Faking Juggling Achievements In Photos And Videos

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, photographic shutter speeds were not fast enough to catch most props that were being juggled. Therefore, jugglers usually either posed with their props, did statue tricks (click here to learn about these), or did some type of trick photography or other trickery for their promotional photos. Sometimes this was as simple as hanging props on strings or attaching them to back drops. Below are such photos of Kara, showing him juggling five balls in one hand in a very low pattern and the Cromwells, showing another not so realistic trick from 1910.



With the advent of more modern technology, cameras were able to capture live juggling tricks, so such trickery was no longer needed. However, occasionally a juggler would still resort to these methods to fake a trick. One example was a juggler who submitted a photograph to Guinness in the mid 1980s showing him juggling 12 rings, which would tie the existing record at the time of a 12 ring flash by Albert Lucas. Upon close examination of the photo with a magnifying glass, it was discovered that the top four rings were being held aloft by clear fishing line! The claim was denied and the juggler faded into obscurity. Another more modern example of trying to show a trick beyond your actual ability is the picture below of Joey Jordan. It shows him in the midst of the Brunn Finish, but with the addition of three rings; one on his arm, one on his leg, and one in his left hand. There’s a reason this trick is not in the record books, as the likelihood that it was ever performed or even successfully attempted is infinitesimally small.


Another reason a modern juggler might use digital trickery in a photo is to create something comical that he or she would never do in real life. Such is the case in the following photo of Daniel Rosen.

With the huge advancements in digital photography and video, it is easier than ever to fake juggling feats. Let’s take a look at some videos that have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to mimic true juggling using digital effects.

King Kong

In 2005, director-producer Peter Jackson released his modern remake of the 1933 classic film King Kong. In one scene, Naomi Watts, playing vaudeville performer Ann Darrow, tries to win over the giant ape by juggling and dancing. Digital effects were used to make it appear that Watts is a capable juggler, juggling three rocks and doing shoulder throws and under the leg throws. Below is the scene.

 Hammer Juggling

In 2007, a viral video showed a man juggling three hammers and hitting a nail into a board at the apex of the throws. The hammers were then tossed up so that their claw sides stuck into the overhead board. Many people were fooled by this and believed it to be an actual juggling accomplishment. While the initial juggling of the hammers is real, the hitting of the nail and ending isn’t. It was actually part of an advertising campaign for German home improvement store Obi.

 Badminton Juggling

In 2011, a viral video featuring a “Badminton Legend” named Pete Stokes reverse cascading 10 shuttlecocks. The fact that 10 objects can’t be reverse cascaded should have been the first indicator to any juggler that this was computer generated juggling. The fact that he never looked to the top of the pattern should have been another indication of the fakery. The video was part of an advertising campaign for PlayBadminton.co.uk. It fooled many non-jugglers.

Bowling Ball Juggling Accident

In 2007, a viral video hit the web that caused a huge uproar. It showed a Russian man juggling three bowling balls and striking a young girl in the head with one of the balls. If you google this video, shown below, you will still see page after page of people saying this is real. Fortunately, this is not the case. It was part of a viral campaign for Samsung DuoS mobile phones in Russia. It was created by the Russian advertising agency Cheil Communications Rus.

Grill Out Juggling Accident

This is another viral video created by the Russian advertising agency Cheil Communications Rus in 2007 as part of a viral campaign for Samsung DuoS mobile phones in Russia.

 Amazing Shoe Juggling Kid

This video shows a boy kicking and balancing his shoe is incredible ways. Unfortunately, the tricks he does and the way the shoe moves defy the laws of motion. Like almost all of the videos on this list, this one has been sent to me many times and I’ve had to break it to others, including other jugglers, that this is not real.

Five Beer Cascade
The next video is a commercial for Heineken beer that came out in 2012. It includes a man juggling five mugs of beer in a realistic cascade. In this case, I wouldn’t be surprised if a five ball cascade was filmed and then the beers were added over the balls.
Back To Back Juggling With 14 Clubs
This video stars jugglers Sean Gandini and Owen Reynolds and features plenty of real juggling. However, it ends with a well rendered but still unrealistic (at least to other jugglers) 14 club back to back passing pattern. The commercial is for MTN in South Africa.
Vitalu Crackers
In 2012, the following commercial, featuring British juggler Annette Gilwa, blends real juggling with computer generated wizardry. It is for Vitalu Crackers.
There have been many commercials where a basketball spinning on a finger has been faked with computer graphics. I’m sure sure there are other videos that could have been listed here, but these are all fairly professional productions. Most have fooled the general public and some have even faked out some jugglers. As technology improves, the opportunities to fool  even experienced jugglers will increase. Therefore, if a newbie juggler releases a video of himself flashing 15 rings, let’s look very closely at the video and ask to see his other attempts as well!

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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