Possible solution for Derren Brown's lottery trick

Earlier this week, UK mentalist Derren Brown predicted the winning lottery numbers on live television -- watch it here. It was a neat trick, and people are still trying to figure it out.

The video above offers a plausible explanation of how he did it. Later today, Brown is going on TV to show how he really did it.


  1. As this video shows, “live television” is not live unless you’re viewing it in real time. Even then, it’s not always what it seems. Video signals can be messed with.

    The giveaway is that he didn’t reveal his guessed ping-pong balls until *after* the TV had shown the correct numbers to him.

    If he actually could predict the winning lottery numbers, it would make more sense for him to go ahead and win the lottery instead of just appearing to get the numbers right on “live television”.

  2. It’s not going to be a split screen trick.
    Magicians don’t run like that. There is honesty in their dishonesty.
    I will eat my hat and the rabbit within it, if the solution has anything to do with video editing.

  3. I agree. Derren Brown only shows you how he did something when the explanation is at least as cool as the trick.

  4. Predictions: the solution for most magic tricks is always dull, everyday, and “really, it’s just because of the camera angle? really?”

  5. I very much doubt he’ll “show how he really did it”, offering instead some different highly time-intensive but feasible solution. That you could do yourself if you wanted to set aside 6 months of your life.

    I also doubt he did it in the way shown in the video above.

    Personally I suspect it’s good old traditional magic involving well made props, mirrors (but no smoke) and a controlled viewpoint. Which is why I don’t think he’ll really reveal it.

  6. I can’t imagine that Derren Brown would resort to something as pedestrian as camera tricks on such a high profile event, especially after making a big deal about revealing how he does it.

  7. I love how this guy even accounted for the camera shake.

    I had watched Derren Brown’s video closely and the camera shake is what convinced me it couldn’t be a split screen. The moment that it switches from “live” lottery predictions to “looped” lottery predictions, then back again to “live” lottery predictions would have been visible because the two half screens wouldn’t line up perfectly due to the camera shake.

    But not if the camera shake was added as a video effect on the combined signal….

  8. I didn’t see it, but if the camera shake was from a hand held camera there would be some slight parallax – some slipping of close objects against further objects,

    If there was no parallax – if during the shake nothing was even slightly revealed or hidden – as nothing is in a Google street view – then the camera was on a tripod rotating around what most people call the ‘nodal point’ (the entrance pupil)or the ‘shake’ was added in post.

    So if the shaking was erratic, but nodal, then it was very likely a post effect.

  9. There is way too much camera shake on that vid – why would a studio cam move about that much? Highly suspicious that it’s been deliberately added to misdirect people away from thinking it’s a split-screen effect

  10. Not to be blunt or Trollish, but anything you view via a screen, no matter the circumstances should be subject to a significant degree of skepticism. All current recording technologies contain an inherent limit of sensory observation. Or to put it another way, a camera can only “see” so much.

  11. This is right. Watch on youtube, the ball on the very left moves up slightly, but noticeably – obviously the assistant didn’t push it down far enough. Split screen is the only way to explain that.

  12. Sadly, this animated gif strong suggests that Mr. Brown is not, in fact, a sorcerer: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2519/3906836328_caa457c441_o.gif (found it in the comments here)

    The ball on the left is clearly higher than the others when he does the reveal, while all the balls were at an even height in the beginning. If you watch the balls closely on the video, you can actually see the ball on the far left pop up slightly higher than the others around the 5:07 mark, when the split screen was apparently lifted to reveal the full live shot.

    Of course, whether he’s actually going to admit to this publicly on television is another matter entirely.

  13. There is an video add for the show:

    I’m just to lazy to check it myself, but did I get it right, that the ‘presumed’ lottery numbers are on the stickers on the lightpost he passes in the video-add?

    Is the ‘live lottery-broadcast’ even real? They could just have it taped beforehand and therfor easily prepared the numbers?!

  14. Did anyone see the actual lottery broadcast simultaneously with the Brown broadcast? Even so, as was mentioned, the reveal is after the lottery numbers were announced…

    Years ago Penn & Teller made a video tape that you were to play on your VCR, that looked like a typical local news show.

    You do your trick for your friends, pause, and then the fake newscaster on the fake live TV show goes to a still image and asks “is THIS your card?”

    Fun and effective.

  15. He could very easily provide a method for people to do a similar prediction feat on their own (the one ahead method for instance) without actually revealing his method – in this manner he would still technically live up to his promise of showing how you could do it too with or without explaining his actual method in this case. Magicians have done this for years, offering an explanation to the crowd that while plausible (even effective in other circumstances) would ultimately fail for what they appeared to do.

  16. My guess is that the balls are refurbished Kindle screens controlled by an Arduino and a Bluetooth connection.

  17. He SHOULD have done it with e-ink balls… If he did it that way, he could have done it with a studio audience and it would have been much more impressive. This event was sort of a let down for me.

    I’m going with the split screen theory too, which is sad because, well, it’s so boring. The show giving the (claimed) solution has aired by now in the UK — I’m dying for someone to post about the answer he gave.

  18. >> The show giving the (claimed) solution has aired
    >> by now in the UK — I’m dying for someone to
    >> post about the answer he gave.

    solution wasn’t revealed. just more nonsense trying to get people to believe in the illusion. in short, he claimed a large group of people guessed the numbers (apparently a larger group guessing things is more likely to be correct than a small group, kinda right to a degree but…). or that he fixed the balls. obviously, he just did said split screen. especially seeing how in all the other footage from the night, all the cameras had nice big tripods and no shaky footage whatsoever (even the backstage stuff), but somehow the footage that mattered was all over the place :o)

  19. >> This would be a pretty shitty trick if this is
    >> how it’s done.

    meh, it seems to have been more about the illusion, getting people to believe in both the “trick” and the “reveal”. which was also part of the trick. the true trick is how many people believe they now know how to win the lottery :o)

  20. There was no answer, just some lame “crowd sourcing” voodoo guff. Poor, even by Dereen Brown’s standards.

  21. He just spent the whole program explaining a somewhat unbelievable system involving getting a large group of people to make predictions, using automatic writing, then averaging them (which seems utterly implausible, because the numbers are relevant only as unique identifiers, and he should’ve at least taken a mode not a mean).

    Then in the last five minutes, he explains how he would’ve gone about tampering with the machine, if he had done that, which of course he wouldn’t do, and wouldn’t admit to if he had, and kind-of implied that the other method just gave him plausible deniability for having done something illegal.

  22. Too bad he went with airing a BS solution… Sorry to hear this. I’m a big fan of Derren Brown, but this seems pretty weak and below his usual standards.

  23. From the wiki page:

    “On Friday 11th September at 21:00 a show aired, alledging that the numbers were chosen by using the average of 24 ‘volunteers’. The volunteers used automatic writing to come up with their guesses.”

    “He also offered an alternative suggestion which involved having someone on the inside who replaced the lottery balls with weighted equivalents.”

  24. A magician is really just an actor playing the part of the magician. It is not the tricks they perform but rather their ability to play the role that determines their success. DB seems to understand this better than most.

  25. I forgot to mention that when he was talking about rigging the machine, a photo clearly supposed to be his insider with face blurred out was shown on the screen behind him, and when he said that of course he wouldn’t have had replica lottery balls made, he produced just such balls to show the audience.

    All in all, creating the suspicion that he actually rigged the lottery and will get away with it is a brilliant stunt in itself, but it would be a lot more convincing if he had revealed the balls in front of a studio audience.

  26. It was pants, so much bunkam and misdirection with deep maths?, automatic writing? and miracle of the crowd?. These are mostly Victorian seance parlour tricks.

    Did he actually fixed the lottery. I wouldnt put it past him.

    Or split screen and yes you could do it even with camera shake.

    He also did say that there is a delay of seconds between the live feed from the BBC and the C4 broadcast.
    Were those seconds enough to be the actual misdirection and the trick.
    It used to be a 7 second delay……………mmmh.

  27. Derren brown has now abused peoples trust to make money,get people watching his tv show,he fooled those poor people into believing what they were doing,.There is no will power that can change outcomes unless we are in control of those outcomes.

    He spent an entire show trying to make us believe what he said was real but first he said he couldn’t announce the numbers before the BBC,this is a lie as it is a prediction and not an unveiling,also no one was there in person other than brown and his team to see what they were upto,very convenient,third the scrreen was shaking and then paused for a brief period while they fitted real time into the picture removing the fake left hand side.

    Derren brown was supposed to be someone who shows how tricks of the mind are done now hes just a dirty illusionist pausing as such,dirty man

  28. Searched the net after the first show. Why has no-one mentioned that there was a second camera at the back that was not used at all during the 10 minute slot? Also if you have 24 people making 6 predictions they could actually come up with the same outcome twice. Therefore it could have been 20, 5, 44, 36, 44, 23 for example. Also it was interesting that no single digits (1-9). Finally I have always held the opinion that certain balls appear more often because of they are heavier as in 2 is not as heavy as 22 because less paint is used. He did mention weighted balls.b

  29. Watch the clip linked to on youtube and move repeatedly between 6:05 and 6:07 to see the ball on the left moving up and down as the split screen is removed

  30. It was pants, so much bunkam and misdirection with deep maths?, automatic writing? and miracle of the crowd?. These are mostly Victorian seance parlour tricks.

    Did he actually fix the lottery. I wouldnt put it past him.

    Or split screen and yes you could do it even with camera shake.

    He also did say that there is a delay of seconds between the live feed from the BBC and the C4 broadcast.
    Were those seconds enough to be the actual misdirection and the trick.
    It used to be a 7 second delay……………mmmh.

  31. Of course I agree in theory that a magician is just doing special effects and acting, but when a magician resorts to cheap camera tricks, it kills most people’s motivation to watch magic on TV — it “takes the magic out of it”… Not that there haven’t been other TV magicians who’ve stretched the truth with camera tricks, but this is pretty bad, since it seems like the entire trick is a single, simple split screen. Derren is really creative and talented and I really feel like this is so much less than everything else I’ve seen from him. That said, maybe if it hadn’t been for the technical glitch of the misplaced ball it wouldn’t have been so blatant.

    All that said, it won’t stop me from continuing to watch his shows!

  32. Also what was with the SNOWFLAKE in the advert for tonights show?

    I thought he was going to say that actually it is completly random and each draw is like a snowflake unique so impossible to predict.

    Short show then.

  33. >> Also it was interesting that no single digits (1-9).

    surely if you had a load of people guessing at numbers between 0 and 50, it’d always average out around 25?

  34. pepsi max2k @ 42 – there was a sinle digit (2), and the sucker-stooges were allowed to pick negative numbers and numbers greater than 49.

  35. Derren brown is an illusionist. Henceforth, he is giving the impression that he can predict the lottery, not that he can do it.

    If you know the numbers that are going to come out on the lottery, you indefinitely buy a ticket. even with all the money Brown will get paid for televising this stunt, it will not compare with the millions upon millions he will receive for winning the lotto jackpot. Why on earth would channel 4 ban him from buying a ticket? he is using explanations that are initially feasible to trick the audience.

    “Predictability in randomness”. Say this to yourself and it is clear it makes no sense. if something is random it is not predictable. By making the woman scared of the mouse in his first trick, he is making her more suggestible sub-consciously to steer her away from picking the 4.

    The coin game. If you read up on basic mathematics, then you will know that your odds of getting HHH on 3 flips of a coin is 1/2×1/2×1/2=1/8. your odds of getting this combination are exactly the same as that of HTH and of equal likelihood. So why did the red and blue team thing work? because if you look on the “coin page” of this site itself, it mentions that it will “work if you repeat it enough times.”. so this game was obviously played till red team won 9-1, and this section of the game was aired. or just repeated with different groups of people. remember we are dealing with a man who spent 11 hours flipping a coin in “the system” to get 10 heads in a row.

    “Wisdom of the crowds”. just have a look at this and listen to how ridiculous it sounds. so if everybody guesses the weight of a bull, and we get an average, we’ll get its exact weight. not at all. maybe something coincidentally close in 1906 when people generally knew how much a bull would roughly weigh, because FARMING WAS PREDOMINANT, even if that story is true.

    The 24 people. remember what he said at the end of the 9.00pm show? that if he had “rigged the machine”, then THE 24 PEOPLE WOULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY USELESS. Ever seen the episode where he makes the students guess how many sweets are in the jar using an average? this stunt is but an expansion, and brown knows the results of each draw before the crowd, but gets them to come to similar conclusions, similarily to “the gathering”, where 2 digits of “charlie’s” phone number was “correctly predicted”.

    Camera tricks and the rest of it. WHY ELSE WOULD HE BE HOLDING A SNOWFLAKE!!!????

    The End point. What is the point in having a 3rd option, where he explains how he “riggs the machine”. where he mentions a possibility of the 24 people being COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS and how the whole thing would have been a trick? he certainly does tell us how he did it in the program. but not directly.

    bring on the next event.


    Yes it is split-screen just how you have shown.


    a) Slow motion just after the final number is drawn shows the far left ball raised up. This is because the staff placing the balls behind the scene don’t level them out properly after the screen switch.

    b) The reason he doesn’t predict the bonus number is that is gives those precious few seconds to select the numbers before the reveal. He probably has 6 people covering 8 numbers (balls) each. They all place in the slots before the switch.

    Mark Allan

  37. Check out the shot from the fixed camera at the back of the auditorium. It shows the ‘hand held’ camera at a completely different angle than we see if the following close shot. Was this hiding a tripod?

  38. At what point did he make any ‘prediction’ nothing was revealed until after the draw! simples bo prediction – I don’t know or care how it was done, but it wasn’t a ‘prediction’. And all the audience stuff – utter trite and distraction.

  39. Just watch the move ‘The Sting’ – same gimmick…When I watch two TVs in my house, one broadcast and the other one satellite, the satellite TV is always about 5 to 10 seconds behind the broadcast signal….Plus any magician worth his salt can do a ‘switcheroo’ at the end with the aid of an accomplice – like those sealed envelope tricks.

    PS – is it just me or is it hilariously obvious how that Chris Angel Mindfreak guy does his tricks?

  40. His “solution” was total BS. Shame a large number of people will take it as gospel.

    Note that the final numbers were not revealed to the group and he took their papers with their eyes still shut, so no-one knew had an exact view of what they or their colleagues may have written. The whole month or so of grooming his test subjects was just a set up to trick them into beleiving THEY chose the numbers.

    There is no such thing as magic. There is always a trick. I’m sure it will have been a technological trick. Convincing his audience that a group of people has the power to predict random numbers based on previous random numbers is disingeneous(sp?) and is an insult to the intelligence. RANDOM NUMBERS HAVE NO MEMORY.

    The trick was impressive, as are all his (and David Blaine’s), but they are tricks nontheless.

  41. A lot of posters here seem to be missing the point. It was clearly a clever illusion, and there’s not (it seems to me) any question of DB ‘abusing the trust’ of viewers. You all watched the programme, and the so-called ‘explanation(s)’ do appear to be highly improbable, and an alternative explanation seems more likely – if only we knew what it was! But Derren Brown is simply very, very good at producing entertaining television. The fact that you’re all buzzing about the programme demonstrates what a professional he is at this sort of misirection trickery. Long may he run and run. Wolfie.

  42. I love how Derren Brown conveniently mentioned will power helps you to win, moments before a tv ad by euromillions offering an £85 million jackpot.

  43. The idea of the magician as an actor is fundamental to magic as an art form (see Henning Nelms among others) The use of a camera trick is perfectly in line with the history and tradition of magic being disguised or uncommon technology. If DB was just using a split screen here we might look at it as a modern form of black art illusions. P&T have used green screen effects for tv and in conjunction with live performances for years in some veyr entertaining ways

  44. >> surely if you had a load of people guessing at numbers between 0 and 50, it’d always average out around 25?

    I watched the show and it wasn’t clear, but I think he got them to guess the first (i.e. lowest) number, then the second (next lowest) number, and so on.

    He then averaged the numbers for the first ball, averaged the numbers for the second, etc, and those 6 averages were the 6 numbers.

  45. I think this video shows exactly how he did it. If there were numbers on the balls beforehand and he couldn’t show them for legal reasons, why not at least have an audience present for the live event? To do it with only 2 cameras (one angle of which we never see again after the first 30 seconds) seems likely that he had some trickery going on.

    Once the TV turns on, he never goes over to where the balls are sitting, past where the split-screen would have been. And he has done it in the past where he has written the numbers down and sealed them in an envelope; why didn’t he do that this time?

  46. Adding live shake to a split screen is a no-brainer. You simply film the split screen with two stationary cameras, and capture a live projection of it with a third camera, which you jiggle.

    Another plausible solution, albeit a bit more tricky, is that each ball contains a trigger and dye, or else some kind of paper-thin internal display. When the numbers are revealed live, an offscreen assistant activates each number via remote control, thus imprinting or projecting the corresponding number on the inside of each ball. By the time Brown makes his way over to the stand, the numbers are there, in order.

  47. Oh, that’s not mine. There are many wolfies in the world. (through time, through layers of collective consciousness and unconciousness) do not assume…

  48. This sort of deception is unfortunate; it pushes Mr Brown close to the very sorts of charlatans he’s criticized in the past. The explanations he gave are clearly bogus, substituting pseudoscience for claims of being psychic.

    I’m rather concerned that he may be moving away from his crusade against charlatanism, and becoming one himself. It will be interesting to see what explanations he gives for the rest of the series.

  49. The camera shake was intentional to make it harder to see the “jump” when they moved between feeds on the left hand side.

    It would be neat to see somebody take the video and digitally “un-shake” it and see what it looks like then.

  50. I understand that using the ‘wisdom of groups’ to guess something like the weight of a bull would be effective. This is something that could be educatedly guessed at, repeatedly, and a similar number of people would overestimate and underestimate the bulls weight. However, you cant estimate or make educated guesses at randomness. You can compare a bulls weight against similar bulls, but you cant compare the lottery outcome to any other draw, as each one is independant. This explanation doesnt really stand up.

  51. i believe derren has already exposed himself as using actors on his show, and so has no honour as a magician, in my opinion. i used to love him, but once you have evidence that any of the people could be actors the whole thing goes a bit sour.

    consider the following clip.

    – at 2:45, after the dart is thrown, the camera zooms in and we see the bottom right corner of the queen of hearts is touching the two of spades.

    – at 3:18 the qoh is no longer touching the two of spades.

    this clip could be made by anyone with a bit of editing. just throw the dart and then film the ACTOR naming the card that was hit. after the card is hit, peel it off draw a circle, and then put it back CLUMSILY, so everyone can see you’re a hack. reorder the scenes in FCP and BLAM! amazing magic video trick REVEALS DERREN IS A LAME POO FACE.

  52. I can think of two ways he could have done this.

    1 – He has actually got both BBC and Channel 4 involved in the stunt and the whole lottery was fixed….with BBC involved in it….Imagine how much money would the two channels be making because of that….the downside to this is that there is too much at stake and it would probably involve too many people to keep their mouths zipped.

    2 – The stand that the balls are resting on have a simple mechanism. The surface on which the balls ar kept has a print and roll system. As soon as all the numbers are revealed these are imprinted on the balls from below and the balls are then rotated by 90 degrees so that they face horizontally….this rotation would explain why the one of the balls may have lifted…..Why else would you have a fancy plastic stand……he could have placed them in a bag and then it would have looked even more realistic…

  53. It’s not “magic”. There’s a lot of comments here from people who don’t seem to be familiar with what Derren does. He’s not trying to convince you that he’s “magic” – he’s admitting that he is tricking you from the outset – then explaining how.

  54. Anyone else reckon there’s something else going on? I mean, surely even this is too obviously terrible for Derren to get himself in to? I mean, the whole build up to the shows was about subliminal messaging, the next show is about “how to control the nation”… and he’s already got us all talking about his shows, which is a trick quite a few people would like to pull off. Maybe these shows are just a bluff for something bigger? Or, it really was just shit tele.

  55. Of course it was something like this.

    Note he didn’t predict the bonus number and there was about 20 seconds between the final number and him revealing the numbers. He was buying time to have someone put the real numbers on the rack.

    As for the whole idea that it would be illegal for him to announce the official numbers before the BBC, that is too funny. He is only claiming to predict the real numbers, not provide the official numbers. It’s all an excuse to show he didn’t predict it beforehand.

    The math explanation doesn’t fly, and was obviously an excuse to air another TV show on this.

  56. @RHYS

    The only evidence you ever have that any magician is not using actors or shills is their ‘word’ that they aren’t and magicians are by nature and necessity liars when it comes to addressing the audience. We forgive that they lie because they lie in an entertaining and non-harmful manner.

    When you seek only to guess how the magician did the trick you miss the entire point of magic. Using or not using actors is a horrible criteria for judging a magician. When you spend so much time looking for irregularities in the video and wondering if someone is an actor you often miss the real point and beauty of the performance.

    Do you think the magician pulling a coin from out of a child’s ear is simply trying to demonstrate excellent palming technique?

  57. @ Anonymous #49
    Wow, talk about missing the point.
    Magicians aren’t trying to “convince” anyone they have strange mystical powers. They are performers, putting on a show. Everybody knows it’s all tricks.

    The point of magic isn’t to convince people you have supernatural powers, the point is to make them say “holy shit, that was awesome! i have to see that again!”

    Sure, some people use the same skills to con people… but they don’t call themselves magicians.

  58. #66: “As for the whole idea that it would be illegal for him to announce the official numbers before the BBC, that is too funny.”

    While I don’t agree that Brown actually did the trick in the way he claimed, this part would almost certainly be correct. Camelot would have an exclusive contract with the BBC for lottery footage, which would almost certainly be very difficult to obtain subcontracted rights to for the purposes of this stunt.

    Any such permission would probably have to be given by both parties. That means that the BBC would have to agree that Channel 4 would take viewers away from them, and Camelot would have to agree to Brown using the footage in an attempt to show people how to game their system. It’s not going to happen, it would be illegal to use the footage without such a contract, and viewers would not believe it was being shown live if the BBC footage wasn’t visible. There is a loophole, which was utilised by Brown, regarding fair use – Channel 4 could use a certain limited amount of footage without being in breach of copyright.

    I don’t understand all the criticisms of Brown in other ways, though. He’s a playful character who freely admits to using subterfuge, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went “hah, fooled you” on his next show (though he’s more likely to leave the question open). He’s hardly likely to show people how to *actually* game the lottery system, even if he does have a real method (which I doubt). I liken this to the seance episode he did, where he made a lot of people believe he was able to communicate with the dead, before revealing that the person who was being communicated with was very much alive. I never fell for that (although my group did manage to select the words and pictures he’d predicted), but many did.

    Same with the Russian roulette show. The important thing isn’t whether or not it was “real”, but the fact that many are not sure. If someone gets together a group of 24 people, does some team building, some automatic writing, then wins the lottery then good luck to them. In the meantime, I got a decent hour of entertaining TV from a great performer.

  59. @The Lizardman

    thanks for your reply.

    of course the coin from ear is about the entertainment, but basically what i’m saying is using actors is bad entertainment, for the reason that once you leave behind evidence that actors are involved you compromise much of the other acts.

    that and i think it’s cheap. it’s a weak trick. if you are going to use actors and split screen, why not get 3d software and special effects artists?

    i enjoy a well designed trick, and often i am happy to say ‘well i just don’t know how it’s done’. but now, with this, even the wonder at the craft has gone.

    any future show he does i will just think ‘actors’. consider ‘the heist’. how can you enjoy that if you believe it is probably actors?

    he has trodden on thin entertainment ice and it has broken – at least for me.

    but he is charming, i’ll give him that.

  60. @RHYS

    I still think you may be looking for something out of magic that magic is not really set up or trying to provide in that case.

    Most of the best magic is weak in terms of trickery – Tom Mullica’s famous cigarette routine is nothing but palming and anyone watching it will realize this instantly (though they will most likely be flustered as to the moment and type of palm thanks to his mastery) but the routine is insanely entertaining nonetheless. When I watch Copperfield I know (and at times it is obvious) he is using plants and actors but the stories he weaves and the emotion he puts into his performances make the illusions simply vehicles for the drama. If all he did was make a car levitate and vanish I would yawn and only maybe wonder which of many methods he used. If you see a magician pull a kid onstage and produce a coin from behind his ear and it makes you smile as the kid is amazed then what should matter if the kid is the same one every night and just (effectively) acting amazed. The real magic is the moment where you experience a bit of vicarious joy via the reaction of the child (actor or not)

    Of course, it is all subjective and if he doesn’t entertain you then that is the long and short of it. However, if you want to and can approach things from a different POV you may yet find a lot to enjoy. I just don’t believe that the merit of a magic show lays with the difficulty in discerning methods and most magicians (if not all of the best) definitely do not see the secrets as the point of their work. Look at P&T’s cups and balls – done with clear cups and the preparation shown it is fanatastic to see over and over.

    That you know or think you know how a trick was done is not IMHO a valid criticism of a magician.

  61. Never tried it, never will be bothered enough to, some food for thought though.

    Apparently if you were to spin a roulette wheel 37 times, 100% of the time based on millions of spins, you would end up with between 14 and 33 unique numbers. Size that down and you find out that 70% of the time it is between 22 and 25 unique numbers. The rest are repeated in that 37 spin streak.

    Not that I want to promote roulette to you, but, although “random has no memory”, it does seem to have patterns.

  62. No split screen was used.
    He used a magic marker pen on a big stick poking out of a hole in the false wall behind.

    The perspex stand had a vacuum sucking the balls tight to avoid them moving whilst the writing was done.

    Derren does not rotate stand until he is standing behind, otherwise Wall hole would be visible.

    Vacuum switched off at the end, so Derren could prod each ball freely.


  63. @Takuan

    Sleight of hand / misdirection often relies on a certain type of attentiveness/focus/mental state on the part of the observer (a person watching a magician across a room often picks up the secret move(s) even if it is not an angle issue because they are not watching as an audience member – happens a lot to strolling workers like in bars or restaraunts) which is noticeably absent in most people when they are engaged in combat but there is a sort of corrollary in the feint which is an essential tool in the repetoire of the successful fighter

  64. @the lizard man

    you are probably right that i’m looking for something that it never intended to provide. i am probably betraying my infantile naivety by saying i ever had doubts he was using actors.

    i’m still left feeling that any palming technique is a million times more amusing, even if you have some idea how it’s done, than watching something that you are practically certain uses actors and editing as the primary effect.

  65. tai no sen, tabun. Though is the deceit the same? in principle, you are in both cases permitting them to fool themselves. This can only be fitted with the Great Doctrine if you either don’t kill, or kill the fewest.

  66. I recently saw Chris Angel’s live Vegas show, and I was supremely entertained by the elaborate sets, props, and Hollywood-caliber visual effects. But I was also supremely disillusioned. His live show was much more run of the mill than his televised magic. It was immediately obvious how he did most all of his tricks, many of which used simple trapdoors and tunnels under the stage. There was nothing that kept me guessing, as his televised magic does. It became completely obvious to me that his televised magic was simply using video tricks, actors, and other “only on TV” techniques.

    The only trick in his live show that had me wondering involved him selecting an audience member at random who related out loud some personal details. Then those personal details later appeared in writing from a bag that had been suspended above the stage in full view the whole time. It’s obvious that he somehow had an assistant switch in the answers written down while they were being related, but I couldn’t figure out how he hid the manipulation from view.

    What really pulled me into that trick was that he avoided the specter of the audience member being a shill, by throwing an object into the audience and selecting the person who caught it. I almost caught it; it ended up that the person sitting immediately in front of me had caught it and was the one who went up on stage to provide the details that Chris Angel later pulled out of the bag. My mind was racing with wanting to observe this person carefully to see if there was any possibility of them being a shill (they clearly weren’t), and that is probably why I wasn’t sharp enough to figure out how Chris Angel did the switcheroo.

    So as Rhys says, it’s that moment of feeling emotionally and personally involved, interested, and surprised that is the magic of magic shows.

    And sadly I now know that I will probably never feel that way about televised magic. Hollywood CGI effects that would take months to render in the past will soon be doable in real time. For anything I don’t experience in person, the cachet of live is dead.

    What does impress me is the ability of TV-trickster magicians to keep their manipulations secret when they must clearly involve lots of other trusted accomplices from the shills to the camera people, right on up to the show producers. In this age of cameraphones and ubiquitous blogging, I’m impressed that none of these accomplices have leaked the secrets. Or maybe they have been leaked but they’ve been drowned out against the background noise of the internet.

  67. It is clearly a form of split-screen trickery. The introduction, with hand-held cameraman and Derren, is PRE-RECORDED. The introduction cuts to a wide shot from the back of the hall (what was the point of the second cameraman otherwise?) to persuade us that the hall is empty except for Derren, handheld camera, TV etc. Derren STOPS TALKING momentarily, having been chatting incessantly from the start, while he waves and says ‘hello’ to the 2nd cameraman. THE NEXT CUT back to Derren – ‘mid-wave’ – is THEN live from that point on. Note the different framing of the shot, the different angle (conflicting with the handheld cameraman’s angle seen a split-second earlier from the wide shot), the different depth of field, also, though slightly more subtle, Derren’s slightly nervous arbitrary laugh as he cuts from pre-record to live while trying to appear seamless (seems unnatural). AFTER Derren says ’23’ (whilst writing the numbers down) there is about a half-second fade from ‘blank overlay’ back to reality. The lighting becomes noticably brighter and, MORE IMPORTANTLY, the left-hand ball (39) levitates by about 5mm!! Watch it again and again and it is clear. Incidentally, you can also notice the crossfade into ‘pre-recorded blank overlay’ – it happens the moment the first ball comes out of the machine. The picture, on the left of the screen becomes darker. It only fades back to ‘normal brightness’ when the balls have been switched (after DB says ’23’). It is extremely difficult to do a sophisticated camera trick like this with a handheld camera, hence the need to establish its presence. The ‘live’ portion of the transmission (from the 2nd of only two cuts in the whole thing) is on a mounted stand, with pre-programmed camera movements (which are persistent and slightly mechanical throughout to give the impression of hand-held movement). This is also why the mounted camera doesn’t change position (it only pans left,right,up down…NOT forward or back – totally ‘un-human’ and not natural) – even following DB to the balls at the end is achieved through zooming.

  68. the only problem is that these comments seem to forgetting that this is the whole joy of derren brown, you can call it bullshit for as long as you want but he’s a spectular showman, and has created more pr through this stunt than the entire lottery winnings could get him. it doesnt matter whether he faked it or not,he was never going to give us a defintive answer that we would all believe. The entire world is talking about him, and he knows that his ratings are gonna keep creeping up for all his next events, i cant wait for the next one! He’s a genuis because he’s a marketing magician, and everyone who is complaining needs to chill out and realise that they are getting caught up by him just as much as the people who take his word as gospel are. Enjoy it!!

  69. It is true that the camera shake is totally fake and false. Objects should be moving in relative perspective, they are not. Finally the reveal, the camera zooms! U can zoom a hand held camera like that and the shake to be just as ‘minimal’, on zoom a small shake becomes a big shake as it is magnified (just like the image).

    We all know Derren Brown is a professional deceiver, thats the fun, isnt it?

  70. Look for `wisdom of crowds´, derren is not stupid you know, he is not going to reveal the most expensive tricks just by telling all us all in 5 minutes, duhrrr

  71. I wasn’t convinced by his explanation of the coin trick. For the combination that was chosen, HHH, it made perfect sense to choose THH. HHH will always be proceeded by THH unless the combination is HHHH and therefore it (along with HHT) was the wisest choice.

    By the explanation offered had the ‘volunteer’ chosen HTH then Derren would have chosen HHH. IMHO he would not have won 9-1 had that been the case.

  72. Post #80 – you are spot on. Just what I thought, pre-corded footage to live at the second cut (some big giveaways – as you pointed out – especially Derren’s unnatural laugh and mid-flow wave)

    Split-screen then seems the obvious route emphasised with the misaligned ball when the live feed kicks back in – but each time I watch it I’m convinced there is a false wall behind the stand. Anyone else see that – or is it just me? Maybe Derren is making me see things that aren’t there?!?

    Albeit, a great trick and I enjoyed watching it the first time – then – I want to know how it’s done!!

  73. It could have just as easily been done with a special laser apparatus burning the numbers into the balls. I know of a superlaser that burns autographs on a hair and is used to burn serial numbers on diamonds so technicaly it’s doable.
    But i’m afraid this “magician” is just another one of those modern camera-trick losers like chris angel.

  74. Why doubt that it was this simple. He used a similar trick in an ad for the show that pretty much screamed, “I am using a camera trick.” Brown was also very clear in saying he was using two cameras but after the initial cut as he moved in front of the setup there seemed to be only one camera. He clearly had a use for a second camera and wanted the audience to know.

    If it were not something trivial like this, I doubt he would have made up the obvious rubbish about 24 volunteers. From what I have seen of Brown, his tricks are about not ignoring the obvious and not being distracted by the irrelevant.

  75. My bet: A variant on “The Wire”:

    Derren simply delayed the video feed of the lottery by a few seconds giving an assistant enough time to place pre-printed balls in the rack.

    All the talk before the reveal was just puff to drum up a sense of urgency. Brown is betting that if you are watching him you’d not be watching the actual live draw, so you’ve no way of knowing that his video is delayed by a few seconds.

  76. Time delay doesn’t work, when it was airing live you could switch between the channels and there was only a tiny bit of lag.

    For those of you that think the camera shake eliminates the possibility of split screen, bear in mind that the camera is shaking WAY TOO MUCH for a professional cameraman that isn’t trying to shoot an indie movie.

    Any cameraman worth his salt could lock that frame down on his shoulder and hold it for five minutes.

  77. Yes, i think that is how he did it…but…

    Prediction: there is something else going on here. The whole trick is just misdirection and we are missing something obvious because we are focussed on the “trick”. Perhaps a gorilla walks by or he is wearing a new suit? I don’t know but it seems just too easy to take this on its face.

  78. http://www.WisdomOfTheNet.com is a new website that predicts lottery numbers.

    On 9th September, Derren Brown successfully predicted the National Lottery numbers using a technique called the wisdom of the crowds. The wisdom of the crowds is the process of collecting the opinions of many individuals and producing an answer. This answer is deemed to be better than any that the individuals alone would produce. An application of this process, as demonstrated by Derren Brown, is in the prediction market.

    Following much speculation regarding the recent lottery prediction, this new site was launched to see whether this method could really predict the lottery numbers.

  79. I watched Channel 4 with BBC on a split screen and couldn’t see a delay. My thoughts are that he somehow got the numbers on the balls as they were announced.

  80. For anyone who thinks it was done any other way than through a camera trick:

    The video above proves it can be done simply through a camera trick. Therefore, WHY WOULD HE BOTHER TO DO IT ANY OTHER WAY?

    The ‘explanation’ was obviously not the real explanation. Derren Brown’s ‘explanations’ are never the real explanations. He frequently ‘double bluffs’. Notice ‘camera trick’ was not on his list of possible explanations, even though it is the most obvious explanation?

    Whether the trick was any good or not is a different matter entirely.

  81. Pre – Before
    Dict – To say

    Darren Brown didn’t ‘PREDICT’ anything. He announced the numbers shortly after they were already announced. I could tell you what they were at the point he announced them. Why is anyone even discussing how he predicted the lottery.

    The critical factor is that he doesn’t predict the bonus ball which fives him 15-20 seconds while this is being drawn out to do whatever he does. Frankly it’s not that impressive however he does it.

    This wisdom of crowds theory doesn’t work in this situation. If 500 people look at a cow and predict it’s weight then some will predict low and others high. On average then the guess will be around the actual weight. This is nothing like predicting how a machine will randomly draw out 5 or 6 balls.

    Deep maths for similar reasons does not apply in this case.

  82. Granted the solution he gave would be just as likely to work as you guessing your own numbers in the lottery like usual, but isn’t it amazing how he got everyone to tune in to his show getting him lots of viewings and lots of money.
    if you ask me, he is a very clever buisnessman.

  83. Bolomag, (Spoiler alert)
    snip –What really pulled me into that trick was that he avoided the specter of the audience member being a shill, by throwing an object into the audience and selecting the person who caught it. I almost caught it; it ended up that the person sitting immediately in front of me had caught it and was the one who went up on stage to provide the details that Chris Angel later pulled out of the bag. — snip

    If you would have caught the ball, Chris would have said something like, “Just to prove that I didn’t throw it directly to a person, pass the ball to the person in front of you.”
    –a guy in the audience who has caught the ball ‘randomly’. Different show, different magician.

  84. This IS how he did it. His partner in crime is a movie actor (and he works in TV) so they will be well aware of video editing. I can see them now behind the scenes giggling. They then dress it up with the BS and bang you have entertainment and people talking. Job done. He has researched old and new tricks then basically and fuses them.

    I mean this guy talks total rubbish over and over just listen to the rubbish that comes out of him (yap yap yap yap)…all entertainment.

    Tricks (and yapping) is all he does (he invents very little if you do your research which he is good at you can find all this done before). Like music how many songs are copies of 5 other songs. Shakespeare even lifted things straight out of roman/greek texts. It all depends how much you know or rather how little for him. Ever notice we never get a professor of math or the like on his shows.

    If he keeps quiet like his staff who sign wavers (which he likes to forget to mention) and never speaks out – it all woks. If he never tells you the truth and tells a good lie it gets blurred. This guy is clever but far from magical.

    But I still like the Derren the yap yap – he is fun and that is what it is about – entertainment. He is a showman.

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