Alex Hudson

Thoughts on Technology, Product, & Strategy

Month: September 2009

Derren ‘witch’ Brown

Apologies, but I couldn’t help but comment on this.

  1. I don’t believe it’s broadcast delay. There is a delay there, but it’s of the order of seconds. His waffle at the end is about the same length. I don’t see what difference it would make – it could make the switch happen earlier (e.g., at 1:40 on the video above) but I don’t see any gain. With people analysing the video, it doesn’t really matter where it happens.
  2. I don’t believe it’s split video. That’s horribly difficult to get right, I’m not sure anyone proposing it has actually tried it – particularly since they also broadcast this thing in HD. It’s also not very Derren Brown.
  3. I don’t believe it’s a 55k take split. There’s no visible edit split – and there would have to be one, somewhere – and he knew he got all six at the end. The stuff Derren was saying about “sorry if I only get five right” – eh. This idea is plain nonsense.
  4. I don’t believe it’s eInk etc. Not very Derren Brown. It’s certainly not projection or quickly stuck on numbers, either.
  5. I don’t believe there is a hidden wall. The balls cast a shadow on Derren; if it’s a wall it’s exceptional.
  6. I don’t believe there is anything dodgy about the stand. Looks like perspex to me, and the ball’s labels are pointed up and out.
  7. I don’t believe the “last ball moved a bit” stuff. The last number out was the 2; which is actually the ball on the far right when they’re turned. If the balls had been replaced, the 2 would be the last in / labelled, so the ball on the far left as it’s turned around should be the one raised…
  8. I don’t believe he predicted anything, or used statistics, or that the balls in the lottery were influenced.
  9. I don’t believe he palmed the balls. Not enough time, not physically possible.
  10. I don’t believe he’s holding anything in front of the balls. The labels are on the surface of the balls.
  11. Finally, I don’t believe he’s actually going to give us any insight into how this trick was performed. The fact that people are hanging on the little ball moving or the video thing – clutching at straws. This was a good trick

However.. what I would say…

  1. I’m interested to know why the TV got turned off. It was moving out of shot, and presumably they could have had set runner turn it off / down off camera. That makes me think they really couldn’t stick on the show longer than the ball announcement.
  2. There is a gap between the numbers being announced and turning around the balls. This gap must be necessary; the writing down of the numbers and stuff didn’t have to happen.
  3. The ball holder has sloped-back sides. The front and back of the box are shallow and don’t raise high, but the sides raise up – there’s no need for that; he only needs a box. The slopes match roughly where the labels on the balls are located. Was something attached to the front of them somehow? Looking in between the balls, it could be a line of tape going across the front (particularly between 35 and 39 at about 2:25) – equally though, it could be compression bleed. Not convinced it would give the 3D effect required either.
  4. Are they even balls? We know that looking at the inside of a sphere and the outside is very similar – indeed, everyone’s seen those masks at the fair which seem to follow you around. I suspect they probably are balls, though.

Personally, I’m going for tape over the balls, palmed over it somehow. The sides of the holder and the apparent grey between the balls. I doubt we’ll know for sure tho.

Patent infringement to be criminalised?

That’s apparently what a group of UK inventors are asking for. On the face of it, their arguments are pretty hard to dismiss: if you have a patent, it is extremely costly to “enforce” it and essentially means it’s only open to the big boys.

Sadly, the article doesn’t really talk much about patent quality or the goals of the patent system, and although it brings up the problem of accidental infringement / independent invention, it doesn’t really explore any possible solutions. Certainly, we do seem to have a system which requires a severe overhaul at the moment, though.