This Magician’s latest trick: adapting his live stage show for a Zoom audience

Technology

Magician Trigg Watson is used to long nights on the road. But, like many of us, these days he’s staying safe at home.

“I think the year 2020 needs magic more than any other year,” quipped Watson, who I visited with at his loft in Downtown Los Angeles.

He’s converted the airy space into a full fledged magic studio, complete with highly organized boxes of magic props and tricks that stack to the ceiling.

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In the middle of the room: a makeshift magic stage that has become a Zoom studio for performing live shows to a virtual audience.

Watson is already known for blending technology into his shows, so instead of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, he might pull an Amazon order out of a laptop screen. A deck of playing cards is adorned with emojis instead of queens and kings.

“A lot of magicians have forgotten to update their props to stay relevant and keep up with the times,” explained Watson.

Watson has appeared on the show Masters of Illusion, which airs Friday nights on the CW.

“I think what Masters of Illusion is great about is educating the public about how many different genres of magic there are. You’ll see everything from small scale classic card tricks with big stage illusions the next second,” explained Watson.

The slick show on TV is in stark contrast to what you’d typically find Watson doing, which is honing his magic skills on Zoom. He often uses his elaborate home set up to do live shows with audience members tuning in virtually. Many tricks are performed “through” the screen.

“My goal with all my virtual performance – as much as possible – create interaction so the show feels like it’s happening for you personally and for my audience,” explained Watson.

Watching him work behind the scenes is like seeing slight of hand mixed with tech wizardry. There are various cameras, controls, and of, course, props, that come together for a seamless bridge of real and virtual.

“All this crazy effort just to create this very simple elegant moment of wonder for an audience,” concluded Watson.

Not only did I get to see Watson performing behind the scenes, I also tuned into a virtual Zoom show to see the “finished product.” It was quite impressive how interactive and fun the show was. Also, I appreciated that it was clean and family appropriate – I watched with my kids, who thoroughly enjoyed it.

As good as Watson has gotten at performing on Zoom, something tells me he will have a new appreciation for the stage and live audience once that’s a possibility again.

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