Monday, July 14, 2014

It's ok to suck for a little while...

"It's better to be 5 years late than one day too early"

I'm not sure who said that exactly (and I am likely paraphrasing that harshly) but you get the idea. I have noticed a lot of younger performers are in a huge hurry to get somewhere before they maybe should. I'm not saying this is a new thing BUT it seems to have reach an accelerated level. I'm also not the only one who has noticed this.

Watch this video below and see if some of this sounds familiar and then say to yourself "It's gonna be ok..."
The Long Game Part 1: Why Leonardo DaVinci was no genius from Delve on Vimeo.

And just so you don't skip part two, Here it is for you lazy bastards out there.
The Long Game Part 2: the missing chapter from Delve on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sell your sole... property?

The last few years have seen a strange trend I am not sure I like. It's the selling of of an "award winning" act on DVD well before that performer has gotten too old to do it.

Some say it's to show their techniques to put a time stamp on it but they do not "encourage" you to perform their act verbatim. I understand letting it all go after a lifetime of creation and magic. However I think the selling of a magic competition act after only a few years is for one sole purpose... profit.

I guess when there is a buck to be made, there is no point in keeping secrets.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

DVD Guide pt 4: Nice package...

I thought to myself "I should do a new guide thingy. I'll do it next week" not realizing I had a lot of shows that next week.

What say we finish this puppy off with a little talk about how to wrap yo' shit? I don't mean double bagging it either (unless you like your junk secure with shrink wrap).

The double entendre aside, I am referring on how to present your DVD creations.Some options are, but not limited to:

1. The classic and easily recognizable Amray Case: I can say from experience that traveling with a lot of this style case can be a giant space eater and pain in the butt.

2. The slightly less bulky Slim Line case: A lot like the above but half the size. It saves you some space but you sacrifice the visibility of the spine on a shelf.

3. The compact and cheaper DVD Sleeve: This one is likely to save you a LOT of room in your luggage and tends to be cheaper to produce because you can have some slick packaging and make your own discs.

Most DVD duplicators offer all of these options. You can even self-produce the whole shebang from start to finish.

Now comes the eternal question: Goobers or Raisinetes... no wait.. I mean Duplicated vs. Replicated. What is the difference you ask? All "professionally" produced discs have that shiny silver underbelly. Those are replicated. The ones with the purple-ish store-bought look are duplicated. So which one is right for you?

There was a time that people would judge your DVD on if it was burned at home or not. In today's world, because of the availability of self-production, that seems to have fallen by the wayside. 10 years ago I would NEVER have released a non-replicated DVD. Nowadays for shorter runs and private stuff sold on your website or at lectures you can get the aforementioned DVD sleeves made up elsewhere, burn your own discs and, if you have the right machine, print the tops of them at home too.

Having a slick looking package (giggity) will help you attract attention but ultimately it's the content inside that will determine it's success. With any luck I have helped you a slight bit with my advice. Anything I can do to make the magic marketplace suck a bit less.

It's what I do...

Monday, July 07, 2014

A quick aside...

I will return to my DVD guide tomorrow. I was out of town doing a gig. Until then here is a thought: Have you ever noticed how a band with a shitty name is not that good?

I would say the same goes for certain magic effects being released lately.

Friday, July 04, 2014

DVD Guide pt 3: Program not found....

Here is where things can get hairy. How to commit your DVD to disc. 

For those lazy fucks who own a Macintosh computer you will just run to imovie and throw together a template and be so proud of yourself. Well let me tell you something sonny Jim, that shit is weak and everyone who owns a mac will look at that and know just how little you spent making that 35$ DVD. (Up until Windows 8, PC users could do the same but who the hell used Windows DVD maker... I mean really?)

There are a myriad of 3rd party programs that can help you create a disc with a passable menu. Some free, some not so free, and even some that are inbetween. A quick google searh will lead you to many of those options. Hell, most DVD burning software like Roxio and Nero come with DVD making programs now. I personally use Encore (Which is no longer supported by Adobe but you can still get it and use it) but there are other higher end programs like DVD Studio Pro for Mac or Vegas Movie Studio.

Most DVD authoring programs are focusing on Blu-Ray since that is "the future". However magic is such a small market that it's not financially feasible to make Blu-Ray discs yet. Thus we are stuck with standard definition DVDs. The one thing I have noticed is that very few people know how to make a good DVD menu. It's either a template or a super basic menu. There are a lot of awesome things you can do with a DVD menu.... yet no one knows how.

I encourage some of you to take the time to learn how to make kick ass DVD menus. It will not only make you a commodity but will make your products look more professional. (of course if you can't wrap your feeble little brain around it, there are guys like me willing to take your money to do what you can't)

Now go forth and make your DVD menus less sucky for tomorrow we move on to the next chapter!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

DVD Guide pt 2: Music to your jeers...

Continuing on from yesterday on our discussion of making less sucky DVD magic videos, let's talk about music. I touched on it yesterday about title cards (and on various other posts throughout the years) but today I want to talk about the use of music over all.

The best course of action everyone will tell you to cover your ass with is to use royalty free music the problem comes with that a lot of royalty free music sounds like... royalty free music. Especially if you get it from a free stock music website. There are places like Pond5 and Getty Images that have better music for sale but you run the risk of using a song that other people have also bought and used.

You do want to stray from copyrighted music if you are selling a DVD (even though realistically the chances of ASCAP or Columbia records coming after a small time magician are slim to none) but that doesn't mean you can't use "real" music. The world is full of independent artists that aren't tied to a record company and have control over who uses their music. Make nice with these people and see if they will let you use their tunes. Trade to do some shows for them or some such or even kick them some cash. (Results may vary depending on your country of origin)

Ah but what about the musically inclined of you who can strum a guitar like some douche sitting under a tree on a college campus? I'm not going to say not to put your own music onto your DVD but I will try and discourage it.

What really helps is to have a vision and feel for the over all project so you can decide what kind of music to use. If it's a card magic video, maybe hard core rock rap or dubstep isn't the way to go. Spooky bizarre magic? Maybe don't use folk music. If you are going to play music behind your explanations, go for something sedate and not obvious.

There is no "right" way to go about all of this but I bet you all know a few wrong ways. Tomorrow? We get to Authorin'!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Web of lies...

Today someone pointed out that I missed Monday to start my DVD making guide. Instead of going back in time and just editing the post to not make me a liar I will just throw myself upon my sword thru neck and be a day late.

That being said, allow me to lay upon you my "Guide to Magic DVD Production".

Let's start with the basics: Video Chapters.

If I have learned one thing watching magic DVDs it's that you guys LOVE to put redundant title cards at the beginning of every... damn... chapter. The worst part of that is it's the SAME animation or video with the SAME shitty music. Allow me to break something down for you that will make your DVD less annoying to those watching it.

Unless the title cards add something to the forthcoming video, don't bother!

Redundant titles with the same piece of music get boring fast. If you can put a piece of footage that is about to demonstrate what you are about to see or learn next it's much more engaging. If your video is not structured that way then just use a "dip to black" transition and put a text title up over the teaching footage for a few seconds.

Also there is nothing wrong with using the same song over title cards but it should be a different part of the same song. Not the exact same piece of music constantly. That's just lazy.

So remember, if you simply must put something before the next chapter:

  • Make it different footage/music every time
  • Have it relate to what you are about to learn/see
  • It better be short.
Speaking of titles, if you use a program that lets you create your own chapter points it's ok to have chapters stuck in at various parts of the timeline that don't necessarily have a solid link somewhere. Think of it like having a break in a paragraph. If the subject you are discussing is long, throw a point in when you veer off subject onto a related topic. It will make it easier for people to skip thru and find what they are looking for instead of fast forwarding thru 20 minutes of your annoying voice.

Speaking of music... we'll cover that in the next installment.