Tuesday, December 09, 2014

(insert Nike symbol here)

A big secret to being considered 'creative" is to just DO IT!

Make that thing, paint that trick, perform that routine. It's easier than you think to just alter something slightly enuff to make it different from the rest.


So stop being a lazy fuck and hop to!

Friday, November 28, 2014

The power to control the world is in which finger?

Sometimes you have to forget that which you know... or think you know.

For us the moment of magic is when we do the move. (or when we see someone else do something sneaky) For the audience the magic happens when we say it does. We can feel so guilty when we are holding nothing waiting for it to vanish. Being a powerful wizard sometimes means taking chances and just letting go of what you are privy to.

It's a hard lesson to be learned but be brave and you will find the audience isn't looking as closely as you might think they are. 

Fortune favors the bold...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oh right... contest...

Sorry it took a bit. I hath been distracted by many things.

Regardless, we here at Bizzaro By Design have decreed this the winning image:

So whoever put this one in the comments email me your address and I will send you an advance copy of the brand new DVD we are putting out that no one else has yet!

(I'm a little disappointed that no one went with a fellatio joke but it's probably good that my readers are classier than I would be in this situation.)

Be sure to check www.bizzaromatic.com around the first of November for the official release of the 1 Trick Pony EP.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Deprecating in value...

This should seem obvious to most but I started to realize it's not, especially in the younger performers of today.

Learn proper self-deprecating humor.

No one seems to have ever given the advice that self-deprecation should apply to your personal faults NOT how much you suck at something. If you think self-deprecating humor involves making fun of how un-skilled or your lack of talent is, then you need to STOP. You diminish not only your work but the work of others who actually try to be good.

However, if you wear glasses and are blind, harp on that. Does your fashion sense denote your mother dressed you for school? Go to town on it. Are you bad at math? Make that funny. This is proper self-deprecation. Not that you suck at magic, or juggling, or whatever.

People want to see someone be proficient at their craft. If you are using the "I suck at this" gambit as a premise so when you do something really skilled it surprises people that's different but find more subtle ways to get that across than outright saying it. (However going that route takes more skill in some ways than learning sleights so tread carefully)

So even if you do suck and the whole world knows it don't point it out. You'd be surprised who you can fool.

Never let em' see you sweat.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Necessary posturing...

In the past I have spoken about one of the secrets to being a good performer is to have confidence in your material and yourself. The audience can smell inexperience. (it smells like black licorice which is gross) One of the tells of someone who hasn't been performing long or not been trained properly is bad posture.

If you see someone who is doing a trick for you with slumped shoulders their body language denotes that of someone who doesn't give a flying fuck about what they are doing. Watch a confident seasoned performer. Their shoulders are back and they stand up straight (unless it's for dramatic or comedic effect). Look at yourself in the mirror. Does the way you stand give away more than you know? These are the tiny things you have to be aware of as a performer. Being proficient at the mechanics is just one tiny part of the puzzle.

For those who it does not come to naturally movement and/or acting lessons might be of a big help.

Odin knows it couldn't hurt...

PS: I will announce the winner of my contest soon. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Do you contest this?

I have a new website/lecture only DVD coming out soon. It's an "EP" with three effects (and some gaffs included) If you wanna win a copy, caption this photo all "meme" style. For those lacking mad photoshop skills, you can use places like This.

Stick them in the comments section. The one that makes me chuckle the most gets the DVD. Get them in by  October 1st! (one entry per person so make em' good)

Click the image to get it at full size:



Saturday, September 06, 2014

A padded cell...

Some of you should be committed. No I don't mean in an asylum, (well not all of you), but when you deliver your lines.

I see a lot of younger magicians delivering lines, jokes, patter and then apologizing for them afterward. It doesn't matter how corny, bad, hacky what you say might be, you need to just let them be. If they land flat move on. If they hit, let them laugh (or groan) and don't step on the reaction. It's a tough lesson to learn and I can tell you that magicians, for the most part, are not funny.

Saying a line that is funny and BEING funny are two different things. Mike Bent has a great lecture about writing comedy. I don't mean jokes, I mean COMEDY. Most of you can't write comedy to save your life. Trust me, I have seen it.

It's a tough lesson to let sleeping lines lie. We almost seem embarrassed or guilty about saying something risque or "funny". We laugh at the joke and dismiss it like we didn't mean it. Well let me tell you something... MEAN IT! Don't just say a line because someone told you to, or you read it in a book or saw someone else do it. Say it because it's from YOUR experiences, YOUR heart. If you can't write or are afraid to be funny in the moment take some improv classes. They can teach you how to go with it and not be apologetic for what you say.

Now put on that strait jacket and get out there!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Get with the times...

Anyone who has seen magic in the last few years will notice the trend of "street clothes" as the normal attire of the young magi. Whether or not you like it, this is the norm now. On one hand it looks very unassuming. On the downside it, those who are being influenced by this try to copy it and do it badly. It works for some people. Some people know how to dress and get stuff that, while looking "normal", have an air of performer to them.

I am sure when Robert Houdin started wearing the tux and tails to perform in, which was the normal day to day wear of the times (more or less), people mocked and dismissed it.

Mind you those people were wearing Chinese robes to perform in so...


Friday, August 15, 2014

Computer Viruses....

I am getting really sick of mediocre "magicians" who are barely performers trying to get noticed by making "viral" videos.

Too many people want to be rock stars without putting in the effort.

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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Let your CD-ROM be your guide...

Hello there faithful smappdoodles!

I decided that next week I am going to present my "Guide to making magic DVDs". Check back Monday for the first installment.

I have no idea whose feelings I am going to hurt this time...

Friday, May 30, 2014

This isn't about magic...

but it kinda is.
 
Pay attention.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Tricks I hate...

Snap Silks. Hate that trick. Always have.

It never seemed like magic to me. However to offset my last ranty post here is a video of a guy using them in a way I actually liked.


For me this kind of comedy never gets old.


Friday, May 02, 2014

It's not just us...

Mediocrity runs rampant in every sub-culture. It's just a fact.

As much as I support females in magic, I must say I encounter a lot of them who are just half-assing it (Which makes it hard for them to sit on a stool). It's mostly awkward teenage gals who know a few card tricks badly but get by being "cute" (or just easy). Eventually they find something else that requires less work and more attention (like stripping).

However while they are in our business they are causing more harm than good. Not just to the image of females in magic but ALL of magic. When one of us sucks, all of us suck regardless of gender.

I think a lot of the problem is self-esteem and lack of confidence. (This goes for both genders but is very prevalent in females) It takes a special kind of crazy to just say "fuck it", throw caution to the wind, and just crazygonuts. That kind of behavior is rarely encouraged in girls unless it's at a frat party and it leads to sex.

So to all of you wannabe's with estrogen, get your ass in gear and learn some skill and don't expect your body/looks to get you by forever because they won't. You can use your femininity as a novelty but eventually the novelty wears off and you need to back it up with some actual knowledge.

Hop to!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Master of none...

So a few years ago an email came into my possession about one of my magic products. They had bought it off another website and apparently user error was not an option for why it "didn't work".

In the email this guy said something that just made me discount anything and everything he had said previous or after. He actually typed the phrase, "I am a master semi-pro".

Let that sink in just a bit before you read further.

I am actually glad he returned the item because I didn't want someone that stupid using my tricks and screwing them up. As I have mentioned in the past, a true master never says he is. If this post offends you, you might be one of the mouth breathing ass hats that should stop using magic to touch little kids and get a hobby that keeps you from interacting with other human beings.

I am really getting sick of people with more money than sense letting their wallet dictate their job title.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The illusion of giving a damn...

It's interesting to me what performers focus on and on the flip side neglect. "I bought this big box and made it look all shiny and nice but I need a cloth to hold in front of me... I know i will use this bed sheet"".

There is actually nothing wrong with using a bed sheet but at least frame it up a bit with some color on the sides to give it some definition and stand out a bit. All your props should look like you put some thought into them even if you didn't. This goes for costuming as well. It doesn't take much to make off the rack look like custom made. Something sparkly here, a little bias tape there and VIOLA, you look like a performer!

Sometimes when you stare too much at the big picture you miss the little details.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hearing Infection...

Yes I am still around. I have just been busy doing that whole performing thing.

I was watching a magic video on a random webpage and decided to delve into the comments (never has their been a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than internet video comments). One sentance caught my eye. It also struck a chord with me because this was said by a non-magician.

"How is it that magicians/illusionists always have the worst taste in music... ?"

Well? What's your excuses magicians? I have a few theories.

The major one is that magic is a decade behind most art forms because that is where our influences tend to come from. Most humans tend to stick with what they know and aren't terribly open to new things like modern music, technology, etc. throw the stubbornness of magic into the mix and well... you know.

Odd are the real reason is that most of you just have really shitty taste in music.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Cobra-la-la-la....

Tonight I attended a lecture at Denny and Lee here in Vegas and saw a vanity deck sitting on the counter. There was something oddly familiar about it but I couldn't put my finger on it. See if it initially strikes you in the same fashion...

Here let me help you. Look at the bottom design more closely...

Do you see it yet? If not I will show you what I see in my brain. Once it has been seen it can never be unseen.
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SEE!?

It can't just be me who sees this...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

iHateyourDVD

Dear magicians,

Please stop using imovie to make your DVD templates (Or any other program with default templates). They look and sound like hell and everyone can tell you did it at home and didn't spend the money to get a proper professional DVD menu done because you are a cheap bastard.

Thanx,

The mngmt.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Be still my throbbing migraine...

The more "TV magic" I watch, the less and less respect I have for those involved creating it.

Call my kooky but I find it interesting to see the differences in those who focus on things other than being able to perform. I see so many younger performers working hard on getting that next viral video. Why not? It has been proven to work! You have a hit video, someone sees you and then BAM yer on TV or working creatively for someone behind the scenes. Who can argue with that!?

Me. That's who.

You take most of these guys out from a controlled environment and they will curl up and die like an ant under a magnifying lens. You take away their "can only be done on camera" BS and they have no real world skill... but hey that's ok! That's the message the modern world is sending the current generation already. Are you smarter than a 5th grader? No? Then maybe you can have the next hit TV show!!

We are creating reality TV now, not magic. Oh we THINK it's magic because we want to keep something that resembles "integrity" but the moment you let someone else tell you how to do YOUR art for a paycheck you don't have that integrity anymore. Just stop pretending and tell people what they are about to see is just BS and that yer not a magician and everyone is an actor playing along to make good TV. Half the audience is gonna think that anyway.

Abracadabra has been replaced by "We'll fix it in post".

Monday, January 13, 2014

On a midnite train...

How did mob mentality get organized before Facebook I ask you?

Actually let me ask you this: Where do we draw the line on considering something a copy? Is it the same method with a different prop? Is it the same prop with a different method?

What if you take a concept and make your own routine complete with new props and methods... is that a copy of someone who uses the same concept? Why do we damn relative unknowns for doing these things but those we admire get a free pass? (likely the same reason celebrities don't stay in jail long)

The damn shame of it all is the fact that it's part of life in the entertainment business. Creative people get ripped off. However truly creative individuals will always bounce back with a brand new creation. Thieves can only take so much before they are caught (or beaten and thrown in a car trunk).

Choose your battles wisely and make sure you have an army behind you and not just an angry mob.