Thursday, 10 September 2009

Derren Brown and The Lottey Numbers

Last night was one of those intriguing pieces of television that you can't quite believe you saw, then spend hours thinking about it. Derren Brown, he of the great mind control act/tricks/illusions, call it what you will, was going to predict the nights Lottery numbers.

He couldn't reveal his prediction before they were drawn as, he claimed, the BBC have sole rights to revealing the numbers first. This immediately made me realise it was definitely some kind of trick, as many magazines carry fortune telling type predictions of the weeks numbers all the time. Instead he had a stand with six ping-pong sized balls in shot at all time, which, once the numbers had been announced, he turned to reveal that each ball was marked with a number. You can watch the entire programme here . Im sure I won't be spoiling the surprise by telling you he gets 6 out of 6 correct.

I love this type of trick/illusion/whatever, and I find Derren Brown fascinating to watch. I know it's not magic, nor (unlike a lot of his regular act) is it any kind of suggestion/mind control. It definitely wasn't a delayed transmission of the lottery, I had that on silmultaneously on the PC. So how was it done?

He has promised to show us how on Friday. Afer lots of theories which disprove themselves once I give them more thought I can only come up with one logical conclusion - a camera trick. The set up reminded me of this video of the team from the Real Hustle taking a boy into the Tardis which of course was much bigger inside than out. That was done by switching the right hand edge of the "from above" shot with a still photo after they had been seen to walk around it, hiding the back of the tardis opening up to allow them to enter a large set, unseen from the above. Last night the stand on the left containing the balls could similarly have been switched to a still shot after DB had walked around it, and switched back to the live shot just before he walks back to it, enabling the correct balls to be quickly placed on the stand unseen by the viewer as they were announced. The lack of an audience would add weight to this idea as do a couple of momentary apparent shot freezes at the relevant times.

I can't wait to see the reveal on Friday. If I've guessed it right I'll feel a bit smug but also a bit disappointed that such a great act needs to resort to camera trickery.


  1. definitely mate, thought of the same clip from real hustle as you did.

    he showed us there were only two camera men - with the shot from the back so we saw the main camera was held by a man.

    that was the only shot we saw from the back, then we cut to the main camera

    which is now set up on a tri-pod with a steady shot and a 'wiggle' is added to the picture to give the impression it is still hand held

    the still shot allows for the screen to be split and the left hand side where the balls are is the original 'still' shot whil derren is live on the right hand side.

    allowing someone, probably his gran, to stand at the balls (careful) and write the numbers as they come up.

    the wonders of video compositing

    i'm sure as well that on friday his big reveal will be another misdirection and we will be told it is a mathematical system (at least i hope this is what happens).

    I think Derren Brown is awesome, in many ways including being an illusionist - he is keeping the original magic alive and it fascinated me how he does so in the modern world to such great success!


  2. Interesting thoughts here! I didn't watch the show, as he clearly was always going to 'predict' all 6 correctly!

    As for ' sad that he has to resort to camera trickery ' - how else would he do it!

    It is clever though, just not my cup of tea!

  3. Tomnipresent - only thing confusing me was how would the whole picture "wiggle" not just the live camera shot. Or is the "wiggle" added to the final composite shot, not a physical movement of the camera.

    Turtle (Oh man of no link) . Have you not seen his act before? He's amazing. What I meant was he already has a great act that doesn't need camera tricks, resorting to one now can only cast doubts on how genuine other parts of his act are.

    Incidentally I re-watched The Gathering last night (on catch-up) that I originally watched the day before immediately after the Lottery one, and there was at least one part that I clearly remember that wasn't shown on the catch-up show. Are they edited or was I tricked into believing I'd seen something I hadn't?

  4. The trailers on C4 immediately had me thinking of the sort of camera/computer trickery that we just accept as routine in Dr Who these days. "Predicting" the national lottery numbers is small beer compared to the Dr draining the River Thames or jumping through a mirror on a white horse into the ballroom of a French Chateau...

  5. @TGR Worzel. Dr Who camera trickery ?!?!?! Surely not LoL

    The Friday follow up was awful. Claiming to show us how it was done, it a) clearly didn't; and b)the "tricks" were so obvious that anyone with an ounce of common sense could work them out with not a lot of thought. Not up to DB's usual standard at all UNLESS being the first in a series he has deliberately let us all think we sussed this one out in order to leave us even more amazed that we haven't got a clue about how he does a later one.


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