Tuesday, October 16, 2018

In tents...

I have talked a lot about creativity. Not only on this journal but in my lectures and to anyone who would ask (and some who didn't really). However I haven't really gone into a lot of detail about a process on it.
I'm getting there calm down you creepy %$#&.

One of the biggest things you can do to be creative is to place restrictions upon yourself. This means doing, or not doing, certain things. More accurately, it's creating within certain parameters. When you have a framework to operate in it's MUCH easier than having an open field of possibility at your disposal.

Having TOO MUCH freedom can lead to Overchoice or choice overload. Whenever someone hires me as a consultant for a TV show or to create something for them I always ask for the details. It can be something as simple as "I want to do X with B". Mind you that's if I create for others. What about creating for yourself? I find it best to start with asking questions. What is the main goal? Why am I doing this? What are the props? What am I trying to say/do? What is the ending? Asking questions is very important to the creative process. This allows us to erect Tent Poles.

Much like a real tent, these ideas give everything else structure. There is a reason you hear certain films from a studio referred to "tentpole movies". It's what gives that studio a structure. It's a different type of structure than trying to create magic, but the concept is still similar.

You need the main ideas that will support everything else that you will be doing. Take this routine for example:

When I decided I wanted to do tricks with duct tape I made a list of the things I could DO with that tape. Once I knew how it started and how it ended it made everything else find it's "natural progression". I also knew I wanted certain visuals. Smiling through the roll and then the tape appearing over my mouth was one of those moments. I almost always think of the effects first and worry about method later.

Sometimes you add more poles as a routine progresses. I didn't plan to split the rolls initially but I felt the act needed "something". When I decided on that happening, up went another structure to support the other parts of the story to make that happen. Having those moments and a story, either obvious or subtle, really helps. You don't HAVE to have a thread pulling you through the act, but people respond better to some sort of structure or theme because we like what we know. Humans are easy that way.

So if you are trying to make something new, or change something you have that already exists, just try to give your routines some framework with certain ideas/moments/effects/etc. It will force you to focus on what's important and cut the wheat from the chaff as it were.

PS: I hope you appreciate how difficult it was for me not to make any dick jokes while talking about tents and poles.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I decided to remove my pants for this post...

Lets talk about magic demos. There are more or less three prevailing kinds.

Filmed Live during a Show : These might be the most preferable for the serious professional entertainer. You can see how it works in front of a normal audience and hear/see the impact. Scott Alexander is pretty good about doing this as he pretty much lives on a cruise ship it seems.

Sometimes it's a teaser, sometimes it's a full performance, and sometimes he is black. Regardless, it's likely he has done these routines more than thrice and it shows. His stuff does tend to be on the expensive side but at least you know these tricks have seen battle.

Filmed using random people who said yes to being on camera:  This is the kind of demo you usually see for the bigger stores like Penguin, T11, E and so on. They walked up to someone and asked if they wanted to see some magic (or more likely lied to them about filming for a TV show and testing out effects on camera all without signing film releases). This kind of editing usually cuts around the important moments and might even splice in some reactions from other magic effects or jokes. There is no real way to know.

You have to be careful with these videos as what you see may not be what you get, especially if it's chopped all to hell and you don't see how they get into or out of the effect. I wish more of these demos would specify if it was for your social media feed or for real world performance.

Filmed in your parents living room a studio for just the camera: This one you tend to see for solo releases and kids who own a smart phone and don't tend to see sun light too often. This one tells us the LEAST of the three. You don't see real world reactions, handling, or practicability (I'm not entirely sure that's a word). If the ad copy sounds too good to be true it likely is. Here is an example:

On the website it says "Examinable Box has been Blake's GO TO opener for years" and yet there is no live video to be seen. You'd think after all these years he would have recorded at least one of those shows right? For the price tag of an effect like that, I'd like to see real people reacting to the prop to see if it justifies the price tag.

There are hybrids of all of these and some outliers obviously.  Just make sure you educate yourself.

Buyer beware.