Anybody who creates art through a camera lens learns about framing the shot. Visual composition makes or breaks a photograph. Magicians, too, need to be thinking about framing the visuals of their live performance, whether on camera or not.

As magicians are learning the ropes of how to perform “virtual shows” through a computer screen, we are scrambling to re-format our magic to fit the screen. I believe this creative exercise will be beneficial for all our performances moving forward, even when we’re back to a live theatre setting.

Photo by James Carey Lauder

Magic which happens inside this frame is connected to our face, and our face is connected to our emotions.

Simply keeping your props up above your elbows makes your magic more visible, more impactful, more personal.

We’ve all seen the magic videos of a headless torso, holding a packet of cards over their crotch. It’s not a compelling performance. It says the cards are more important that the magician.

Working everything elbows-up makes every moment a “Kodak moment”. It’s not a coincidence that professional entertainers can get really good live photographs from a show. A good show is rehearsed to be more photogenic, to the benefit of the camera and the live audience.

When it comes to framing your magic for the camera, experiment!

  • Place your camera high up (above your eye level), pointing slightly down. This lets you take a step back for a waist-up wide shot, or a step forward to suddenly make a personal, close-up connection.
  • If you have an adjustable height table, try making it awkwardly tall so it fits nicer into the frame. It feels awkward to you, but it looks natural on camera.
  • I’ve been using spring-clips and strings hanging from the ceiling to keep important props visible on screen.

When we return to live shows once again, move forward with your new skills for framing your magic and make a stronger connection with your audiences.

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