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  1. #1
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    How to look natural handling cards

    Hey guys!

    Earlier today I decided to film myself with a camera...and I was so surprised that my moves looked so different to when I practise in front of a mirror! I think this should be noted by all magicians :)

    But when I played the video back it just seemed that I wasn't natural with my cards...I mean I didn't flash my moves or anything but compared to when I watch an experienced magician perform, my routine and sleights seemed a bit too 'unnatural'. For example I may have been always fiddling with the deck or doing moves which didn't look normal even though they were technically 'ok'.

    Are there any tips on how to look more natural when handling cards and performing card magic?

    Thanks!
    - Tanay

    Currently working on: Routining, scripting and misdirection

  2. #2
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    I used to have this problem. I would often fidget with the deck and it was mostly due to nervousness. According to your post you practice in front of a mirror. This is perfectly fine but you should also practice on what I call "dud" spectators. Someone in your family or a close friend. For example I practice on my little brother. If he sees a mistake its no big deal.
    Hope this helps!
    "Short people got no reason to live!" -Randy Newman

  3. #3
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    I have a couple of tips:

    1. Get all the tension out of your hands and arms. Look into some of Aaron Fisher's work with this. If you are tense, audiences can sense it and will look where you don't want them to. Keep yourself very loose and relaxed.

    2. Make sure that you have continuity of motion. For example, make sure that your double lift looks exactly like your single lift. False shuffles should look just like true shuffles, etc. If something visually stands out, it will be obvious.

    Hope this helps a little bit.
    -toolnard

    Currently working on:
    * Double Turnover
    * Two-Handed Shift

  4. #4
    Joe Hadsall's Avatar :: Content developer
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    The secret to acting naturally is to act naturally.

    Almost like a Zen koan, isn't it?

    Sad to say, it's the truth. You're just not going to get comfortable enough to look natural until the moves are natural to you. You can prepare by taking stock of your movements in different situations -- not just performing magic, but talking with friends, watching TV, playing Madden '11, whatever. That will help build a self-awareness that might help you.

    The thing that will help the most, though, is to keep performing in front of people. The more this stuff becomes like the back of your hand, the more it will translate to an effortless appearance.
    “What’s the point of that, I wonder? I mean, I get how they did it. I just ain’t seeing the why.”
    ~Malcolm Reynolds

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    Follow the advice that the others presented because it's great. Also, you'll see that over time you'll start to find new methods that make sleights look more natural for you. We'll take the double-lift for example. If you can't perform the push-off double-lift perfectly, and you always find yourself fiddling with the back of the deck to get your break, just take off the top card (give a reason why your doing this: "just blow on the top card" or "this is the card you want?" all the while getting an easy break under the second card. Replace the top one on it, and you can continue on with a double-lift and it should look natural. You'll see that you can come up with these kinds of things for many sleights that might look bizarre.

  6. #6
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    What helped me tp get comfortable with acting naturally was lots and lots of practice. When you know how to do the trick in your sleep, there is no reason to be tense, because you already know it like the back of your hand.

  7. #7
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    Mirrors are good for learning a sleight or evaluating how you are doing. However, the mirror isn't good for practicing. You get feedback from the mirror in that you can see what your hands are doing while they are doing it. When you go to perform, you don't have that feedback and you tend to tense up because you can't see what you are doing. Practice as you will perform and you will be more natural.
    ~ David
    Perception of reality is a selection of reality which results in a distortion of reality.

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    Keep a deck of cards in your hands at all time. when your watching tv, when your walking around, just keep then in your hands and they will become like part of you. Try this it really works.
    Life is Magic BELIEVE .....John

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    I guess the answer is just practice, practice, practice!

    But toolnard mentioned things about tension and uniformity of actions which I completely agree with - not too long ago I realised my DLs looked so different to my normal single card turnovers!

    I was just really surprised though how things look so different on video than in a mirror...it's as if you don't notice yourself fidgeting with the deck in the mirror whereas on video you notice everything!

    Everyday I'm going to just end up constantly holding a deck or palming a card now!

    Aaron Fisher made a really good point that every magician should stop fidgeting unnecessarily with their cards...and I agree...for example in SO many videos online magicians just handle their cards tightly, square the deck constantly, dribble the deck without reason, etc. And I thought I wasn't one of them until now!
    - Tanay

    Currently working on: Routining, scripting and misdirection

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tan567 View Post

    Aaron Fisher made a really good point that every magician should stop fidgeting unnecessarily with their cards...and I agree...for example in SO many videos online magicians just handle their cards tightly, square the deck constantly, dribble the deck without reason, etc. And I thought I wasn't one of them until now!
    Can you explain why this would be a good thing to stop doing? I'd say I do this from time to time and I think it could be seen as an advantage...
    Justin Grabowski
    www.skildmagic.com : a free blog helping magicians earn more money

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinGrabowski View Post
    Can you explain why this would be a good thing to stop doing? I'd say I do this from time to time and I think it could be seen as an advantage...
    I think it depends on what you personally think...but I think if you keep it simple, and not touch the deck constantly, then there won't be any chance of the audience suspecting anything. Also Aaron Fisher's reason was that sleight of hand is about doing simple things well, so that spectators don't think you're doing anything suspicious :)
    - Tanay

    Currently working on: Routining, scripting and misdirection

  12. #12
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    wow to be perfectly honest I forgot about looking natural with these tips I'll know what to look for
    escape the dark

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    Quote Originally Posted by tan567 View Post
    I think it depends on what you personally think...but I think if you keep it simple, and not touch the deck constantly, then there won't be any chance of the audience suspecting anything. Also Aaron Fisher's reason was that sleight of hand is about doing simple things well, so that spectators don't think you're doing anything suspicious :)

    That's an interesting philosophy of magic... keep it so simple and fluid that it all looks natural. But, for my individual performance style - and maybe I need to grow more as a magician to eventually change this - I feel that some motions are just plain unnatural and random movements with the deck, combined with the speech of the magician, can overwhelm the spectator. This is something I'll have to think about.
    Justin Grabowski
    www.skildmagic.com : a free blog helping magicians earn more money

  14. #14
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinGrabowski View Post
    Can you explain why this would be a good thing to stop doing? I'd say I do this from time to time and I think it could be seen as an advantage...
    I don't know if he can, but I have some ideas on the subject.

    For one, constantly fidgeting with the deck makes you look nervous. If that's your character, then fine, but otherwise the problem should be obvious.

    Second, it's annoying. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but I can't watch a video where the magician is constantly making noise with the deck. Luckily I don't know anyone in person that does that, but so many videos have it.

    Third, it brings attention to your hands, which I don't think is a good thing usually. We don't want people to focus on our hands, we want them to focus on us as people. That makes it so much easier to direct their attention.

    Fourth, it makes people wonder if they need to watch your hands all the time, because you're constantly fidgeting. It's basically the idea that, "I don't know what he did, but I bet he did it when he was riffling the deck," or things along those lines. If you never seem to handle the deck it will seem far more magical when the effect happens. Giving them a constant reminder that your hands are on the deck gives them a way to explain what you did. Even if that explanation is completely wrong, it reduces the magic.

    Fifth, why do it at all? If a motion is unmotivated, then don't do it. Think of what the trick or effect would look like if you were using genuinely magical powers to do it, and try to replicate that. Anything else is just detracting from the effect.
    http://www.ellusionist.com/boffo-pdf-by-christopher-thisse.html

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  15. #15
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    Hey Christopher (I was going to say Chris but then I looked at your signature!), I think you pretty much perfectly said everything I wanted to say...and more! Great post :)

    I think the main thing is really avoiding your audience suspecting you did something when you touched the deck, and they may be suspicious and not even say anything.
    - Tanay

    Currently working on: Routining, scripting and misdirection

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