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#1
Old 09-17-2005, 05:04 PM
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So how does David Blaine's levitation work?

I didn't want to hijack the other levitation thread, which was explicity NOT about David Blaine. I've seen promos for him on TV, doing his little levitation trick.

So how does HE do it???
#2
Old 09-17-2005, 05:10 PM
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you may not want to hijack the thread, but at least read it. Your answer is referenced in that thread many times.
#3
Old 09-17-2005, 05:58 PM
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It's not clearly explained in that thread....and it's simply done....

He stands on one foot. Seriously. If you make sure your audience is in the necessary position (behind you and to one side), it's possible to lift yourself off the floor with the foot furthest from them, without what you're doing being visible. To do it well, you need strong leg muscles, but that's it. In David Blaine's case, the footage is interspersed with phony extra shots of him hanging higher up, which are filmed separately.
#4
Old 09-17-2005, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
It's not clearly explained in that thread....and it's simply done....

He stands on one foot. Seriously. If you make sure your audience is in the necessary position (behind you and to one side), it's possible to lift yourself off the floor with the foot furthest from them, without what you're doing being visible. To do it well, you need strong leg muscles, but that's it. In David Blaine's case, the footage is interspersed with phony extra shots of him hanging higher up, which are filmed separately.
Well that's what he ACTUALLY did but what you see on tv is a camera edit/special effect. David Blaine is known for doing lots of camera edits in his specials. He will often film the same magic effect multiple times and edit his best performance in with the best audience reaction that he gets and make us TV home viewers think that it all happened spontaneously in one take.

So Blaine stood on one foot, but then the whole performance was edited to make it look like he floated about 1.5 ft above the ground, which you can't do with the one foot levitation.... and it happened to be the best audience reaction of all the takes (Probably well over 25 takes).
#5
Old 09-17-2005, 06:47 PM
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Edits, yes, but I don't see there's any special effects involved. There's three groups of shots used:

1. The 'lifting off the ground' moment. You see him leave the ground, always from one angle to the rear, and never see him rise more than an inch or two off the ground

2. 'Astonished onlookers', who could have been filmed at any time and in any place (but as you say, are probably just the choice cuts from many many takes)

3. Shot of Blaine hanging high in the air, without showing us what's above him.
#6
Old 09-17-2005, 06:52 PM
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Since most of what he does is bullshit, why does he continue to get work? Why are people fascinated with him?
#7
Old 09-17-2005, 10:24 PM
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Because he's an excellent close-up magician, very proficient with a deck of cards, and has great technical skills mixed with a very eerie presentation and presence.
#8
Old 09-17-2005, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Blue Sky
Since most of what he does is bullshit, why does he continue to get work? Why are people fascinated with him?
Because he's a terrific sleight-of-hand magician. I mean, you can't deny the guy's as good as card magician as anyone else alive.

Everyone knows all magicians are bullshit. It's just that the good ones are terrific entertainers.
#9
Old 09-17-2005, 10:34 PM
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How about the TV specials? He's known to use editing and planted associates to make himself look better than he is.

I guess he just rubs me the wrong way.
#10
Old 09-17-2005, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Blue Sky
How about the TV specials? He's known to use editing and planted associates to make himself look better than he is.

I guess he just rubs me the wrong way.
Sorry to break this to you, but every TV magician does this.
#11
Old 09-17-2005, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by devilsknew
Sorry to break this to you, but every TV magician does this.
I know that. It's just that I'd like to jam Blaine's arrogance down his throat.
#12
Old 09-18-2005, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by RickJay
Because he's a terrific sleight-of-hand magician. I mean, you can't deny the guy's as good as card magician as anyone else alive.

Everyone knows all magicians are bullshit. It's just that the good ones are terrific entertainers.
I'm a bit of an amateur magician myself. Blaine is a great performer, but I haven't seen him perform andy particular sleight of hand tricks that I thought were exceptional. In fact, I think he's technically lacking based on the difficulty of his tricks.

Copperfield can do a three card lift, Teller can force anything, or deal seconds all day in front of your eyes and you'll never notice.

Blaine's card force is the same as mine, and is pretty basic.
#13
Old 09-18-2005, 03:17 AM
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IMO, the single reason he has stood out from the crowd is because he doesn't seem like a 'magician'. He doesn't use the overblown pomp & ceremony or melodrama of the Copperfield ilk, but works the opposite way - he's taken the shy geeky kid who spent his adolescence practicing card tricks, and used that to create a persona to work with. Don't forget, when his TV shows started, the small-scale on-the-street idea was quite unusual and innovative.
#14
Old 09-18-2005, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilsknew
Sorry to break this to you, but every TV magician does this.
Next you're going to tell us there is no tooth fairy!
#15
Old 09-18-2005, 03:26 PM
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The Balducci Levitation
#16
Old 09-18-2005, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilsknew
Because he's an excellent close-up magician, very proficient with a deck of cards, and has great technical skills mixed with a very eerie presentation and presence.
Eerie presentation and presence? I'd like to know where people get that impression from. All I see from him is:

"Hey. Hey. Let me show you something." Then it's process patter.

I see nothing eerie about his presentation or presence.
#17
Old 09-18-2005, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilsknew
Sorry to break this to you, but every TV magician does this.
I don't want to sound too naive, but I honestly never realized this. I always thought there was someting a bit more skillful and clever going on.
#18
Old 08-13-2012, 03:51 PM
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He doesn't do it by standing on the toes of one foot. I watched several videos on You Tube of Blaine doing this trick on the street (once IN the street!) Clearly both feet are off the ground. I suppose the videos and onlookers could be faked/staged but I think this would get out.

I'm convinced it's some variation of the standard magician's levitation illusion and that there's some kind of device involved. The trick is to keep it invisible and the giveaway may be that he always has his back to the camera, so I'm guessing there's some kind of little jack maybe made of a transparent material that goes under one foot from the front (to make it even harder to spot).

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#19
Old 08-13-2012, 04:14 PM
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OK. I revisited this. In ONE of the You Tube videos, you can see actually see Blaine standing on one toe, but in the others, the space under his feet is completely clear. Also, there is a "how to" video that shows a (visible) jack being used. The only trick is somehow to make the jack "invisible" (or at least much less visible)....
#20
Old 08-13-2012, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by WM_Bear View Post
OK. I revisited this. In ONE of the You Tube videos, you can see actually see Blaine standing on one toe, but in the others, the space under his feet is completely clear. Also, there is a "how to" video that shows a (visible) jack being used. The only trick is somehow to make the jack "invisible" (or at least much less visible)....
Are these videos from a passer-by that happened to have a camera ready, or were they released by Blaine and/or his associates?
#21
Old 08-13-2012, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by WM_Bear View Post
The only trick is somehow to make the jack "invisible" (or at least much less visible)....
This thread is 7 years old, so a lot of the participants have gone away by now. But even back then it was pretty clear that it was a combination of the Balducci Levitation and playing games with camera tricks while he is suspended by a crane.
#22
Old 08-13-2012, 04:52 PM
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"David Blaine-A Legend In His Own Cutting Room"
#23
Old 08-13-2012, 07:26 PM
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I suppose the videos and onlookers could be faked/staged but I think this would get out.
I'm pretty sure it would get out, too. And hey, look at that, it did!

I mean, seriously, what do you think the rest of this thread was, but one example among a great many of it "getting out"?
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#24
Old 08-15-2012, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Plan B View Post
I don't want to sound too naive, but I honestly never realized this. I always thought there was someting a bit more skillful and clever going on.
Well, actually, Blaine is infamous for doing this to an absurd degree, and is largely thought of as a hack in the magic community. There actually is a level of professionalism in magic where, if you say you aren't going to use confederates or camera tricks, you don't. Only once the patter starts (or when "explaining a trick") can you lie.
#25
Old 08-15-2012, 06:13 PM
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It used to be a standard saying that "this magic trick was performed exactly as you see - no camera cuts or other video tricks". (In fact, the old Bill Bixby series "The Magician" explicitly said so in its opening credits.

Today we see evidence of those who exploit this belief. Criss Angel, I thought, was moreso than Blaine the most notorious for having cranes, plants, fake audiences, multiple cuts and such.

I actually wondered how he did those "I'm burning this paper and by putting out the flames I will find the same name written on my arm" tricks, but if others are reading over someone's shoulder and telling him what to write - hey, that makes it easy.

I saw Blaine in his block of ice in Times Square. That to me is more about his tricks - amzing feats that push the limits of the human body; or more likely "why would anyone bother?" My favourite story was the Glass box in London, where people would come and eat big macs beside it or one guy was trying to hit it with golf balls and a driver. No respect...
#26
Old 08-15-2012, 06:26 PM
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There's nothing wrong with a magician saying he doesn't use confederates and then using them. What annoys magicians and everyone else is using camera tricks. If you can't do it for a live audience, then it isn't magic.
#27
Old 08-15-2012, 09:28 PM
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Magic is what he does in your mind, not his.
#28
Old 08-15-2012, 09:31 PM
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If you can't do it for a live audience, then it isn't magic.
I'd also amend that to say that the majority of the apparent audience must be real audience. If the magician is standing on stage in front of 100 other people, and 99 of them are confederates, it's not a magic trick any more. A small handful of confederates, though, is perfectly acceptable.
#29
Old 08-15-2012, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I'd also amend that to say that the majority of the apparent audience must be real audience. If the magician is standing on stage in front of 100 other people, and 99 of them are confederates, it's not a magic trick any more. A small handful of confederates, though, is perfectly acceptable.
That is reasonable.
#30
Old 08-15-2012, 10:10 PM
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What's a "confederate" in this context, exactly? Are we talking about someone acting like an audience member who has had their number guessed right or something? If so, I don't see how I could be happy that a magician used a confederate. But is that not what is meant?

To me, it's only a good trick if, after finding out how it was done, I would feel like a great joke had been played on my senses.
#31
Old 08-15-2012, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
What's a "confederate" in this context, exactly? Are we talking about someone acting like an audience member who has had their number guessed right or something? If so, I don't see how I could be happy that a magician used a confederate. But is that not what is meant?

To me, it's only a good trick if, after finding out how it was done, I would feel like a great joke had been played on my senses.
Like, I mean, I'd only feel like it was a good trick if I had the feeling that I'd have been able to spot it if I knew how to use my eyes (and, on the occasions when it's appropriate, my other senses) more skillfully. Spotting a confederate wouldn't be something I could do with skillful use of my sense organs though--it would require skill use of knowledge of psychology and facial reflexes and whatever else goes into lie detection.
#32
Old 08-15-2012, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
What's a "confederate" in this context, exactly? Are we talking about someone acting like an audience member who has had their number guessed right or something? If so, I don't see how I could be happy that a magician used a confederate. But is that not what is meant?

To me, it's only a good trick if, after finding out how it was done, I would feel like a great joke had been played on my senses.
There's one trick where I think it's Blaine (not Angel) who is walking down the street and does the "pick a card" routine. He then throws the deck agiantst the window of a cafe, and the selected card is stuck to the inside of the window. Basically, the "confederate" is one of the people sitting at a table just inside, who manages to stick the card on the window while everyone is misdirected.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=iEh8dY_b0OY
OTOH, Criss Angel IIRC does the "Pull a girl in half" routine. On some spoiler website I saw, the comments were that much of the audience is recognizable as extras that appear over and over in his street wandering. The girl has actually been on Oprah, she has no legs or vestigal ones. In this routine, she is wearing fake legs - which a real audience volunteer probably would have noticed immediately. Chris just unhooks them so the pull takes them off.

If he'd done it with a real audience and a "fake girl" maybe, but when the whole thing is basically a movie shoot with extras - no, its not magic, it's camerawork.
#33
Old 08-15-2012, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Like, I mean, I'd only feel like it was a good trick if I had the feeling that I'd have been able to spot it if I knew how to use my eyes (and, on the occasions when it's appropriate, my other senses) more skillfully. Spotting a confederate wouldn't be something I could do with skillful use of my sense organs though--it would require skill use of knowledge of psychology and facial reflexes and whatever else goes into lie detection.
It's a tough call. Some people would say if it's entertaining then it's fine. The case Chronos talks about has questionable entertainment value if it takes 99 confederates to entertain one person. As a magician, I wouldn't respect a magician whose only trick is to use confederates. And since I'm not much of a magician, that should be really insulting to them. But if they are entertaining, and aren't pulling a scam, I wouldn't say they're doing quite the same thing as TV magicians who rely on video tricks, but it's damn close. Certainly someone like Uri Geller who claims to have special powers conferred by aliens is nothing but a scammer. But Kreskin relied heavily on confederates in his act, didn't claim magical powers (though like Derren Brown exagerrated his use of psychology), and was considered to be entertaining by many. It's in the borderline area I guess.

Last edited by TriPolar; 08-15-2012 at 10:59 PM.
#34
Old 08-16-2012, 10:51 AM
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The problem is Criss Angel, for example, is simply a video showman using a camera to put together a show of camera tricks. Unfortunately, audiences have been conditioned over the years by real magicians to expect - if it's magic and on TV, you are seeing it exactly how it happened without camera tricks; exactly what you would see sitting in the audience. A video trickster simply exploits that belief. When the truth becomes known, all they've done is ruin the TV business for real magicians, since from here forward people will assume everyone is pulling an Angel trick.

Look at the video of Blaine levitating. There's several instaces of him levitating upward. In all cases, he encourages his apparently real non-plant audience to stand in a particular spot so they only get the one angle. I watched the video and swore that he was a foot or more off the ground - despite jerky camera work. then I replayed it frame by frame, and in fact he is either using the toe trick or the fake leg trick (front of pants slit, fake leg, puts foot out in front out of view). Much better street theatre than Angel - but it's all in the delivery, the guy seems freaky but the basic tricks are what others have been doing for years.

As for confederates - well, you expect the girl who disappears or gets sawn in half to be in on the trick. Throwing a card through a plate glass window by simply having the guy on the other side stick it there - well that's pretty obvious, the trick is that you didn't see it due to misdirection, and he "forced" the right card.
#35
Old 08-16-2012, 11:16 AM
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If I saw a magician choose an audience member, called him up to the stage, and guessed a number from that audience member, I would immediately assume that the audience member was a plant. I also wouldn't think very highly of the magician's skills, since the way he did it would be so obvious. The pros would almost never do something so simple: They'd choose the audience member in a way that appears to be random, or they'd repeat the trick for dozens of different audience member (one or two of which might be plants, but not all of them), or they'd have the audience member pick the number to be guessed in a way that appeared to be random, or some combination of all of these.

Although, there are exceptions to every rule. I saw a show once where the magician called up a lady from the audience, and proceeded to "read the psychic impressions" or some such off of her watch. It started off looking like fairly standard cold-reading stuff: "This watch was given to you by someone special in your life", and so on, but culminated with "Your husband who gave you this watch is here in the theater, isn't he? He's on this stage right now? Your husband is me?". OK, so it wasn't much of a magic trick per se, but it was funny.
#36
Old 08-16-2012, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Although, there are exceptions to every rule. I saw a show once where the magician called up a lady from the audience, and proceeded to "read the psychic impressions" or some such off of her watch. It started off looking like fairly standard cold-reading stuff: "This watch was given to you by someone special in your life", and so on, but culminated with "Your husband who gave you this watch is here in the theater, isn't he? He's on this stage right now? Your husband is me?". OK, so it wasn't much of a magic trick per se, but it was funny.
And that's an example of the entertainment factor. The Amazing Jonathan is a great magician even though he does nothing perplexing in his tricks. Lance Burton does the best disappearing bird cage I've ever seen. Everyone knows it collapses and goes up his sleeve, but he does it so well you couldn't get a clue by watching it. Many of Houdini's escapes were done with confederates and trick equipment, but the magic was his showmanship.
#37
Old 08-16-2012, 05:26 PM
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The question, I guess, is "what is the trick, how clever is it?" If the magician asks an audience member to write a number on a paper, and the guy is a plant with a pre-arranged number, where's the "magic"? If at least the person is a real audience member and picks a card out of a deck, it's a bit more of a trick.

(Of course, there's the episode of the Big Bang Theory where they use this card trick on Sheldon, over and over, and he can't figure it out.)

Last edited by md2000; 08-16-2012 at 05:27 PM.
#38
Old 08-16-2012, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
The Amazing Jonathan is a great magician even though he does nothing perplexing in his tricks.
"Sometimes magic sounds like tape!"

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Criss Angel and David Blaine are not magicians. They create images on videotape, and deserve credit for nothing more.
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