Dice Stacking

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 1, 2007

Filed under: Movies 35 comments

I am continually amazed by the absurd and useless things people learn to do. There seem to be entire hobbies and skill sets that have no other purpose outside of making amusing YouTube videos. See also: Cup stacking.

How long does it take to lean to do something like this, as compared to (say) learning to Tap Dance or play the Violin?

Still, I gotta hand it to them: That is really amazing. It didn’t even look possible for the first few seconds. At first I thought it was a magic trick.



From The Archives:

35 thoughts on “Dice Stacking

  1. Adam says:

    OK that was wild.. the next David Copperfield

  2. blizzardwolf1 says:

    Indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the name Thomas Fischbach in a few years as the next great illusionist, or martial artist.

    As a music major, I know how hard it is to come across people willing to put THAT kind of practice and time into anything. What he did with it I think, is less important than the fact that he did do it.

    This kid will be able to do anything.

  3. SimeSublime says:

    The “down the stairs” trick was particularly impressive.

  4. P'kay says:

    Now, to do that with d20s and get 4 natural 20s would be awesome.

  5. hevis says:

    That’s. Just. Amazing.

  6. Chris says:

    I thought it was going to be something like this:

    Substantially more impressive

  7. Very impressive indeed.
    That kid is going to Vegas :D

  8. Martin says:

    Introduce yourself to Professional League Cup Stacking.

    It’s dice stacking, but with “official” cups, rules, and “world record timings”.



  9. Avaz says:

    I have to say that was quite possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen, with a side note of agreement that I see absolutely no value in the skill other than to make youtube videos. But still very entertaining.

    And that cup stacking thing? Wow, I had no idea it even existed.

  10. Dev Null says:

    I don’t believe it.

    Oh the whacky obsessive dice-stacking thing, that I believe. But the bit at the end of each sequence, where he gets up and leaves the room? No way. That guy hasn’t left that room in years…

  11. Turgid Bolk says:

    Haha, reminds me of the world records for Mario Kart 64 (or any other video game). At least you can use this trick to impress your buddies.

    Cup stacking is used in a lot of schools to improve coordination and such.

  12. mocking bird says:

    That’s silly. At least in the quarter tossing vids there is a beer drinking aspect.

  13. Knight says:

    The motion in the video looks strange. Almost like it’s playing in reverse…

  14. lost chauncy says:

    “Downstairs” gets my vote as most impressive. Scooping the top one off without knocking over the others? Amazing. It’s all amazing though. Maybe Thomas will find a way to make a living from this somehow.

  15. Nathaniel says:

    The “hobby with no purpose outside making YouTube videos” has been around a long time. See also: juggling, unicycling, yo-yo tricks, etc.

  16. Angel says:

    Cool, now let’s see him do that again with a stack of d10s or d20s. =o)

  17. Jeff says:

    “The motion in the video looks strange. Almost like it's playing in reverse…”
    Well, given that you sometimes see him accidentally nudge the dice when he’s scooping up individual die off a tower, it’s fairly certain there’s no video trickery involved.

  18. beno says:

    I think the basic skill of getting the four dice to stand up with the cup isn’t actually as hard as it looks – you probably need a cup with a particular conical shape and angle, and then they line up within a shake or two. (get a plastic cup with dice and shake it sideways and you’ll see.) The rest though eg picking up one dice at a time off the top of stacks, does indeed seem really really hard. Very impressive!

  19. Miral says:

    I’ve got a post in my blog queue (scheduled to be released in ~14 hours time) that mentions some videos I saw recently on some very scary Tetris-playing action.

    (rummage) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwC544Z37qo

  20. ShadoStahker says:

    Well, given that you sometimes see him accidentally nudge the dice when he's scooping up individual die off a tower, it's fairly certain there's no video trickery involved.

    That and, while doing it forwards would be hard, doing it backwards (releasing a single die from a cup-o-dice, without letting it roll, and releasing it on top of stacks of other dice without making them fall, as in the “downstairs” trick) would be all but physically impossible.

  21. theonlymegumegu says:

    This video is reminding me of the dice game scene in God of Gamblers. Anyone else get that?

    Here’s the scene, JIC http://youtube.com/watch?v=WvYFEHf3XIo

  22. ArchU says:

    I wonder if the cup has a special design to keep the dice stacked whilst upside-down, possibly by being very narrow on the inside. It doesn’t make sense to me that the dice would stack inside of an ordinary cup as the dice would bunch up next to each other.

  23. Renacier says:

    As for the odd video motion, you see the same thing in old silent films. Buster Keaton, Keystone Kops, et al. It means the film has been sped up. More action in less time.

  24. Madcat says:


    Must admit on first watching I was dubious of the camera angle (prefer wider camera shots so I can tell there’s nothing dodgy going on off screen) but even if he was somehow grabbing a cup off screen the speed of the switch would be impressive in its own right.

  25. Darth says:

    Y’know, this just reminded me of the scene from Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series (would never watch the proper series), where Duke Devlin does the exact same thing.

    http://www.yugiohtheabdrigedseries.com (no too sure which episode … one of the more recent ones though)

  26. Kameron says:

    Not only are there professional cupstacking leagues/associations, I’ve even seen televised tournaments on weekends (ESPN2, I think, at the local Red Robin on a Sunday).

  27. SteveDJ says:

    What I don’t get is — what keeps the dice from just falling out of the cup as he goes to put the stack on top of an existing stack? It feels as if something is holding the dice in there until he “releases” them somehow.

  28. Alexis says:

    Site’s looking better now btw Shamus. I’d still like padding in the comment floats and spacing between main flow and the right sidebar.

    SteveDJ, ever watch a skateboarding vid? Damn kids must use electromagnets or something.
    I’ll happily admit to being a credulous gull, but this has me believing it.

  29. ravells says:

    Autistic savant.

  30. will says:

    Is everyone here serious. That is some of the most altered video I have ever seen. It looks almost like a stop action video. Very well done, but very fake.

  31. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Sorry for the late post, but I had to respond to will:

    will, after reflecting on your comment i am sure that you will agree it is not entirely fair to claim unequivocably, as you have, that Thomas has mos definitely altered his video. If you would be so kind as to provide the scientific evidence you have gathered to be able to make this claim, I’m sure that we would all love to see it. If you have been tested and accredited as an “expert” on determining the veracity of video evidence on sight, please provide the proof of those credentials.

    Now, having said that, I am certainly not claiming that this video must be unaltered and therefore proof of Thomas’s kinetic skills. I am simply saying that evidence does not exist one way or the other at this time. To refute the suggestion that this may be “stop action”, may I point out a couple of things:

    First: when creating stop-motion film, one usually (ie, always) stops the motion. This results in there being NO BLUR as all motion is ceased when the camera shutter opens and closes. As you can clearly see, there is definitely blur in Thomas’s video as his hands move.

    Second: digital cameras – including webcams – do not take a continuous stream of footage; rather, they take a series of still pictures which are then processed together to make a “motion picture”. The difference in quality between a high-end (or even mid-range) camera and a webcam is shown when you look at the number of “snapshots” each takes per second. Since low quality cameras take so few snapshots per second, the action they are filming seems broken up. This becomes especially apparent when filming high-speed action – someone performing complex dice tricks, for example.

    In truth, will, i would think it easier to learn to actually do this than to attempt to fake it with trick photography or altered recordings. Besides, which would you rather watch at a party: someone doing these tricks, or someone faking them on his computer?

    Come to think of it, learning to fake this with digital editing might get me a job at Pixar…one thing Thomas’s obscure skill won’t help him with. :)


  32. will says:

    In response to Richard’s post i would like to link to another very well done but extremely fake video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-prfAENSh2k

    Also for those of you who have seen the Prestige, The web cam is the act. By using web cam footage he is able to do things in post production that would be much more difficult on HD footage.

    If this is real I would love to see it in person.

  33. GMDice says:

    Awesome but can he do it with twenty sided dice? GMDice.com

  34. Brian says:

    Actually, that’s pretty impressive. I can see how it works, taking advantage of the cup and centripetal force, but I have to imagine that takes a heck of a lot of practice.

    I highly approve of useless skills.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *