Illusions Unlimited was founded in 1988 by Ted Outerbridge to design, engineer, and build magic illusions and special effects for his performances. Ted wanted go beyond the boundaries of conventional illusions that are commercially produced and achieve complete creative freedom over what he presented. Today, under the direction of Ted and Marion Outerbridge, a group of talented individuals including metalworkers, cabinet makers, and special effects experts create the illusions and sets for the Outerbridges’ performances as well for the movie industry, television, live stage productions, and trade show exhibits.
OUTERBRIDGE – Clockwork Mysteries takes place in different time periods and the illusion and set design reflect this. The main set piece
is a 14-foot-diameter clock face based on a clock that is on display at the Orsay Museum in France. The idea is that the audience is transported into a clock tower, and the environment is both immersive and open, with plenty of space for dramatic illusions and celebrations. Lighting is used to make the clock face come alive, take the audience to other places, and evoke different emotional responses. During the intense drama of the Time Machine illusion, the lighting from the clock face creates the illusion of traveling back in time. For contemporary pieces such as the Magic Alley, a chain link fence is used as a backdrop to create a gritty urban feeling for street magic. The chain link takes light beautifully and helps to create a mysterious, enchanted environment.
One of the most talked-about pieces in the show is the Time Machine. It was given a Victorian design with steampunk influences. It is constructed almost entirely of aluminium, brass and mahogany with many fine details including over 50 flashing LEDs and hundreds of carriage bolts which have been hand finished to give them a distressed look. This signature illusion took two years to complete although the methodology behind it has been refined by Ted and Marion for more than twelve years.
Tango Flotante is based on a passionate encounter between a man and woman in a restaurant in Argentina. The props were designed to have the appearance of a contemporary table for two in a restaurant, and nothing more, to avoid distracting from the illusion of Marion levitating and vanishing.
Our lives are ruled by time, and when we hear an alarm clock ringing in the morning it can sound a lot bigger than it really is. The majority of the props in Clockwork Mysteries are designed to look like real-life objects that we can easily relate to, but an exception was made for the Alarm Clock. This fantasy piece involves a seven-foot-tall, early 20th century alarm clock. An everyday object that is drastically out of proportion helps to enhance the dream-like feeling. This prop is made almost entirely from aluminium and it looks just like an alarm clock, including the small details.