Richard will be facing the firing squad first. Extract from today's 'official' newsletter
As cruel punishment for late night revellers, the first of the close-up contest was scheduled for a very early 8:30 am.
So we can set the scene – the FISM 2012 Close-up Championships is taking place deep within the bowels of the Winter Gardens in what is the ‘Olympia Exhibition Hall’ The original bid book had close-up scheduled for the Grand Theatre if memory serves correctly ... but for reasons not announced, the venue was summarily switched ... to this depressing basement complete with make-shift indoor tent to block out the light ( or rain – I haven’t quite worked out which yet ) and temporary tiered seating ... close your eyes and ignore the peeling paint and dangling cables please.
The video conditions were abysmal – with the screen completely washed out due to ambient light – and a single camera positioned at the back of the risers some 150 metres away. No overhead cameras, no high definition shots, no vision mixing, just a washed out picture with limited zoom and no one ( besides the front row judges ) able to view anything on the table surface. It is simply grim.
The competitors deserve better than this. FISM Close-up deserves better than this.
Conditions being what they are – the show must go on. Obie O’Brien is MC with Joan Caesar having been given manual labour duty of bringing tables backwards and forwards ;-)
1. Shinichi Maruyama – Cards - Japan
An over-riding theme that plagues so many of the foreign competitors is the language barrier. Non-English speakers valiantly try and speak English but unfortunately it is very difficult to understand what they are saying – and the acts suffer.
Appearing decks, card discoveries, visual transformations with a signed card and a nasty habit of yelling into a microphone.
2. Pierric Tenthorey – Parlor – Switzerland
A hit of the morning with a recurring theme of starting the act over due to limited time. 4 aces with deck vanish, wrist watch and pocket hank continually switch places, a matrix finale that caught everyone off guard and a comic twisting foot. A real magician pleaser.
3. Manuel Sanchez – Cards – Magnolo – Spain
A Borat look alike which I can’t understand for love or money. The act features a big screen plasma TV which ostensibly is intended to show a close-up of what is happening on the TV. The TV feed is in fact non-live and we have interaction with his on-screen self.
4. Michael Walther – Micro – The Netherlands
Kicks off with the soundtrack of Thriller ... and the arrival of a Sherlock Holmes character. Alrighty then - those two go together. Multiplying magnifying glasses, shrinking and expanding cards, mini CD manipulation, jumbo matrix. The act bizarrely receives a partial standing ovation which wasn’t deserved.
5. Kazuki Sakai – Cards – Indy - Japan
Another act which I unfortunately struggled to understand or left any impression. Next please.
6. Marcelo Insua – Micro – Tango – Argentina
Here’s a FISM first – the story of Judas done to the coin matrix. Mmmmmmmm - must have sounded good on paper.
7. Peter Woerde – Cards – Netherlands
An entertaining act with the spectator taking on the role of “the world’s best card cheat” – 4 aces ( why ... oh why dear magicians of the world ) and cards reset to new deck order.
8. Angel San Martin – Micro – Looking Magic – Spain
Another Blackpool standing ovation recipient ... clever use of emotive music with cups and balls, appearing shot glasses, color changing waistcoat et al.
9. Hyun Min Yoo – Cards – Zeki Yoo – Korea
A strange and crazy Korean who looks 13. Envelope and signed card transpose multiple times ... another standing o ( or the audience need to stretch their legs too often )
10. Simon Coronel – Micro – Australia
The lone entrant from the land down under with a dramatic start focusing on a “moment that lingers” ... Simon brought along his own video camera to provide an up close view of what’s happening on the table –very visual vanishes, color changes et al. With a signed card ending up in a sealed envelope. Magicians loved it. Ended with an enigma of sorts with a card that is linked onto itself ending with a penetrating finger ring. Strange indeed. A bit disjointed towards the end ... but magic candy nevertheless.
11. Miika Pelkonen – Cards – Findland
Next please. Humour failed and the magic forgettable.
12. Morina – Micro – Semba – Argentina
The “close-up” performer who wishes he was on stage. Flowing long hair – cheesy grin – and comes across as if he is mentally touched. Once again – don’t understand a word he says and has the most ridiculous fake looking hand available in all of the Blackpool Dealers Hall. For the pièce de résistance – wouldn’t you like to be the female spectator and have your ears physically wiggled for you by the creepy magician? Oh yes – who wouldn’t.
13. Francisco Sanchez – Cards – Paco Sanchez – Spain
You know there are problems when even the competitors make fun of the poor performing conditions: “the best camera work ever at FISM” ... 4 aces to deuces with a fantastic vanish of the 4 cards at the end.
14. Ernesto Melero – Parlor – Venezuela
Developing trend – music now a must in all close-up acts. 4 aces ( oh yeah ! ) fast degenerating into confusion with color changing cards and deck.
15. Meelis Kubo – Cards – Latvia
Quotes of the day: “I want you to concentrate on my balls” ... “breathe in and you will see the boobs of conjuring” Enough said
16. Ben Jackson – Parlor – USA
Centred around the running of a lemonade stand, Ben’s act is typical contest fare – flip move with coin and straw, appearing lemon and stand along with the now defacto FISM 4 ace production. The American style ( and forced scripting ) was probably too abrasive for the European audience ...and please don’t shout in the microphone.
17. Paul Sommersguter – Cards – Austria
Equivoque with 1 card under the glass ... Ellusionist’s Ultra Smoke ( another FISM trend )
18. Jeffrey Tam – Micro – Philippines
Let’s take the worst stereotype of someone from China and turn up the volume by 100. A bizarre, wacky and offbeat mash up of jumbo coins from mouth, cups and ball with tea bags and every other prop under the sun. All too much. Strange – very strange. After watching this I feel like I’ve been hit by an oncoming train ... the audience went wild nonetheless.
19. Costa Goncalo – Cards – Portugal
Strict performer setup times seemed to have gone out the window at the FISM close-up with very little stage management and performers taking forever to get ready. Color changing decks, lost and found card, and more of the same. Unfortunately being last performer after a very long day can never play to your advantage.
Prognosis after the first session of close-up ? Not too shabby ... the standard is definitely better than yesterday’s stage ... and hopefully continues to improve. A short respite of 30 minutes before we race next door for 3 ½ hours of stage contests.
As everyone’s favourite mindfreak would say ... “Are you ready?”
Or in Blackpool FISM speak – what were we thinking.