Video Chat Magic

By Will Houstoun and Steve Thompson
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4.8 | 9 reviews
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Video Chat Magic

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Book or download by Will Houstoun and Steve Thompson (Book and download $79.95 or download for $54.95)

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Video Chat Magic - magic
Video Chat Magic Video Chat Magic

From some of the greatest minds in magic, comes the most exciting and comprehensive selection of routines, tricks, concepts, essays and tech solutions for virtual magic, all in one massive release.

In March 2020, the magic community was thrust into the most rapid and dramatic transformation it’s ever seen. Never had the game changed so much, so fast.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. So, Steve Thompson and Will Houstoun partnered up to champion the idea of embracing virtual magic, acknowledging its challenges, and, more importantly, leveraging its unique advantages and opportunities.

With the generous assistance of some of the biggest names in magic and mentalism, they threw themselves into researching and innovating what magic could become in this new world. They weren’t interested in simply adapting old tricks to the new environment, but rather discovering innovative new effects and methods.

Over the course of 6 intense months, they produced a subscriber-only online collection aptly titled “Video Chat Magic” that grew monthly in breadth, acclaim and membership—and even raised over $35,000 for charity along the way. It featured incredible contributions from the likes of Max Maven, Jim Steinmeyer, Adrian Lacroix, Marc Kerstein, Pete McCabe and Richard Wiseman, as well as other special guests like Larry Fong, the blockbuster cinematographer behind Batman vs Superman, Watchmen, and Kong: Skull Island, who took part in a dedicated series exploring camera work and lighting for virtual shows.

Now, in exclusive partnership with Vanishing Inc., this ground-breaking material is available in one interactive book. The content is carefully arranged into thematic chapters that take you on a journey from early discoveries to game-changing breakthroughs and fascinating conclusions.

Reluctant to make the leap into performing virtual magic? This book will inspire you. Ready to blow minds? This book will show you how. Simply put, “Video Chat Magic” will shatter your preconceptions about how much impact you can have, and how deeply you can connect with your audience, through a screen.

Inside you’ll find over 50 tricks, tools, techniques, essays and pieces of technology, not to mention 25 ideas for VideoMasker alone (a universal version of MagicMask from Marc Kerstein and Seth Raphael that is included with your purchase).

Learn how to do the cleanest predictions imaginable, how to create more engagement than is possible in person, how to bend time, how to make objects appear in your spectator’s hands and, most of all, how to take advantage of this new performance space to give your spectators truly memorable and meaningful experiences.

Special Bonus: And that’s not all! Pete McCabe, the professional script writer and author of the venerable “Scripting Magic” books, was joined by Paul Draper to present Scripting Magic 2.1—The virtual magic addendum to the beloved original volumes.

“Video Chat Magic” is offered in two interactive formats:
The first is a stunning 350 page full-color hardback book (that comes with a new QR code enabled virtual experience that allows you to watch videos as part of the reading journey). The second is an interactive ebook. Both versions include access to a variety of resources including tools, prop printouts, special videos, software solutions, and templates for key effects and methods.

It is clear that virtual magic is here to stay and “Video Chat Magic” is guaranteed to open up your mind to new possibilities and make you a better magician. It will also help make the world a better place, because a portion of every sale will be donated to

“Required reading for anyone who wants to do strong magic in this new medium.” Jon Armstrong

“The most important release of 2020” Real Magic Reviews: Steve Faulkner

"VideoChat Magic is a deep dive into the world of virtual magic. [...] simply get this immediately and thank me later!” Richard Sanders

“Over the last year I have performed hundreds of Zoom shows. Video Chat Magic has been an incredible resource for me during my virtual magic journey. These ideas, subtleties, and techniques have become the bases for entire segments of my Zoom show. I can’t thank you enough for helping me think, pushing me to do better magic, and giving me that extra edge in this new space.” Harrison Kramer

Video Chat Magic is unveiling the most effective ways to succeed in this new medium.” Luís de Matos

353 Pages | Full Color | Hardback or ebook

Contents of "Video Chat Magic"

  • Foreword by Richard Wiseman
  • Introduction and Welcome
  • About this Book

Chapter 1: Foundations

  • Video Chat Magic: Our Approach
  • Are You a Prioritisationalist?
  • The Folly of the Crowd
  • The Return of the Prioritisationalist

Chapter 2: Tricks

  • That’s Not Remotely Possible
  • The Messy Spread
  • Jackpot M&Ms
  • Stop!
  • Videoport
  • Audio Deceptions

Chapter 3: Masking Software

  • Introducing VideoMasker
  • Setting Up VideoMasker
  • The VideoMasker Preview Tool
  • VideoMasker Prediction Effects and Ideas
  • VideoMasker Non-Prediction Effects
  • VideoMasker Effects that Push the Boundaries.


  • I Felt Like a Rant

Chapter 4: Mentalism

  • Harry’s Switch
  • The Zoom Switch
  • Zoomifying Max Maven’s Four Sided Triangle
  • Wishing and Making it So... Online
  • The Case of the Least Suspected Suspect: A “Whodunnit” for Video Chat Magic
  • Retail Therapy
  • The Participative Princess
  • Mentalism: The Breakout Room

Chapter 5: Time Manipulation

  • TimeShifter
  • The Tomato Who Knows
  • The Sympathetic Coins
  • Remote Control
  • Time Manipulation: The Breakout Room

Chapter 6: Interactive Effects

  • Interactive Television Tricks
  • A Toxic Hess
  • Letting Go of Tricks in Favour of Experiences
  • Full Spectrum Magic
  • The Humans Went in Three by Three
  • Finding Your Better Half
  • The One Great Deceit

Chapter 7: Essays

  • A Quirky Approach to Magic
  • Dealing with Applause, or the Lack Thereof
  • Creating Promo Videos From Your Zoom Shows
  • A Livestream Pathway
  • Discovering Virtual Magic
  • Before the Zoom Rush: Examples of Theatrical Interactions Before Video Chat
  • Siegfried’s Pyramid of Priorities

Chapter 8: Interviews

  • Larry Fong
  • Pete McCabe
  • Scripting Magic 2.1: 22 Questions and One Interview


  • Afterword
  • Authors
  • Contributors
  • Effective Giving: The Real Magic
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Customer reviews for Video Chat Magic



Wow! The best source for your virtual magic. This is brilliant! Definitely my favorite book of the year. You will not be disappointed. Love the QR code scans to take you to your video links. This is a feature that would be handy for future magic books to come. Perfect for magic and mentalism. This will take your virtual shows to new heights.



Fantastic, and useful information. Some of the best material and thinking for virtual shows published so far.



Nothing short of outstanding!!!
Being a video chat magic substack subscriber, this is by far one of the best effects I have owned in the recent times. Magic Mask alone covers the price. The effects, theories and philosophies are top notch and all practical. There are also some underrated gems in this which are not discussed much in public :)
Proud to be an owner of this.



Is Magic performance over a video chat (Zoom) here to stay, or is it something that will disappear once the Covid situation will be globally under control? This is something not even Derren Brown could predict, but the small investment in this book will help anybody who has been struggling to adapt their repertoire to the new format, and will provide plenty of food for thoughts for the reader.
The book covers the technical side of Zoom magic, by offering some tools and some add-ons to these tools that can really make a whole world of difference to a magic performance. The tricks explained in the book (and in the accompanying downloads/videos) are generally excellent, and not all procedural or with a mathematical base: of course, they take advantage of the nature of video calls, but a few could be adapted to live performances.
The book also contains a few essays on the theory and the psychology of Zoom magic, but these often reflect the experience of the authors and you may end up disagreeing with some of them. Also, the situation has changed since when some of these essays were written (early 2020) and the global experience of Zoom magic has evolved.
Personally, I think the volume lacks of a chapter about the more technical aspect of the setup of a show of virtual magic: I would have liked to read, and to see photos of real setups, where the cameras are, what are the lights used, how to place the microphone, etc. Some of this information is scattered around the text, but I would have preferred it in a single chapter that could have been accessed rapidly.
I've purchased the paper edition and the digital one, but I don't think anybody needs the printed book: the PDF is very well done, with hyperlinks where necessary (these are missing from the paper version) and (semi) embedded videos (they are actually hosted on YouTube). As a collector, I enjoy the book, but a practicing purchaser could avoid it and won't lose anything.
I strongly recommend this book and I believe it will become a reference to this kind of magic.



I love it. It's gorgeous, clear and full of gold. I also love that you can click on the links! What a gift. Video Chat Magic was one of the best investments I ever made. Thanks for everything!



This is a brilliant book. It came out the week before I was preparing to do my first online show and I downloaded the ebook. It is full of excellent ideas, practical and philosophical, that will help anyone beginning to do online shows. If you're already experienced, I'd imagine there is still a lot of really useful information, tricks, techniques and essays that will help you improve your online performances.

Some of the tools provided with this package are worth the price of the book, and I know that is a cliche in reviews, but it is true in this case.

Beyond this, it records an historic moment. It shows how some performers have responded to that moment and the results. I suspect in years to come this will be valued as a key record of the new and exciting ideas that resulted out of this otherwise horrible pandemic forced magicians to come up with. Every magician should read this, whether they intend to perform online shows or not.

See the ingenuity of some performers and creators over the last year, and get a head start if you're just beginning!



So this is not a real review. But I watched the lecture and I'm partway through the ebook (I skipped reading some of the tricks that were explained in the lecture in favor of reading essays and so on...). I think this book is AFAIK unique and of course very appropriate given these strange times.

In particular the lecture focused on some of the "cool methods" available because of Zoom / technology. But the book in my mind is more valuable because of the Essays and indeed the questions it raises.

For me personally I am so far quite sure that I'll stay clear of most of the cool new methods. Why? I think Max Maven once said something along the lines of (badly paraphrased from memory): "Illusions are one of the hardest kinds of magic to present, because it is difficult to convince the audience that the magician has anything to do with the magic" (as opposed to the boxes). Well I think we can add to that Zoom Magic. Once the audience believes "the computer" has done part of the magic, is there any point in doing any further regular tricks? And in particular these days computers are extremley powerful and people are used to them being extremley powerful...

So I consider those methods (while many of them are super clever) to be very very difficult to actually use. But as said they are not the only ones mentioned in the books and some of the essays are fantastic. And also maybe your opinion will be different. People clearly enjoy seeing visual effects (just look at zach kings or captain disillusion's youtube channels). So maybe a good format of something magic like on Zoom will be a show explicitely marketed as Visual Effects live?



Great tips and inspirational ideas. I was able to take these ideas and apply them to my first online show. It will challenge your paradigm of what is magic and what is possible through this new medium. I think each performer will need to wrestle with this and figure out what works for their act.

Once an audience perceives we're doing this with video effects it could destroy any opportunity for future amazement. This book provides tips and subtleties that help avoid that issue but it's up to the magician to make them high quality like anything else.


Raymond J

Overall I was hesitant to buy a product that covers such new territory for virtual magic and concepts. However, I have to say the product gave me some great thinking and presentation points I would not have otherwise thought of. Being new to this online magic space, I am just starting to learn. I would suspect others will fine the content very useful and even point some things out you might not have thought about. Thank you to VI for putting this together and allowing for an electronic version of the book to help save some space! I look forward to putting the ideas presented to work in potential online magic with small groups of friends. Always good to have some tricks up the sleeve in any environment.


Community questions about Video Chat Magic

Have a question about this product? It's possible others do too. Ask here and other Vanishing Inc. Magic customers will be able to respond with assistance! Alternatively, email us and we can help too.

  • Craig asks: Is this the book referred to in Connected: Live 2021, or is there an additional one coming out shortly?

    • 1. Craig answers: Okay, Will and Steve just answered this; yes, it is. :)
    Post an answer to this question
  • Brad asks: I’m a subscriber to Video Chat Magic. Thank you, it is absolutely fabulous stuff, and the donations directly to charity are the best. Will all of the videos that were included online at VCM be in the book and on the e-book? There is a great deal of very valuable material there that I really love!

    • 1. Steve Thompson (creator) responds: Hi Brad Thanks for your feedback and your question. The vast majority of the content from the original collection is contained within the book (minus a few bits that didn't make sense in this format). All good wishes Steve and Will
  • Avinash asks: Is the video mask software a separate purchase or it is included with this purchase?

    • 1. Will answers: Instructions on how to set it up, along with everything you need, are included! Cheers, Will
    Post an answer to this question
  • Paul asks: Josh, Andy and Co: Bravo for publishing Video Chat Magic! Question: if I pre-order the 350 page book, will I also receive the interactive ebook version in my download area?

    • 1. SGKYDUYEN answers: You will receive the ebook under your download section if uou pre-order the physical book
    Post an answer to this question
  • Bart asks: Shipping to Belgium is 10GBP so I'm affraid I'll go for the digital version. Is the content exactly the same?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Yes the content is the same
  • Arsham asks: Hello Is this book need any gimmicks or it work with only read and practice?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Some of the effects require some black art, some require some free software.
  • Dave asks: I see that the hardbound book is designated "preorder". Can you tell me when that will ship?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Two weeks.
  • Pierre-Francois asks: Are the tricks here suitable for MS Teams too? or limited only?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Almost all of them will work on any video chat platform, including MS Teams.
  • Nick asks: I would like to ask about the pdf version, does it also contain QR codes as a book?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Yes, you get the QR codes and direct links.
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