Archive for the 'The Paper Engine' Category

Secret Weapon & Search and Destroy DVD ask your questions here!

Click here to watch the new trailer for The Secret Weapon.

I launched the new Aaronfishermagic site this morning, and the response was positive. So positive, in fact that happy card men (like YOU!) overloaded the server this afternoon. For a little while, the new videos weren’t playing and pages weren’t loading. Thankfully, all that’s over now.

The cause of all the ruckus was the unveiling of trailers for my two new products. Both of these babies will be released on March 17th, but today, you got the first peak.

Search and Destroy featuring The Nowhere Pass

Click here to watch the preview for Search and Destroy featuring The Nowhere Pass

What do YOU think? Drop a comment or question here.

After you watch the trailers, drop me a comment to let me know what you think. This is also a good place to ask questions about the product. Then check back on this post over the coming days and read the answers.

Thanks again for your visit, and for making the launch of the new such a success!


Do you want an Invisible Pass?

Blog reader How Tah Lun has been studying my book The Paper Engine. He’s been experiencing some difficulty using the Gravity Half Pass when he’s seated at a table – he sent me an email asking for help. I understand his concern. Many shifts are much easier to perform standing, working for an intimate audience of also standing spectators.

A simple way to execute the pass effectively while seated at a table

Here’s an idea: Don’t do the shift over the table at all! I often turn to a person sitting next to me on my left, and as I do, rest my right elbow on the table. Now the audience sees only the right side of the deck. Performed this way, neither the Gravity Half Pass nor the Classic Pass can be seen.

Despite the excellent quality of the reader’s question, it bespeaks a bigger problem that many of us grapple with.


The Real Path to  ‘Invisible Card Magic’’

Shift students tend to get hung up on the notion of ‘invisibility’ – that you should be able to do the pass undetectably while the audience burns your hands. The truth may hearten you. If you want a truly invisible pass, the ‘technical perfection’ you seek only makes up a small piece of the pie. You’ll acquire the reputation you desire much sooner if you spend time on other  concepts many of us ignore.

Do you focus on the following ideas? Whether or not your pass is invisible, mastering these areas will make your spectators think your moves are unseeable. And whether or not you believe me yet…that is the secret of the perfect pass.


Do your routines encourage the audience to focus on the pack at the moment you execute the shift? For example, many card guys use the classic pass as  a color change. If that’s the way you work, you stand very little chance of being credited with truly ‘invisible’ technique. If a spectator exclaims,  “Man, you did that so FAST!” you’ve missed the mark.


Even if you structure your magic to cover the pass, you still need to perform the sleight softly. Remember, passes are like children – better to be seen and not heard. If you tense up at the moment of truth, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve constructed the effect. The audience will be drawn back to the pack at the wrong moment. Even if they don’t see it, they’ll think they did. WARNING: most serious shift students lose the battle on this front.


Do you actively focus  attention where you want it at all times? If you’re obsessed with the pass, it doesn’t matter how well you execute it. You will likely draw focus to your hands at the moment of the shift. If you  focus on the shift at all, even subconsciously, the game is lost.

The Paper Engine was built…

because I don’t like getting busted by my audience. With the material in the Paper Engine, I know that whether I’m having a perfect set, or a show that’s a little off, I still won’t have any trouble. I know that when the move comes  the audience will be looking elsewhere.

Learn the routines in The Paper Engine carefully, and apply the truly essential concepts of tension, focus and design to your own work. Then you’ll experience the joy of having your audience focus on your magic – not your shift.

Then you’ll be able to say you have a pass that is TRULY invisible.


Bill Goodwin Exposed – Let’s ask the Oracle

I had a lot of fun with the Bill Goodwin post a couple days ago. After I posted you knew I would be asking Bill Goodwin one of your questions.  Lee Asher knew as well – he even thought it was a good idea. The only reader of this blog not to know anything about our plan to ask Bill Goodwin a mystery question was……well, Bill Goodwin. 

I made the post after Bill left home for his evening’s work at the Magic Castle. On purpose.

Can’t anyone keep a secret anymore?

About 9:30pm, half an hour before Goodwin’s expected arrival, it occurred to me the odds were pretty small that Billy would make it through his entire evening at the castle without talking to a single person who knew what was coming. 

Hanging out in the Castle Library around 8:30, Larry Horowitz decided he had to check his email. He gave Billy the news that some ‘magic star’ was coming to my house later. Thanks Larry – you’re off the list.

Poor Billy spent an hour excited to find out who was going to be here.  When he arrived, boy was he surprised…

Billy's Blog 002

Billy LOVES the spotlight!


I had a hard time getting him to choose a question to answer – he wanted to spend most of his time learning hardcore sleight of hand…..


Billy's Blog 004

Billy Goodwin sure does like the passes, sleights and tricks in The Paper Engine…just look at that smile on his face. He LOVES the new edition.


Billy's Blog 006

In fact, we  had a late night over here. I finally went to bed, and when I awoke to ask Billy one of your questions, I found him truly happy, surrounded by great magic.

The Question 

Billy chose a question by Dave Atkins – for those of you who didn’t have your question asked, don’t worry. Next time Billy comes over he’ll pick a new one – eventually, we’ll squeeze it all out of him. You know how it is with real experts: they tip the secrets – they just do it slowly. Our only worry is that after this kind of embarrassment, Bill decides never to visit again. Here’s the question:

From Dave Atkins –

To Mr. Goodwin I would ask: as the librarian of the Magic Castle, if some magician was going to make the library disappear, which three books would you try to save before he did it?

That’s a great question! We decided to pretend, for the discussion, that the Magic Castle library is the ONLY magic library in the world. Under those circumstances, Mr. Librarian, which three books would you save?

What’s your answer?

Billy answered the question, and I’ll share that answer in my next post. In the meantime, post a comment with YOUR answer. What three books would you save if a giant comet were coming to destroy all the magic books on earth? I can’t wait to see what answers you give!



Aaron Fisher on Tension in Card Magic: an excerpt from The Paper Engine

This is the new edition of The Paper Engine. Scroll down for an excerpt from the book….enjoy!



The paper is still perfect.

The photos are still crisp.

The price is now better than ever.

The Paper engine.

Now available for the first time in Paperback.

Join the Revolution

click here.


 Please Note: This excerpt appears in the book just after the description of the Gravity Half Pass. This is NOT the full description of the Gravity Half Pass – to  fully understand the technique you’ll need the full description. As you read this article think about how the ideas in it relate to your sleight of hand on the whole – not just the perfect half pass.

If The Paper Engine has had any effect on the amount of tension in your card work, post a comment below and tell us about it.


Thoughts and Commentary: The Gravity Half Pass

Tension can be the Achilles heel of any advanced card-worker. Any time a muscle contracts, there is at least a small degree of tension and this can be detected by audiences, if only subconsciously. Most advanced card techniques are highly susceptible to tension. A friend once quipped that he could tell whether a certain card expert was dealing tops, seconds, or bottoms by the number of veins throbbing in his forehead. While this was a mild exaggeration, it was not unfounded. It does not matter that the worker in question has visually deceptive techniques; audiences can feel the tension and instinctively sense trickery. One way to alleviate tension in the performance of sleight-of-hand is through design.


The best way to remove muscle tension is to eliminate the muscle’s participation in the action — find another way to get the job done. For example, assume you are standing on the roof of a building, holding a set of keys. If your goal is to loan the keys to your friend on the sidewalk below, you can either carry them down or drop them to him. It is more efficient to drop an object than to carry it. Several items in this book (including the half pass) allow gravity to manipulate the cards, keeping the manipulation on the performer’s part to a minimum.


As the sleight commences and the cards begin to revolve, the only pressure exerted is that necessary to modulate the action. One doesn’t want to lose control, or go too fast, or not stop at the right time. Pressure is only exerted to focus the moving energy — energy initiated by gravity. This is similar to the steering technique my driving instructor called controlled slippage. Turning the wheel while going into a turn can require difficult, hand-over-hand action. Muscles pull, readjust, and then pull again. Coming out of a turn, however, is far easier. One no longer has to pull, but only allow the wheel to adjust.


Humans should not trifle with the forces of nature. As Spalding Gray quoted Athol Fugard in Swimming to Cambodia, The sea’s a lovely lady when you play in her, but, if you play with her, she’s a bitch.” keep this in mind if you choose to invoke natural forces, such as gravity in your technique, great care should be taken in the initiation of the reversal (the left-hand action). In a standard handling, with the left fingers reversing the cards, pressure can be added or released as needed. In this method there is only one chance to release your control over the packet and then only one chance to re-establish it.


The gravity half pass should never be rushed. If the sleight is hurried, the pack tends to overshot the right palm entirely. This sort of thing is to be avoided, so take care. Gravity is your friend, but it can also kill.


Those interested in further study of the half pass should know that perhaps the greatest exponent of half-pass applications is Scotland’s famed card expert, Roy Walton. His routines with both the standard half pass and his spread half pass are vital explorations into the subject. Careful study of his work is mandatory for any serious student of card magic.


The Paper Engine – what fuels YOUR motor?

Rosemary Paper Engine My book, The Paper Engine, was first published by the Hermetic Press in 2002. Now I need your help to describe the book to those who haven’t read it yet.

If you’re one of the thousands of sleight-of-hand performers around the world who have read the book and found it valuable, please take a moment to make your voice heard.

Write a comment below describing what you like about the book and how it helped you with your magic. If you want to talk about your favorite item in the book, do so. Be specific. Why is it your favorite?

By taking a few moments to participate, you’ll help me honestly, accurately describe the book for new readers. Also, and more importantly, you’ll help me develop the proper focus for future projects. If you tell me what you like, I’ll know what to give you.

I’ll read each and every comment and I’ll post a bunch of them as well. A few of you will receive copies of my new, unreleased effect for your efforts…so let the games begin!

Theory11, my new trick Panic and why you should care.

Panic Box

As many of you may already know, my new trick ‘PANIC!’ was unveiled last Friday night at I’m exceedingly proud of the trick, so before you read further, go and watch the video so you have a frame of reference. Then come back for a discussion about the trick, and my thoughts as to why Theory11 may represent an important shift in the quality of magic education.


Panic easily stands as my most significant release since The Paper Engine was published in 2002. The DVD is beautifully produced, both in terms of the packaging and the contents. More importantly, Panic may be the most commercial effect I’ve ever put out. In this case, commercial doesn’t mean merely ‘effective as a magic product’, though that’s certainly true as well. Rather, the piece demonstrates clearly how real world performing experience can lead to simpler, more efficient magic. It’s the most powerful effect I’ve ever shared with the community – I wanted the teaching on the DVD to be as effective as the trick itself.

For that reason, I’ve been forced to ask the same question as everyone else. What exactly is Theory And the truth is – I’m not entirely sure. We can all see the site involves a bunch of talented guys with real passion and serious ideas about magic. But for me personally, T11 represents a mysterious, exciting experiment.

How things will evolve I can’t truly say, because what’s being attempted here hasn’t been really tried before. Sure, several companies in the last few years have had great success selling magic tricks. Some of these companies have even sold quality material. But now, serious magicians are trying to discover whether this internet technology, so effective for business, can also be used to actually improve magic and the quality of its practitioners. For that reason, I find this whole process thrilling. Several of the players are my heroes – members of the real A team. And finally, they’re not just sitting around complaining about the state of things. They’ve stepped inside in the ring, reputations on the line, attempting to affect real change in the field we all care so deeply about.


One Piece at a Time – Details make the Magic

Panic Freak Out


As any experienced magic student will tell you, it takes an awful lot of work to find good material, to separate the wheat from the chaff. Companies sell tricks, ideas, methods and variations by the pound. If the student assumes he’s receiving a giant tomb of brand new, quality material, he will likely find himself disappointed. Many magic creators have great ideas, but find themselves under pressure, often self imposed, to release a greater percentage of their output than perhaps they ought to. I don’t exclude myself from this criticism. As many great comedians have noted, to write three good jokes, a good writer might reasonably pump out 97 others that never see the light of day. Perhaps we in magic should more often work toward this exacting standard.



Like other recent, successful companies in our industry, the gang at T11 has discovered that the current crop of young magicians responds well to ‘single item’ releases. Many magic students today would rather learn one astounding effect in a focused way – rather then spend valuable time sifting through some guy’s dairy from the month before. We all get exposed to so many ideas every day, perhaps we’re trying to make careful choices about what we invest our time in. The alternative might be to crumble under the weight of the knowledge work incumbent in the information age.


Some will complain that it’s a mistake to hold back the countless variations we love so much. These passionate students might argue that the sheer volume of ideas presented by one such as Ed Marlo (even excluding disputed ones) allows sleight of hand students to better appreciate the depth of the possibilities presented to us when we work with cards.

Panic Logo

Frankly, I sympathize with this romantic point of view. But then I think about the resonance we find in the work of Vernon. Much of his magic was described somewhat poorly by Lewis Ganson, yet his work remains iconic. It seems his decision to present only one or two solutions to a given problem actually worked. People got the message – do all the research, and then release the very best solution you can. At least partly for this reason, his small books on card magic stand out as some of the century’s finest volumes, regardless of their diminutive size.


Almost all of us can agree that magicians have access to plenty of material already. We further likely agree that the key to improving our work lies in developing fully the material we already have access to – not in the acquisition of more tricks.

Girls watching


In this regard, the ‘single item’ release model can conceivably help us all. To communicate magic lessons effectively requires patience, a slow hand and a long time. Too often, magic creators present their ideas quickly and use a ‘bare bones’ approach. That only makes sense – they’re presenting so many ideas that anyone would have trouble packing them all in. The student often comes away having witnessed twenty ideas, but finds himself later confused when he can’t make even the simplest version play as well as he hoped.


Ideally, when you release one piece at a time, you force yourself to choose your best item. Now you’ve got a piece worth teaching, your task comes into focus – to communicate every nuance of the effect, presentation and handling. Now, the student can gain enough confidence from your instruction to take the effect out of the basement and into the world. Of course, from this first step, the student gains only more questions. Hopefully, if you’ve done the job correctly, his dawning concerns have been anticipated. He can go back to the source, and find all the information he needs.

As of this writing, I am happy to report that Theory 11 supports these values. They not only wanted to release my trick, but they were more than supportive in allowing me to teach my magic the best way I know how. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have chosen to work with them.


All over the world, passionate, thoughtful people care about improving the quality of magic performance. For anyone who shares these values, the emergence of T11 holds wonderful promise. Finally, we might be a getting closer to a viable model for teaching magic in the 21st century – modern technology, combined with detailed lessons, taught by people who actually know.


I’m sure many of you will have ideas related to these issues. First, make sure to go and watch the demo of Panic and check out Theory11. Even though the site just launched, you’ll find plenty of ideas to explore. Then drop a comment here, or on T11’s new forum or both. It’s useful to write down your ideas. Not only will it help you clarify your own thoughts and beliefs – it will help people like me deliver content you can use. If we can really understand each others ideas, then everyone creates better magic.


Aaron Fisher