Learn how to replicate one of Criss Angel's most famous illusion / magic trick, the Matrix /Muscle Levitation (aka Muscle / Matrix Suspension). In particular, the illusion he did at a park, where he leaned backward with just one leg on the ground. He's suspended as though by magic.
If you miss that one, here's the video:
First of all, I'm not out to debunk anything. I'm just hoping to replicate the illusion (at least theoretically). So, this is more of a how I would do it, rather than how Criss Angel did it.
1) First, lets get the basics out of the way.
There are only 3 ways something can be suspended / levitated (humans included):
- Suspended from above.
- Supported / repelled from bottom.
- Supported from the sides.
As for this particular illusion, it can be viewed as an basic lever system at work. Which is shown in the simplified diagram below.
From the diagram, the body weight will be subjected to the force of gravity pulling it downward. The heel is acting as the fulcrum. In order to keep the system balanced, a downward force need to be applied on the other side of the lever, in a form of a counter weight.
2) The setup above raises two issues:
- The human body is not rigid. We have joints that permit certain degree (range of) movements.
- I'm not an Olympic gymnast, therefore even with the counter weight on my foot, there is no way I'm strong enough to hold my entire body in that position. Considering also the extreme stress it will put on my muscles and joints. The diagram below highlighted my problems (in red).
3) Calling for support.
Rightfully, I will need some kind of contraption to alleviate the stress off my muscles, and provide additional support for my body weight. I will also need to limit the bending of my knee.
Getting the idea from the design of medieval knights armor, but with a different twist, I will be needing a custom rigged leg braces.
I will need to rig something similar to this:
I've highlighted the key part in the rig. The braces will help me with 3 things.
- Limit the bending of my knee so it won't go more than 90 degrees.
- Support my hip, thigh so that I can rest some of my body weight on just the braces.
- Padded against my calf and provide the counter leverage.
Of course that alone won't be enough, I will still need to provide support and limit the bending of my ankle. So I will need a custom boot / shoe, attached to the above braces.
5) The counter weight.
Obviously I can't really place a boulder on my foot. So the only way is to go underground. With the help with the help of a buried anchor:
6) Performing the illusion.
This is the hardest part. It will need great balance and strong muscles, particularly the abs. And above all, some great acting skills.
Leaning backward is very tricky, especially doing so while trying to keep my balance. Thus, I will need someone to hold my hand and lower me. Once I get into the suspended position, my braces will start to do it's job of supporting some of my weight while keeping my leg at 90 degree. The upper portion of my body weight will be supported by my abs.
Of course I can't hold myself in the suspended position for very long, it will be too tiring. Thus I can only be in that position for a few seconds, enough to be convincing.
As for Criss Angel, he is also good at misdirecting.
If you've seen the whole trick on TV, there is an instance where the camera zooms to his legs. He's showing that theres nothing on the ground underneath his legs, next to his left foot is something that looks like a small pile of dirt. As the camera zooms out, we can see there's a dead tree and in the backdrop, with a motor-home in the parking lot.
However when he's about to perform his trick, magically the pile of dirt disappear from next to his legs, no dead tree in the backdrop, no motor-home in the camera frame. That's a misdirection. He actually moved to a spot a few meters from where he previously stood, where (I presumed) the anchor was buried. The good thing about not having to perform live, you can have cut scenes.
I will need to find me a decent machine shop to fabricate my rig, learn some acting, quote some spiritual new-age terminologies, update my wardrobe, work on my abs, practice my balance, memorize my visual markers, and I'm set! =P
If any of you ever try this trick, be sure to share the video!