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Seven Basic Secrets of Illusion Design by Eric van Duzer - Book
Target: Illusionist, builders, and those interested in illusions
Author: Eric Van Duzer
Let me start by making it clear I am not an illusionist and due to my general clumsiness and girth don't believe I ever will be one. What I had was a magicians curiosity about illusions, stage illusions as performed by Copperfield, Burton, Keller, Dante, etc., that I think is common to many magicians. While I knew illusionist I wasn't going to ask them about how something is done because, well, I have very little 'cool' to cling too and they wouldn't have told me anyway.
I didn't know how to get information on illusions and so I spent many years just admiring their presentation and nodding with false understanding when someone brought up 'Super X' or 'Asrah' and really not having a clue. I was content to remain a lying scumbag about my illusion knowledge and then I saw this title: The Seven Basic Secrets of Illusion Design written by a university instructor named Eric Van Duzer. I got hold of it and read it cover to cover, here are my thoughts.
First it should be known that the book does not contain specific illusion designs, those are readily available from the same site this book is found as well as other sites and magic shops.
What this is basically a text book on the art of illusion from why it works, how it works, how to design it, and how to make it once you have it designed. It contains the explanations for over 90 illusions broken down into seven basic 'types' of illusion by main contributor to the illusions effect. Let me be clearer, it has sections on illusions using mirrors, trap doors, bases, false frames, black art, etc. Amazing stuff, absolutely amazing. And though a text book on illusion it is written in a reader friendly manner and was a pleasure to go through.
The book goes into every aspect of the illusions. First you get the explanation of what the illusion is followed by the reason it works, from angles to paint to you name it. Did you know some illusions rely upon a thin strip of paint in the right spot? I do now. Eric then gives you information needed to base your measurements when designing your own unit based on the size of your assistant or yourself. He gives historical origins of the illusions up to the modern applications. Zig Zag? In there...Flying? In there...Levitations? In there....Making a ghost appear? In there... I can't see how this book could have been anymore complete.
Eric provides the movements of magician and assistant and explains the timing required to make the illusion complete. He gives you everything you need to decide what you want to do and enough for the creative guy to design his own illusion and know what angles the boards or mirrors need to be...he takes out the guess work. For experienced illusion builders I would think they would want this on their work bench just to double check items with or get ideas from.
Also in the book are 'builder tips' and information on different materials used to build with. Invaluable information. After being amazed at some of the ways illusions are done I was equally amazed at the mathmatics involved with them and the use of color and shadow, bright striping for one and a flat black required by another. I don't want to get too detailed because of the secrecy involved (yes, I am now a guy hip to illusions, I do know what Super X is...hint, no X) but if I could this review would go on an on.
So we have established that this book is well written and very complete and a great value to guys like me interested in the art and for those already involved with it. The last question was could I use what was in the book to make simple illusions, models like is suggested, before building a full size version. I got hold of my brother in law who use to make models for court cases and he helped me with measuring and tools etc..
I made three basic illusions using different conciepts using a Barbie Doll as my assistant and it worked! I mean, as well as could be expected by a guy like me who knew nothing but I was very pleased. I know that Eric got advice by builders and illusion designers on the book and he took care to insure its accuracy and completeness. Is there anything I could find fault with? If anything I would say the illustrations could have been larger but they are large enough. This isn't a comic book it is an educational book and it does the job.
For those interested, I highly recommend it.
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