Wednesday, 9 September 2009

How Derren did it. Maybe.

[UPDATE: 12th September - James Poel has a good analysis of how Brown pulled this off. You can read it here. His explanation for the shaky camera is far more convincing than mine, but I'm not far off at all really.]

Anyone watching Channel 4, E4, More4 or Film4 at 10.35 this evening will have witnessed Derren Brown appear to predict the numbers in tonight's Lotto draw.

He walked into the studio being tracked by a cameraman. On the left of the 'set' was a clear perspex stand on top of which were six white balls, supposedly representing Brown's predictions. The numbers were on the opposite side of the balls to the camera so we couldn't see them.

Brown talked for a while then, on cue from a crew member, turned on the TV to show the live Lotto draw on BBC One. Once the balls had been drawn and displayed in numerical order, he wrote these onto a length of card and walked over to the stand, turning it around to reveal that his predicted numbers matched those drawn.

I think that Brown pulled this off with camera trickery. As he walks into the studio he makes a point of saying that there only himself and two cameramen (not cameras) in there. He waves to the second camera, which is off to the side of the studio and further back. We don't see any more shots from this second camera.

My theory is that during this cut to the second camera, the first camera, through which we believe we are seeing the draw, is taken away and we actually watch via a third camera. I think this camera is motorized so as to mimic the subtle movements of the first, hand-held camera.

The movements are also pre-programmed so that the stand with the numbers on could have been pre-recorded, then seemlessly laid over the live broadcast in-sync, even though the camera appeared to be moving throughout. This would allow someone to place the correct balls on the stand as the draw took place then the pre-recorded overlay was removed so that Brown could walk back to the stand for the big reveal.

There is one big problem with this theory though in that at one point prior to the draw Brown walks behind the stand, then in front of it, meaning that a straight overlaying of the pre-recorded and live images wouldn't be possible. However I'm sure there's a way around that, even though off the top of my head I can't think what it would be.

Of course, all of the above could be complete nonsense. Brown reveals how he did it on Channel 4 on Friday.

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