The Spector Cabinet is another high-impact, low-cost illusion idea from Andrew Mayne. It's his creative take on the shadow box. His plans offer everything that you need to know to build the illusion for about $60 worth of materials. This one can make an excellent show opener.
In the Shadows
In the effect, a single light within an open frame illuminates a darkened stage. The magician's assistant walks on stage and lowers cloth sides on the frame. After a moment, shadows begins to form on the front cloth. Slowly, the shadow takes shape and the magician's silhouette can now be seen from inside the box. The magi rips away the front cover, walks out and makes his entrance.
I'm sure that most of you have seen a shadow box production and can attest to the dramatic possibilities with the right music, fog and other special effects. In addition to being an excellent opener to introduce the magician, the illusion can be used instead to introduce an assistant in an act.
A Single Afternoon
According to Mayne, the illusion can be built in one afternoon, which sounds reasonable, once you purchase the materials. The only skills you'll need to build the illusion: you'll have to cut and fit PVC piping, cut and hem cloth and apply velcro strips. Mayne has designed the effect so that it packs down into a duffle bag.
The illusion requires about $60 worth of materials. Of course, you can always upgrade the materials from the PVC piping and bedsheets to build a more sophisticated prop.
In use, the effect requires exact lighting so it's only practical in an indoor area or stage where you can control light levels. You won't be able to perform this one outdoors on a sunny day. Also, you can't perform this one with the audience to your sides.
As it's designed, the illusion requires an assistant to walk out and lower the cloth panels on the frame. It could be performed without an assistant, but would probably require panels that are motorized or appeared to be remotely operated.
The 16-page manual offers lots of pictures and good explanations. At $14.95, Mayne's plans are a steal. Along with Voodoo Box and Light Storm, Mayne continues to offer the means for magicians to build great, low-cost illusions.
-Wayne N. Kawamoto
For more information on The Spector Cabinet or to order plans, please check out Andrew Mayne's web site at http://www.andrewmayne.com/site/index.html.