Monday, September 14, 2009


1) Split screens
Explanation: While the viewer's attention was held by Brown's nervous patter as the balls were drawn, the producers cut to a pre-recorded shot of the left side of the screen. An unseen assistant hastily printed the numbers onto the prediction balls, before the split screen was removed and Brown walked over to reveal his "success".

The video shows how it is possible to use split screen technology to give the impression that the Lottery balls are in the live shot. In fact, they are a static image. The most popular theory about Brown's Channel 4 show is that the left hand side of the screen, which showed the numbered balls lined up in a row, was a frozen image. In reality, an assistant was putting the balls in place during the 30-second delay between them being drawn on the BBC and Brown revealing his numbers. The entire screen only became live at the moment Brown walked towards the balls, according to this theory.Viewers have been poring of video of Brown's trick, looking for the 'join'. The unusually shaky camera work could have served to disguise the effect. The use of split screen digital trickery could leave viewers feeling somewhat cheated. Brown has promised to reveal the secret in a special programme on Channel 4 tonight. However, not all of his tricks are what they seem.In 2003, Brown staged a live televised game of Russian roulette in which he fired a gun at his temple. He insisted: "It's a real gun, it's a real bullet." Embarrassingly for him, police later announced that the stunt was a fake and the gun contained only blanks.

2) Many possible outcomes
Explanation: Brown has said that planning the trick took a year of his life, giving rise to speculation that he filmed short clips of himself unveiling hundreds of thousands of different predictions, any of which could be retrieved and broadcast as soon as the balls were drawn. While there are more than six million possible results Brown only promised to predict "at least five" of the six balls, shrinking the number of combinations he needed to film. In the event he got lucky, and one of his pre-recorded combinations was drawn.
3) Spray paint
Explanation: The prediction balls were facing away from the screen while the results were being announced. Could they have been painted with the winning numbers with some kind of long-distance but highly accurate spray gun? Plausible, but it would take considerable technical wizardry to pull off without the viewer noticing.
4) Projection
Similar to the spray paint theory, but with a projector behind the camera throwing the numbers onto the prediction balls. But the numbers move as you would would expect them to as Brown touches the balls with his finger, so the projection technology would have to be highly complex.
5) Power of suggestion
In a previous show, Brown convinced bookmakers to pay out on losing bets by sheer power of suggestion – approaching the cashiers with his betting slip and telling them he had won. An attractive psychological explanation, but could he have really hoodwinked an entire nation? And continue to hoodwink us no matter how many times we watch the trick on YouTube?
6) He had already seen the results
Either the BBC and the National Lottery agreed to play along with the stunt by pre-recording the draw and providing the results to Brown, or he exploited a broadcast delay to obtain them a few seconds before they went out.But why would the BBC co-operate to boost ratings for a rival channel? And broadcast delays on live shows are usually no longer than a few seconds, which would not have give Brown much time.

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