A few days ago I put out this new Quirkology video. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look.
Hope you enjoyed that. At the moment it has had about 1.2 million views. Caroline Watt and I worked together on the piece, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the thinking behind it. So here we go…..
The initial shot
The first scene is designed to convince people that the painting is on the wall. However, as is often the case in magic, if I explicitly said something to that effect, everyone would get suspicious. Instead, it is simply implied. I stand in front of the painting and cover just the edge of it with my shoulder. I then throw the tube up to catch your attention. In doing so, the image of me in front of the painting (therefore showing that the painting is large and on the wall) make its way into peoples’ minds.
This was a really tricky shot because the painting is obviously key to the illusion, but I have to make it look completely incidental to the scene. This was achieved by creating a busy looking scene, containing patterned wallpaper, goats’ heads, a fireplace, etc.. Also, I need to justify the left hand edge of the painting being cut off. This was achieved by making the entire shot look haphazard, including having a chair in shot and the whole thing being filmed on a jaunty angle.
My first thought was to produce a banana because they always feel unexpected and funny. However, when I did a test shot the banana looked as though it could be made from sponge. I tried unpeeling it straight after it had been produced, but that took a few seconds and distracted from the ‘wow’ moment. In contrast the glass bottle immediately looks solid and so produced much more of an immediate impact.
I went around lots of shops and eventually found a mini-wine bottle that was 8 inches long. Alas, the wine went right up under the seal and was very dark red, and so it didn’t look good on camera. I poured away (kinda) most of the wine and diluted what was left. The lightly coloured liquid can be seen in the neck of the bottle the moment it emerges from the tube, and you don’t get that ‘hold on, is that real?’ moment that might otherwise distract from the production.
My original thought was to use a long box, but an hour of quality time with a Jaffa Cake box revealed that the heavy bottle often rolled around in the box and made it really difficult to handle. The tube was a much better because the bottle was naturally drawn to the bottom of it.
My original idea was to have the painting and frame be fake, but holding the tube against the frame looked really weird. After a bit of playing around I had the idea of just replacing the inner part of the painting, and I think that is far more deceptive. However, holding the tube against the fake painting whilst the bottle is loaded is REALLY difficult, and in take after take I knocked the painting. In the end I misdirected people to the opposite end by producing the red ball.
This was tricky because it soon becomes obvious what’s going on and we worried that people would quickly turn off. To help keep people watching we introduced a miserable looking bear (played by the ever talented @CammehYaBams), who also gives an exaggerated expression to cover the dead time when I turn my back.
So there we have it. It took about 2 weeks to refine the idea, about 6 hours to film, and about 40 takes. Oh, and of course, at the most basic level, it works because the camera doesn’t have a stereoscopic view.
Hope you enjoyed finding out what went into it.