Blink of an Eye
by Peter Stammers

Last year a magician friend bought two tricks for £1,500 and there combined time lasts about 20 seconds. Of course we are all magical nuts, buying the best, the fastest, the 'most amazing' is integral to our species. Unfortunately it can blind us into forgetting that itís not always a trick that can make our act magical and hopefully memorable. My wife loves watching concerts on the TV be it Classical or Rock music - me Ė Iím tone deaf, nevertheless, I do appreciate style and presentation whatever the performance might be. The question I ask, had he spent the money wisely?

Living on a Greek tourist island the work is mainly in hotels. I donít know if itís the same in the UK but over here hotels somehow believe that only musicians and singers exist to entertain their guests. Their audio systems are designed so that any microphone moved from a fixed point will cause havoc by oscillating through the speakers. They provide all sorts of flashing coloured lights for the disco but never think of providing spots. Because my friend relies on his music being played through the hotel's audio system, his wife, at times, has to sit behind him just to operate the console. With audio/lighting systems becoming smaller and cheaper, yet maintaining quality and power, itís more sensible not to rely other peopleís equipment. Buying a good radio mike, amplifier, speakers, a small mixer, mini disc and maybe a small bank of floor or elevated lights and when needed an instant portable backdrop is in my view money well spent Ė at least compared to 20 seconds of magic!

It is now possible to edit and produce your own audio/lighting requirements at home using a computer. Long gone are the days when you would need a three-ton truck to carry such equipment and you could even now work the system on your own using a remote control. The time spent setting up your own equipment would be about the same amount of time you would spend trying to get to grips with a system you have never used before or explaining to someone your requirements. So if any of you are thinking of spending money on a trick that's over before you can blink, just keep you eyes open for a few seconds more and ask yourself "Can I spend it more wisely?"

© Peter Stammers January 2001