This year like many, I have had the opportunity to watch many Zoom Magic shows.
Attending private shows and public performances. Good and the not so good.
The best shows closely managed the performers and the audience and had a good grip on the technology that was being used.
This post attempts to share my views and experiences which we hope will benefit any magicians planning shows and those attending as audience members.
While of course Zoom Magic shows need to be interactive, for public performances of Zoom shows, close management of the technology is crucial.
The most successful public shows allowed the magicians to perform while other stage hands looked after sound, cameras and the management of Zoom and broadband connections.
Any magicians attempting to manage their own performance and all the technical requirements for a Zoom interactive show are brave. It does work and I have seen it work successfully. I have also seen cases where the stress of attempting to perform while dealing with technical challenges can affect the artists performance and even their confidence to deliver the act successfully.
As Zoom Magic is relatively new for audiences and artists, many public ticketed shows allow you to sign in early so you can test sound and interact while you wait. Many shows having a countdown to performance and thus the audience knowing that their show will start soon.
One show I attended started late. No countdown and it turned out the show had been experiencing technical issues. However, really important to start on time or get a message to the audience. Many Zoom audience members can be new to this medium as well and perhaps could think that they have their own technical issue. When starting a performance, I have seen some artists set ground rules to minimise disruption in a fun way at the start of shows and to get the best out of the audience.
Ideally, audience sound needs to be controlled with audience members muted until their time to speak. If this can be managed by a technical stage hand, that has to be ideal. However, I have seen some artists asking all to mute and unmute successfully.
I would strongly advise artists not to encourage entire audiences to unmute to allow interaction at the same time. From my experience, you end up hearing a lot of unnecessary conversations which takes away from the show. Recently, while watching a show, the entire audience had to listen to a father narrating every move of an act to their children. It took away from the artists performance, as was distracting and other conversations could also be heard. Equally, if you are an audience member, knowing where the button to mute and unmute is handy as it gives you the opportunity to be prepared if invited to speak.
The use of some pre recorded show elements has worked well for many magicians. Artists of course having to find out what works for them.
One show that I watched recently had pre recorded video segments and sound affects, on screen visuals and was very professional. A lot of time had obviously gone into preparing the act for the Zoom medium.
I’m sure that as artists embrace this new medium, the management of the shows will continue to improve. It’s interesting to see that many coaching/training sessions are now being advertised for artists to assist them with Zoom Magic performances.
For those who are brave enough to put on shows and deal with the challenges, it must be a steep learning curve at times. Hopefully, a rewarding experience to allow future growth of audiences via Zoom during these current times.