David Blaine
Street Magician

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here was an excellent show on several times on the Discovery Channel (I think) about David Blaine and his "levitation" trick. In this trick, he appears to levitate about one foot off the ground in front of a small crowd of people on the sidewalk. He does so with his back facing them and clearly puts them into a position he wants them to be in.

There has been some comments on the Internet about how this was done. The conclusion that I have seen most is that it is a combination of the Balducci Levitation and post-production camera edits.

The Balducci Levitation is done by positioning the viewer so that he cannot see the performer's other foot which is used to lift the body while keeping one foot level. If you do it right it looks like you are levitating about 2 inches off the ground when in fact you have just shifted your weight to the other foot which is lifting you up.

If this "levitation" is done masterfully it will elicit something on the order of, "Yeah, that's pretty cool. I used to do that in kindergarten." Whereas in the video special we see people actually running away in something of an amazed shock. The Balducci Levitation cannot get that big of a reaction even among Aborigines.

The actual levitation is what was seen on TV

There was no need to edit. It was simply a great wire suspension act. Today's wires are incredibly thin and invisible if viewed in the right light. The overhead rig pulling up the wire must be camouflaged with mirrors much the same a a "disappearing elephant" trick.

The dead giveaway of a wire act is "pendulation". This is when the "floater" starts to swing a little. No matter how deft the magician is, it is impossible to stop this from happening. The human eye picks up on this very fast so the trick has a time limit of only a few seconds. From the slight pendulation on the video, I'd say the rig was about 20 - 40 feet up above. There is also a limit on how high he could go in broad daylight. Remember, he wants to use the lightest test string possible to prevent it from being seen so it is near its breaking limit. How high are you willing to fall unexpectedly? Maybe a foot? At two feet we have to start thinking about possible back injuries. In a night club where the lights are low you can use heavier test so the floater can soar to much greater heights.

This is what the sidewalk observers are impressed enough by to be literally "taken aback".

The part that still puzzles me is how he attached the wire. Was it prepared on him all the while or did he somehow attach it when he chose to do the trick?

At any rate, it was a very interesting special. He also put his hand on the street and rotated it about 700 degrees without picking it up. Something which is possible only if you are tremendously limber in the arm ... and ... you've already got your arm turned 360 degrees around when the observers think you're just "straight". Then, you turn it around once to straighten it while the audience thinks you're now turned 360. Then, you turn it around 360 again and your audience thinks you've turned it over 700 degrees which is as impossible as turning your head around 360 degrees. Hah! A good impressive trick.

But the best thing I saw was him making a card on top of a deck, jump about 6 inches to his other hand with about one rotation (roll). If this was done manually, (and I'm not sure that it was) it would be the most impressive feat of dexterity I have ever seen.



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