Enhance your Magic & Mentalism over Video Chat

Tricks, Tools, Essays & Technology

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“As magicians reinvent their performances for remote environments Video Chat Magic is unveiling the most effective ways to succeed in this new medium.”

Luís de Matos

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What is Video Chat Magic?

There is more to magic on video chat than compromised versions of in-person tricks, or magic designed for TV. It is uniquely live, scalable, personal and interactive, all at the same time. No other medium allows the powerful methods and approaches we have discovered, and no other medium’s popularity is growing faster.

Video Chat Magic is a monthly subscription-based collection of over 35 tricks, tools, essays and pieces of technology, exploring this exciting new medium.

The best part is that 100% of your subscription will be donated to charity. Nobody at Video Chat Magic, is making a single penny, so if you love magic, are interested in performing on video chat and want to do some good in the world, join us today.

“Required reading for anyone who wants to do strong magic in this new medium.”

Jon Armstrong

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What Do I Get?

For your donation you will gain access to the entire back catalogue and receive an average of two new pieces each week. They will wing their way to your inbox and be available online. 

You’ll discover tricks, podcasts, interviews, scripts, recommendations, articles, routines, and technology. Examples of things we have already explored include:

  • MagicMask: With this special software you can freeze a section of your screen while you remain live, enabling the cleanest prediction effects ever conceived. (Compatible with MacOS Mojave and Catalina).
  • Connection and Reactions: Explore how to connect with your audience and generate huge reactions and laughter in a medium that makes this harder than ever. Enhance your audience engagement with new perspectives on interactivity and participation
  • Methods and Effects: Discover a whole new range of methodological opportunities only possible in video chat. Perform breathtakingly clean, hard-hitting effects under hitherto impossible conditions.

…With even more added every week!

 “MagicMask alone is worth the price of admission.”

– Piff the Magic Dragon

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Who’s Involved?

Steve Thompson

FOUNDER

Steve Thompson is an avid creator of magic and mentalism. He has designed for large scale theatre productions including Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption and Riverdream’s Magick Macabre. He developed Glance, the magazine test with Vanishing Inc and has a number of new creations coming out soon. His professional work is as a leadership development consultant and as a philanthropy advisor helping individuals and organisations to maximise the impact of their charitable donations.

Will Houstoun

FOUNDER

Will Houstoun has a PhD in magic history as well as a Literary Fellowship from The Academy of Magical Arts in Los Angeles. He is the Magician in Residence at the Royal College of Music/Imperial College London Centre for Performance Science, a Research Associate in Imperial College's Faculty of Medicine, a Member of the Inner Magic Circle and past winner of The European Magic Championships.

Max Maven

CONTRIBUTOR

Orson Welles wrote that Max Maven has “the most original mind in magic.” People magazine hailed his “new form of participatory theater.” The New York Times stated that his “category-defying mind-reading show veers into conceptual art.” Variety praised his “serpent-like humor,” and The Stage found him “delightfully droll.”

Jim Steinmeyer

CONTRIBUTOR

Jim Steinmeyer’s creations have been featured by professional magicians, in Broadway shows and television productions. He’s written extensively on the history of magic in books like Hiding the Elephant and The Glorious Deception; his effects for magicians have been featured in publications like Impuzzibilities and The Conjuring Anthology.

Marc Kerstein

CONTRIBUTOR

Ever since he can remember, Marc Kerstein has had two passions: magic and technology. Since graduating with a BSc in Mathematics from Imperial College London and an MSc in Computer Science from University College London, Marc has combined those loves, creating and developing his own technical magic effects that utilise borrowed phones, tablets and even technology the audience is never aware of. Marc has also worked on projects for David Blaine, Dynamo and Troy, as well as other television and theatre shows.

Richard Wiseman

CONTRIBUTOR

Richard Wiseman is a psychologist, author, Youtuber and magician. He is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, a Member of the Inner Magic Circle, and a Director of the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. His popular psychology books have sold more than 3 million copies world-wide and his illusion-based Youtube channel has attracted over 500 million views.

Luke Jermay

CONTRIBUTOR

Jermay is a magician(K) in both senses of the word; with and without the K. His favourite word is Abracadabra and his favourite thing is searching for and discovering real magic in the world. You can discover more of his theatrical conjuring work at your favourite magic dealer.

DAVID BRITLAND

CONTRIBUTOR

David Britland is a writer and consultant specialising in all areas of deception including psychology, magic, the paranormal, con tricks and illusion. His books include Chan Canasta A Remarkable Man, The Mind & Magic of David Berglas and Phantoms of the Card Table. David has consulted on many television shows including those of Paul Daniels, Max Maven, James Randi, Luis de Matos, Barry & Stuart and Derren Brown. He co-created The Real Hustle television series and was one of the co-founders of The Essential Magic Conference, the world’s first online conference for magic and magicians. He has been awarded both a Creative and Literary Fellowship by the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood and is a regular contributor to Genii.

Tobias Dostal

CONTRIBUTOR

Tobias is a Berlin-based artist, magician and creator. He has released several of his ingenious creations for his fellow magicians to use. His inventions are in demand from the biggest producers of magic apparatus in the world, and his original ideas have been praised by no less than Danny Garcia, Garrett Thomas and Cyril Takayama.

Augusto Corrieri

CONTRIBUTOR

Augusto Corrieri is a Lecturer in Theatre & Performance at the University of Sussex. As well as making and researching experimental theatre, he has been developing magic performances under the pseudonym Vincent Gambini.

Seth Raphael

CONTRIBUTOR

With a Bachelors in Magic and Technology and a Masters in Wonder from MIT, Seth Raphael is doing what he loves, and blowing people's minds. His childhood passion of magic had to compete with his love of computers. At times one threatened to eclipse the other as he alternatively wrote off magic as foolish, and technology as soulless. At last he reconciled his two obsessions, creating a cutting-edge form of entertainment. He studied technology and magic at Hampshire College, and the emotion of Wonder at the MIT Media Lab. Now he travels the world teaching organizations how to achieve things they never thought possible.

Harry De Cruz

CONTRIBUTOR

Harry, alongside his own performing career as “The King of Party Tricks”, has spent the better part of a decade working in the creative consultancy team for Dynamo on his arena tour, products, brand campaigns and most recently as the Lead Consultant on his latest series Beyond Belief.

Noel Qualter

CONTRIBUTOR

Noel is a professional magician, Member of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star, magic consultant, writer and creator. Noel is the only three-time winner of The Magic Circle Originality Award (2014-2016), Cecil Lyle Award winner in 2018, performer at The Magic Castle and has released several smash hit products to the magic community.

Gareth White

CONTRIBUTOR

'Magic Gareth is a children’s and family entertainer from Edinburgh who is currently specialising on the virtual birthday shows for kids all around the world. He recently wrote a book on the subject called ‘On Stage, Online: A Handbook on the Virtual Magic Show for Family Entertainers.’

Larry Fong ASC

CONTRIBUTOR

LARRY FONG, ASC shot ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and recently completed principal photography on ‘The Tomorrow War’ starring Chris Pratt and JK Simmons. Previously he collaborated with director Zack Snyder on ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘300’, and ‘Watchmen’.

Fong was the director of photography on J.J. Abrams’ ‘Super 8’ as well as the TV series “Lost,” also directed by Abrams.
His camerawork has garnered numerous advertising industry accolades, including the Golden Lion, the Clio and the Belding. He has a degree in Linguistics from UCLA as well as a degree in Film from Art Center College of Design.

Adrian Lacroix

CONTRIBUTOR

Adrian Lacroix is an illusionist and inventor from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He mostly works at private events and in his theatre shows. Last year he did an intimate performance for the President and his family. Since lockdown began he has invented and marketed three best-selling routines for magicians to use on video chat, one of which was featured by Luis De Matos and also by Penn and Teller on national television.

Pete McCabe

CONTRIBUTOR

Pete McCabe by same.
Professionally, for the last 38 or so years I have been a computer programmer, a writer/scriptwriter, and a teacher. Not to mention a Domino's delivery driver—I still hold the box-folding record at the Pacific Beach branch. I'm currently an English teacher, the best job in the world for a family man.
Other than that I'm a classic amateur magician. I love magic and I spend a lot of time on it. I write about it, because I'm a writer, and I create tricks, because I used to be a computer programmer (programming and trick creating are very similar), and I write scripts for tricks for myself and others, because I think it's the best way to make great magic.
I wrote Scripting Magic and Scripting Magic 2 and now Scripting Magic 2.1. That’s pretty much it.

Name

Who’s Involved?

Steve Thompson

FOUNDER

Steve Thompson is an avid creator of magic and mentalism. He has designed for large scale theatre productions including Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption and Riverdream’s Magick Macabre. He developed Glance, the magazine test with Vanishing Inc and has a number of new creations coming out soon. His professional work is as a leadership development consultant and as a philanthropy advisor helping individuals and organisations to maximise the impact of their charitable donations.

Will Houstoun

FOUNDER

Will Houstoun has a PhD in magic history as well as a Literary Fellowship from The Academy of Magical Arts in Los Angeles. He is the Magician in Residence at the Royal College of Music/Imperial College London Centre for Performance Science, a Research Associate in Imperial College's Faculty of Medicine, a Member of the Inner Magic Circle and past winner of The European Magic Championships.

Max Maven

CONTRIBUTOR

Orson Welles wrote that Max Maven has “the most original mind in magic.” People magazine hailed his “new form of participatory theater.” The New York Times stated that his “category-defying mind-reading show veers into conceptual art.” Variety praised his “serpent-like humor,” and The Stage found him “delightfully droll.”

Jim Steinmeyer

CONTRIBUTOR

Jim Steinmeyer’s creations have been featured by professional magicians, in Broadway shows and television productions. He’s written extensively on the history of magic in books like Hiding the Elephant and The Glorious Deception; his effects for magicians have been featured in publications like Impuzzibilities and The Conjuring Anthology.

Marc Kerstein

CONTRIBUTOR

Ever since he can remember, Marc Kerstein has had two passions: magic and technology. Since graduating with a BSc in Mathematics from Imperial College London and an MSc in Computer Science from University College London, Marc has combined those loves, creating and developing his own technical magic effects that utilise borrowed phones, tablets and even technology the audience is never aware of. Marc has also worked on projects for David Blaine, Dynamo and Troy, as well as other television and theatre shows.

Richard Wiseman

CONTRIBUTOR

Richard Wiseman is a psychologist, author, Youtuber and magician. He is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, a Member of the Inner Magic Circle, and a Director of the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. His popular psychology books have sold more than 3 million copies world-wide and his illusion-based Youtube channel has attracted over 500 million views.

Tobias Dostal

CONTRIBUTOR

Tobias is a Berlin-based artist, magician and creator. He has released several of his ingenious creations for his fellow magicians to use. His inventions are in demand from the biggest producers of magic apparatus in the world, and his original ideas have been praised by no less than Danny Garcia, Garrett Thomas and Cyril Takayama.

Name

Who’s Involved?

Tobias Dostal

CONTRIBUTOR

Tobias is a Berlin-based artist, magician and creator. He has released several of his ingenious creations for his fellow magicians to use. His inventions are in demand from the biggest producers of magic apparatus in the world, and his original ideas have been praised by no less than Danny Garcia, Garrett Thomas and Cyril Takayama.

Jim Steinmeyer

CONTRIBUTOR

Jim Steinmeyer’s creations have been featured by professional magicians, in Broadway shows and television productions. He’s written extensively on the history of magic in books like Hiding the Elephant and The Glorious Deception; his effects for magicians have been featured in publications like Impuzzibilities and The Conjuring Anthology.

Max Maven

CONTRIBUTOR

Orson Welles wrote that Max Maven has “the most original mind in magic.” People magazine hailed his “new form of participatory theater.” The New York Times stated that his “category-defying mind-reading show veers into conceptual art.” Variety praised his “serpent-like humor,” and The Stage found him “delightfully droll.”

Name

 “The best way to donate money to the best cause with the best benefits.”

– Ondřej Pšenička

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$32.99 per month: Cancel anytime.

FAQs

Pricing? (Donation)

Video Chat Magic currently costs $32.99 per month (Cancel Anytime). The price will increase for new subscribers in later months.

We’re confident that this is great value for money. Marc and Seth’s MagicMask, for example, is worth far more than the price of admission on its own. And remember… all the money is going to charity.

Why is magic over video chat important?

Perhaps the first thing anyone who tries to do magic on video chat does is to look at their in-person repertoire and see which tricks might still work via video chat. “My ambitious card will still work if I sign it rather than get them to.” “Sponge balls can be super visual.” “Invisible deck is always surefire, I can involve everyone in the selection.”

Unfortunately, there is a big problem with this approach.

If we select our material for video chat performances by trying to minimise the compromises to our existing repertoire, the one thing we are guaranteed is compromised material. The very best case with this approach is that our video chat performances are a weaker substitute for our in-person ones. A much more productive approach is to think of video chat as an entirely new performance space.

A great close-up trick won’t work as well on stage. Just as a great stage trick won’t work as well on TV. And a great trick for close-up, stage or TV won’t work as well on video chat. As with every other type of performance space, the best way to develop magic for video chat is to think about the space’s unique advantages, disadvantages, and opportunities. Only when we do this, will we create the best version of what entertaining magic over video chat can be.

Inside, we explore how to develop as a performer in the medium of video chat, and how to accelerate that development. 

Where is the money donated?

We (Will and Steve) are both very interested in charity. We have both directed a proportion of our careers towards efforts to help others. In these particularly challenging times, we feel there is an opportunity to contribute, in some small way, to helping those less fortunate than ourselves. We also want to introduce the magic world to Effective Altruism.

What is Effective Altruism?

If Physics as a field of study asks, how can we better understand the universe and Architecture asks, how can we build better buildings, then Effective Altruism asks how can we do the most good? In particular, Effective Altruism applies reason and evidence to search out and build the most potent ways to improve the world. It suggests that answering this question is less a theoretical debate and more a practical and empirical question of evidence. Donors can increase their impact by researching which donation option helps the greatest number of the most needy to the greatest degree with the highest level of confidence.

The opposite of this approach would be to seek out a charity that seeks to help fewer people, who are better off and to help them in a less significant way. Think of the difference in impact between donating €30,000 to cure the blindness of hundreds of people in Africa, versus €30,000 to supply one seeing-impaired person in Dublin with a guide dog. Obviously, we would prefer to help everyone, but as we only ever have limited resources, it will increase our impact if we invest the funds with proportionality in mind.

Over the past decade, 100,000 hours of professional research has been conducted to identify the very best giving opportunities, globally. The current conclusions of this research effort point to a very small number of extremely effective interventions.

Perhaps the most obvious and important finding has been that not all efforts to help are equal. In poorer countries, where money goes a lot further, it is very clear that we can have a far greater effect with a given donation. It is very likely that the disease burden of Covid-19 is not going to be evenly distributed and that donations to help in poorer countries will have a vastly larger impact on greater numbers of people.

From my understanding, the organisation that the evidence suggests will do the most good with the income from Video Chat Magic is GiveWell. They are at the core of the Effective Altruism movement and we really hope that you check out the exceptional standards of their work here and learn more about Effective Altruism here. And you can read a couple of short articles I’ve written here.

If you are interested in learning more about Effective Altruism, please get in touch via VideoChatMagic@gmail.com

What do I get for my donation?

Well first of all you get to feel good that you are helping some of the people who most need our help. Second, for your donation you will receive an average of two new tricks, tools or essays each week. They will wing their way to your inbox as well as being available online, and you will also gain full access to our entire back catalogue. Inside you will find

Jackpot M&Ms: a devious update of The Trick that Fooled Einstein from David Britland, with a chance for some astonishing kickers.

MagicMask: If Q from James Bond were a magician he would use Marc Kerstein and Seth Raphael’s devious techie tool to execute perfect predictions and invisible switches.

Zoom Switch: Harry De Cruz’s sneaky utility move that allows you to seamlessly switch pay envelops, cards and billets.

Wishing and Making It So… Online: A clever version of Jim Steinmeyer’s trick that takes advantage of the fact that your computer can give you the world’s best memory and the ability to solve complex problems, in milli-seconds.

Plus much more every week…

How do subscriptions work?

There are two possible subscription options.

If you opt for monthly, then subscriptions will be taken monthly on the date you join and the same date each month thereafter. We envision the project lasting until the end of October 2020, with an average of two posts each week. At the end of that period, existing subscribers will maintain access to the site so they can copy any material they want to keep. If you want to stop supporting us you can cancel your subscription at any time. The monthly subscription will increase as we draw to the end of the project and our back catalogue increases.

If you opt for the annual subscription you will gain access for the duration of the programme. Our intention is to reduce the annual charge as we get closer to the projects end.

Why is Video Chat Magic a website and not a book?

Video Chat Magic is an evolving project, in a rapidly developing field, and we feel a website is the best way to reflect this. As well as fully formed routines we will also share tools, ideas and approaches, and we hope that you will share ideas with us too, as the project develops.

Why didn't you come up with a better name than Video Chat Magic?

We originally thought about Lockdown Legerdemain, Corona Conjuring and Pandemic Prestidigitation, as well as other names it turned out other people were already using. Then we realised that we were better off spending time thinking about content for the site rather than punny names.

“Please support the project, access some great magic and help make the world, a better place.” 

– Will Houstoun and Steve Thompson

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$32.99 per month: Cancel anytime.