FAQ on my Illusion Books

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I wrote this FAQ to help you make a better informed decision on which of my books to get.

You have quite a few different books? Which one should I get?

Here is a run-down of the books. Each book or type of book was written for a specific illusion genre:

PROFESSIONAL ILLUSIONS

The professional level illusion books are:

  • “Illusionary Departures 2012”
  • “Equilateral 3”
  • “Urban Illusions”.

The “Ultimate Illusion Collection: The Vault Edition” is a compilation of these three books + 25% new material + “Illusionism”.

SPECIALTY ILLUSIONS

“Pack Flat Illusions for Kids & Family Shows” is a collection of material that is highly practical for the working performer and especially the new or part-time illusionist.

“Corporate Illusions Made Easy” features 10 original illusion designs for product & corporate logo reveals, VIP appearances and motivational illusions. This book was written for the working corporate magician or illusionist.

“Simple Showstoppers” is a book of easy illusion projects for magicians. Best of all, each illusion can be built for under $500. It is an excellent introduction to modern grand illusions but also contains inexpensive illusion ideas for experienced illusionists.

“Illusionism” is a specialty e-book on illusions with a mentalism plot currently only available at Lybrary.com. It is also included in the “Ultimate Illusion Collection: The Vault Edition”

GENERAL

“The Event Magician Vol 1 & 2” is not an illusion design book but has been highly regarded as the best book on the subject of building and marketing a stage magic show to the special events industry.

“Beyond the Stage 2012” is a set of lecture notes that does not teach illusion designs but is full of valuable information for the aspiring performer and commercial magician. It is a great introduction to my magic thinking and will benefit magicians of all levels.

BOOK SETS

As of Nov 2013, there will be a number of combo book sets available:

The Event Magician Set – This set includes both volumes of “The Event Magician”

Specialty Illusions Set – This is a three-in-one book comprising of my specialty illusion books, “Pack Flat Illusions for Kids & Family Shows”, “Corporate Illusions Made Easy” and “Simple Showstoppers”!

The Event Illusionist Set – This is a combo set of books for the stage magician or illusionist who performs for special events. This set comprises of three books:

  • The Event Magician Volume 1
  • The Event Magician Volume 2
  • “Corporate Illusions Made Easy”

The Complete Illusion Library – This set of books includes my entire library of publshed works. This book set comprise of 8 books:

  • Ultimate Illusion Collection: The Vault Edition (2-Volume Set)
  • The Event Magician Volume 1
  • The Event Magician Volume 2
  • Specialty Illusions (3 books in 1)
  • Beyond the Stage Lecture Notes

If you are looking to buy just one book to see if my material, approach and illusion philosophy is to your liking, I would recommend “Illusionary Departures 2012”. It is the best first book of mine to get if you are undecided. For one, it is my biggest book with 35 illusions & routines for stage thus is the best value for money. It also has a wide variety of illusions, stage acts and presentations that will appeal to a wide group of magicians of all levels. This will be a solid introduction to my brand of illusion thinking.

Which is the most value-for-money book?

The “Ultimate Illusion Collection: The Vault Edition” will be the most value for money in terms of price as it is a compilation of all three of my professional illusion design books into one + 25% new material as well as the “Illusionism” book. It also contains a discussion on creating a mega stunt and my method for the “Impossible 50-storey in 5 seconds” teleportation that I performed live in front of 9,000 people.

In addition, the entire collection has been organized by illusion effect/ genre, making it very easy to find illusions that you want. The books come in two volumes and costs much less than if you buy all the different publications separately.

Are the illusions difficult to build?

The books which contain the easiest to build illusions are “Simple Showstoppers”, “Corporate Illusions Made Easy” and “Pack Flat Illusions for Kids & Family Show”.

“Illusionary Departures 2012” are generally easy to intermediate builds.

Most of the illusions in “Equilateral”, “Urban Illusions” and “Ultimate Illusion Collection: The Vault Edition” require an experienced builder who is familiar working with wood and metal.

I’m new to illusions. Which book bests suits me?

I would recommend my “Simple Showstoppers”. These illusions are easy to understand and build. While inexpensive to build, they are presentable even for professional shows. The illusions detailed are also a great introduction to illusion techniques and methods.

You can then consider “Illusionary Departures 2012” as it contains many different kinds of illusions, stage routines and presentations that are also not highly complex. It contains my Approach to Base Work that details my design, philosophy and original building techniques to a modern base. There are also a number of inexpensive illusions that are easy to build.

I’m still undecided which books I want as different ones in different books seem to appeal to me.

You can then consider just ordering the digital plans for the illusions that you want specifically. This would be the most cost effective way, especially, if you know which ones you want. Alternatively, you can opt for a custom illusion plan where I assemble a set based on your specific needs. A custom illusion plan set starts from US$50 and includes 4 – 5 illusions

Buy my books/ DVDs highlighted above HERE and use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVDs, plans & downloads.

Building An Illusion from a Set of Plans

Illusions are an expensive investment and one solution for new illusionists (and seasoned professionals) is to build the illusion yourself as opposed to purchasing one from a professional illusion builder.

Now, there are many benefits from purchasing from a professional builder and it is well worth the asking fee, simply because the builder brings expertise and experience to an illusion. And, if he has built the illusion before, he would know what works and what does not.

However, when budgets do not allow you to spend much on new illusions, building your own can be a cost-saving approach to adding scale to your show. I hope to share some basic tips on how to build an illusion from a set of plans.

3 Ways to Build Your Own Illusion

There are three ways to go about building your own illusion:

  1. Build it yourself with your own tools.
  2. Get a friend with workshop tools, a carpenter, stage props or exhibition stand builder to build for you under your direction and supervision.
  3. Get different parts built yourself or recycle different parts from other places (furniture) and assemble the illusion yourself.

I have done all three ways before but mainly do a combination of the second and third methods along with buying illusions from pro builders.

What You Need to Know

Whether you intend to build your own illusion or supervise the build, you need to gain technical knowledge on the building process, tools and materials.

Specifically, you need to be familiar with types of wood, metals, plastics and their thickness and availability in your location. Hang out at lumber yards, metal shops and plastic sheet suppliers to see what is available and talk to the people there if they have time.

You need to understand basic building methods such as cutting, joining and finishing. Different materials needs different tools to cut and there are multiple ways to join parts depending on the material. Finishing includes painting, laminate or vinyl/ carpet covering.

Only when you have a grasp of the above should you embark on your first build. It helps greatly if you have an interest and knack for building things.

I remember my first build project was when I built my first skateboard street ramp when I was 11 years old. I got scrape wood from all over the neighbourhood and used nails and a hammer. I had no tools or knowledge of how to cut curves but created the curve of the ramp using the flexible nature of the plywood nailed onto support bars of 2″ x 1″ lumber nailed at different angles to create a curve. It looked crappy but it worked! I executed many jumps off that ramp.

That probably was a starting point for me in illusion building. Subsequently, all my technical knowledge was acquired in school (technical module which I aced), observing builders of all kinds and examining finished props – from furniture to illusions to exhibition stands.

Choose the Right Illusion

When building your own/ first illusion, you will be constrained by budget, time and resources so you need to choose an illusion within your means, as well as within capabilities of the builder.

You have to choose the right illusion project. Here are some tips:

  • Start with a manageable illusion first. Something without too many moving parts or requires too many different materials.
  • Avoid illusions that require complex metal work like metal forms, bending or welding.
  • Avoid anything with electronic or remote control elements.
  • Avoid anything that requires a full D******** B***. If you do not know what that is, you should not be building it.
  • Being a first illusion, you probably want something manageable in size and weight.

Look for a Set of Illusion Plans

Now, you have to look for resources to build that illusion.

Please note that not all illusions have illusion plans available. Many illusions are licensed to professional builders and the creators never released building plans to the “public” magic community. If no plans are released, it is an ethical unwritten rule that that particular illusion is off limits for you to build or have built, unless by the authorized builder.

However, there are hundreds of illusions that have building plans that are described in books or sold as individual illusion plans.

Most works by Jim Steinmeyer, Rand Woodburry, Mark Parker, Tim Cloutier, Milan Forzetting, Paul Osbourne and… cough cough… J C Sum are essential for an illusionist’s library. Check out my recommended books and DVDs for the beginner illusionist in my list HERE.

Having said the above, not all illusion books or plans are very detailed or comprehensive. Sometimes building instructions are not as detailed because it is assumed the builder is experienced in building props. Some designers also do not give dimensions or specific material lists as they feel that each illusion is custom to each illusionist, hence dimensions are not useful.

Personally, in my books and plans, I always give dimensions and material lists as I feel it is an important guide for builders to get a sense of the illusion.

An experienced builder will be able to assess the size & weight of the illusion and based on the material lists & plans can get a sense of the amount of time & money it will take to build the prop.

I feel dimensions and material lists are even more important for new builders as they need all the help they can get to guide them through the process. However, even in my plans, I do not go into the basics of how to cut a piece of material, embed a T-Nut or apply a plastic laminate finish. I do assume the builder possesses these basic fabrication skills.

It is best for you to research on a set of plans or book before purchasing them. If you intend to buy a book or set of plans for your illusion education and knowledge building, exact dimensions and material lists may not be as essential. However, if you intend to build the prop, then specifics are critical. Ask around or leave a comment on this blog if you want feedback or clarification on a particular set of plans or book.

Understanding the Plans

Once you have the plans, the first thing to do is to understand the effect of the illusion, followed by the method. This should be explained clearly in the write-up of the illusion plan. Most of the time, the plans of the physical illusion prop will only make sense if you understand the effect and the method.

When you interpret the illusion plans, try to visual how the illusion works. If there are moving panels or components, understand how those components move together.

Try to visualize the size of the prop. You may need a tape measure to help you out. This will give you an idea of the space you will need to perform, rehearse and transport the illusion.

An example of one of my illusion drawings is given below. It is not drawn as a schematic but as an easy to understand drawing.

illusionplan
Examine the list of materials needed and the building methods. For example, if the prop requires welded parts, you must be able to weld metal together. If not, you must figure out an alternative method of joining the material.

Ensure that you will be able to obtain all of the materials needed to build the prop.

Have the Right Materials & Tools

Once you have chosen your illusion and decided to build it. Create detailed lists of what you need to buy. You will need to combine total measurements to calculate how much material you need to buy. For example, if you are building a prop that requires four legs made from aluminum tubing, each 2ft long, you will need to buy 8ft of aluminum tubing. But, also note that if you buy an exact length of 8ft of aluminum tubing and cut it into four lengths, each length will be a few millimeters short of 2ft as you will lose material when you make each cut. This is important if you need a precise amount of material.

Once you have calculated all the material, you will also need to know how many connectors you might need, like wood screws, rivets or bolts & nuts.

Ensure you have the right tools for the job. For example, if you are cutting both metal & wood, you need two different saws or at least two different blades. If you need to drill through thick steel, you will need a different drill bit and drill than drilling through thin aluminum.

A measuring tape and pencil/ marker is a must! Measure twice & cut once. Wrong measurements can be costly as they can result into material wastage.

Build the Illusion

Follow the building instructions to build the prop. If no specific build order is given, I generally recommend building from the main base, table or structure of the prop and build the “box” part or other panels/ doors after.

Always build some kind of mock-up with cardboard cartons and duct tape. Follow the dimensions in the set of plans and build at least the shell to ensure that it fits your assistant or yourself.

After you build the illusion, ensure any small sharp edges or corners are filed and sanded smooth. Splinters or metal burrs are very dangerous and can hurt someone during rehearsal or performance.

Well, that is a basic guide on how to build an illusion from a set of plans. I know, its is easier said than done. But, every illusion prop begins with the first cut of material. So, best of luck and work safe!

Product Image Design web

If you are interested in my illusion plans, check out my webstore page here or click on the individual links below:

Use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVDs, plans & downloads.

Package #1 – Car Appearances

  • The Phantom Car Appearance
  • Bluff Appearance
  • Light Pillars Production System

Click here for more info. US$75.

Package #2 – Motorcycle Appearances

  • Ultimate Full Throttle

Click here for more info. US$75.

Package #3 – Fan Illusions

  • Revollusion
  • Wind Passage

Click here for more info. US$75.

Package #4 – Metamorphosis

  • Crystal Metamorphosis
  • Fortress

Click here for more info. US$50.

Package #5 – Appearances

  • Benchmark
  • Singular

Click here for more info. US$35.

Package #6 – Penetrations

  • Visual Displacement
  • Steel Displacement
  • 6 Inches

Click here for more info. US$35.

Package #7 – Box Jumpers

  • Squeezed & Skewered
  • Seven by Half V2.0

Click here for more info. US$35.

Package #8 – Base Work

  • Deceptive Base Design & Philosophy
  • Crystal Striptease
  • Light & Space

Click here for more info. US$35.

Package #9 – VIP Appearances

  • Backdoor Appearance
  • Simple VIP Production
  • VIP Trunk

Click here for more info. US$35.

Package #10 – Illusions with Multiple Girls

  • Fourth Dimensional Exit
  • Ghost Cabinet
  • 12-Girl Cabinet

Click here for more info. US$50.

Package #11 – Unique Penetrations

  • A Walk through the Winery
  • Slicing Through

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Package #12 – Comedy Illusions

  • The Vanishing ‘Tiger’
  • Hiding In Plain Sight
  • Sweepstakes
  • Twisted Conclusion

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Package #13 – Inexpensive Illusions

  • Super Saver Delivery
  • Ultimate Victory Cartons
  • Chain Reaction

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Package #14 – Classic Sub Trunk

  • ATA Sub Trunk

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Package #15 – Box Jumpers 2

  • Multi-vide
  • Wall 2 Wall
  • Dekolta’s Dilemma

Click here for more info. US$35.

Use this Promo Code “5OFF2014” upon Checkout to receive a 5% discount off all books, sets, DVDs, plans & downloads.