One of the most useful tools for developing your magic is the video camera. Filming your magic tricks being performed will allow you to critically analyze every part of your routine. You can understand what your audience actually see’s when they watch you. It’s an invaluable learning process and we recommend you seriously consider making this part of your training.
When we talk about filming your magic, we don’t mean quickly filming a half mastered trick and uploading it to YouTube. That’s not going to teach you anything. The only feedback will be flattery or even rude comments, that will do you no good at all. This is not about self promotion or feedback from others, it’s about having a cold, hard, and dispassionate look at yourself. It strips away any ego, and shows you what’s actually really there, rather than what you hope to find. That’s where the true value is gained, and it’s priceless.
Which magic tricks you choose to film doesn’t really matter, but ideally you should be performing to spectators and not to the camera itself. You want to be able to study how you interact with your audience just as much as how well you can do the moves when nobody is watching.
Filming your magic tricks is the easy part, now the painful part begins.
You need to sit down and prepare to take notes as you watch the footage back several times. The first time you watch it, you probably won’t learn much. That first viewing will be spent either feeling uncomfortable about watching yourself, or enjoying the routine and patting yourself on the back for how clever a particular part of it is. The real value comes from the second, third and fourth playback.
After filming your magic tricks, make a careful note of the following 10 action points:
1) Do you look relaxed and natural?
2) Do you look happy to be there and enjoying performing the magic tricks?
3) What does your body movement say about you, the situation, and the magic you are doing?
4) Are your hand movements natural, relaxed and clear?
5) Is your speech rushed. Is it clear and engaging? Do you vary the tone and pace?
6) Do you make eye contact with the audience?
7) Do you hesitate when executing a move or sleight?
8) Does anything look awkward or out of place?
9) How is your audience reacting at each point during the magic trick?
10) Are you performing your sleight of hand at the right moments, when the misdirection is the strongest?
You should have made quite a few notes after running through this process a few times, and it’s very important that you act on every point you find. Use what you learn from this to eliminate all the weak points and reinforce the actions that are working well for you. Tweak the routine and its presentation to highlight your strong points. Make a conscious effort to be aware of the problems you have identified. When you next perform, you will be much less likely to repeat those problems if you know they are there.
Each little adjustment will make your magic far stronger. It’s a better long term investment than simply adding more and more new magic tricks to your knowledge base. You have a tool at your disposal that the greatest magicians through history never had. Make use of it and your audience will thank you for it.
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