Magic Trick Question: Any Idea How It Was Done?

You can just watch the first minute or so of the clip. The rest is an extended joke, not anything important to the trick.

So, like, anyone know how this kind of thing is done?

Brief description: He (David Copperfield in this cas) puts a duck in a box, then takes the box apart one side at a time and the duck is not there.

The box was on a table the whole time, but it seemed there was nothing under the table: you could see right through the area beneath it the whole time.

The stage was round, with audience seating all around, though Copperfield himself stood in a single spot facing the table the whole time thus blocking the view of some of the audience.

Well… Its a variation on a fairly common trick, so my question isn’t about the clip specifically, but just: How do they do this kind of trick in general?

Anyone know or anyone have a decent theory?

Is there a “spoiler site” for magic tricks?


I am not a magician, nor do I play one on TV, but…

When we see the pail, it has half the lid fixed in place. The audience member (a plant I reckon, given the way he behaves) reaches in but not up to feel around inside the space hidden by the lid.

So that takes care of the swan re-appearing. How does it disappear in the first place? When he places the swan in the box he clearly fiddles with something in the lid. I think he’s securing the bird into a restraint. When he removes the top panel from the box he does not show the bottom surface to the audience, and despite the audience being in the round, his body obstructs any view of what’s on the reverse of the lid.

He then places the lid down on the table. But there appears to be a panel already on the table, and the table itself has a relatively thick top. Add this depth to the depth of the panel he places there and there is sufficient depth to acommodate a tightly packed and secured swan. If there was a cavity in the top of the table, with a stretched piece of flexible material to conceal it, he’d have no problem hiding the swan there.

Just a guess of course, but kind of seems possible.



Ohh, in the foregoing substitute “duck” for all references to “swan”!

Consider the bucket patter going on after the duck has been authenticated. Why not put the duck in the box immediatly after it was inspected by the voulenteer? Why does the assistant kneel with the duck?

Watch how the “duck” behaves as Copperfield carries it toward the box. Why did I put that word in quotes? Why is it wiggling it’s feet when it didn’t do that before? Why so much quacking as the duck is carried toward the box?

Did the “duck” ever actually go in the box?

Why does Copperfield adjust his coat right after he steps back from the box?

Answer those questions, and you’ll know 99% of how it was done.

I may be crazy but when he takes the lid off and quickly puts it down I think i see a dark bulge under the lid. Maybe that is where he stuffed the duck?

One basic rule of magic:

Equipment is always more capacious than it appears.

This trick was all “Turn” and no “Prestige” :slight_smile:

There’s something under the table. Could be just glass (but why would he need glass enclosed table legs?) or could be a cunningly contrived collection of mirrors that conceal a compartment.

Just a guess, hard to tell with the resolution.

Yeah, I didn’t have any problem with the bucket, I was just trying to ask about the disappearance itself.

I see what you mean about the thicknes of the second table, but its hard for me to see how he could have placed the panel down on the table in exactly the way he did without the audience behind him seeing the duck. (And though I know magicians are skilled at this kind of thing, I still find it hard to believe he could have placed the panel on the surface as quickly and exactly as he would have had to in order to pull off the kind of thing you’re theorizing here.) Still, its possible maybe.


I’m missing something because I don’t know what you’re talking about here. What volunteer inspected the duck? What assistant knelt with it? I saw there was an assistant kneeling with the duck, but I didn’t see the assistant kneel. He was just already kneeling there, as far as I saw.

Before what? (Are we watching the same video? Are you thinking of another fuller version different than the one I linked to?)

So I guess you’re saying (and I must admit I wish you would say what you’re saying rather than putting things in question form like this, as it really does feel a bit like I’m being talked down to) is that the duck is fake, and needs to be, because a real duck would struggle and make a lot of ruckus if DC did the things to it he’s going to do to this fake duck in order to conceal it.

Well, that’s part of the question at hand isn’t it?

Doing the best “frame by frame” I could with the youtube clip, it looks to me like the second poster’s interpretation is likely to be right: The thing went in the box, but something (see DC’s “fidgeting” was being done to it as that happened. Perhaps it was secured to one of the panels.

I don’t see this.


As in the smaller table?


I see now what you were talking about. I think when I watched it before it played for a few seconds before I actually went to the window to watch it, or something.


Watching it again, it does seem like he takes just a split second to make sure he places that first panel on the second table “just right.”

I think you may have it.


Is there a way to arrange mirrors such that things appear “transparent” from all angles?

Not that this was necessarily what had to happen in the scenario linked to, but anyway, just how far can “mirrors simulating transparency” type illusions be carried?


I don’t know. But I suspect that everything is there for a reason, and the magician knows exactly where his audience is going to be so it doesn’t have to work from all angles. The audience was lower and the camera was a known…

Maybe watching on HD would help.

On further review, I think the duck was tucked into the lid and the glass on the larger table was to distract from the prism shaped thing under the second table. Watch him remove the lid - the wall closest to him comes with it, he doesn’t twirl it like he does the other parts, the weirdness as he’s loading the duck is him working the compartment…

Or maybe he just kills the duck and squashes it flat.

Is the medallion around its neck supposed to be proof that it’s the same duck?

I saw David’s show just a few weeks ago. The duck (Webster btw) shows up on stage to music at several points during the show.

With the angle I had to see, it looked like the lid was a little thicker than the rest of it and I figured that Webster was just inside a compartment in the lid (kinda like The Prestige only less killing). It’s obvious a duck is in the lid of the bucket, but only one half of it.

I spent part of the show trying to puzzle things out, the rest of the time I just enjoyed myself (as a kid I wanted to be like David, except I realized I didn’t have the panache for it).

Yeah, I can never enjoy magic shows for this reason: I just can’t stop trying to puzzle things out. For me there’s no such thing as “just enjoying myself” in this context. It drives me nuts not to know how it was done.

So, I just don’t usually watch.


Yeah, the duck is in the lid. Not only is the equipment more capacious than it appears, but birds can fit into smaller compartments than you realize.

Another thing to notice is with the lid of the bucket. He has the guy inspect it and turns the open part of the lid toward the guy’s chest. Later, when he lets the duck out, it’s the other half of the lid that opens.

This is a trained animal.
Every time the audience look at it, it ducks. :cool:


I have to think the Alliance is going to frown on this” but…

  1. The bucket he shows has a dual compartment in it. One side is empty, the other side has a second duck. It has 2 lids, one over each compartment. Look how he strains to lift the bucket at the 14 sec. point of the clip. See how fast he stops the audience member from really feeling around too much in there. That is not an empty bucket.

  2. Notice when he has the audience member hold the bucket, he closes the lid on the side of the bucket closest to the audience member (20 sec).

  3. He then takes the first duck, and places it in a compartment attached to the underside of the lid of the box he will disassemble (34 sec exactly). When he removes the lid (first) he quickly places it down on a table that appears to have just a table top, with free-standing open legs (38 sec.) Look again. That is a mirror reflection, not the audience on the other side. Notice how Copperfield awkwardly leans over instead of stepping behind the table when he places the parts down. Otherwise he’d appear to have no legs! The table is in fact a hollowed out box with mirrors affixed to the outside.

The table has a hidden compartment, or a soft top (like a trampoline surface) that allows the lid to lay flat, while the bulge of the duck is hidden.

  1. He then goes back and releases the *other *duck that’s been hiding in the bucket all along. Notice how he opens the *other *lid of the bucket this time, (56 sec) the one on Copperfield’s side, not the side he closed before.