Development Process

The Tenyo development process by Hiroshi Kondo:
One Year from idea to merchandising
 (Tannen's Magic manuscript November / December 1989)

Off all our staff members in the development section of Tenyo, Shigeru Sugawara has been inventing for the long time Mounted in front of his desk there is a memo, which reads :
1-Anyone can easily perform it.
2-It can be repeated.
3-It uses articles found around us.
4- The props can withstand examination by the audience.
5-The props can be carried around in one's pockets.

These conditions have been derived from such early best-selling products as Dynamic Coins and Flash dice. Of course, not all the magic merchandised by Tenyo satisfies all these conditions. However, one thing that is certain is that every product has been developed whit our sincere desire to fulfill all of the conditions.
The basic point is that the magic of Tenyo is user oriented. In the merchandising process, our ideas must pass trough many filters as they are discussed and checked from many angles.
Thus, the product that reach the customer's hands are the ones that have been successfully examined in terms of users' merits.

Because of this attitude, Tenyo products have gained a commercial identity. Furthermore, we believe that commercial tricks (especially those that satisfy the aforementioned conditions) are superior tricks. We strive to be conscious of consumer needs, not only for the sake of sales, but also because we are constanly trying to communicate with customers in order to integrate their ideas into the new products.
In the instructions for our domestic line, our product development section's telephone number is listed. Thus, we can respond directly to questions about performing, professional careers, appropriate magic for upcoming events, and so on. In many cases we get calls from beginners who have questions about specific products. Through these inquiries, our satff is able to understand what types of questions our customers will most frequently ask; wich points are difficult for them to learn; wich tricks they are most interested in performing.

Tenyo launches a new line of product every year, and this means that the development staff must come up with a certain number of ideas before an annual deadline. The following scenario describes this process.
In the two mounth period of December and January each year, our development staff concentrates on the creation of new ideas. During this period they are under so much presure that they can hardly sleep. Even if they do sleep, they may have surrealistic nightmare such as being enclosed in strange case whit coins, or being tied to a padldle with ropes!
Many of our best ideas have sprung up to suddenly that they seem to have come into existence by accident. However, we think they are more than that. During all of the time spent whithout achieving tangible results, ideas are envolving in our brain, witch then can suddenly springs up as full-blow creations.
The Zig-Zag cig I created in 1981 is a good example of this. Three years earlier, Sugawara and I came up whit the idea of doing Harbin's Zig-Zag girl illusion as a close-up trick with a cigarette. Our initial method used a mirror.

The Zig-Zag Cig :

"Figure 1 shows the exterior design of the case. The sections of the cigarettes can be seen in the three windows, with the ends of the cigarette protuding from the top and bottom. Inside the middle section of the case there is a hidden sliding part, as shown in figure 2. The left side of panel A and B are mirrored. these panels are connected with vinyl tape, so that their angle relative to panel C is changeable.

Figure 3 shows a cross-section top view of the sliding part when it is set in the middle secion of the case. As panels A and B are a little longer than the depth of the case, as in figure 3. The right side of panel B appear to be the inner wall of the case's middle section.

If panel C is pulled to the right, the positions of panels A and B shift as shown in figure 4. Now, panel A covers the cigarette, and reflects the left inner wall giving the illusion that that middle section of the cigarette is missing. Panel B reflects the middle of the cigarette and the right side of panel A, giving the illusion that the middle part of the cigarette is over to the side, as shown in figure 5. With the case shifted to this position, you can still smoke the cigarette. It remains only to shift the panel back to their original position, and remove the cigarette."

This idea was not marketed, due to functional problems. However, without the original challenge the subsequent "accidental" invention of the Zig-Zag Cig would probably have never happened.
Our staff must come up with ideas within limited time period, so we canot rely only upon chance. The creative methods differ from one person to another; everyone has his own way of thinking up new ideas. One method that Sugawara tried at one time was just toying whit material at random.
Starting with our original cigarette trick, he cut a mirro into pieces whit an electric saw, and played with the pieces. This led to his devising the following effect:

Bare-Hand silk production :

Effect: You put both hands togheter forming a spherical enclosure. You ask a spectator to peek inside yours hands to confirm that they are empty. When you open your hands, a silk handkerchief appears.

Preparation: buy a sheet of plastic mirror, and cut out a circle two inches in diameter. Roll a twelve-inch silk into a ball, and palm it in the left hand. Put the mirror on top of the balled silk, as in figure 6. Place the right hand over the mirror, cupping the hands as in figure 7.

Performance: Strech both arms forwards, bringing your cupped hands closer to the spectator. Ask him to peek inside your hands. Because the mirror reflects the palm of the right hand, it will appear as if the hands are empty, as figure 8.

Separate your hands, palming the mirror with the right hand, to produce the silk, as in figure 9.

This effect looks rather amazing when seen in person. When Tomoyuki Shimomura saw this trick, he realized that the idea also can be applied to the mouth:

Ball from Mouth:

"Cut a sheet of plastic mirror into a semi circular shape shown in figure 10. Put a ball in your mouth, and cover it with the mirror as in figure 11. When you open your mouth, the mirror will reflect your tongue; which will give the appearance of the roof of your mouth, and thus your mouth a little wider, allowing the mirror to fall flat. The ball will duddenly appear inside your mouth."

The preceding ideas were not complete enought to be marketed. However, by developing the principle further, Sugawara succeeded in generating viable products. The late master Tenkai Ishida once remarked, "It is raw material that suggests new ideas". Superior tricks often take advantage of the characteristics of raw materials, and we find that this approach is the fastest way to come up whit new ideas.
"Raw material" does not necessarily refer to physical items. Geometrick by Hideo Kato, which made its debut last year (1988), came about when he unexpectedly discovered that a square can be overlapped by a circle with very small distance between its perimeter and the circle's circumference, as in figure 12.

He noticed this while doodling in his notebook. This is an example of ideas derived from abstract "raw material", in this case geometric figures.
Despite their surface dissimilarities, many times old ideas are re-thought into new ones. For example, the apparatus for Geometrick was an extension of the previous year's "The moons of Jupiter". The successful release "Infinitium" started with Kato making modifications on an old cigarette case trick.
It is also essential for a trick to have a clear theme that continues to the end. Any inventor of magic has a creation that can be called his " originale experience". The excitement received from it is often burried at the starting point of his work. For example, Roy Walton's "Card Warp" ( a trick based on JKeff Busby's "into the fourth dimension") is one of my favorite tricks. It is a superbly illusory effect, in which the back side of a card gradually disappears as the face of the card appears.
I was struck whit the impact of this fresh effect. My own "Midas Machine", "Side of track" and "Tricky Business" share one original principle, but these tricks always remind me of "Card Warp". I was not consciously thinking of "Card warp" when i created them, but i can't be denied that it was one of the factors in my subconscious mind.
To Sugawara, the basic concept of penetration seems to be an eternal theme. In his works, there are many fine tricks based on this theme, such as "Squeeze Play", " Alpha Tunnel", The frame of destruction", Wonder window" and "Mirage".
Whenever he encounters some material, he seems to contemplate the possibility of a penetration effect with it. For example, attracting magnets are one of the oldest materials in magic.
However, the fact that identical magnetic poles repel each other does not seem to be used very often. Working whit this phenomenon, Sugawara found that another prenetration effect could be created:

Wand penetration :

Effect: A thin case is shown, with a slot running through it horizontaly, and a hole going through its center. There is a piece of tubing above and below this central hole. A playing card is inserted into a thin case, as shown in figure 20.

A wand is inserted into the lower tube, and pushed upward the top end of the wand penetrates the card, appearing at the top of the upper tube. When the wand is removed, the card is found to be unharmed. Everything can be examined.

Preparation: You will need to construct the case. You will also need a wand, a playing card, and two small bar magnets, which should be rather strong. Paste white paper around the magnets, and attach one to the end of the wand. Put the second magnet into the lower tube of the case, as indicated by dotted lines in figure 21.

Performance: Hold the case in the left hand, keeping the magnet in position in the lower tube. Insert the playing card into the slot of the case, as in figure 22. Now, turn the entire unit upside down. Insert the wand in the lower tube, and raise it slowly. Presuming you have taken care to orient the polarity of the magnets properly, the hidden magnet will begin to float upward, pushed by the magnetic repulsion from the tip of the wand.

The hidden magnet will move up out of the top of the upper tube, as in figure 23, giving the appearance of the wand penetrating the card. This looks quite convincing, for it you move the wand up and down, the upper piece will move up and down with it. Lower the wand, removing it from the tube. The magnet will drop down into the upper tube. Place the wand on the table. Remove the card, which will allow the magnet to drop down through the lower tube into your wainting hand. Palm away the magnet. The case, wand and card can now be examined.

The development styles we have discussed can be summarized as follows:
1-Devote time to brainstorming and trying out ideas. Even if you end up with failure for the time being, by continuing with this process, you are getting closer to the birth of an accidental innovation.
2-Consult with the raw material. The material may wish to play the major role in the trick. If so, we should "ask" the material what its characteristics are, and how it differs from the other materials.
3-Remake old ideas, creating new combinations and variations. Bear in mind that much of this remaking should stay private; it's only when you have managed to envolve it into something distincly original that it should be made public.
4- Stick to one idea. Accumulate interesting themes, in terms of effects or materials. When pursuing a theme with wich you feel an affinity, sooner or later you will hit a "Jackpot" of an idea.

Let's return to our story of the Tenyo schedule. At the end of January, all members of the development staff come together with their original ideas devised in their various styles. Each idea is demonstrated, then thoroughly discussed. Defects are located; solutions are proposed; production details are considered.
For example, a new product for this year (1990), Shimomura's ESP scope, is an effect wherein a spectator can dicern which ESP card was chosen by another spectator, by looking through a device that resembles opera glasses. In the original idea, when one looked into the glasses a mark on the chosen card could be seen, to differentiate it from the other cards. When we tried this whit lay people, we found that they sometimes missed seeing the difference. So, the idea was reconsidered and modified to that anyone could immediately notice the difference.

After all of these discussions and examinations, the final meeting is held in february, and five or six items that have passed the tests are selected for the new product line. Every year the number of ideas that fail is larger than the number that pass. Those failled ideas would be enought to make a successful lecture or book of magic.

Once the new products are chosen, Sugawara begins to draw the plans. In March the plans are sent to various factories working whit plastic, metal processing and printing.
The test products is completed in June. By that time, Sugawara, has a new nightmare : That the new item will not be ready in time for the annual Tenyo convention in July. This is because the test product is not the final product; it will have to be modified and improved again and again. In many cases it will be only a few days before the convention that the final products is at last in perfect shape.
While the product of the hardware is going on, the name of the product is determined and the instructions and package design are completed. Our instructions are illustrated by Sonoda, who understand the tricks very well. Teruhide Sonoda was an experienced magician and a demontrator for a Tenyo shop, but he is now using his talent as a freelance illustrator. At Tenyo's request he has been illustrating our instructions for over ten years. His easily understood pictures are based on his knowledge of magic; we consider them the best illustrations in the contemporary magic field.
Our chief designer Abe is in charge of package design. In many instances, scenes of performance of tricks are drawn with anairbrush by Sonoda.
Then our designers, copywriters and illustrators work together to create a package which will immediately inform the prospective customer as to the nature of the trick inside.

For our export products, sample apparatus, demonstration video-tapes and simple English write-ups are sent to Gary Ouellet in Canada who then writes the English instructions as well as coming up whit the English trick titles. Gary Ouellet is a lawyer who live in Quebec. For many years he has written the English-language manuals for Tenyo's products for the oversea market. His skill at writting instructions that are easy to understand has probably doubled the value of our products. He also has accomplished skills as a magic researcher and creator.

Materials for the preparation of the English catalog are sent to Alan Parsons in England, so that he can begin his work. Alan parsons is well know English rock music composer and leader of the Alan Parsons Project, his music is often used for background themes at magic conventions. Following a meeting eight years ago which stemmed from his interest in magic, he became the writer for the Tenyo English-language catalogs, which benefit greatly from his stylish writing skills.

At the Tenyo convention in July the new products will be placed in the spotlight. At this time, the new items are sold to magic enthusiasts. Based on their reactions, some further modifications of the instructions may be made. Finally, in September, the product will receive nation-wide distribution, and in November the export versions will be ready fo shipping.
After one year's struggle, we have completed our new product line. But this means another start for the coming season. Can we come up with innovative ideas yet again ? Nobody seems quite sure. Suddenly, our wellspring of ideas may dry up, then What ? We have only one definite answer : going back to our original point. In other words, reading through this article from beginning once again !