Sunday 4 October 2009

Derren Wasn't Near

I ought to make a short entry as I made others on this series called Derren Brown The Events. Viewers will have seen Derren Brown talk a lot about prediction and trajectory regarding a ball and a roulette wheel in the final one of three about how to Take Down a Casino. In support and 'preparation' he did tricks about choosing the spray paint containers that didn't spray paint and selection in the right order (a variation on other tricks), a ball landing in a predicted square from a thrown ball in what looked like a squash court, predicting the speed of cars on a dual carriageway and even their year of make, and finally came a roulette wheel spin in which he bet on a single number after the ball was thrown and went around the wheel a few times, and was one number wrong on the wheel. The man who had been filmed being hypnotised to hand over £5000 from his own bank account thus watched from a monitor failing to win £175,000. A dramatic end had a sense of a damp squib about it and yet Derren Brown was still "one out" on the wheel as he whispered in the casino into his smuggled equipment.

This was the one programme in the series that Channel Four did not repeat. Thus you could watch it only once more, on Channel 4+1, but both previous programmes were repeated an hour's gap after that (and then seen again on Channel 4+1). Funny that, when a live event 'went wrong'.

Let's be clear. All the physics in the world - what the guest called 'the holy grail' - will not predict where a ball will land on a roulette wheel or anywhere near. Tapping of feet won't be an accurate measure of anything but, more than this, it is a chaotic system. If you could predict the speed and motion of the wheel, and speed and motion of a ball, it still has to jump into the wheel. There are too many unpredictables, and tiny unpredictables have huge variations of outcome.

Then there is the business that he walks in with a camera in his sleeve and another cameraman is also inside the casino - both are transmitting. He was walking from a mobile studio and link and talking up to close to a mainland Europe casino entrance. All this is not believable. Furthermore, he would have been in the euro zone and he asked for chips as if sterling, and very close to making the bet. So it was not the right amount or the right timing. Also there is a point as the ball spins that bets are prevented. The casino looked rather deserted. You could imagine the signal from the cameras was poor, but these days either they would come out well or just be blocked.

Imagine if he had won. Then the casino - if casino it was - would have refused to pay, because it was part of a deception or a trick involving cameras. So of course it was not this. It was a trick which could have succeeded, as in the squash court made up with numbers on the floor, but the further element of a 'casino' was to therefore just fail. To demonstrate a win would have meant a budget of £175,000 just to pay someone - who otherwise would have to have been a stooge.

There is also the question of the stake. The man, watched for a while, whose money was apparently taken under hypnosis (he drew out his money and handed it to Derren Brown, then forgot all about it) was a form of theft. The money, or near the amount in euros, was supposedly lost in a casino. The programme budget then has to find that missing euro amount and return the rest.

In a situation where the bet has to be lost, just, then the bet is not going to be made. No programme budget hands over 5000 euros to a casino for a just failed effect.

So the conclusion is that the casino was never identified, nor the location, because he wasn't near or at any casino. It was a trick about simultaneous filming again, of one camera feed supporting the action of a 'live' placing of a bet. Fortunately there was a balcony for the second camera to support the first, and fix the trick as clever.

The way you do it is spin the wheel first, get the number, choose the one next to it, and do the televisual method either live or in this case could probably be by post production. Remember the first programme where the screen was split and the camera jarred in a non-human manner, to be matched, so the lottery balls were put in immediately after the lottery numbers appeared and then the split screen was removed. It was a variation on that.

The tricks, such as on the dual carriageway, are fantastic, but that's what they are. The guess is that such is an elaborate variation on a forced card - pick a car, any car, but it's that car. All these tricks are arranged and prepared, and more people are in on them than meet the eye. Many explanations given are just misdirection. Trajectory and speed are cod physics. Obsessing for a year about how to beat chance is a waste of a year: rather he learnt variations on tricks.

It's all very clever, though.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you wine like a winey winer.

derren is better than you.