How do magicians get audience reaction photos and videos of their magic when doing close up magic?
That's a common question and I'm going to share with you something that I've been using for a few weeks now and know you will love. But first, lets look at the traditional ways to get audience reaction pictures:
The event photographer.
Teaming up with the offical event photographer is always a good idea when you arrive at a magic gig. Make sure you get the persons business card, and that you ask if you can have access to some of the photographs after the event. Usually the event photographer will be happy to supply you with some of the photographs but may ask a small fee in return. The main problem with this is that you will onlybe featured in a small part of the event, so the photographer will have a limited range of images that involve you. The photographs also tend to be of you, rather than the audience reaction. It's a good idea to speak to the photographer first and ask them to take pictures of your audience smiling, laughing and reacting to your magic.
The spectator as photographer.
I know a few magicians that will ask one of the spectators to take some photographs of the magic happening, or to shoot a small video on their phone. This can be a good idea, as long as it doesn't get in the way of the spectator having fun watching the magic. Some magicians feel uncomfortable asking spectators for this. Spectator filming has the same problem as that of using an event photographer, in that a lot of the footage will be of you rather than the audience reaction.
The Autographer Camera.
I purchased an Autographer camera for a skiing trip recently, and I'm really impressed with its value for magicians wanting to get audience reaction photos and videos. I should point out that I've have not been paid, or entered into a commercial agreement to promote a specific device or product mentioned in this post.
Autographer is a small device that clips to your clothing, or can be worn around the neck on a cord. It's a camera that will automatically decide when a picture is worth taking. You just turn it on, clip it onto your clothing and forget about it. It will start taking photographs using five high tech sensors to determine when something new and interesting needs to be captured.
Magicians using Autographer
To road test Autographer, I clipped in on at a drinks and canapés party in Central London. Here's a short video of me performing close magic with Autographer clipped to my suit jacket top pocket:
That was a fun gig, made especially so because I was working alongside Ben Williams from the Professional Magicians Agency (you see us discussing magic in the video) He's one of the best magicians, and creative minds that I work alongside whenever I can.
The image quality.
You'll notice that many of the shots are either out of focus, or have blur. That's understandable given the low lighting and the fact that both myself and the guests are constantly moving. In that gig, Autographer took over 1500 images. I removed many of the shots that didn't show anything of interest, but I've intentionally left in lots of blurred and out of focus shots. I want the footage to look organic, live, and capturing the 'reality' of the event. You could go through the images and just pull out a few perfect audience reaction shots if you prefer. Those could then be tweaked using photoshop to correct colour and lighting. I don't personally think that's my goal with a large bank of images played together in a stop frame video.
For magicians, Autographer creates a gritty, live action video that is not supposed to be perfectly shot. It also will give you a few excellent, clear and focused audience reaction shots you can save as distinct images. As you wear the camera over time, that bank of 'perfect images' will become very large indeed.
You can check the photographs that Autographer has taken using an app on your phone. If you know something cool is about to happen, you can set Autographer to instantly take a series of photos. You can turn the camera off and on whenever you like, or just forget about it, and let it capture every audience reaction.
You can find out more about Autographer on the Autographer website.
As well as the Autographer device, you also get easy to use software for the Mac or PC that will allow you to download the images, edit, save and delete them. You can then stitch them together into an animated gif or video that can be shared online. Adding music to the video is easy and creates a lovely recap of the whole gig.
Tips for magicians using Autographer.
Make sure you get permission from the event organise to film at the event. Usually there will already be a photographer or a cameraman filming the guests, so it will not usually be a problem.
Don't try and hide the Autographer camera. Just clip it on and forget about it. Spectator's may notice it and ask what is. There is a setting on the device to select if you would like the camera to flash a light each time it takes an image, or you can set it to show nothing at all. Tell them that it's a camera and that some of the event is being photographed. The host of the event will be receiving a copy. Asked them if they would like their picture taken, and if they decline just close the camera lens.
I've been approaching groups and starting to perform magic, then mentioning that the event is being photgraphed and they may be caught on camera watching me perform. So far everybody seems to be fine with that. Make sure that the cleint/host of the event is happy for you to use the footage.
If anyone has a problem with you filming make sure you stop immediately. You can delete any photos you had instantly using your phone app. This is very rare because you're performing at a public event, and photos and videos are already happening.
Check and delete Autographer images.
When you go through all of the audience reaction footage, you going to have hundreds of photographs. Make sure you go through each one carefully. The Autographer software makes this very easy. Remember that you are a magician and you need to make sure that magic secrets are not exposed in the images that you take. A close attention to the times that you are queitly resetting in the corner. Some of your images will capture magician only angles, so make sure each image is checked.
Because you're capturing live events, many of the images will be out of focus or blurred. You can keep some of these in as they given an organic feel to the footage, but remove any shots that are too dark or obscured.
What magicians can do with Autographer images.
As you use Autographer at your close up magic gigs and shows, you will build up a huge quantity of performing pictures that show great audience reaction. Here's some ways to use them in your magicians marketing.
1) Save audience reaction photos and videos to use on your website or as promotional material
2) Create a fly on the wall video of the whole event and send it to the client as a follow up thank you gift.
3) Create a website or blog of each gig you do. Invite the guests to visit it to see if they feature in one of your videos or audience reaction photos. Use this to pass on your business details.
4) Create a Youtube channel or instagram account of your performing videos and audience reaction photos. Show prospective clients what they can expect, and how much their guests will love your magic.
5) Study the footage to check audience reaction. Use this feedback to perfect your performing and presentation techniques.
6) Build in a magic trick into the footage, so the viewers get a magicial event happening, as they watch the footage.
Here's a few individual shots I saved from my gig last night:
Tips for capturing audience reactions.
Once you have a capture device set up, there are a few tips to make sure you capture some useable audience reactions:
Make sure that the camera is positioned so it sees from your point of view. Ideally the camera should be attached to you and pointing forward. Clipping it onto your top jacket pocket, or wearing it on a cord are ideal. If you have to wear a security badge at the event, use the cord as a handy mount for your camera.
Focus of attention.
The images need to be the audience reactions, not the magic tricks you are performing. Time the images to capture the moment the magic trick reaches it's climax. Images of a magician holding playing cards, or talking to the spectators may seem to make sense to you, but viewers that don't know what is happending may not understand what is going on in the picture.
Aim for images of people smiling, laughing, or looking shocked. The goal is to communicate how much emotion and energy your performance generated at the party.
The magic tricks.
Choose a few magic tricks that have a funny ending, or that will shock the spectators. Mentalism may have a stong impact, but it can sometimes fail to create a pronounced physical reaction. Choose magic tricks that create energy to give you interesting audience reactions.
Create action within the group. High five a spectator during the reaction moment. Make a positive comment when a spectator becomes animated during a magic trick climax. Use cues and prompts to indicate that it's acceptable to physically respond to the magic. Whenever possible, end a few magic tricks in an applause cue position. The goal is to nurture a physical reaction from the group.
I hope this helps you.
Best wishes as always
P.S If you have any other ideas for interesting ways that magicians can use 'point of view' filming during their magic shows, please let me know in the comments box below: