Fun family entertainment for wizards of all ages.
Something that should be inanimate suddenly moves. It is both startling and intriguing. Almost anything can be animated. It could be a slow rising card, a cartoon snake that sticks his head out of a basket, or a rabbit that snatches your magic wand and takes over your show.
The easiest and oldest way to make something move, apparently all on its own, is to attach a thread to it and pull. The first such invisible thread was probably human hair. Now the thread can be made of black silk, invisible nylon sewing thread or the very strong magic nylon thread. It must be strong enough to withstand the pull, and invisible to the human eye.
If you have a direct attachment, as you pull away from your prop, the prop moves in the same direction you do. Eventually, even the dumbest audience will figure out that you are controlling it. If you can loop your thread around a chair leg or other fixed point on the other side of your prop, then as you move, the prop will go toward the chair and not toward you. This is an indirect attachment. The ultimate example of this type of animation is seen in theater shows, where a handkerchief flys back and forth across the stage and out over the heads of the audience. This requires a mechanical pull that works at high speed.
The Zombie ball effect is another type of animation, which uses a wire attached the magicians thumb or finger to raise and lower the light weight ball. The wire is hidden behind a scarf. There are many routines using this concept. To be convincing, it is necessary at the end of the routine to hide the wire and show the un-gimmicked ball.
There are many ways to make an inanimate objects move. Magnets you move by hand beneath a plastic tray can move a magnetized prop on top of the tray. It is possible to use an electro-magnet that will suddenly move a metal prop when the current is turned on. Hidden fans can push balloons or silks away as you try to drop them into a container. Assistants, out of sight off stage, can use wires or threads to move things on stage.