Thursday, November 5, 2009

In Half

I really like Andrew Mayne and he has some cool stuff every once in a while, but it seems like most of his bigger stuff is created for the sole purpose of a video and lacks any real-world appeal. "In Half" is one of those effects.

A one-man sawing-in-half illusion is a big sell for a concept, but execution is where you have the problem. The set-up involves cardboard boxes, making this seem almost impromptu (which is the idea). Unfortunately, it also stops the effect from making any sense to those watching it.

You have two cardboard boxes that are closed, next to another one that is open. You walk behind the closed boxes, then open them up after you are "inside". The bottom box shows your legs and shoes, the top box is your torso. Then you move your torso to one side, leaving your legs behind. After moving the torso box on top of the empty one, you lift your torso showing it completely free of the bottom of the box. Then you slide back to your legs, close all the doors and step out from behind the boxes.

If you're working an elementary school assembly, this will kill. Anyone above age 9 or so will be able to tell you immediately what you're doing. Watch the demo video and if you haven't figured the method out after one viewing you probably weren't paying attention.

Here are the problems that keep the effect from being believable:

1) Most magicians step into an open box to demonstrate there are no gimmicks, then close it after they are in for this type of effect. In this one, everything starts and ends closed (and better stay that way after the effect is over or you're busted).

2) When you lift up the torso, you are floating in the box and can see the back of the box...which begs the question, "How did you get into the box if it's solid in the back?" That leads the thought processes naturally to how the effect is accomplished.

3) The angles are horrible. Dead-on, you're going to be awesome. Let anyone stand past 10 or 2, and you're busted.

4) Nothing can be examined before or after the effect--not even you. If you have a stage show where folks can't reach you, you're all right. If you try to do this in some controlled street environment, you'll spend the rest of your show hoping the wind doesn't blow a box door open, or that someone doesn't walk behind your setup...or that someone doesn't look at your clothes too closely.

You know, if this effect appears on Mind Freak the crowd will go screaming away and you'll think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Criss pays his television crowds well for this "spontaneous" reaction. But if you buy the trick and try it, you'll realize this isn't something you could ever use.

To Andrew's credit, he's only charging $25 for the DVD, which seems fair if you really want to know the secret. You'll have to put together the props (not hard), and as with Mayne's "Shrinker" effect you'll have to do some clothing modification. Less than an hour or so and you're ready to perform. If you're desperate for a stage type effect on a budget, this could fit the bill for you. Otherwise, this isn't real world in the least.

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