When a magician gives a presentation at TED or its independently-organized offshoot TEDx, they usually incorporate tricks as a way to segue into an unrelated inspirational or philosophical message. Scottish illusionist Elliot Bibby drops the pretense from his TEDx talk at Edinburgh Napier University in April 2017, and focuses strictly on magic and what it means to him.
In the 12 minute video above, Elliot performs some card magic, then relates a few stories about how his job allows him to bring joy and laughter to people’s lives. Magic isn’t just about impressing people, it’s about giving them memories to cherish—sometimes that’s all the message you need.
Escape rooms are all the rage these days for friend groups and corporate team-building. If you’re in Fort Myers, Florida, and in the market for that kind of adventure, then you can opt to have a magical escape experience.
Escape Room Adventures has unveiled its latest interactive game, and it’s about a magician. The Mysterious Disappearance of McGregor the Magnificent has a premise of murder most foul, where a magician is found dead in his dressing room. The experience sets groups to the challenge of solving puzzles, finding clues, and unraveling the mystery of what really happened at the crime scene. Check out the trailer above. And if you do happen to visit Fort Myers, let us know if you have a magical time solving the case!
Soon there will be one fewer fictional magician’s antics to watch on TV. Hulu has cancelled Shut Eye after two seasons. The show starred Jeffrey Donovan as a former magician who works for the mob and starts having strange visions after a head injury. The show never really took off for critics, and even with the excellent Jon Armstrong providing the magic consult for the second season, Donovan confirmed on Twitter that Shut Eye would not continue.
If you do want to see more magic on TV, then consider tuning in to the currently airing third season of The Magicians for a taste of supernatural powers. Or just do your best to be patient until March, when ABC’s Deception offers a new crime procedural with a dash of magic.
Most people find themselves inexplicably drawn to their particular artistic instrument; for Bernard Bilis, it’s card magic. In part two of our five-part interview with Bernard Bilis at Genii-Con 2017, he talks about how he fell in love with magic at a young age, and the reasons why he chose to stick with close-up, even after experimenting with other genres of illusion. One very important reason: you can pack a lot lighter than most of your colleagues.
For more clips from the interview, check out the links below:
Part one: On making your brain work by learning magic from books
Part three: Bernard Bilis’ favorite trick? “The next one”
Part four: On posting magic online: “If they see everything on the web, they don’t come to see the lecture”
Part five: The two words that describe what magic means to Bernard Bilis
For those of us who couldn’t attend in person, the next closest thing to being at Magi-Fest is seeing all of the videos and photos taken by the people who were lucky enough to go. Lucky for us, official Magi-Fest photos are starting to appear on the Facebook Page for the convention. There’s an album dedicated the first two days and a separate album for Day Three. It’s almost as good as being there. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself, at least.
If the photos aren’t enough to sate the craving, maybe video is the ticket. Chris Ramsay already has several uploads from the event, including his hunt for the best tricks in the world and a heartwarming display from the younger generation of magicians.
And of course, other members of the GeniiOnline team have written up their experience of the panels and discussions. Copyright and card throwing were two sessions of note.
It doesn’t seem like Daniel Madison has been sleeping much in the past few weeks. Since leaving Ellusionist to pursue solo projects, Madison has already redesigned his logo, debuted his first independent deck, and embarked on what appears to be a fan meet-up by way of spy thriller. Now he’s announced a newsletter.
In a tweet, Madison dubbed the newsletter “a cosy space that allows me to make direct contact with you on a more personal level.” Maybe he’ll let you in on the secret that is Sleight Club? Or maybe you can find out what kind of coffee he’s drinking in order to be so wildly productive all 24 hours of the day.
You can sign up for the Madisonist newsletter on his website, and take a look at teasers for all his many projects while you’re there.
For the past year or so, video streaming platform YouTube has been in a state of constant flux. A number of policy changes have affected creators both large and small, most recently with the way they’ve prevented channels with fewer subscribers and view counts from monetizing their videos. This can be incredibly demoralizing, especially to those illusionists with a small following who are trying to use YouTube as an opportunity to earn a living making magic for others. Owen Daughtery is one such magician, but rather than get discouraged, he’s viewing these changes as an opportunity to grow in unexpected ways.
Owen is a 20-year-old up-and-coming magician from East Sussex in the United Kingdom. He’s been making short films since he was ten, uploading them to YouTube since he was 12 (even though he had to lie about his age when he signed up), and has been practicing magic since he was 15. His current channel, NewGreenShoe, mainly focuses on two things that are near and dear to his heart: magic and social justice. It’s been around since 2013, and with a little more than 2,000 subscribers, it meets one of the requirements YouTube has outlined for monetization. However, he’s nowhere near to the second prerequisite of 4,000 hours of watchtime, thus doesn’t receive any money earned from the ads YouTube places before his videos.
As a member of a generation that has grown up with the ubiquity of the internet, he’d embraced YouTube as an opportunity to not only learn magic, but try to become “internet famous” very early on. “YouTube was actually the first place I started learning magic, which in hindsight was not a good idea,” Owen told GeniiOnline via email. “Better to learn core material from books than from online.”
Even so, being surrounded by the magic community on YouTube has taught him a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and the kinds of challenges that arise strictly from video-focused magic. “Magic is so difficult to do on YouTube as people have to be really invested in the idea that you are being as fair as possible in terms of camera angles and what’s on screen vs. what’s not on screen.”
It’s also given him an opportunity to meet members of the UK magic community, including YouTuber Steven Bridges, as well as other YouTube content creators and even some of his fans. And when this last round of changes hit and basically destroyed his chances of making money until his channel gains a more sizable viewership, it forced him to reevaluate why he wants to be on YouTube in the first place.
Owen posted a video a few days ago in response to YouTube’s changes in its monetization policies called “I’m done with ‘Youtube’ (And why I love it)”. In the video, Owen describes the most important thing he’s gotten out of posting his creations—and it wasn’t the opportunity for money or fame, but rather the people he’s gotten to meet and the community he’s helped build. This realization completely shift how he looked at YouTube as a platform and what he wanted to get out of it.
“So am I doing this to reach ‘the top’, or am I creating as a hobby, was something that I was battling with creatively, as both would affect how I go forward with my channel,” Owen explains. “So when I heard that YouTube had cut off monetization for smaller channels, I basically made my mind up that YouTube was going to be my place for creativity (at the sake of weekly scheduled consistent content) instead of a business platform.”
Rather than trying to make a career out of making magic YouTube videos, he’s responding by shifting his focus to making a career out of magic, with his YouTube work as a supplemental portfolio. “I’ve only just properly started with magic being a source of stable income,” Owen says, “which is so exciting as to do this full-time has been the dream for a long while. With street magic shows and possible prospects of being a house magician at a venue in Brighton routinely it looks to be a very magic filled future!”
YouTube has also provided other benefits for Owen besides simply getting his work out there. “I’ve made some really good friends through YouTube,” Owen says, “and have had some really incredible opportunities to collaborate with other magicians which never could have happened without it. Despite magic being my main focus, I’m also really excited to see how I can continue to use YouTube to sharpen my skills and experiment with new ways of entertaining with magic through the internet.”
While Owen still hopes that YouTube improves its communication and transparency with creators, he’s no longer worrying about his view count or the potential money he could earn from his videos, even if another platform comes along to try to fix YouTube’s biggest problems. “At the end of the day, the greatest thing that’s come from creating on YouTube is the people I’ve met,” Owen says. “Another platform could come along, but while I’m still able to connect with the community surrounding YouTube I won’t be going anywhere.”
He also urges other smaller creators to not give up hope: “For people trying to grow their audience using magic, if you’ve been caught in the smaller channel demonetization update, absolutely don’t let this dissuade you from continuing to post magic content to the platform. If anything now is the time to upload more than ever as with this update there has been a massive surge of traffic to smaller YouTube channels and this could be the step up you were looking for.”
Michael Close is one of the greats when it comes to magic education. He’s been in the business for decades, and a chance to take a peek inside his mind is useful for performers at any level of skill and experience. In other words, the news that he has new educational books available after more than a decade is very, very exciting.
Close is back with a two-volume set called The Paradigm Shift. Both volumes are available as ebooks for an instant download. They include essays, photos, and video. According to the listing, the books include “beautiful sleights that will deceive both laymen and magicians, and commercial, devious routines you will enjoy performing.” Volume One features ideas and routines from Ariel Frailich, John Carney, Simon Aronson, Bob Farmer, and Michael Weber. Mick Ayres, Roy Walton, Harry Riser, Norman Beck, Michael Weber, Jason England, Aaron Fisher, Joshua Jay, and Ton Onosaka are the featured inspirations for Volume Two.
Both ebooks are available from Close’s website for $69.95. If you want more of his magical insights, then check out the recently launched Magician’s Masterclass. The resource is still getting off the ground, but it promises in-depth education from Close and other best-in-the-business performers.
Hat tip to our friends at Canada’s Magic for getting this news on our radar!
A common misconception held by those new to magic is that a performer needs to learn the newest, hottest, most intricate method in order to impress an audience. The above video, featuring Vinh Giang, elegantly illustrates how that’s not true. What appears to be an impressive bit of mentalism is really just window dressing for a very simple piece of misdirection (which you can learn here). A valuable reminder that good magic is more than mastering mechanics.
This was my first year attending Magi-fest, and one of the first things I was delighted to notice was how many kids were there. They were into it, too, racing to sit in the front row at lectures and jamming with older magicians every chance they got. Their enthusiasm radiated off them in waves, and it was impossible not to be swept up in it. I got to talk to a bunch of them, and discovered their passion came from a place of pure joy – a happiness they couldn’t wait to share with others. (Let me tell you, there is nothing more charming than a young magician literally jumping for joy when he discovers you’re a layperson he can dazzle with his skills.)
Chris Ramsay, who filmed the above video at Magi-Fest, is an inspiration for the next generation of magicians. His YouTube channel has more than half a million subscribers, some of whom got the chance to talk to him at the convention. But after watching this, it’s tough to say who came away more inspired – the kids or Ramsay himself. If these future superstars are any indication, magic is in very good hands.
And solid shout out to those parents who support their children’s passion. You’re the best assistants a magician could ever have.