Rua is one of Ireland’s leading mentalists and magicians. He is at the forefront of the wedding and corporate entertainment market, created and starred in his own TV show, and has had numerous other TV appearances.
In recent months he has been performing Zoom shows as an alternative to his well-established, regular shows.
In our previous article on the topic, we quoted Rua as saying ‘Unless it’s done correctly, the experience of watching a Zoom show is like giving caffeine to a cocaine addict – it just doesn’t hit!
Here Rua elaborates on this and kindly shares on his thoughts on the process of putting a Zoom show together, with some practical tips on how best to perform it – so you have the best chance of getting that hit!
This is great advice from a seasoned pro and we’re really grateful to him for sharing this with us. We believe it could be extremely useful for both magicians and non-magical entertainers alike!
Why might you want to develop a Zoom show?
With the current uncertainty around the future of live entertainment, having a virtual format to offer would seem a sensible way to protect at least some of your business.
But if you are still on the fence about doing Zoom shows, I suggest working on an act to have up your sleeve even if you may not want/need to use it yet. Put it together as a project. Then you are ready to go should you want to launch it.
Most of us have more time on our hands right now so what have you got to lose?
How to go about developing a show?
- You don’t know if it’s going to work until you try it – it’s trial and error. It’s like learning a totally new craft so it can be quite daunting in that sense.
- For that reason, test on family and friends first.
- Consider who your target audience is throughout the development process.
- If you’re a magician you need to create a show that makes sense rather than a series of tricks – It’s more like a stage show than a table-hopping close-up gig in that sense. I’d say this would be the same for any other kind of entertainment too – there has to be something that links the individual elements together.
- The show also needs to have a beginning, middle and end. My first show didn’t really connect with the audience so I went back and worked on it some more.
- Remember you are not just a guy who can do cool things, you are a professional entertainer. You need to make the experience as magical as possible.
- Make it short and sweet – a Zoom attention span is less than an in-person performance.
- There are no rules – you can choose any format that you like – that’s the beauty of developing something in this new medium.
Do you have any tips for the online set-up?
- Add a red dot beside your computer’s webcam to remind you where to look – that way you will appear to be looking at your audience rather than looking down awkwardly.
- Invest in some decent lights as the proper use of lighting can really help your set-up look professional. Good lighting is actually more important than the quality of the camera. (most lap top cameras are generally fine.)
- Think about how best to frame yourself and what background will work best.
- Check out some YouTube videos like this on how best to set up and light yourself for Zoom.
What about tips for the performance?
- The first show I did I could see people eating dinner, getting up and moving around throughout and having conversations. It really threw me off. Make it clear to the event organiser that you need their guest’s total attention throughout.
- It’s good to have some kind of introduction – One way is to have a pre-recorded countdown video or series of images before your show.
- Encourage people to clap throughout – especially to acknowledge any volunteers who help. It makes it feel more like a proper show and helps maintain your audience’s engagement.
Do you have any thoughts on marketing a Zoom show?
- Come up with a contact list based on your existing clients and potential customers.
- Create a dedicated website/page specifically for your Zoom show.
- Offer a free 10-minute call with the organisers to give a taster of what they would get.
What, for you, is the main advantage of Zoom shows over regular shows?
As long as you have a laptop you can perform it anywhere in the world, to be seen anywhere in the world.
Who is doing particularly well in this medium that you know of?
In the magic world there are some great examples:
- Helder Guimarães has created an excellent Zoom show called ‘The Present’ which has been a sell-out in 2020. He delivers this to 25 households at a time. The audience get a small package delivered to them before the show which includes a souvenir and other items used during it. It’s directed by Frank Marshall and there are great production values. He’s taking Zoom shows to another level.
- Justin Willman is offering ‘Magic for Humans @ Home’ – this is a combination of live interactive segments interspersed with pre-recorded sketches.
- Magician Max Maven has some great content on the topic.
- Video chat magic by Steve Thompson and Will Heuston is a fantastic resource for material and thinking behind Zoom show creation.
What advice would you give to those for whose craft doesn’t naturally lend itself to a Zoom pivot – for example, face painting?
Think laterally. If I was a face painter I’d try to develop something really different and fun. For example, I’d create a format where I send out a package to people in advance with simple face paints. Then I’d teach girls to paint their boyfriend’s faces and get everyone to enjoy seeing the results!
What would you say to any potential clients who have chanced upon this?
Book me for a virtual show – it can be just as interactive, mind-blowing and fun as the real thing!