The last article, covering the controversy in the comments section of Willman’s video, might have been very much in need of a TL/DR, so here’s my attempt at providing it, in the form of a questionnaire. This isn’t really for magicians, just any regular folks who might end up here.
First of all, who the hell are you and why should we care what you think?
I’m a nobody. I won’t try to convince you that you should care.
Do you know how sure that this wasn’t all staged?
No, I don’t.
Do you believe it was staged?
No, I don’t. Of the clips I’ve seen, I believe that the reactions were genuine.
If I was there from start to finish observing it live, would I have been fooled?
Quite possibly not.
Do you believe that important things were edited out?
Given what I saw? Yes.
Do you think those things explain how the trick was done?
I think they would explain large portions of the trick to people in the television audience. That said, for reasons covered in the last blog entry, I think the main people involved would still be fooled.
Could Justin Willman do these tricks completely live with a regular audience and fool everybody?
Yes, I believe so. He may have to make significant alterations to the methods, but I believe they’d be impressive.
Would I be able to tell the difference between the stuff in this video and a hypothetical live performance?
I think, if Justin did his job properly, it would be incredibly difficult to tell the difference. You’d probably have to record the live performance and study it bit-by-bit and compare it to the original.
Do you think it’s fair to have a bunch of stuff happening that’s edited out?
All other things being equal, I think the most important thing is that the person who was in the video should be able to watch the video itself afterwards, and say “Yes, that’s exactly what happened.”
Don’t you think that the trick should be done without any editing?
Hard to say, as it’s going to depend on the trick. There’s a lot of stuff that you can get away with in the moment that would get picked up on in a video. A big part of magic is guiding spectators to remember or forget specific details as needed. A camera is impossible to misdirect, unfortunately.
That’s really it. As I said before, I’ve probably already said too much, and despite everything, this isn’t a magic exposure site. Hopefully, though, this bit of perspective might help any random people who end up here realize that there’s probably more going on than fake actors and such.