It's a cliché of magic to say that any effect can be turned into a miracle through presentation. If this is true, it follows that it doesn't make any difference what version or handling of a particular effect you perform. It will succeed or fail based solely on how well you present it. Let me state unequivocally that I don't believe that.
I've long felt that the most successful performances of a magic effect succeed on three levels simultaneously: the dramatic level» the emotional level, and the magical level. The dramatic level involves using various technical devices (surprise, suspense» pacing, tempo, progressions, etc.) to ensure that what the audience sees registers powerfully. The emotional level involves using presentations capable oí reaching the viewer on a deeper level.
The magical impact, however, is limited by the nature and design of the magic effect itself. You still need effective presentation to get the full magical impact out of the effect, for example, by properly dramatizing the conditions. But. in the end, you're limited by the effect's magical potential, and that's determined primarily by its design.
In the last couple of years this fact has been powerfully brought home to me by my experience with two effects in this book, The New Bach Off and Ultimate Fusion. I published the original version of each of these effects in previous books. (Back Off appeared in Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table and Bold Fusion appeared in Cardshark.) I subsequently developed the revamped versions found here. Each of these new versions has been earning me at least twice as much audience reaction as the old versions. And, in each case, the only differences between the old and new version were design changes.
Whatever strengths or weaknesses I may have as a performer and showman, they're the same strengths or weaknesses in each performance. Additionally, the presentations I used for the old versions of these two effects are identical, almost word for word, with the ones I'm using for the new versions. Finally, of course, the effect , (in the sense of how someone would describe the trick in words) is identical in both versions. There is only one variable in each case: the design of the effect.
All of this points to one conclusion: the material itself matters. If you want to perform miracles, start with strong material. Those who spend their lives pursuing the perfect trick that will make them a star are kidding themselves. But, those who think they can make any trick a miracle through force of personality are also kidding themselves. It's better to have a wonderful presentation for an amazing effect than a wonderful presentation for a weak effect. If you try Ultimate Fusion, I think you'll find it an amazing effect.
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