our mistakes and I hope MY mistake will be a learning experience for anyone else. I just received a letter from a teacher at a school that I need to share. I’m not proud of it in fact, I’m hitting myself in the head and saying “Why did I not foresee this as a possibility!???” Please read her letter and then I will tell you how I responded.

Dear Mr. Tommy James,
Last week you put on a performance for our school. Most of the children enjoyed the show greatly, you were funny and magical. However, I would like to bring to your attention, a skit that I found very offensive. When you did your flying eyeball trick, you mentioned a “monster” who had one leg shorter than the other and walked around the stage limping. You had no way of knowing this, but in my class, I have a student who was born with a birth defect and has one leg shorter than the other. The minute you said that, he looked at me and several students looked at him. I am writing to you, to ask you to eliminate this skit from future performances. You never know who will be in your audience, monsterizing a physical defect can be very hurtful. Please consider this in the future.

Thank you,

Read More…

1 2  Scroll to top