Magic Tricks: How Does It Work?


Even if you are prone to skepticism, magic tricks are still entertaining and surprising. There is something about the mystery of it, the unknown factor that hooks the audience. Even if some viewers don’t buy into the tricks, but focus on how the trick was performed – they’re still captivated by the magician. It is an art form that is loved by all ages and all types of people. Magic tricks can be as simple as pulling a quarter out of your ear or a card trick. They can also be as complex and challenging as walking on water or causing a giant famous landmark to disappear!

Magicians refer to magic tricks as “effects” and there are hundreds of millions of effects out there. Many effects can be found in books published about magic, however many others are trade secrets of particular magicians and might only be passed down to a protégé. Effects fall under three main categories: up-close effects, stage illusions and levitations.

Up-close effects usually make use of the audience being in a small proximity to the magician. Small props are used and traditional effects in this venue use card, coin, or prop tricks on a table or with the magician walking around.

Stage illusions employ numerous effects and are grander performances that those that use up-close effects. Magicians that perform regularly on stage, like David Copperfield or Howard Thurston, include large-scale props in their acts. The audience is farther from the magician and that’s why the props and performances themselves are larger in scale. Effects like the cabinet escape, Indian rope trick, and guillotine are used in stage illusions and carry a greater shock factor with the audience. Stage illusions make for great viewing and, consequently, make up most of the magic performances broadcast over television.

Levitation effects are exactly that – levitation of either a prop or the magician himself. David Copperfield and Criss Angel are two illusionists known for their levitation acts. To demonstrate that no strings are holding the magician up, often rings and a transparent box are used to prove that the magician is actually “flying” or levitating.

The myriad of magic tricks or effects are used by all magicians, whether they use just a few to perform a card trick at a party or use dozens to cause an elephant to disappear from the stage. Established effects can be combined into a new trick or a magician can create a new effect. The possibilities are endless, and no matter what level of magic trick, they have one common trait: they are all entertaining!


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