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Illusion magic is a performing art that has existed throughout the ages. In what follows we will refer to this art as magic. One should be careful, however, not to confuse illusion magic with acts of sorcery, which are also referred to as magic. These acts of sorcery involve an attempt to control the natural world through supernatural or paranormal means. Illusion magic, on the other hand, involves the creation of illusions that seem supernatural or impossible, but in fact are achieved by natural means. Moreover, these tricks are meant to entertain the audience. Although modern illusion magic as we know it may be traced to around the 18 th century, its origins can be found in the ancient past.
Tracing the Origins of Illusory Magic
Etymologically speaking, the word “magic” comes from the Old Persian magush. Subsequently, this word was adopted in Greek and Latin. Later still, the word entered Old French, and from thence, English, where it replaced the Old English wiccecræft (meaning “witchcraft”). Examples of the practice of magic, however, may have predated Old Persian.
A wall painting from an ancient Egyptian tomb may contain the oldest depiction of magic. This tomb is located in the necropolis of Beni Hassan, and belongs to Baqet III, a monarch who lived during the 11 th Dynasty (21 st century BC). One of the scenes represented in this wall painting depicts two kneeling men with four inverted bowls between them. Some have interpreted this as the first “cups and balls” routine, a classic magic sleight of hand trick. Others, however, speculate that this may actually be some other type of game that was played by the ancient Egyptians .
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Although it cannot be said with absolute certainty that the scene from the wall painting of Baqet’s tomb depicts the “cups and balls” routine, we can be sure that it was performed by the Romans. This magic trick is referred to by Seneca the Younger in his Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (“Moral Letters to Lucillius”), which dates to around the 65 AD. In his 45 th epistle, Seneca wrote as follows:
“Such quibbles are just as harmlessly deceptive as the juggler's cup and dice, in which it is the very trickery that pleases me. But show me how the trick is done, and I have lost my interest therein.”
The cups and balls routine is recognized as one of oldest illusionary magic tricks in history. Here it can be seen in one of the colored drawings in the Tübingen house book. ( Tübingen University )
The Oldest Magic Trick: The Cups and Balls Routine
Whether it began in ancient Egypt or ancient Rome, the cups and balls routine is arguably the oldest magic trick that has survived till this day, and one that has remained immensely popular. As its name suggests, the trick involves cups and balls. At its most basic, a ball is placed under one of three cups. The magician would then make the ball jump from the original cup to another, or make the ball multiply. In reality, unbeknownst to the audience, the magician has an additional ball on hand. By skilled manipulation, the magician would put the extra ball under one of the cups, whilst removing the original ball as secretly as possible from the original cup.
In spite of its name, the cups and balls has often been substituted with other objects. For example, the trick became known as il gioco dei bussolotti , which translates to mean “the game of the dice shakers.” This is due to the fact that the Italian magicians who performed this trick used cylindrical boxwood dice shakers instead of cups. Incidentally, this trick was performed in many parts of the ancient world, including the Middle East and various parts of Asia.
Another interesting fact about the European history of this trick is that magicians would carry the tools of their trade in a bag with strings that was tied around their waist. This was not only a practical way to carry the cups and balls around, but also a convenient place to hide and retrieve the balls. A depiction of this magic trick being performed in Medieval Europe is found in The Conjurer , an early 16 th century oil painting by Hieronymus Bosch.
Apart from Bosch’s painting of the cups and balls routine, we do not actually have much information about the performance of magic tricks in medieval Europe. Moreover, magic was not viewed as simple entertainment. Bosch’s The Conjurer , for instance, may be interpreted as a warning against the deception of magicians, as it is clear in the work that whilst one of the audience members is absorbed in the magician’s trick, another is opportunistically (or more likely in league with the magician) relieving him of his money purse.
Oil on wood painting by the Early Neatherlandish painter Hieronmymus Bosch dating back to about 1502.
Reginald Scot: Exposing the Tricks of Illusory Magic and Sorcery
A more serious issue, however, was the grouping of these tricks together with acts of sorcery. In 1584, The Discoverie of Witchcraft was published by Reginald Scot, an Englishman. Scot’s book exposed many of the tricks performed by magicians, who are portrayed as charlatans. Therefore, the book is considered to be the first published work on magic.
Scot also argued that since these magicians were merely performing simple tricks, they do not deserve to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. This excessively harsh punishment indicates that the authorities of the time (Scot points his finger at the Roman Catholic Church) were conflating magic tricks with acts of sorcery, thereby resulting in the persecution of magicians as witches.
In spite of its good intentions, Scot’s book did not really change attitudes towards magicians. Moreover, his work was attacked by his fellow scholars in England. Finally, when James VI of Scotland became King of England and Ireland (as James I) in 1603, Scot’s book was ordered burned. Consequently, copies of the first edition of this book are very rare. In spite of the resistance towards Scot’s ideas, magic gradually became more acceptable as a form of entertainment. At fairs, for instance, itinerant magicians would entertain the public with their magic tricks.
Reproduction of a page of the 1584 edition of The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, which explained the tricks and illusory magic performed by magicians of his era.
Isaac Fawkes: Magic, Illusion and the Emergence of the Superstar
Over time, magic not only gained acceptability, but also respectability. In addition to appearing before the public, magicians were also performing for wealthy private patrons. Some magicians even became superstars. One of these magicians of this period who achieved celebrity status was Isaac Fawkes, an English magician who lived between the 17 th and 18 th centuries.
Fawkes is known to have performed at the Bartholomew Fair from at least 1720 until 1731. The fair, which was held annually between 1133 to 1855, was a major event in London attracting visitors from the ranks of both the rich and poor alike. Apart from performing at such public events, Fawkes also boasted that he had performed his magic tricks for the king, George II.
Fawkes became a wealthy man thanks to his work as a magician. At the time of his death in 1732, he is reported to have amassed a fortune of over ten thousand pounds, equivalent to at least a million dollars today. An icon in the history of magic and illusion, he has been remembered as a sleight of hand artist.
English magician Isaac Fawkes performed at the Bartholomew Fair from at least 1720 until 1731. His sleight of hand tricks were a major attraction for both the rich and the poor.
The Father of Modern Magic: Robert-Houdin and International Relations
Modern magic, however, only began in the 19 th century. A pivotal figure during this period is Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, a Frenchman who is widely considered to be the “Father of Modern Magic.” Robert-Houdin was born in 1805 in the French city of Blois. His father, Prosper Robert, was a watchmaker, and when Robert-Houdin grew up, he followed in his father’s footsteps. Although Robert-Houdin trained as a watchmaker, he was also interested in magic. Therefore, he honed his skills as a magician, and performed magic tricks as well.
Robert-Houdin differed from earlier magicians in a number of ways. Some of these differences were adopted by magicians who came after him. For instance, instead of dressing up in wizard-like costumes, Robert-Houdin chose to perform his magic tricks in an evening suit. This was perhaps meant to dispel the mystical or supernatural aura that normally surrounded the magician. Apart from that, Robert-Houdin also exposed magicians who used the supernatural as an explanation for their magic tricks, dubbing them as fakes.
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin is considered the father of modern magic.
This aspect of Robert-Houdin’s magic was put to good use by the French government during the middle of the 19 thcentury. In 1830, Algeria had been captured by the French. The colonization of the country, however, took decades to complete, and there were numerous uprisings against the colonisers. One group of people who were trying to stir up rebellion were the Marabouts, Muslim holy men who used magic tricks to convince the people of their supernatural powers before inciting them to rebel against the French. This was a problem for the French colonial authorities, and they came up with an ingenious way to counter the influence of the Marabouts.
The French decided to fight magic with magic, so to speak, and Robert-Houdin was just the magician for the job. In 1856, Robert-Houdin was sent to Algeria on a mission to convince the Algerians that French “magic” was more powerful than that possessed by the Marabouts. With this objective in mind, Robert-Houdin began giving regular performances in Algeria.
Amongst the tricks performed by Robert-Houdin were pulling things out from a hat, getting a volunteer to lift an “enchanted” wooden chest, and making a volunteer disappear. Thus, the Algerians were convinced that Robert-Houdin had supernatural powers. Robert-Houdin’s most important performance in Algeria, however, took place on the 28 th of October, during which he performed his magic tricks for 60 tribal chieftains.
Robert-Houdin’s performance for the chieftains was a success. Nevertheless, he was a decent man, and explained his tricks to the chieftains via an interpreter after the performance. He told them that he used theatre and science, and not the supernatural, to perform his tricks, just like the Marabouts. In addition to explaining how his tricks worked, this also dispelled the supernatural aura that the Marabouts had built around themselves. Consequently, three days after the performance, 30 of the most powerful chieftains pledged their support for France, and presented Robert-Houdin with a scroll praising his magical prowess.
In Victorian England, the Royal Polytechnic Institution was the site for Pepper’s Ghost, a famous illusion created by John Henry Pepper.
Victorian England and Illusory Magic Technology
Whilst Robert-Houdin was achieving fame as a magician in France, his counterparts across the Channel were also attaining success in their work. In Victorian England , magic performances became immensely popular thanks to a combination of mechanical contraptions, ingenuity, and an insatiable curiosity for the strange and unknown.
Between 1873 and 1905, two particular venues in London became associated with magic performances – the Egyptian Hall and the Royal Polytechnic Institution. The Egyptian Hall became famous as the home of magic, thanks to two renowned magicians who performed there, George Alfred Cooke and John Neville Maskelyne. Other magicians, including the up and coming ones, performed at the Egyptian Hall. Interestingly, in 1898, Harry Houdini, who had yet to establish himself at the time, was refused a place on the bill at the Egyptian Hall.
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As for the Royal Polytechnic Institution, it was established in 1838, and its aim was to educate the public in matters of science. Thus, the institution gradually developed into a place where science and magic met, and it came to showcase the latest mechanical and scientific innovations. During the directorship of John Henry Pepper, the Royal Polytechnic Institute became renowned specifically for its magic lantern shows.
Pepper’s most famous illusion, Pepper’s Ghost, makes use of techniques from these shows. Basically, a person (the so-called ghost) is stationed below the stage, out of the audience’s sight. Light is then shone on this person, whose image is reflected on a glass pane between the magician and the audience. From the audience’s perspective, it looks as though there is a ghost on the stage with the magician.
James Randi is just one in a long line of modern magicians who have amazed and entertained audiences with their illusions and magic tricks. (Open Media Ltd / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Modern Illusory Magic: Magic and Illusion in the 21 st Century
During the 20 th century, the arrival of the television meant that magic could reach an even wider audience. Indeed, this form of entertainment transited easily from the theatre to the television, and thrived in this new medium. Additionally, it seems that as time went by, the educational aspect of magic became less important, and was overshadowed by its entertainment value. Thus, new and more elaborate tricks were devised to entertain audiences. Nevertheless, some modern magicians, such as James Randi, and Penn and Teller, have continued the tradition of educating their audiences by using their knowledge of magic to debunk charlatans.
Magic has been around for about 2000 years, and perhaps even longer. It has entertained many throughout the ages, and will continue to do so in the future. As the 19 th and 20 th centuries have shown, magicians made use of new technology to enhance their performances. Therefore, it would not be surprising if magicians continue to adopt and adapt the latest innovations to their performances, thereby entertaining their audiences with newfound magic tricks and illusions, and becoming part of the history of magic and illusion.
Within visual perception, an optical illusion (also called a visual illusion  ) is an illusion caused by the visual system and characterized by a visual percept that arguably appears to differ from reality. Illusions come in a wide variety their categorization is difficult because the underlying cause is often not clear  but a classification   proposed by Richard Gregory is useful as an orientation. According to that, there are three main classes: physical, physiological, and cognitive illusions, and in each class there are four kinds: Ambiguities, distortions, paradoxes, and fictions.  A classical example for a physical distortion would be the apparent bending of a stick half immerged in water an example for a physiological paradox is the motion aftereffect (where, despite movement, position remains unchanged).  An example for a physiological fiction is an afterimage.  Three typical cognitive distortions are the Ponzo, Poggendorff, and Müller-Lyer illusion.  Physical illusions are caused by the physical environment, e.g. by the optical properties of water.  Physiological illusions arise in the eye or the visual pathway, e.g. from the effects of excessive stimulation of a specific receptor type.  Cognitive visual illusions are the result of unconscious inferences and are perhaps those most widely known. 
Pathological visual illusions arise from pathological changes in the physiological visual perception mechanisms causing the aforementioned types of illusions they are discussed e.g. under visual hallucinations.
Optical illusions, as well as multi-sensory illusions involving visual perception, can also be used in the monitoring and rehabilitation of some psychological disorders, including phantom limb syndrome  and schizophrenia. 
Key Facts & Information
- Optical illusions date all the way back to ancient Greece. The Greeks used optical illusions in their architecture and art.
- Its earliest applications was found in Greek rooftops. On temples, roofs were built with a slant, and observers perceived that the rooftops were curved.
- One of the oldest known illusions related to touch was described by Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago. If you cross two adjacent fingers and then touch an object such as a pen, with both crossed finger tips at the same time it will feel as though you are touching two pens, not one.
- In 5 B.C., a Greek philosopher named Epicharmus explained the concept of optical illusions. According to him, our brains weren’t at fault, as they could perceive an image clearly. Instead, our senses betray us when viewing optical illusions. “The mind sees and the mind hears,” he said. “The rest is blind and deaf.”
- However, Greek philosopher Protagoras refuted the theory. He concluded that optical illusions were dependant on the environment in which they were viewed rather than our physical senses.
- Plato then added that our minds and our eyes work together to establish the world, including optical illusions, which is a widely accepted belief today.
- The fascination continued thousands of years later, as 19th century researchers Johannes Mueller and J.J. Oppel expanded their research on optical illusion.
- With the help of Franz Carl Muller-Lyer, a German sociologist, they produced the illustrated Muller-Lyer illusion, helping the public process and understand optical illusions.
- Another German physicist by the name of Hermann von Helmholtz also concluded a theory similar to Protagoras. He introduced the concept of a cognitive illusion.
- The famous cartoon made by W.E. Hill in 1915 is a famous example of an optical illusion. In this image, an old and young woman were merged together. It is our perception that leads to what we see in the picture. Watching the sketch reveals that different images are skilfully merged together.
- By the 1960s, a growing interest among abstract painters in ‘Op Art’ produced various impressions of hidden images, vibrations, flashing, and other patterns. Artists like Bridget Riley and Vasarely popularized this style of painting.
HUMANS AND OPTICAL ILLUSIONS
- An optical illusion is a way of tricking the brain into seeing something that may not be there.
- The human brain puts images together because it has learned to expect certain things. Sometimes, the data gets confused.
- Many people enjoy looking at illusions. They seem to love being fooled in this way. Magicians use illusions all the time. In fact, magicians are sometimes referred to as illusionists.
- Some experiments that are being done show that some mammals and birds are fooled by illusions in much the same way as people are.
- Another illusion is the silverware and tablecloth at dinner. When you touch both, the silverware appears to be colder than the cloth.
- The fact is, however, they are both at room temperature. This is because metal conducts heat away from your finger more rapidly than cloth does.
- Some illusions can actually be dangerous. Our sense of equilibrium or balance is located in the inner ear, but it works closely with our visual world.
- When the pilot of an aircraft is flying at night or in a cloud and has no visual reference points, it is possible for the pilot to become disoriented. He or she cannot tell whether the plane is gaining or losing altitude or turning left or right.
- This is called vertigo. It is an illusion, and pilots are trained to never rely on their sense of position but to respond entirely to the plane’s instruments.
- When we go to the movies, we are actually experiencing an illusion. Nothing is really moving as we experience the film except a series of still photographs on a reel of film. Each is exposed for only a very short time, and our eyes and brain do not see the separate still shots. Our brains see the figures on the screen moving.
- Another illusion we experience at the movies involves the sound. When we look at the characters on the screen, it appears the sound is actually coming out of their mouths. The reality is that the sound is coming out of speakers throughout the auditorium we are sitting in.
- A computer monitor is also an optical illusion. The screen is made up of tiny red, green, and blue dots. The illusion is that you see more than just red, green, and blue dots. You see thousands of different colors. Our brains put the red, green, and blue dots together to make the colors.
Optical illusions Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the optical illusions across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Optical illusions worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the optical illusions, more appropriately known as visual illusions, which involves visual deception. Due to the arrangement of images, the effect of colors, the impact of light source or other variables, a wide range of misleading visual effects can be seen.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Optical Illusions Facts
- The Classics
- Find the Ambiguity
- What Do You See?
- What Is Different?
- Find Me!
- Persistence of Vision
- An Afterimage
- Line Illusions
- Word Illusions
- Illusions Around Us
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.
Optical printers gained ground through the 1920s, performing such mundane duties as copying original negatives, as well as resizing them from 35mm to 16mm, and vice versa. These early printers often used daylight to expose the film, and their output was generally destined for the educational or non-theatrical market. At the same time, enthusiastic inventors continued to explore the creative possibilities of the technology for the rapidly-expanding theatrical motion picture industry.
In 1927, A. B. Hitchins of Duplex Motion Picture Industries Inc. presented his latest optical printer to the Society of Motion Picture Engineers. As well as enlarging, reducing, and handling routine optical effects such as lap dissolves and wipes, the Duplex optical printer also boasted a special effects attachment comprising a matte box, multiple exposure device, circular and rectangular vignette, curtain shutter, and blade cut-out.
“The Duplex optical and reduction printer is the result of an insistent demand for improved and more flexible printing methods,” Hitchins stated. “Directly we enter the field of optical printing, we open up a practically unlimited range of printing possibilities every phase of trick and effect photography can be readily accomplished, limited only by the ingenuity of the operator. With a machine of this type at one’s command many expensive sets need never be built, for any desired detail or background can be printed in by double exposure or with silhouette negatives. 4 ”
The 1927 Duplex optical printer Type A featured a built-in special effects attachment and matte box. Photograph: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, September 1927.
The Society benefited from further optical printing insights the following year, when cinematographer Carl Louis Gregory presented “an optical printer for trick work”, designed by himself and built by Fred A. Barber.
Gregory illustrated the challenges of “trick work” by describing the process of putting a mermaid on to the screen. His proposed solution (requiring an optical printer, of course) required the filmmaker to “make negatives of a nude woman swimmer and of a shark or a minnow and from these … dissect the trunk of the woman and the tail of the fish and assemble a mermaid that will almost make you believe in the existence of the fabled creatures. 5 ”
Critical to the success of this operation was the ability to perform the final assembly with great accuracy. “The solution of this difficult problem,” Gregory advised, “is in an optical printer where every mechanical move can be controlled with micrometric precision. 6 ”
Mounted on a six-foot lathe bed on a concrete foundation, the Gregory-Barber optical printer was a “three-head” device. This meant it carried three key optical components — camera, lens and projector — each mounted on its own moving carriage. The carriages, or “heads”, were capable of independent movement up, down, left and right, in increments of one eight-hundredth of an inch.
How many of these brainteasers, puzzles and optical illusions can you solve?
Today marks the 72nd birthday of Ernő Rubik, the Hungarian professor who invented the mother of all puzzles, the Rubik&aposs cube.
To celebrate, we thought we&aposd put together a selection of brainteasers for Mirror Online readers to enjoy.
Have a go at the range of puzzles below - there are nine in total - and let us know how you get on.
1. Spot the T amongst the Ls
How quickly can you spot the T hidden in this collection of Ls?
You might find it quite difficult at first, so we&aposll give you a clue. what if we tell you it&aposs NOT going to be a red letter?
Although this seems like helpful information, scientists have discovered that it can actually slow down your reaction time.
Did the clue help you find the T?
2000+ VOTES SO FAR
2. Find the Oscar trophy in the crowd of C-3POs
Illustrator Michael Rogalski&aposs puzzle features a crowd of everyone&aposs favourite Star Wars droid, C-3PO - but lurking in there somewhere is a golden Oscar statuette.
It&aposs surprisingly difficult to spot the iconic Academy Awards trophy hidden in the crowd. Have you managed to locate him?
3. Spot the Lego dog amongst the pandas
Lego posted this puzzle on its Instagram page and captioned it: “We managed to find all the pandas! But can you find our #LEGODUPLO dog.”
4. Find the mobile phone on the rug
A photograph of a mobile phone on a rug went viral on Facebook after infuriated social media users had trouble spotting it - and it&aposs really stressing them out.
The picture , showing a flowery rug, bears a message telling you to spot the phone and keep it quiet once you&aposve seen it.
We&aposll admit we were struggling, so we decided to turn to the comments section to cheat a little bit.
Some people had said that if you want to find the mobile, it&aposs next to the table leg on the right hand side - but that didn&apost really help anyway.
5. How many 3s can you spot on this iPhone?
We&aposre not sure how or why someone decided to do this, but someone has redesigned this iPhone screen to include a load of 3s.
Guesses have ranged from 10 to 21, with most people saying 19 or 21.
We had a go and counted 19 threes. How many did you get? Let us know in the comments section below.
6. How many girls can you count?
Photographer Tiziana Vergari posted the picture as part of an Instagram competition called the Weekend Hashtag Project, for which the theme &aposidentity&apos was chosen.
There was a great debate in the comments about how many girls are actually in the image, with most guessing either two or four.
Find the mobile phone on the rug
7. Spot the badger
This puzzle, created by BBC Earth, features a badger hidden amongst lots of zebra bums.
It&aposs a little bit weird (and might give you sore eyes) but it&aposs also infuriatingly difficult.
Give it a go and see how long it takes you before you lose your resolve. Then you can scroll down for the answer.
Did you find him? He&aposs not so easy to spot, is he?
8. How many triangles are there?
Newsreader, presenter and puzzle-lover Kay Burley posted the tricky problem on Twitter which got people staring hard at the grid and trying to guess.
But there is a way of working out the answer without doing some serious retinal damage.
Kay says the formula needed is 16 + (8×2) + (4×2) + (1×2) + (1×2) to which the answer is 40.
The grid is made up of 16 individual triangles - four in each quarter.
These triangles make up eight bigger one - two in each quarter.
In turn, these form four even bigger ones, which configure two larger ones.
9. Can you solve this brainteaser aimed at children?
Got it? Let&aposs break it down.
1 apple + 1 apple + 1 apple = 30. So an apple must equal 10 , correct?
1 apple + 4 bananas + 4 bananas = 18. Take away the apple, which we know to equal 10, and you have 8 left. Divide 8 by two to learn the value of a bunch of four bananas, and you have 4. So one banana is equal to 1.
We know that an apple is worth 10 and a bunch of four bananas is worth 4 . Still with us?
Next we are told that if you take away a coconut from a bunch of bananas, you are left with 2. This means that a coconut must equal 2 .
So far, we&aposve got it. But it&aposs the actual sum that people are having problems with - and it&aposs all down to the coconut.
If you&aposre adding a coconut to one apple and a bunch of bananas, you&aposd assume that you&aposd get 16.
But what people are failing to spot is that there&aposs only HALF a coconut and three bananas in the sum.
Half of a coconut is 1, and three bananas is worth 3. Add those to your apple (which was 10, in case you&aposve forgotten).
After School Enrichment Programs & Lessons for Elementary Students
Are you looking for information on teaching an After School Enrichment class?
Would you like to use magic as a fun way to teach to your homeschooler?
Learning how to teach After School Enrichment classes is simple to get started and for teachers the pay is great!
Here is the three step process to get started:
Step One - Call the local Elementary Schools in your area.
Step Two - Ask who the After School Enrichment Program Co-ordinator is.
Step Three - Call the person in charge and ask what type of programs they are offering and what they need teachers for.
There are some hoops they will ask you to go through. In my area (Southern California) you have to have a background check done to be sure you are cleared to work with children and have a TB test.
Here is a full report on all the ins and outs of teaching these types of classes and what to expect.
Brand New: Magic Wand Kit! Go see our new teaching site:www.MagicWandKit.com
If you are thinking about making some extra money teaching After School Enrichment classes it can be difficult to know where to start. Who is interested in this type of program? Who do I contact? What are they looking for? How much material do I need for an eight week course? What’s the class size should I limit it to? How much can I make? These are the questions and road blocks to getting started in making money with ASE.
In this program I’ll be giving you what you need to approach schools, offer them a great new After School Enrichment program for their students and then smoothly run those classes.
You might be afraid after realizing that an eight week course means you need eight hours of material to teach these kids. What are you going to do for that long?
Included here is all you need to run an eight week course of After School Enrichment magic classes. Lesson plans that are all laid out for you, packaged in a way that are cool for the kids and easy for you!
These are lessons that I have personally been using for over fifteen years teaching After School Enrichment classes in magic. Here my years of experience teaching these materials to elementary age students is being past on to you. I have searched through hundreds of books both in my library and the library of the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, searching for fun and easy magic for kids! I then re-worked both the instructions and graphics for each one to make them as clear, interesting and fun as possible! Ready to go with instructions on how to use them, story lines to tell and what the educational value is about each one.
Complete lessons that teach math skills, logic skills, dexterity, history, optical and auditory illusions that fool our senses and brains. Each week starts off with something simple and then moves on to more challenging magic so all ages can participate. The eight weeks of material have been organized from the first to the last to be progressively more challenging, each week building skills.
Here are a few of the class lessons:
What makes a circus so fun? Have an interaction about circuses of today and yesterday. Then learn amazingly fun tricks that have to do with Clowns, a Swami, the Strong Man and how not to lose your money!
The most famous magician of all time, how he started out and what he became famous for: Escapes! Escapes from handcuffs, ropes, boxes, straight jackets and so much more. Did you know he first called himself the King Of Cards? Then learn tricks recreating his magic, how he mysteriously went through a solid brick wall, escaped from a straight jacket hanging upside down over a busy street and answer the question “what was the one thing Houdini could not escape from?”
What is an illusion? Here we have a fistful of cool illusions to fool your mind and senses. From growing fish, appearing & disappearing blocks, things that seem to spin on their own, giant bells inside spoons to vanishing rabbits. Now be able to answer the question, what is an illusion and how do they work?
Variety Arts Day
Mr. Fingers is a funny little puppet who shows off his tricks and ends up getting his treat. Always voted a favorite of my students! Mr. Fingers keeps kids laughing and laughing. They all want to make him show off and have fun with Mr. Fingers!
Graduation and Performance
The day to be tested and show what they have learned over the past eight weeks, eight weeks of fun and learning, learning without even realizing it and becoming Magicians First Class and receiving their graduation magic wands!
So how do I know kids love these lessons? They tell me! Their parents tell me! More than one parent when picking up their child has told me how their child had felt ill the day before but the morning of magic class they got up and insisted on going to school because it was magic class day!
When I was doing these classes week after week and month after month for After School Enrichment programs I had students signing up repeatedly for this class even though they knew they would be learning the same tricks! One students took the class four times. I made him my assistant to help teach the other students. One school had to instigate the rule of no repeating my class so other children had the opportunity to sign up!
Of course you could study your magic books or magic kits for ideas and teach the tricks in them. But I guarantee you will not find magic that has been especially designed for teaching an After School Enrichment program. Ideas and stories to teach and tell that have skills in logic, memory and dexterity in them. You can’t find all these materials in one place or half of them at all. That is because they are materials that were researched by me over the past fifteen years, created and refined over those years by teaching at over a dozen elementary schools in my area. There is no collection like this anywhere else.
So how much is it worth to have another magician pass on to you his most valuable secrets? Secrets researched, performed and honed over fifteen years? Proven winners in the eyes of kids that are the harshest critics we magicians know? Here you will be getting all that and more how to make money teaching these classes.
I have made this course as complete as possible! Written up are all the secrets you need know to go through all eight weeks of lessons. Also included are letters to send to schools introducing the program, class descriptions for them to use, what you will need yourself, how to prepare for the first day and what to expect in the classroom!
So why would another magician be giving up his secrets? Well, I can’t be everywhere. I haven’t mastered that trick yet. I can only teach at two or three different schools each week. So how can I teach more students and give them the benefit of this class material? I started by writing everything down, organized it and now sharing it with you. I’ll be teaching you how to teach this material.
These classes usually take place on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. One day a week for eight weeks. You can schedule two or three schools and have a nice little income that you can count on for those eight weeks.
Find out more now and get started making money and having a great time doing it!
Animation: Magic and Matter
A symposium presented by the Centre for Humanities & the Department of Media & Culture Studies (Utrecht University) with the Holland Animation Film Festival on 27th March 2012
Welcome & Introduction: The Matter of Animation
The event started with a welcome from Gerben Schermer of the Holland Animation Film Festival, which starts tomorrow. The themes of this year’s festival are animation and games / games and animation as well as a focus on China. He described the festival as having a friendly atmosphere with talks and masterclasses where filmmakers and audience can meet together.
Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University, who organised the symposium, then described how it had evolved from Paul Ward’s fellowship at the festival and was part of a series of screenings, events and workshops. This included a hands-on animation workshop in conjunction with NIAF, the Netherlands Institute of Animated Film, in which participants got their hands dirty and engaged with real materials, such as modelling clay, cardboard and sand. This haptic engagement led her to consider that there are two forces at work: matter – the materials used to make the animation – and magic – the result of the animation. She argued that because we believe in the image the technology enchants us. She is particularly interested in how the matter – the materials used to make the animation – has an impact of the narrative. Finally, since Lev Manovich declared animation to be a form that is everywhere rather than a genre in the margins, it is perhaps this sheer, overwhelming ubiquity that renders the subject invisible in the academic and political eye. Despite this, animation is very present and will be considered in more depth during the day’s symposium
‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ Early Cinema, Trick Effects &Animation
Frank Kessler, Utrecht University
Frank Kessler is a Professor of Media History and an expert in early cinema. In his presentation he focussed on a notion of magic as an act that is performed on stage and utilises tricks and sometimes elaborate technologies that are the product of sophisticated craft and technologies. These tricks may be adopted by charlatans who pretend to have magic powers. Kessler discussed the example of a stage magician whose trained eye allowed him to understand the artifice behind the illusion and debunk Uri Geller’s alleged ability to bend spoons with the power of his mind.
Here’s a You Tube clip of James Randi debunking Uri Geller.
In contemporary films, for example Harry Potter, acts of magic are the backbone of the story and also the effect of magic is depicted through the use of media technologies and CGI. This is nothing new. The link between magic effects and trick technology goes back to the beginning of cinema. Georges Meliés wrote some of the background to his techniques in a contemporary photography journal and claimed to have accidentally discovered his ‘substitution splice’ technique after his camera jammed and he spliced the resulting film together. Thanks to this simple trick he made his first films in which he was making something happen on screen that did not really happen in front of the camera. Historically as new media technologies appear they are thought to be ‘magic’ by spectators who do not understand them yet. This was the case with magic lanterns and late 19th century spirit photographs. So is technology only magic when we don’t understand the trick? Christian Metz has written an article on tricks vs trick effects in which he posits three types of tricks in films:
1. visible tricks – there is obvious manipulation of the image going on,
2. imperceptible tricks – tricks we don’t know or understand how they have been used, such as the use of stunt men or CGI doubles that we didn’t notice. These are tricks we are not supposed to see, because if we notice them we think of them as badly done,
3. invisible tricks, we sense a trick, but we don’t know how its done.
Kessler then presented two films from Catalan filmmaker, Segundo de Chomón, a contemporary and indeed competitor of Georges Meliés. Although not the first person to have used stop motion – this appears to have been Arthur Melbourne Cooper – Chomón developed stop motion techniques to a more sophisticated level than Meliés. Haunted House (1908):
These films are like a catalogue of tricks available at the time and would have been very surprising and innovative for contemporary spectators. Haunted House (1908) includes object animation, double exposure, superimposition and movable scenery. Invisible, supernatural forces appear to be making objects move of their own accord. In Electric Hotel (1908) it is the modern technology of electricity that is shown as the mysterious force that makes objects move of their own volition. The films use trick effects to create a kind of magic, but at same time the film is using tricks to present the magic. Magic is happening within the medium and by the medium which helps it to profile itself in a particular way. Electric Hotel (1908):
Animation as Atavistic Magic
Paul Ward, Arts University College Bournemouth
HAFF Fellow, Paul Ward, is president of the Society for Animation Studies. His research topics include practice / theory relationships and animated documentary.
Ward started by introducing a notion of animation as atavistic magic and proposed to examine the ontological ground between the real and the animated that is occupied by animated documentaries. His understanding of magic is predicated on Bill Nichol’s work on historical re-enactment and the fantasmical.
The term atavism literally derives from a remote ancestor or forefather and Ward showed photos of his own great, great, great, grandfathers to reinforce the point. In evolutionary science, the term is used for a physical trait that reruns in the modern day, a throwback feature that magically reappears after a period of of evolutionary obsolesce or a discontinued evolutionary feature that lies dormant – for example whales have remnants in their pelvic bones that prove they had legs, the coccyx bone in humans indicates where our tails used to be, wings are still seen in flightless birds such as ostriches. An atavism can be used as a cultural term for behaviours or beliefs that had died out, but have now returned – for example violence or degeneracy. Horror films can be seen as atavistic as they connect to past primeval fears – a sense of the ‘then’ returning to the ‘now’. Dana Seitler argues that modernity is atavistic – modernity sought to be new and break with the past, but that break necessitated the past’s return. The past has returned through the popularity of re-enactment culture – dressing in period costume and restaging wars, a surge of interest in family trees, old photo albums, looking in old graveyards.
Animated documentary could be considered as fantasmic reenactment. This form of documentary is re-enacted rather than captured in the moment it happened. A use of animation in documentary seems to run counter to the sober discourse of documentary indexicality. Bill Nichols refers to documentary as the discourse of sobriety. However, at the core of documentary practice lies a dilemma – the footage is a re-enactment of previous events, but if filmmakers pass off reenacted footage as actual footage where is the truth in the image? Reconstructed material raises all kind of philosophical problems. Documentary is a throwback, an atavism, a ‘then’ in the ‘now’. History does not repeat itself. The re-enactment is not real. It didn’t actually happen like that, but is fantasmic, a fictionalised repetition of something that has already occurred. The viewer experiences an uncanny repetition of something that had already happened. Consider the film Ryan.
Nichols idea of the fantasmic has recently been applied to the animated film, Ryan, in which Landreth, the animator, himself interviews influential animator Ryan Larkin. Although based on a real recording of an interview, this event is re-enacted and does not take a realistic form. The character has part of his head missing. Jo Sheehan’s the ten mark (2010), a stop motion puppet animation about British serial killer John Christie, takes the form of a series of dark, creepy vignettes in Christie house with the main character partially concealed in the shadows. This animated film grapples with documentary propositions as it is based on factual research – court records, newspaper articles, police photographs. The film obsessively wells on banal day-to-day moments from Christie’s domestic life rather than on the detail of his crimes. The title refers to Christies desire to murder ten people. In the slow, ominous atmosphere you don’t see anything directly. The distinction between fiction and nonfiction relies on a degree of suspension of disbelief. The figure of the puppet conjures up the ontology of the real world as opposed to the ontology of animation. There is a stark disjuncture between the authenticity of the painstakingly constructed sets that could be easily mistaken for actual rooms and the puppet character lingering in the shadows who appears as obviously a puppet. The film plays with the impossibility of re-capturing something that has already occurred. Christie was a real historic character, but the film is a clear reenactment using puppets.
Ward concluded with a use of Gendler’s neologism ‘alief’ as a term that can be used to differentiate modes of disbelief. Gendler uses the term for a feeling that is at odds with rational knowledge – for example I know this bridge is safe, but I feel that it might not be. Gendler explores this in detail and considers alief as a primitive response to how things seem. In psychology experiments, participants were offered drinks that were sugar water, but came from a bottle with a skull on it. People know something to be the case, but act as if it isn’t because of superstitious or primitive ideas. We can’t simply say people are mistaken – or that people can’t suspend their belief. Alief is a process at work when we see animated characters. We know they aren’t really real – we believe they are animation – we alief that they are real.
Sleight of the Hand Made
Birgitta Hosea, University of the Arts London
Birgitta Hosea is an artist and practitioner / theoretician based at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Her research interests include animation as performance, drawing and expanded animation.
Sleight of hand is a term that magicians use to refer to skilful deception. In this paper, I looked at the skilful deception that lies behind the creation of artificial, moving characters that were made by hand and never truly lived. Rather than talk about animation in terms of its relationship to film, I used the figure of the ‘constructed actor’ to trace a link between the earliest performances and contemporary character animation. I argued that ‘constructed actors’ have a long history of portraying worlds of the imagination – morality, metaphysics, philosophy. I presented examples of constructed actors that were both pre-photographic and post-cinematic in order to argue for animation as a concept rather than asa subset of film practice.
The ‘constructed actor’ is a term taken from Eileen Rosenthal’s book on the history of puppetry. She uses it to describe both puppets and performers who extend their bodies with masks and body coverings. I showed examples from shamanic and ritual practices, including wayong shadow puppetry. Although sometimes performed for tourists, this form of puppetry originally took place in temples in honour of the gods.
I then connecting the idea of Dionysian ecstasy in ancient Greek theatre from Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Origins of Tragedy with Sergei Eisenstein’s notion of the plasmatic in Disney cartoons as a visual representation of the ecstatic. In order to examine the idea that ‘constructed actors’ could investigate philosophical ideas, I presented my own project Dog Betty in which I dressed up as a cartoon character in order to actually inhabit Judith Butler’s concept of performativity – the idea that we all perform our identity.
After introducing the figure of the ‘constructed actor’, I then moved on to to look at the figure of the stage magician. Rather than extend their own body to become magical, like the masked shaman or constructed actor, the stage magician makes it appear as if they have the power to make the magic happen. I presented illusions from Robertson’s magic lantern slides on smoke in the Phantasmagorie to stage magic from David Devant at London’s Egyptian Hall. I was influenced by David Devant’s ‘Mascot Moth’ trick to create an improvised Exorcism using manipulated video to conjure up the spirits of my collaborator Maureen Baas.
The tradition of stage illusions with appearing and disappearing ladies is a clear inspiration behind Georges Meliés film The Living Playing Cards (1905 ). In this film still objects are transformed into living images through double exposure and superimposed dissolves. In this film Meliés is shown in the role of the stage magician and appears to orchestrate the illusion. Illusions with glass and mirrors, such as Peppers Ghost allowed superimpositions to occur on stage. Decapitations were performed with the aid of hidden compartments and masked off body parts. These techniques can also be seen in Meliés film The Man with the Rubber Head (1901).
The Musion Eyeliner 3D Holographic Projection system creates the illusion of actual three dimensional presence on stage through a high tech version of Victorian stage technology. I have been lucky enough to be one of a several artists commissioned to create experimental work for the Musion holographic projection system. White Lines was conceived of as a three dimensional sculpture. Lines spin in space until they begin to form a giant head which fills the whole stage space, inspired by the Meliés film The Man with the Rubber Head . The piece was created from a video of my actions when drawing lines on myself and was hand touched and manipulated int e computer. When shown in the Musion system it looks completely three-dimensional, however due to the way in which the system works with the naked eye it is almost impossible to document photographically. The concept behind this piece was to investigate the performative nature of the act of animation: to animate myself into existence by drawing with light. So after creating the initial holographic projection as a moving sculpture, I performed live within it in 2010 as part of the Holographic Serendipity show at Kinetica Art Fair and Shunt, a large undergound performance venue in the Victorian brick tunnels beneath London Bridge station. During the performances, I painted myself black and drew white lines on myself within the holographic projection.
The earliest examples of cartoon or drawn animation are derived from live performance: the ‘lightning sketch’ stage act and its extension of the satirical cartoon into a live event. During this act performers would create drawings, often political caricatures, in front of a live audience. The lightning sketch act appears to have originated in England between 1870-80. PDC, the Performance Drawing Collective formerly known as Drawn Together, creates live performance drawings in a contemporary version of the lightning sketch. I consider our performances to be live animations in which a layered moving drawing emerges over time. Drawn in graphite, white light and sound, the work incorporates the media of traditional drawn animation and is recorded in sequential photographs and video documentation.
Like the magician, the lightning sketch artist was a performer who created highly skilful feats in front of a live audience. In the USA, Winsor McCay developed the lightning sketch act into a form of character animation that we would recognise today.In the surviving film of Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) the animated sequences were created first for his stage act. In the film version hat survives, the process of making animation is presented as being a seemingly impossible feat, produced by the animator in response to a bet. In both the stage act and the surviving film of Gertie the Dinosaur, McCay incorporates physical interaction between himself and the cartoon dinosaur. In the film’s finale, McCay walks offstage and returns on the screen as a cartoon version of himself. He brandishes a whip like a lion tamer and then cautiously steps into Gertie’s mouth. She lifts him onto her back and carries him off screen.
McCay is an example of a showman animator who is clearly marked as the author and performer of animation. In his work, animator and animated occupy the same live stage space. In his films, the magic trick of animation is clearly revealed as a process, an incredible and almost impossible feat. As Donald Crafton points out in his book Before Mickey, along with the other early pioneers of animation – Georges Méliès, Tom Merry – Winsor McCay wore formal evening attire, the costume of the stage magician. His form of animation was an extension of the illusion of stage magic and his own presence was an important part of the act.
Crafton points out that as animation developed as a process, the magician / showman /author of animation became displaced by the animated character. The character itself becomes the focus of attention and is shown as if autonomously performing. The magic trick behind the illusion of animation has become invisible. In his book on stop motion, contemporary puppet animator, Barry J C Purves compares the magician’s act of diversion, which distracts the spectator from how the trick is done, to the act of animation:
For animators, that moment of distraction is there twenty-five frames a second… It’s a black frame that does not register with the audience, and allows the animator, acting as both magician and glamorous assistant, to step in and tinker with the puppets, rearranging everything before stepping out again, as if nothing had happened. The audience hasn’t seen us, but they see the trick. The puppet appears to have moved.
The trick that has been done is to bestow the illusion of a life force, a spark of élan vital that marks the differentiation between living being and lifeless matter.
I have argued that animation inherits both the traditions of mask and puppet theatre and the illusion of magically manipulated objects. Using the figure of the constructed actor, I have demonstrated a historical lineage connecting the ecstatic rituals at the origins of theatre, in which the boundaries of the human body are transgressed, the stage magician who appears to create magic that the human body is not capable of, the showman animator who performs animation and the contemporary animator who wants the trick to be invisible. As opposed to saying that the animator is a magician, I would like to use the idea of the constructed actor to propose three types of relations between the animator and the character that they have constructed. On one level, like the masked shaman, the constructed actor merges with its human creator to embody a magical character. At a second level, performer – the stage magician or the early stage animators like Windsor McCay – appears to have the power to make the magic character happen. At the third level, such as in conventional, contemporary character animation, the magic trick is hidden and the animated character – the constructed actor – appears to have an independent existence, although this illusion is actually created through the use of reproductive media such as magic lantern, paper, film or computer code.
Taking a Performance Studies approach to animation and examining the relationship between animator and character enables an unpacking of animation as concept rather than as a subset of film. Examining pre-cinematic instances of animation can lead to a conceptualisation of post-cinematic animation. As Alan Cholodenko has written, animation is much more than a technical process, it raises profound questions about what it is to be alive. Rather than an indexical practice grounded in corporeal flesh and material reality, animation has the potential to engage with the ‘extra-mundane’ – with worlds of the imagination, with metaphysics, ethics and philosophy.
Origins of Dutch Animation
Mette Peters, Netherlands Institute of Animation Film
Mette Peters is a film historian based at NIAF. Inspired by Donald Crafton’s book Before Mickey, she decided to look for more examples of early European animation with a specific focus on Holland from 1919 – 1940. Crafton argues that after World War I, Europe was exhausted and depleted of resources and, as a result, unable to compete with the surge of commercial animation flooding the market from the USA. Although European animation had been innovative before this point, animation now survived in pockets – mainly in commercials and public information films. Peters wanted to investigate this further and to see if it applied to Holland. As there are no published lists available, she has been doing extensive archival research including institutional and private collections. The files of the government’s censorship board were particularly useful. So far she has collected 167 film tiles, although 60 of the films are mentioned in catalogue form or articles or censorship forms without a surviving film print. These include 18 live-action films with animated sequences – titles or interludes or animated explanatory diagrams, 25 films made by foreign filmmakers but commissioned by Dutch companies and 64 shorts. George Debels (1890-1973) was the most productive filmmaker in the 1919-1937 period. George Pal (1908-1980) made 21 animated shorts in the five years he lived in Holland.
Here’s a George Pal film from slightly after his period in Holland. Although the quality of the You Tube video is not good, you can clearly see how his time in Holland influenced him.
Peters is not just interested in finding and collecting original films. She is also interested in documenting the changes in working practices, techniques and the introduction of synchronised sound and colour during this period. As part of her research she wants to look for the traces of making / doing in the work and searches for any information she can get on the making of the films – manuals about how the animation is made, contemporary articles or interviews with filmmakers, letters – to find evidence of the tools, working processes and art materials that were used. She examines materials from pre-production as well as production art work and is fascinated to uncover the choices made during the making process and whether the material processes influence the outcome as much as editing choices made in the post-production phase.
Kinetic Sculpture & Live Animation
Artist’s Programme with Gregory Barsamian
Gregory Barsamian is a sculptor who makes kinetic, sequential sculptures in the form of giant zoetropes. Barsamian initially studied philosophy, but had been tinkering with machines for years and this drew him towards art college metal shops. His early work investigated different forms of craft – metal work, glass blowing – but he began to become interested in adding the element of time into his work to give it additional complexity. For Barsamian sculpture is animation. He argues that you need to walk around a sculpture in order to perceive its three dimensional nature and position in space. As you do this you are building up an animation in your head. Spatial perception is linked to movement. He began to experiment with zoetrope-type constructions, although at the beginning he didn’t know what zoetropes were. For Barsamian, his moving, time based sculptures are a way to address his interest in perception. He is inspired by the workings of the brain and the enormous amount of sensual information that we perceive and do not consciously process or rationalise. Rather than creating one single sculpture, his works are in flux, continually metamorphosing.
In Lather, hands compulsively wash and drip lather onto heads at ground level.
You can see more of Barsamian’s work on his well illustrated website: http://www.gregorybarsamian.com.
You can read an interview with him in the Animation Interdisciplinary Journal: Extracinematic Animation: Gregory Barsamian in Conversation with Suzanne Buchan
Disclaimer – these notes were written quite quickly and are my own personal summary of what I heard. Apologies to any of the speakers if I misinterpreted anything they said!
Visually Amazing Photos
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Gustatory, olfactory, and tactile Illusions
Knowledge of illusions in the physical senses of taste, smell, and touch is limited. There exist very few examples of illusions, perhaps due to the slower temporal resolution compared to that of vision and hearing. The following are examples of those that have been studied.
Phantom Limb - This tactile illusion is the sensation that an amputated body part, most commonly a limb, is still attached to the body. Most sensations are that of pain, but may include itching, warmth, cold, squeezing, and burning, although the limb may also feel as if it is shorter or in a distorted and painful position. Initially reasoned to be the product of inflamed nerve endings, phantom limb sensations have been found to be due to the reorganization of the somatosensory cortex. Stroking different parts of the face leads to perceptions of being touched on different parts of the missing limb. Ζ]
Thermal Grill - The thermal grill refers to a tactile illusion that was first demonstrated by T. Thunberg in 1896. Η] This illusion consists of an interlaced grill of bars, some of which are warm (say 40°C) and others cold (say 20°C) bars. Physical contact with this mixture of relatively mild temperatures elicits sensations of painful heat.
Haptic Illusions - Haptic illusions are created by mixing force cues with geometric cues to make people feel shapes that differ from the actual shape of the object.
An interdiscplinary background in engineering, photography, sculpture and watercolours proved to be a fertile ground for the innovations in moving image technology developed by Charles-Èmile Reynauld, arguably the first person to create frame-by-frame animation in the classic form that we understand today.
Deriving from a praxinoscope that he had invented in 1876, Reynauld’s patented a Praxinoscope Théâtre in 1879 and then an improved version, the Théâtre Optique, was patented in 1888. This invention was able to project hand-painted, animated, moving images and was adopted commercially by the Museé Grévin in Paris in 1892. The Museé Grévin was a famous museum of waxworks, which also featured a Cabaret Fantastique, a small theatre with shows from magicians. The Théâtre Optique opened there in 1892 – three years before the Lumière Brothers had perfected the first film camera and demonstrated moving, photographic images in 1895. The Théâtre Optique was open until 1900, when it was superseded by cinema and closed down. Before his death in January 1918, in a fit of depression, he smashed the surviving Théâtre Optique mechanism and threw all but two of his picture bands into the Seine.
Here is a reconstruction of Théâtre Optique by the Museum of Cinema in Girona.
Here is a reconstruction of one of the two surviving Pantomimes Lumineuses that were screened at the Théâtre Optique, Pauvre Pierrot from 1892.