Multi award winning Magician Erix Logan approached me to discuss some “crazy ideas” he had but had never managed to bring to fruition. I flew out to Switzerland and spent several days there with him brainstorming and developing his ideas and ultimately came up with several completely new magical concepts with by far the most bizarre being “PinMan”. He’d always been fascinated by those tiny pin-art gadgets where you pushed an object against thousands of pins and they retained the shape; he knew that somewhere in this simple, common object there was the basis of a great production effect… he just couldn’t work out what or how. I took his core idea and from it designed a revolutionary prop and routine that exceeded his brief and was truly a magic effect to watch.
In performance the magician unveils a GIANT pin-art board (2m high x 1m wide and just 10cm thick) with over 4000 individual pins in it and invites a spectator up on stage to help him. The spectator freely examines the board and is invited to push his hands in to the pins to create a hand shape anywhere they wished to prove that this is just a (giant) pin-art board. After they’ve pushed several random-shapes the magician makes a magical gesture and the pins magically move – an arm shape grows from the wrist of one of the hand-shapes, another turns in to a leg and foot, a head appears and slowly and visibly the shape of a woman appears formed out of the pins. Throughout all of this the prop is constantly rotated (whilst the pins are moving) to show that there’s no-one pushing them – it’s real magic that’s making the outline appear. Suddenly and without warning the “shape” comes to life and steps out of the board and walks off stage; the pins have actually turned in to a real woman leaving a hollow void in the board!
The prop was a technological marvel as whilst every one of the 4000 pins (especially cast out of carbon fibre to keep the weight down but still look substantial) could be freely moved and used just like a pin-art board the prop also contained a bank of solenoids, cylinders and switches that enabled huge sections of the board to come to life and animate the pins so that shapes and outlines could magically appear or vanish during the routine…. And do so in a completely non-mechanical way, be completely silent; require no external power supplies, fit entirely within the 10cm thickness of the prop and self reset so that the effect could be presented at least 5 times without recharge or intervention. In addition the prop had to hide the assistant who would ultimately appear at the end of the effect, be light enough that it could be freely moved by the magician and be completely deceptive from all angles as the prop would be constantly turned and shown from all sides during the performance.
After some initial paper doodles to work out the main shape principle design was switched to AutoCAD Inventor which enabled me to strip out every gram of excess weight and fully model and test the mechanisms before any fabrication began. Once the design has been accepted it was fabricated in aircraft grade aluminium & carbon fibre by Dream-Concepts whilst I programmed the control system and automation coding to ensure the sequences performed perfectly every time running a mixture of compressed air and 12v power sources all hidden within the frame of the prop to eliminate the need for any visible power. The finished prop weighed in at just under 170kg fully met the clients brief and is breathtaking to watch when it’s being performed.