Marching band illusion

Magician Franz Harary demonstrates a fun illusion. As usual, I have no idea how it was done. I am assuming that the illusion is legitimate and this is not some CGI fakery.

I did notice the sudden appearance of shadows under the platform at the 0:38 mark but that still does not explain where the marchers came from.


  1. Deanna says

    Okay, I think I figured it out.
    It’s trickery with the camera placement. Not just where it is pointing, but what angle it is at.
    First, the camera is to the right of the platform looking diagonally at Harary. I believe that the marching band is off screen even further to the right.
    Then by 0:15 Harary walks in front of the camera, and the camera follows him until the platform is nearly entirely off screen.
    He pauses for 10 seconds.This is when I believe the marching band moves behind the platform and the blue screen.
    Now, at 0:28 the camera is straight onto the platform. The two guys are kneeling, holding the screen partly up.

    Okay, now this is the key. Notice where the camera is located. It’s at _waist_ level with Harary. This means that there is a MASSIVE amount of the field that is covered by the tarp, and the tarp covers the front of the platform just enough so that there is a space where you don’t see any sunlight.

    I think that the marching band is literally behind that tarp, crouched very low. The entire breadth of the platform between the two kneeling guys and counting back there is about _20 yards_ of field that is covered by that tarp! (I count the major lines long the field). So you have about 2-3 yards by 20 yards where you could have a crouching band and not see it.
    The question is how far down a band member could kneel. Because the camera is about two feet off the ground, I think as long as they’re crouched below two feet high, they’d hide.

    I think that’s possible.
    They raise the tarp at 0:35, but not that the camera now rises to shoulder height. I’m not entirely sure why this happens, but it’s intentional.

    Now, as noted, at 0:38 we see the first shadow appear…but also notice that it starts just above the shadow of the platform. This means that, with the sun angle being very high but behind the camera, that whoever is casting that shadow is approaching the camera, not coming off the platform. Otherwise the shadow would have connected with the platform’s shadow as soon as it appeared. I think.

  2. John Morales says

    Plausible enough, Deanna.

    For me, if a trick works relies on it being on video, it’s weak.

    Not directly related, but I recommend Captain Disillusion on YouTube.

  3. Mano Singham says


    That is an excellent analysis.

    The problem is that this trick then only works on spectators in one particular direction. So why do it in a stadium with spectators all around?

  4. Matt G says

    Could there be some sort of screen in place which has the background printed on it? Maybe just above the blue sheet (giving them more space for crouching, per Deanna’s idea), or perhaps off to the right. I may be fooling myself but there seems to be a line below the clouds on the right side. It’s the effect used by the high tech thieves in the movies who put a picture of the empty room in front of the security camera.

  5. Mobius says

    @3 Mano

    That is what I was wondering. I could think of some ways to get the band behind the tarp without being about to see it from the camera’s perspective, but I could not think of any way to do it and not see the band from the stands on the side.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    “A screaming audience of about 150,000 football fans”

    The largest college football stadium, at the University of Michigan, has a capacity of only 107,601.
    I agree with the criticism by Mano in comment #3.

  7. lochaber says

    My first thought was that they were staged by/in the building in the background, and once the sheet was raised, they sprinted up to the platform. Although, the sheet is only up for about 10 seconds or so, and I’m not sure if that’s enough time for them to cover that distance. The camera seems to be moving around to much for them to be using the various people as cover on approach, but maybe?

    Also not sure how this would work out live, since people would be viewing it from different angles…

  8. lochaber says

    over on the BoingBoing post about this, the commenters propose that the people are lined up behind the person on the right. They also point out that he has his legs covered by the tarp from the beginning, and when they show the overhead towards the end, you can see a path in the grass that would fit with people being lined up behind the person to the right.
    The same clues are also on the vid linked to by Martin Veneroso, so I think that might be the most likely explanation for this?
    (apologies for the double posting…)

  9. Matt G says

    There’s more than a path behind the guy on the right -- it looks like someone used a clear varnish to paint a line, and at the correct angle to hide people from the camera. Look at second 48 in the Ken Scott version. The space behind him gets wider as you go farther back, of course.

  10. larpar says

    @Mano #3 and @Mobius #5
    You guys are too trusting. Perhaps both magicians are lying about performing the trick in front of a crowd. Wouldn’t that be a better video than one shot in an empty stadium? Where’s the video with a full stadium?

  11. Matt G says

    On closer look, there appears to be a string on the ground in the Ken Scott version at second 47-48.

  12. says

    At 0:32 as the guys start raising the tarpaulin, the one on the right shifts to the side just a bit and for a moment you can see the shoulder and right arm of one member of the marching band lined up behind him. At 0:37 first shadow appears on the left under the patio, as the marching band members are sprinting into their positions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *