Camera tricks are not magic!

Ever since the first person asked me if I can put the phone into bottle, I was trying to find an answer, that would be reasonable enough to present my point of view without destroying my credibility as a performer and without undermining my skills.

Believe it or not, but as I mentioned in one of my previous posts (Magicians like Dynamo in Scotland) this is a question I get asked at least once every performance (along with the famous “Can you make my wife disappear” one).

The reason for not being able to find a right answer, is that the very core of the issue is not related with the ability to perform magic, but with the conditions under which the magic is performed.

Am I able to put a borrowed phone into a borrowed glass bottle, i.e. do I possess the skills, that would enable me to recreate this trick? Yes, under some very strict conditions.
Will you be ever able to see that trick done live on the streets by any living magician? I am sorry to say that, but no.

I will not go into the details of this particular trick. I will however show you a very simple explanation by Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) on why magic has to be performed live to be called magic (and MAGIC is what I do).

What does this mean?
If you call me to discuss what kind of tricks I could do at your wedding or corporate function – I can do amazing things. Things that will make you want to stay and watch magic all night, but some of the stuff you have seen on telly would be impossible to be done even if you called the £10,000/hour guy. This is the reality and I believe it is important to draw a line between illusions and special effects.

To sum up: If it’s performed on TV – it’s often bullshit, not magic (oh, how I miss Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit!” series).

Is it still an illusion or is it a special effect?


There are performers, who have built their whole careers doing magic on TV and can’t really perform live at all. Don’t really have the chops and skills. People watch those shows and seem to enjoy them. I don’t think it’s magic.
I don’t think it’s valid and not because they are doing camera tricks – which they are. And not because they are using plants – which they are. And not because they are using editing tricks – which they are. (…)

The problem is simply that (…) once you’ve seen “Avatar”, what does sleight of hand mean? It means nothing. – Penn Jillette,


Hopefully by now you have drawn your own conclusions and understand, that there is a huge difference between magic presented live and “magic” presented on TV.
There are also many similarities between “magic” performed on TV and “magic” performed in “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter” if you know what I mean 😉


To watch the full episode of Big Think:


Till the next time!
Radek Makar: Conjuror

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