Magicians and illusionists work in incredibly intricate ways to make the spectator believe what they are seeing is really happening. Many tricks that have propelled practitioners into fame include:
- Body manipulation,
These seemingly otherworldly stunts have convinced many that these practitioners possess supernatural capabilities. However, there’s a logical explanation behind every magic trick that the illusionist does their best to conceal.
Here are 10 of the biggest magic secrets and illusions revealed.
1. Levitation. Many magicians resort to levitation tricks, which are often a combination of the Balducci technique, clever editing and sometimes even wires. However, Criss Angel revealed his innovative technique.
Angel, facing away from his audience, would have a slip in his pants so that he could remove one leg and use it to prop himself up. This act of balancing in combination with his two legs appearing together create the illusion of levitation.
2. Earning a spot on TV’s 50 Greatest Magic Tricks, Penn and Teller had one shocking illusion where Penn ran over Teller with an 18-wheel truck. Appearing painfully real, the magicians revealed how they did the trick themselves.
While it looked like the wheels were running over Teller, there was only minimal weight being applied. The opposite side of the truck was weighted to counterbalance the vehicle and foam tires were attached instead of rubber ones.
3. Criss Angel once created the illusion that he was walking on water, which was made even more convincing by the people swimming underneath him, his theatrics, and even dropping his shoe at one point into the water below.
However, this trick was done by using plexiglass structures resembling tables. These structures go unseen under the water and allow movement below them to sell the notion that Angel is walking on the surface of the water.
4. Acclaimed magician David Copperfield had spectators in awe for his famous “Death Saw” trick, which saw him being cut in half by a saw without the typical shield of a box.
However, while Copperfield’s updated version of the trick looks more convincing, it still uses the same act of deception. The platform, though appearing thin, has just enough room for Copperfield and an assistant to crouch and hide half of their bodies.
5. One classic trick that plays with the audience’s perception is the illusion of making an assistant float in mid-air, which is made more convincing by passing a hoop over to show that there’s nothing supporting from beneath or above.
However, the platform has been intricately created to make this trick appear real. A motorized mechanism lifts and lowers the assistant. The machinery is hidden by the magician’s body and controlled by hidden step switches in the carpeting. The hoop is passed through an S-shaped support, which requires the practitioner to do it twice to free it.
6. David Blaine’s grotesque trick where he sticks a needle through his arm isn’t so much an illusion because it’s what he’s actually doing. However, how he manages for there to be no blood explains his extreme dedication to the craft.
The performance is possible due to a medical phenomenon called fistula, which is a path of scar tissue that can be pierced without blood or damage. Blaine must have achieved this fistula by actually stabbing his arm in order to create a scar tissue path.
7. On America’s Got Talent, Matt Franco wowed judges by having them each choose a section of a snowman and telling him when to stop flipping a pad of supposedly different designs. After they had created a seemingly unique snowman, Franco revealed a real one in a box, which was an exact replica.
How Franco achieved this was by flipping a section of the options that were really all the same. He initially showed varying designs while introducing the trick, but those were only the last few pages, which were too far behind to be an option for the judges to choose from.
8. Houdini had a trick where he magically made a fishbowl appear on a table after quickly shielding it with an innocuous cloth. The cloth, however, was more of a distraction from what’s actually happening with the table.
The fishbowl is really there the whole time, but is covered by a drawstring encasing, which the magician removes. A separate identical drawstring table cover is then released beneath the fishbowl.
9. One trick that often boggles the minds of spectators is when a magician makes one of his assistants disappear behind a curtain. This is made more convincing by using a box propped up on four legs to show there’s no trap door.
The box appears to have nowhere the hide, but in this case, the curtain is cleverly placed to make it look wider than it actually is. The magician buys time by doing things like spinning the box while the assistant inside rearranges themselves out of sight.
10. Having a sword pass through an assistant is a classic illusion that makes the audience believe they are being impaled.
However, this trick is achieved by costuming and a sword that’s flexible yet sturdy much like measuring tape.