ball1I came across an interesting music video some time ago, and I played around with using the same technique to create a visual puzzle. This is the result.

Watch it and see if you can figure out how it was created.

If you would like a hint, I’ll post the original music video tomorrow.


  1. I think there’s a little more to it than simply reversing and flipping. I think the two hands were shot separately – notice that you can’t see a neckline of the performer. But I can’t quite figure out why it would be necessary, since, as other point out, merely flipping and reversing the shot would have the same effect. I’m guessing there’s another trick to getting the shots merged seamlessly.

  2. I think it’s the same piece of video on both sides of the screen, flopped and played in reverse.

    The left side (red to blue) is playing forwards, the right side has been mirrored and played backwards. As Ken pointed out, the clue we were given is the red ball drop.

    I’m guessing the ball substitution is a straightforward conjuring technique, but there may be more to it.

    Great puzzle!

  3. My first thought was that the opposite balls were already in the mugs and when they were turned over, the mugs knocked the first balls backward off the table. I get the feeling this is what I was meant to believe since you flipped the mugs over towards yourself when covering the balls.

    Then, like others, I noticed the weird way the red one bounced. Yup. Same video flopped and played in reverse.

  4. I think Jim Lynn is on to something with the hands being shot separately. The reason would be to make sure that there is no identifyable difference between the the two hands (i.e. wedding ring, tan line, freckles, etc).

    One clue that the video is both flipped *and* that they are shot separately is that the cups don’t move at the same time. If it’s right hand/left hand, it wouldn’t be hard to synchronize them. If they’re shot separately, getting the timing down precisely is more difficult.

  5. I believe David W is correct in saying that its the same video on both sides of the screen with the left side playing forwards and the right side playing backwards. Note how the handle of the cup on the right is slightly angled toward the camera at the beginning of the video. Since both cups are the same, you can see him setting the left cup down into this position about 19 seconds into the video. This means the trick was done only with the performer’s right hand, eliminating the need to shoot the “hands” separately since only one hand is involved.

    To put more detail to the conjuring technique, I believe the blue ball is already in cup, then, in one motion, the cup is turned over to dump the blue ball on the table and knock the red ball off the back of the table.

  6. Magnets. 2 balls with ball bearings, and 2 opposite balls with out)

    I may be wrong, as I am wrong often. Although it seems quite simple.
    The first thing I noticed was the strange method of flipping the cups, as
    his hands seemed a bit uncomfortable. Which led me to the realization
    that the back of the cups are never seen. They are hidden from view the
    entire time. After a moment of ponder, it seems a solution (maybe not
    THE solution) could quite simply be as follows. A magnet strapped to the back
    via tape or glue. 2 opposite color balls in each cup. which are flipped inward
    as to not reveal them selves. the balls on the table which look similar from
    the outside, may simply have a ball bearing, so they can attach them selves
    to the magnet. Thus leaving the non magnetic balls on the table to be revealed.
    Which also explains the way the cups were picked back up and not shown empty.

  7. NEVER MIND. I just watched the video again and my only explanation now that goes with
    my previous answer is the cups are (somehow) magnetic.
    or its just a cool video trick.

  8. The one side is a reversal of the other. Which means that you may not need magnets, given that one hand is clearly hidden by its mirror image. And the cup and ball trick doesn’t actually require that kind of camera trickery or magnetism in the first place. Just standard sleight of hand, which is then reversed.

    (The gestures first gave it away, then the position of turning the cups, and only then did I notice the ball flying upwards. I’m possibly too clever for my own good, and shall be deservedly mocked next post.)

    Speaking of which, I’d love to see the video that inspired this.

  9. Mirror split screen upsidedown (and turn yourself around–ok everybody–AND DO THE HOKEY POKEY thats whats it all about -enjoy the weekend-

  10. Of course, we’re all assuming that the balls are really red and blue – you can always video edit colours too, so they may have been white (or any other colour) originally

  11. Problem 1: The weird bouncing

    The right hand side is the exact opposite of the left hand side, played in reverse. You can check this by seeing the hand movements. It’s identical.

    Problem 2: The colour switch

    It’s done digitally. On both sides, the red ball is really blurred, while the blue one is in focus. A bad touch-up job – which to be fair was probably done badly on purpose to make the puzzle possible to solve. I think this effect was probably done before the video was mirrored & reversed because that way he’d only have to colour the ball once.

    Richard: Looking forward to your talk at Skeptics in the Pub, Leicester.

  12. magnetism seems unlikely. If you notice the person’s right hand gestures at the beginning of the trick, it is exactly mirrored by the person’s left hand gestures at the close of the trick. Also, the red ball has a slight bounce at the beginning of the trick that is exactly duplicated at the end of the trick; the blue ball doesn’t bounce. As such, I hypothesize that the trick is due to mirroring the first half of the trick and then playing it backward for the second half of the trick.

  13. Bit of double-sided tape on one half of the cup. The blue ball is already in the cup. There may be a partition inside too. Drop the red ball onto tape, reverse cup. Et voila!

    Or stick some velcro tape in the cup. Use balls made from different materials. Red ball sticks to it, blue doesn’t.

    So many ways to do this….

  14. My theory is also that only the left hand footage was filmed, then flipped and reversed for the right hand footage. As for the color change, if you cover the left hand footage and only watch the right, it is noticeable that assuming the blue ball begins in the cup, there is enough time for the blue ball to be tipped out of the cup as it is placed in front of the red ball, which is knocked backwards off the table with a flick of the thumb.

  15. My theory, black glove on left hand, using and filming right hand only, put cup in front of red ball (obscure it), take ball with disguised left hand, take dropped blue ball ball from under the cup voila and reverse the video for the side of the screen with the other hand, now I will watch the music video and see how wrong I probably got it!

  16. It looks like the film is flipped and then played in reverse. Most likely: only one arm, hand, mug, and ball were actually filmed, then when flipped and played backwards, a red image was superimposed over the blue ball. That would explain why the red ball looks more like a floating projection. There is also a noticeably similar mark on the palm of “each” (the) hand…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: