Movie Magic Secrets

Movie Magic Secrets

A Magician in the world of VFX 

Do you ever go to the movies and see something that makes you go “how the heck did they do that?” Well, I know how they did it. For those of you who don’t know me, Hi! I’m Josh Janousky, I’m an animator currently working and living in Montreal. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some pretty amazing films that you may have heard of. I’ve wanted to be an animator since I was 5 years old, so it still blows my mind each day that I get to wake up animate characters for blockbuster movies.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about being an animator on a site made for magicians. In case you aren’t familiar with my work, I’ve been a magician and creator for the past 10 years and have consulted on magic television. As I’ve progressed in both my magic and animation careers, I’ve started to notice how well they work together. You might not realize it right away, but animation and magic have a lot more in common than you’d think. After all, there is a reason they call it movie magic. 

Animation is the art of bringing something to life. Being able to take something and make it feel real. Additionally, the key to any good animation is the ability to tell a good story. When you see that tiger in Dolittle threatening Robert Downey Jr, it was my job to make you believe that he is real and make you believe he wants to eat RDJ. Magic, on the other hand, is about creating connections with your audience and being able to make them look where and when you want them to. You have all probably witnessed a magician who didn’t connect with their audience or wasn’t able to misdirect them well enough. You understand how important it is.

So now that we know about animation and magic, that still doesn’t explain how they tie together. Well, it’s pretty simple! As a magician, I need to be able to direct people to look at something, rather than misdirect them. You want to make sure they are looking at something specific so you can do the move. In animation, you want to make sure your audience sees what you need them to see to help progress the story. As a magician, I have been able to use the skills I’ve learned on focusing people to look at something and apply them to my shots. Now I know that if you watch something I animate, you’re going to see what you’re supposed to see. The same goes for connecting with your audience. In magic, it’s important because you want your spectators to engage. Animators want the same thing. We want you to connect with these characters we bring to life, so getting you to engage is crucial.

As an animator I need to be able to tell a story, and what kind of magicians are the most successful? The ones who are able to tell a compelling story, to bring you into their magical world. Whatever that story is, it doesn’t matter, it just matters that you tell a good one, and through learning how to animate, I’ve been able to apply that to my magic. One thing I’m told by people when I perform, muggles and wizards alike, is that I am very genuine. That’s because for me the story I tell when I perform is my own, and it’s because of animation that I’ve been able to do that.

Now that you know this, try to keep these things in mind next time you go out and perform, or the next time you watch a movie. See if you can catch these moments when you could think like an animator, or when a movie should think like a magician. Most importantly, if you have another job or hobby outside of magic, see in what ways you can combine the two to make yourself better in both fields. You might be surprised at what you find.

Guest post by Josh Janousky.

This is our third guest post. Check back to read two new guest posts per week. - NK


  • Alex

    Josh, you’re a hero. Your job sounds insane and I’m jealous you get to do to passions of yours for a living. Thanks

  • Jasper van Luit

    Hi Josh! Thank you for this great blog.
    Your animating work is truly amazing. What a great skill to animate emotion!
    I’ve always been mesmerised by great animation. A skill I really admire. And yes you are right, the best way to connect with your audience is by telling compelling, interesting or recognisable stories. Engaging and inspiring or making people laugh with a magic performance is one of the hardest en greatest things.



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