Thursday, 10 September 2009

How Derren Brown "Predicted" The Lotto Numbers

Derren Brown claims to have predicted the UK Lotto numbers last night (09/09/2009) however this is clearly a trick as anyone with an ounce of common sense knows it is impossible to do so. So the question on everybody's lips is "How did he do it?". Well.... here's the explanation:

IN SHORT: It's a camera trick, overlaying 2 video streams to hide an assistant putting the numbers on to his stand.


Point 1
- He starts the show talking to a camera man and walks through a door. At this point the video you are seeing is coming from a man holding a camera. I will call him cameraman 1.

Point 2
- Derren and cameraman 1 walk into the open studio space where the video feed switches to a second cameraman in the corner of the room (cameraman 2). THIS IS IMPORTANT for his trick to work. When the video switches from cameraman 1 to cameraman 2, it's actually switching to a pre-recorded video feed. You can see Derren and cameraman 1 walking into the studio and that the studio is empty apart from the TV and Derren's stand with his number prediction balls on. It's imperative that the viewers see this, so that they are convinced that there is no jiggery-pokery going on with special cameras or anything. This scene is easy to pre-record as you don't see Derren close enough to notice any lip-synch issues. Also, think about it - why is this camera even required? It isn't even used after this part of the program! The only reason it is required is for Derren's trick to work....

Point 3 - Derren waves at cameraman 2 and the video feed switches back to..... NOT cameraman 1. It switches back to a 3rd camera ("fixed camera") that is mounted onto a very accurate motorised stand or boom. Remember the video from cameraman 2 (above)? If that was live, you would have seen the fixed camera and the trick would have been ruined. The switch to cameraman 2 is used so that you don't notice that the producers have switched the main video feed from cameraman 1 to a fixed camera, and are pretending that it's the same feed.

Point 4 - The fixed camera uses it's accurate motor to move the camera in has a digital effect applied which produces a very specific series of human-like shakes and nudges to make you believe that cameraman 1 is holding the camera and it's not mounted to a fixed stand (which it is). This series of movements is pre-programmed and can be repeated perfectly, exactly the same, time and time again. This is how the trick fools you.

Point 5 - Derren talks on a bit, and walks over to the stand. This is another subtle ploy to make you think there is no camera trickery going on. He then walks back over to the right-hand-side of the video feed and the TV set.

Point 6 - Using the pre-programmed series of movements on the fixed camera, Derren has pre-recorded the left-hand-side of the video feed. The producers of the program are able to overlay this pre-recorded video feed onto the live video feed. The end result is that it looks just like you are watching a single live video feed but you are not. To explain it a bit better, imagine the screen divided into 2 down the middle, vertically like this:

Point 7 - Derren jabbers on and on about a "delay" people have been going on about in the media. Some people think he used the delay to pull off the trick but the delay is so small it's not possible to use it to an advantage. This is probably a diversionary tactic by Derren to get people to stop thinking about camera tricks. After a while he turns the TV on and watches the Lotto draw. This is where video feed A is turned on and overlayed on top of video feed B. At this point, if Derren were to walk over to the stand, the trick would be foiled because you would see him disappear behind video feed A.

Point 8 - As the numbers are being announced, an assistant places the correct number balls on the stand on video feed B - the live video feed. The viewers, however, cannot see this because they are just seeing pre-recorded nothingness from video feed A. WE CANNOT SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE STAND/BALLS ON LIVE FEED B.

Point 9 - As soon as the numbers are all out, Derren buys the assistant a few seconds by writing them down on a big piece of card. He also reads them out loud - this is probably helping the assistant. As soon as Derren has done this, the assistant quickly runs out of shot on video feed B (the live one). The producers turn off video feed A and blend it seamlessly (almost - see below) with video feed B. Now Derren can walk over to the stand in video feed B without risking "going behind" video feed A.

Watch this video and see the error the assistant made - it's TINY but noticeable. You can see the end ball move upwards when video feed A is blended back to video feed B:

Point 10 - Derren turns around the stand to reveal his "predicted" set of balls. These were, of course, just set in place by his assistant just seconds ago - AFTER THEY WERE ANNOUNCED ON BBC ONE.