An ornate purple cloth is then draped over the whole affair. The lights on the stage go dim. The front of the cloth is folded back onto the top of the table to reveal some movement underneath. As the spectators take a closer look under the table they see a butterfly flapping its wings inside the pyramid. The rear of the cloth is folded onto the table so that the spectators can see clear through to the other side. Is this a real tiny butterfly? Is it a projection of some sort? If so, where could it be coming from?
The Magician moves in front of the pyramid, the butterfly still visible behind him. A white box is introduced and set down next to the performer. Its lid is opened to show that it is empty except for a gold pin standing up in the center of the box. The lid is closed, but the empty interior can still be seen due to the clear top of the box. The cloth is unfolded to cover both the table and the box.
After a command by the Magician, the cloth is whisked away to reveal that the butterfly has vanished from the pyramid and is now in the box, stuck onto the gold pin!
My pyramid hologram is created using a hidden iPhone playing a four-sided video of a butterfly. Due to the angle of the sides of the pyramid, the video is reflected so that it appears like one butterfly is inside the pyramid. It is a wondrous and magical effect that apparently first started to appear on the internet about two years ago as a clever party demonstration. However, almost all of the versions I have seen involve a home-made acetate pyramid perched upside down on top of the phone. The effect is the same (the image just needed reversing) but the viewer needs to either crouch down to see the hologram or the whole apparatus has to be elevated to eye level (see my example on a mantelpiece in the animated gif above). This arrangement is good for practicality purposes as it is easier to set an inverted pyramid atop a phone than it is to balance a phone atop a pyramid.
For my show I wanted the phone on top of the pyramid, both because I wanted the butterfly to appear to be trapped inside the pyramid, and because the viewer could more easily see the illusion. So, how to reliably balance and conceal the phone? Some sort of table would have to be crafted for the phone to rest on with the pyramid beneath it. In addition, the phone would have to be hidden, perhaps with an ornate railing around it. I was originally going to have the curtain rise to reveal the hologram already in view, but as I played around with the apparatus I came upon the idea that I could simply introduce the phone surreptitiously while I covered the table with a cloth. I could then remove the phone in the same manner. The result is a beautifully clean and mysterious appearance and vanish of the hologram. Perhaps this is the first trick to use an iPhone where its use is purposely hidden from the audience?
The pyramid hologram produces an amazed reaction from people, even in its simplest form. When demonstrating it on the mantelpiece for friends and family, both kids and adults ask if the butterfly is real, while some adults who know its a digital projection wonder where the projector is as they look all around the room for it. It's interesting that people do not consider the projection to come from directly below (or above, in the Suitcase of Wonders version). A hologram is something that most people have not yet experienced, especially in such close proximity. so their perception of how it is generated is not yet formed.
Then I remembered this butterfly box from Tenyo from a couple of years ago. The scale was right. the box could be shown empty beforehand, and the appearance of the butterfly on the gold pin was striking - a perfect end to the routine.
I've always wanted to incorporate Pepper's Ghost into the Suitcase of Wonders, and the pyramid hologram has proven to be the answer. The effect may be smaller in size than I had originally hoped for, but it is no less wondrous, and after all, I am Smallini, the Word;s Tiniest Magician.