Theory 4 – projected numbers

September 10, 2009

The balls were blank and the numbers were projected on to them from a projector behind the second camera either that or there is a computer projection over the numbers.



  1. I don’t believe Derren would stoop to this. Way too easy… http://nicolamonaghan.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-did-he-do-it.html

  2. Do you realise how many combinations there are????

  3. He moves the ball with “02” on it so I can’t see how it could be projected or else this would have become obvious

  4. Nope, cos he moves one or two of the balls and the number moves around with it. Plus when he turns them around it wouldn’t be right until it was in the right place..

  5. This is by far the easiest. Computer map the
    numbers onto the balls real time. I don’t think Derren would resort to this unless he tells us straight up it was a trick and the lottery can’t be predicted and moves onto something else with a smile 🙂

  6. Not possible – you can see numbers on the sides of the balls as Derren rotates the pedestal.

  7. Similar theory I heard was that lasers were used to burn or etch the numbers onto the balls.

    One thing we have to remember though is that the show of the explanation is an hour long, and it wouldn’t take an hour to explain something like this. Also it seems too obvious.

  8. It’s possible using the same technology they use to put adverts on the pitch during football matches, but it’s not exactly something we can try at home…

  9. It’d work to rapidly print the numbers onto a photosensitive coating, with a laser, but would make for a rather weak reveal on Friday night.

  10. Um. How do you project black exactly?

  11. similar theory is that they’re just sophisticated balls which can be programmed to have any number on them

  12. Oh, this is completely possible… But Derren has to follow up what he did with something that will make us go ‘wow’ tomorrow. Projections on the balls would be too cheap and easy, as would any split screen jiggery pumpery. Whatever he’s got up his sleeve (pardon the pun) will be much cleverer than this…

  13. My view would be not projected, but laser etched, from a laser in the ceiling behind – readily available technology. Hence no audience, could see it being done. Note the numbers were printed, not written, which surely they would have been if he had really put them on the balls earlier. But the computer overlay is a possible alternate – especially if the balls were actually green – though the way the numbers moved when moved them would be tricky.

  14. I think Stuart is more or less right.

    The balls are motion-tracked, and the numbers are digitally composited into position live, not projected (and you can’t project black, anyway). It would allow for the balls to be moved, and for the pedestal to be rotated, as the tracking would follow the movement. It would explain why there was no audience there – as they would have seen that the balls didn’t have the numbers on them. And it would also explain why the numbers weren’t revealed before the draw – the reason given was clearly a bit of bluff.

    It’s a technique used all the time in visual effects, though I’ve never seen it done so well in a live situation. It could easily have gone wrong.

    But I don’t think it’s a matter of Derren ‘stooping’ to anything. The effect is the important thing, not the method. And Derren uses trickery all the time.
    Clearly, you can’t predict the lottery. If it was possible, other people would have done it. I’m not sure if the show on Friday will own up to that, or be even more of a smoke screen!

  15. I agree with the printing – it would probably by relatively easy to do. But. As with most DB ‘explanantions’, I doubt the reveal show on Friday will really be an explanation, probably misdirection for whatever the next Event will be. You’ve gotta love the showmanship. His twitter feed reminds me of The Prestige – live the illusion.

  16. Everyone who believes this projection theory think about this;

    Projectors project light onto a surface. Black is not a colour, it is technically an absence of light so the black numbers could not have been projected onto the white balls. I have no idea how Derren did it but it was not by projection.

  17. I suspect the balls are tricked out with internal projectors, As they are always attached and never move far from the base. That way the stand can be moved without the numbers on the balls moving, and the projectors can be reprogrammed as the numbers are drawn.

  18. I’m pretty sure the numbers weren’t projected, as it is absolutely impossible to project darker images/text onto a lighter background.

  19. “It is absolutely impossible to project darker images/text onto a lighter background” … but easy to project a light background onto a plain, dark surface. But this is far too much work.

  20. Projected like on a screen? Not possible. You see the numbers as the stand is being turned round, you’d have to have a projector that moved round AND kept in line with the balls. On top of that I know no projector that can project the “colour” black.

    Also the number look like they’re on squares of paper/sticker and also Derren moves the balls and the numbers move as expected. Even with a video overlay, that effect would be almost impossible to achieve.

    The numbers were projected onto sensitive paper by lasers? More plausible. And more fun as it involves lasers 😀

  21. Had a similar thought along projection lines but from the other direction maybe using a thermochromic coating on the prediction balls. When the picture cuts-back from the long shot camera, the new close-up angle appears to be fixed (with artificial shakes) as I didn’t notice any parallax between the wall and the objects in front of it which is a bit weird (surely that’s significant some how?!) and it felt like there was a slight discrepancy in his body position. Maybe the fixed camera is to ensure projection equipment designed to ‘burn’ the numbers onto the balls located at a high angle just off the top of shot further up the wall aren’t accidentally picked up….. after all when Derren turns the prediction around the numbers appear very high up on the balls….
    All the same I still think that sort of thing would be far too simple and it would feel like a bit of a cheat.
    I’m certain that the real method will be infinitely more ingenious & cunning than anyone (apart from Derren of course) could even possibly begin to imagine.

  22. A variation of the printing theory :

    Balls are coated in patches of reactive ink of some sort (UV for instance) and numbers are ‘painted’ on.

  23. ‘SeansFallOutBoy’, please go away.

  24. Too boring, too obvious. He’s going to announce how it was done, so it won’t be something so banal.

  25. Real time computer overlay is simple. The balls will have hi-vis marker points on them. A computer tracks these points and superimposes a computer generated image of the balls with numbers on them.

    It’s all quite simple. Many football games you see have advertising around the stadium. With international games these ads will change based on country. These are replaced realtime on the video depending on which country they are transmitted in. Hell, I’ve even got software for my webcam to superimpose glasses and a moustache on me in real time that follow me when I move and turn my head!

  26. ok done… admin 🙂

  27. It is interesting that the card Derren writes the numbers on as they are being drawn is black on the reverse, which you never get a very clear shot of. When he is standing behind the pedestal before he turns it around to reveal the numbers on the balls, his hands are moving around very quickly, so perhaps there is some kind of numerical touchpad on the back of the card which he is hitting with his thumb, which he completes just before he turns the pedestal round, with the corresponding numbers subsequently displayed on the balls (somehow). Remember this is meant to be an illusion – it is meant to entertain us and keep us guessing how he could pull it off without us understanding it – not a real case of correctly predicting one outcome out of 14million possible outcomes.

  28. I think they were projected from iside the balls. Or rather printed using E-ink. Each ball was a compact devices that recieved the inforamtion via blueooth.

  29. Wish I’d gone over that. Bit too much coffee. Atrocious typos.

  30. Augmented Reality!

    Simple Targets on the balls, Computer places Numbers on Targets…Simples! (The Numbers also move with target when someones pokey finger knocks them!)

    as for Fridays Program heres my Prediction: We will never know how the numbers were added to the balls! Instead Derren will show us clips from well known events from over the past year where he selects the Six Numbers. all of which will be genuine!
    However we will not see the other clips from other events for numbers that did not come up!
    So question is: Just what events did he choose? to proove his prediction prior to the draw? wait till friday to see..

  31. I dont think channel 4 has the budget for any of this!

  32. The stand for the balls has two thin rollers that the balls rest on. A small motor turns the rollers and they rotate so that the side that is originally down faces the back. As they turn a small ink-jet type mechanism in the base of the stand simply prints the numbers on them.

  33. this one has been popular with my friends – projected on the balls from the inside so you can move them and the numbers still are right.

    But this sounds by far too easy for Derren Brown and would be kind of anticlimatic

  34. The equipment in the background has a row of 6 red lights. The balls were coated with a light/heat sensitive material and the numbers were ‘etched’ onto the balls using heat or light from that equipment.

  35. .. along similar lines to projection; another way to achieve the effect would be ‘electronic paper’ covered balls. Displays like this are used in electronic book readers and are designed to look like print.

  36. I watched the show frame by frame when he is moving the balls. The physics of the balls seem real enough. I ruled out this idea of projection.

  37. I’m a subscriber to thermal laser projection. The balls were square onto the camera and could very well be obscuring a small part of the fake rear wall (did you notice?). Behind the balls which are coated with a thermally sensitive solution used on receipt printers, is a laser which in a matter of a second, can project it’s supertight focussed beam onto the back of the balls in reverse order after all numbers were declared. When you turn the stand round, they are in ascending order and PERFECT…….. Note that during the presentation, the camera moves about a bit but never moves the whole scene keeping the minute laser emitters behind the balls, always hidden.

  38. I agree with the laser or electronic ink theories. Way less risky than split screen.

  39. The thing that makes me question this theory and many others is what Derren Said at the end of the Show.

    “Please Watch on friday night. I will explain how i did this, and how you can do it to if you wanna have a go.”

    I think if there was some kind of clever trickery i.e. Projectors, Swapping the balls, Recording all possible outcomes etc. then he wouldnt make out that it would be possible for the audience to recreate the ‘trick’.

  40. theres so many to read, so it may have been covered.
    i just thought it may be some kind of photosensitive paint (i’m no chemist). It could be quite simple.
    The thing is i really need to rewatch the whole ting and pay attention. The rerun on Pootube is caching slow for me and other stuff to do, may come back on this.
    I didnt understand- did derren reveal the numbers on the web or not before hand? otherwise i need a rethink. webpages down through overcrowding?
    I only watched the reveal, through one eye 😉
    i dont have enough information 😀

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