I recently met Edward Boswell briefly at the Magifest convention in Columbus, Ohio. He showed me a few effects that I really liked, but the one that left me scratching my head the most was his amazing production and subsequent vanish of a card box around a deck of cards. One moment he was holding a deck, and spreading it for a selection. Then, with a wave of his hand, the box suddenly appeared around the deck. He tilted the deck up so I could see that the card case was actually surrounding the cards. Before my senses could recover the box faded away as if by magic. It looked like trick photography. He then proceeded onto his next effect as if it was all part of the journey. Here is the demo:
Our time together was brief so I was never able to coerce him into tipping the method. However, the first thing I did when I got home was to type Edward’s name into Google. Luckily for me, I found that he HAD released his work his magical looking sequence with the card box. In fact, it was being marketed by Theory 11. It took me all of about two seconds to click “Add to cart” and within minutes I was greeted by an instant download video of Edward teaching his effect, Rapture.
I stood on pins and needles hoping that the method was going to be reliable and workable. The fact that I had already seen him do it live gave me hope, but I’ve been burned by my fair share of magic effects that look great in certain situations but don’t stand up in most real world environments. Was this going to be another instant download product that I would watch once and never think of again?
Luckily the answer was a resounding “No.”
Rapture is an outstanding effect from a young man who I predict we will be hearing much more about in the future. The gimmicks required to create the effect are fairly easy to make and Edward explains their construction quite clearly. I was so enamored with the trick that I made up a few sets of gimmicks in one sitting. It’s something I definitely anticipate using.
After a bit of arts and crafts time, you’ll be left with the tools necessary to assault your audience’s senses. However, you certainly won’t be performing this straight away. I wouldn’t say that the sleight of hand required is difficult, but it is a bit knacky. Basically, you’ll have to learn how to handle the gimmicks naturally which will take a little getting used to. Luckily, this is the kind of trick that’s actually fun to practice in the mirror. In fact, it looks so good that, even after you know the method, you’re likely to spend some time just watching yourself do it over and over again.
Overall, I have to say that this is a fantastic offering. If you put in the limited amount of required work into this, your spectators (and even other magicians) won’t stand a chance. This is a one-two punch of clever gimmicks and sleight of hand. It’s only a brief moment of magic that is over in a blink of an eye, but if your audience members are anything like me when I saw the effect, it’s something they’ll be thinking about all the way home after your performance. Highly recommended.
This isn’t a review of a specific product. Rather I’m taking a look at the series of Reel Magic Magazine DVDs released by Kozmo Magic. They are… in a word… excellent. I have no idea how Kozmo organizes, films, edits, produces, and ships these for such a low price. This is easily one of the best “bang for your buck” deals in magic.
As of this writing, there are 31 issues: each one featuring an interesting, prominent figure in magic. Jay Sankey, Paul Harris, Joshua Jay, Bill Malone, David Williamson, Wayne Houchin, Daniel Garcia, Dan and Dave Buck, and even David Copperfield have graced the covers over the six years in which the video magazine has been produced. You can see the full list of guests on www.ReelMagicMagazine.com.
What’s great is that these interviews (at least so far) have not been shallow “please introduce yourself to everyone” affairs while the guest shamelessly plugs their latest products. Instead I’ve found the interviews to be interesting, honest, and insightful. Jay Sankey openly addresses criticisms about his hypercharged product release schedule. Joshua Jay talks about how he sees almost no correlation between the quality of a magic release and its popularity. Eugene Burger argues that the Chicago Opener is a bad effect. These are fairly hard hitting topics in the magic world, and it’s a testament to the magazine that the guests feel free to open up to share their thoughts in front of the camera.
Then there are the columns. I won’t list every one, but I will mention a few of my favorites.
Tricks of the Trade by David Regal- This is my absolute favorite segment. David has a tendency to primarily review products that he likes. So, if you enjoy watching review shows to see products get trashed, look elsewhere. However, David isn’t pulling any punches or being dishonest. There’s a wealth of great material being released constantly. David just chooses to stay away from bottom of the barrel products in favor of showing off some things you might actually have a chance of wanting to purchase. It’s a great look into a wide variety of magic products both new and old. I always find his comments and recommendations informative, and David is entertaining as hell.
Kid Show FUNdamentals by Silly Billy- I no longer perform kid shows, but I spent my college years gigging it on many weekends. Still, while I may have lost interest in performing magic for children, I recognize the talent, skill, and patience it takes to be successful in this field. David Kaye (a.k.a. Silly Billy) does a great job each month of taking a look at one specific principle or trick in kids show magic and really diving deep into its history and variations.
Coin U by Kainoa Harbottle- This is a new segment to Reel Magic, and it is a welcome addition. Kainoa is a joy to watch. He is an expert sleight-of-hand artist who can make the most difficult moves look easy. His background in higher education (he was a college English teacher for almost a decade) makes him an excellent teacher. I look forward to seeing more of his column.
Move Monkeys- This section is hit and miss. It is often unclear whether it is supposed to be devoted to new moves or just cool sleights that may or not be original. I sometimes cringe when I see a move performed on this segment that clearly belongs to someone else or that brings nothing new to the dance. That being said, there have been some excellent contributions over the years (including Ryan Schlutz’s Pivotal Peek).
Tricks- If you’re looking for tricks, you’ll get your fair share here as well. Each issue contains at least 3 effects that are performed and explained. In general, these routines have appeared on DVDs from other companies. However, there are often Reel Magic exclusive tricks that you haven’t seen anywhere else.
Any way you look at it, Reel Magic Magazine is a tremendous value. You can subscribe and receive 5 issues by mail each year for $60. If you’re late to the dance, you’ll be especially interested to know that Kozmo has just started a new On Demand service which gives you streaming access to every issue in the catalog as well as future issues immediately upon release. The streaming costs only $5 per month. This is a no brainer. Whether you watch the DVDs or view it on your computer, Reel Magic Magazine gets my highest recommendation.
Card to Pocket is a classic plot in magic. There are many different versions in the literature. The one thing that most handlings have in common is palming. For those magicians who are scared of this fundamental sleight, Ali Nouira and Big Blind Mediahave a different approach with Wormhole. Here’s the dealer’s ad and demo video:
Ali Nouira’s WORMHOLE is a face slapping, jaw dropping, eye bulging behemoth of a magic trick.
Two freely selected and signed cards are lost in the deck (you don’t even control the cards). You offer to dead cut directly to their selections. You make ONE CUT and show the top card. You missed.
But you know what, that’s not surprising is it? Why not? Because after cleanly showing your hands are empty you slowly reach into your back pockets and remove BOTH SIGNED CARDS!!!
A supernaturally miraculous ‘Signed Card To Pocket’, WORMHOLE is dead easy to do.
No moves (no palms, forces, breaks – NOTHING). The special gimmicks do the work for you.
First of all, thank you to Big Blind Media for putting up an honest video of an actual performance. There’s no guesswork here. What you see is what you get. While the camera cuts to different angles during the video, nothing is left out. This is exactly how your audience will witness the effect.
A few different versions of the routine are taught on the DVD. Believe it or not, the weakest of these versions is the one showcased on the trailer. The others are similar but each provide a new wrinkle to the presentation. All aspects of each handling are well taught by Liam Montier. The audio and video are clear throughout, and the production is up to usual BBM standards.
The effect itself would be impressive to a lay audience. There are no real “moves” per say, but the performance will take a little practice. The dirty work is well covered by misdirection in the context of the routine. Even with the unblinking eye of the camera, however, there’s really not much to be seen. Even the control of the cards is taken care of with the gimmick, putting this effect within the reach of performers of all skill levels.
There are some limitations to the effect. Probably the biggest one is that this effect cannot be performed surrounded. The audience needs to be standing in front of you. In most situations this is the case anyway, but walk around performers will not be able to implement this trick into their normal work.
For $30 you might be expecting some pretty unique gimmicks. This is not the case. The gimmicks included are certainly not new; in fact you may already have something similar living at the bottom of your magic drawer right now. Their use, however, is unique. At least it’s something I’ve never seen before.
The gimmicks provided in the package are set up to work with Bicycle decks. If you use something else, Liam explains how to alter them easily to fit any deck. He also goes into other modifications that may be needed depending on the clothing you wear while performing. All of these alterations are easy, taking only a few moments to finish.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when I first opened the package. For the price, I was expecting a bit more. However, I have to say that I liked the effect much better after trying it out with cards in hand. Something about it just felt right. And while I won’t be using any of the routines straight off of the DVD, I could see myself using the main idea in the context of a longer routine: perhaps as one of the methods to the classic Travelers plot.
Overall, I think this DVD is much more suited for beginner’s in magic who perform primarily in casual situations. Working pros, however, would be better suited sticking to classic methods… even if palming is involved.
The truth is that this DVD has been sitting in my collection for a couple of months now. I always planned to review it, but it kept getting “bumped” by releases from some big name magicians. I knew it required a gimmick and wasn’t something that could be performed right out of the box. So, I let it sit in my cabinet waiting for a day when I would be able to give it my full attention and wouldn’t mind doing some arts and crafts.
Last night I was looking for something to watch and Toosh happened to catch my eye. I planned just to watch a few minutes of it to see what the trick was all about. I ended up watching the whole thing. This is a GREAT idea! In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that it is the BEST trick I have ever seen with business cards.
Steve goes into a number of ways in which you can use the Toosh principle, but the main effect looks like this: The magician draws a couple of doodles on a couple of business cards. Let’s say he draws a smiley face on one and a heart on the other (you can use any small drawing that you want). The spectator signs both cards. He shows her the smiley face card and hands it to her face down. He then shows the heart card and places it in his pocket.
After a bit of magic, the cards transpose… or so it seems. The card in the spectator’s hand is revealed to be the heart. Now for the big surprise: the magician asks her to stand up and look at her seat. She is sitting on the signed smiley face card.
The genius of the Toosh principle is that the card can already be in the impossible location, yet the audience can clearly see that the signed cards are in your hands. I can’t go into much more detail without giving away part of the method, but I think you will agree that this puts you in a very powerful position. The ad copy states that you can make the signed card appear almost anywhere. This is true, but there are some limitations. If you’re going to do this as a one man effect, you will have to load the card during the course of your performance. Steve’s application of having the card appear on the spectator’s seat is probably what most magicians will perform. However, with a little bit of thinking, many other locations are possible.
Another limitation is that your business cards need to have some space on the back for you to write on. Traditional blank backed white cards will work best.
Steve goes on to share some bonus ideas, but none of them seem nearly as strong as the featured routine. It’s nice to see how he’s used the principle in other ways, but you probably won’t end up using any of the extras.
The gimmick is very easy to make, and the DVD comes complete with all of the necessary materials. You will have to provide glue, tape, and scissors of course. The actual construction of the gimmick will take no more than 5 minutes. Once you’ve made it, you’re set to go forever. It lives in your stack of business cards and resets instantly after each performance.
Overall, there’s not a lot of bad things I can say about this product. The trick is powerful, it’s easy to do, and the price is reasonable. I honestly can’t believe I haven’t heard more buzz about this effect. If you’re looking for a powerful trick with your business cards, you definitely want to pick this up.
David Solomon is a member of the famous Chicago Session. Known for their weekly get togethers, the trio (consisting of Simon Aronson, John Bannon, and David Solomon) have created some very strong magic over the years. With Bannon’s recent successful projects with DVD producers Big Blind Media, I was excited to hear the news of Solomon’s project with the company. Well, the wait is finally over. I just watched the DVDs, and now I’m even more excited.
First, let’s start with the small things. It’s not often that I’ll praise a detail such as this, but they picked the perfect title for this DVD set: The Card Solutions of David Solomon. It gives you a glimpse of exactly what you’re getting here. Solomon mentions in one of the interviews how he likes to tinker with things and come up with new (and better) ways to perform classic effects. In some cases, these are small improvements that make a huge difference. In other routines, the tricks have been through a major overhaul.
The production values are a nice change of pace from the typical L&L audience or street magic type of performances usually featured these days. The performance footage is a mix of live and in studio shots. The explanation portions are all shot in studio where David is joined by other magicians to make sure that everything is crystal clear to the viewer.
Overall, there are 24 effects spread across three discs. The total run time checks in at over four hours. Definitely a good value for the money. You can check out demo videos of four of the effects by heading over to the BBM website. This should give you a good idea of whether this is something that will interest you. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite effects:
Card in the Card Case- This is perhaps the ultimate example of replacing sleight of hand with subtlety. There is no palming or gimmicks. David has devised devised a completely self working method for having a chosen card vanish from the pack and end up in the card case without ever going near it. The effect occurs completely in the minds of the spectator. This is definitely one of my favorite routines from all of the discs.
Marlo’s Secret Kato- This is a cheeky cards across routine that again uses subtlety instead of difficult sleights. Its simple and bold working are very satisfying for the performer and fooling for the audience. It can be done with any deck at any time. This is definitlely something to keep in your back pocket.
Jamesway Poker- This was a cool poker routine where the audience seems to have a lot of free choice as to how the cards are arranged. Of course, in the end, the magician is dealt a royal flush anyway. You will have to make sure the effect doesn’t drag during the procedural steps, but this is something definitely worth playing with. I will warn you, however, that the effect doesn’t always turn out as perfectly as what happens during the performance section. The poker gods were on David’s side that particular day because he ended up with an even greater effect than usual.
Blank Jazz Aces- This is a simple Jazz Aces routine until the knockout finish where all of the cards in play turn blank. In fact, the entire deck turns blank despite the audience seeing printed faces from the beginning. There are no deck switches and the routine is relatively easy to do. You will need to supply your own gimmicked cards.
Jokers Are Wild- This is a simple effect where a Joker transforms into a spectator’s signed selection. However, David’s handling seems completely open and free, making the final change all that more striking. If you don’t mind a small bit of preparation, this could be a very strong piece for any card guy.
Not all of the routines left me amazed, and some were certainly more commercial than others. Overall, however, the value for the money is quite high. If you’re a fan of card magic, you will definitely enjoy this DVD set.
Ollie Mealing is a young magician from the UK (who also happens to have a review blog). His latest DVD is The Skip Switch Project produced by the guys at Big Blind Media. On the disc, Ollie teaches the Skip Switch move along with 11 routines that utilize the technique. The guys from BBM have put up a demo showing exactly what the move looks like. They also tell you exactly what the move accomplishes. Let’s take a look.
So on one hand this is an easy review to write. If that looks like a move that’s worth your time and money to learn, then you will not be disappointed. Ollie and the producers of the DVD have laid it all out for you. There are no surprises.
On the other hand, this is a review blog, so you’re probably looking for a little more insight. So here we go…
The Skip Switch move itself is a cool idea: discrepant but fooling. Just the kind of thing I like. It is also not that difficult (although it will require some practice). It’s the kind of thing that I would have really like to have seen written up in a magazine or as part of a larger book. However, this isn’t something taught as part of a larger project. The whole DVD is dedicated to this ONE technique. You are paying $25 to learn ONE move.
There are 11 routines taught on the disc. A couple of them are terribly convoluted and difficult to follow. Most of them, though, are pretty good. Unfortunately, none of them are great. When it comes down to it, the Skip Switch is a move for switching a sandwiched card. Most of these routines are simply rather obvious applications of that basic technique. That doesn’t mean that they’re useless; there’s just nothing here that’s going to blow you away.
So, I guess my biggest problem with The Skip Switch Project is the value for your money. If this were a $10 download, I might be more apt to recommend it. For $25, however, I just can’t do that. While the move is something fun to play with, I don’t imagine that you would actually use it. If you’re looking for something to show your magic buddies, this might be for you. For real performances, however, there are cleaner, easier, more direct ways of doing the exact same thing.
I became familiar with David Corsaro through his Time To Be Awesome video podcast where he interviews other magicians about their thoughts on sleight of hand, audience management, and a ton of other topics. His guests have included Steve Beam, Eric Jones, Joshua Jay, Asi Wind, and Boris Wild among many others. I’m a big fan of the show, so I was excited when I heard that David had released a DVD of his own material. Let’s take a look at the routines taught in The Magic Of David Corsaro.
Getting To Know You- This was my favorite routine on the disc. A spectator is asked four personal questions of which they have a free choice of answering. The magician deals one card for each letter of their answer leading to one card at random in the deck. The other cards are each shown to have different names written on them. The spectator’s card is turned over to reveal his own name written in bold letters.
This routine has a few things going for it. First, it is easy to do but is extremely commercial. Second, you do NOT need to know the name of the person before you get to the table. David provides a handling that allows you to go into this routine immediately after learning their name for the first time. Third, you can completely customize the questions depending on your performing situation and audience. This will provide a very memorable experience for your volunteer.
Baby Gag- This is David’s small addition to the standard baby gag. The magician introduces an envelope containing a prediction. Someone in the audience names any actress. The performer explains that inside the envelope is a picture of the named celebrity…at age 6 months. A picture of a baby is shown. This will get a laugh (or groan). “Last week someone named Whoopi Goldberg… I’ve got that covered too.” The picture is turned over to show a picture of an African American baby. This gets another laugh.
In some instances, the routine ends right there and is played off as just a gag. However, David has built in a significant possibility for a real stunner where you prove that you really did know which celebrity the audience member would name. His idea is a good one, but you will probably have one of two reactions: “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “I’ve already thought of that.” Either way, it’s a funny piece for the audience with a chance of hitting upon a real miracle.
Mallrats- Based on a Peter Duffie idea, this is a mathematical effect that doesn’t feel like a mathematical effect. As a result, it was right up my alley. The performer introduces a map of his local mall. The spectator seems to move around the mall freely and stops at a random location. Before the magician reveals his prediction, maps are passed out to other members of the audience to try the same experiment. Everyone stops at different locations proving that there is no force. The prediction is opened and revealed to be correct.
On the back of each map is printed the magician’s contact details which provides a nice giveaway at the end of the effect. I would recommend printing this map onto a large board and doing this in a stand up show. I really like this trick!
Can I Call You Sometime- This is a unique presentation for John Bannon’s Play It Straight Triumph (recently renamed Bannon’s Triumph). The performer mentions that whenever he gets a girl’s phone number in a bar, he jots it down along with a brief description of her on a bar napkin. He pulls out a shoebox and dumps out a large number of these napkins. This could obviously be played for laughs. All of the napkins contain different phone numbers. A volunteer selects one of the napkins and shuffles a deck of cards face up into face down. When the cards are spread, the face up cards match the freely selected phone number.
Bannon’s Triumph has been applied to phone numbers in the past by a few different performers but not in this exact way. There is no sleight of hand required for this trick as the spectator does the shuffling himself. You will require some table space both for the shuffling and the laying out of the napkins. This makes the effect better suited for a formal close up show rather than for walk around situations. The working is very clever. Even magicians who are familiar with Triumph sequence will be confused about how you set it up for the correct number.
While these routines were designed for a close up environment, at least two of them could easily be adapted for stand up work. This is always a plus for professional performers who are looking for effects that pack small and play big. The explanations are clear and the routines are extremely commercial. You will notice that none of these routines can be done “out of the box.” You will need to do a little work getting the props printed up or made. It’s not a lot of work, but it’s something that you might want to be aware of.
The only negative is that there are only four routines included. However, there are no filler items like you find on most DVDs in the marketplace. Each effect is obviously something that David has been working in the real world for awhile now. It is definitely worthy of your purchase.
I’ve already talked about how much I admire the creativity shown by Calen Morelli with his 365 Days of Magic Project. Attempting to create one new magic trick every day for a year is an insane challenge to impose on yourself , but Calen has carried it out brilliantly up to this point. As a result, I was really excited to check out his Function 9 DVDs.
A couple of weeks before I got my hands on the discs, I saw the high praise given to the DVD set by the guys from the Wizard Product Review. Here are just a few things they had to say: “Tommy Wonder level misdirection… the best DVD of the last ten years… you are my new favorite magician… I can’t imagine ANYBODY beating this DVD!”
When I saw the review, my interest in seeing the material skyrocketed even more. Are you freaking kidding me? The best DVD of the last TEN years. They think this beats Bill Malone’s On the Loose and Tommy Wonder’s Visions of Wonder? That’s A LOT of hype for a guy still in his early twenties. This I just HAD to see!
Here’s a rundown of the effects:
VGH(a+b)- This is Calen’s improvements on Paul Harris’s “Grasshopper” effect. Four Aces are displayed and a card is selected and lost in the deck. The spectator holds onto the black Aces while the performer uses the red Aces to “magnetize” the selection. Just by touching the cards to the deck, a card seems to be pulled partway out of the pack. Suddenly, this card is seen to jump visually from the deck to in between the Aces. This packet is held under the spectator’s hands. The card seems to slowly creep through their hand. Of course, the selection is found in between the black Aces they have been holding.
This is essentially a sandwich trick, but it looks like so much more. Calen follows this routine with another few phases where the card seems to visually jump back and forth between the two sets of Aces. It looks great, but I prefer the first part of the trick. The routine uses no gimmicks and may be done completely impromptu.
Pen in Bottle-The magician complains that something is bothering him inside his shoe. He takes off his shoe and dumps out a Bic pen. “Oh that’s not what was causing the problem.” With that he pulls out a full bottle of water from the shoe as well. Finally, he smacks the pen against the side of the bottle where it visually penetrates to the inside.
This is certainly a weird effect that is probably better suited for the street than your next corporate walk around gig. I believe this is one of the routines whic caused David Penn and Craig Petty to rave about Calen’s misdirection techniques. I should point out, however, that while this will certainly work in the real world and your spectator’s will surely be impressed, this is NOT Tommy Wonder level misdirection. In fact, Tommy Wonder talks against using this type of “look over here” misdirection. I’m not trying to take away from the effect (which is cool in the right environment), I just don’t think you will be as impressed with this particular aspect of the routine as they were.
Transport- You borrow a spectator’s cell phone and she holds on to yours. A rubber band is wrapped around her phone. It can be seen from all sides. With a snap of your fingers, the rubber band instantly vanishes from around her phone. When she looks down at your phone in her hand, she sees a rubber band now surrounding it. This is another simple effect for the audience to follow. The method is simple as well although you will have to make up a gimmick for it to work.
Suspended- This is really weird effect. One rubber band is held stretched between your hands with a second rubber band hanging on top of it. Suddenly, the top strand of the stretched band turns invisible so that the other band is left suspended. The strand comes back and all may be examined.
I’ve heard a couple of people complain that the effect happens a little too quickly. I’m not going to disagree. By the time the spectator’s realize the impossibility of what’s going on, the band is restored. However, I do like how this effect gives us a peek into how Calen’s mind works. He looks around the world and tries to discover what magical things could happen. He then works at bringing those moments into a practical routine. So, while I won’t be performing this exact trick, I really appreciated hearing about how the effect was inspired.
Loaded(1.0)- This is similar to the classic card under glass effect that seems to be in the repertoire of nearly every bar magician. Calen has adapted the plot to work on the streets. First a selection jumps beneath his shoe. Then, for the kicker, the entire deck appears beneath his shoe. This is another effect that will find favor among younger magicians who typically perform in casual situations for friends or classmates. The misdirection for the load is strong so this should be an easy one to add to your arsenal.
Loaded(2.0)- I really liked this effect. A card is selected and visually vanishes. The magician takes off his cap and reveals a card inside. The card is removed and shown to be the selection. For the big finish, the rest of the deck vanishes leaving on the selected card. The deck is shown to have reappeared in the hat. There’s a sort of bonus effect that comes out of nowhere (and has nothing really to do with the trick) where sunglasses “magically” appear on the magician’s face. It’s a cool moment, but it certainly won’t fit everyone’s performing persona. I particularly liked Calen’s load of the deck into the hat. The handling flows smoothly and one move puts you way far ahead of the audience.
Friction- This looks really good and totally fooled me when I first saw the performance video. In effect, a dollar bill is folded into eighths and a bill is wrapped inside of it. A paper clip is placed on the bill to lock the rubberband into place. Amazingly, the rubber band penetrates the bill a few times and everything is left with the spectator to examine. You can see how good this looks at about the 0:58 minute mark on the video above.
Suger Free- The performer introduces a blister pack of gum. With a flick, one of the pieces instantly vanishes and appears between the magician’s teeth. You can check this out on the demo as well. It looks incredible. It’s the perfect kind of “casual” effect that can build your reputation in social situations. There is some arts and crafts time required to make the trick work, but it’s nothing too difficult to create.
Transit- A rubber band is wrapped tightly around the performer’s index finger. With a shake, the band appears around his middle finger. It continues jumping from finger to finger in a visual manner. Finally, it jumps to the thumb of his other hand. The spectator takes off the band and, of course, everything may be examined. I was actually pretty surprised to see this effect included on the Function 9 DVDs since it is available as a one-trick download for $17 over at Theory 11. I guess that’s just a bonus.
As off beat as some of the effects sound, you will probably be surprised to hear that most of them are fairly practical if you are willing to carry around a few simple gimmicks. Not all of the tricks are are things that you would use in professional situations (popping piece of gum into your mouth, pulling a water bottle from your shoe, etc), but they are great tricks for casual “impromptu” situations.
The teaching is clear. The quality of the performance footage is also very good. Each routine is shown multiple times. You’ll see Calen perform the effect on the streets and then see it done in the studio. After he explains the routine, separate close up shots taken from multiple angles give you one more chance to see the moves in action. This is very similar to the old “Super Practice Sessions” from the L&L tapes. It is a nice feature.
One negative is that the explanation sections really seem to drag. For example, the first 35 minutes of the first disc are dedicated entirely to this opening trick. So, while Calen teaches everything perfectly clearly, he should have been much more succinct. This is an issue throughout the DVD set. It’s not a huge weakness since it’s better to be too clear rather than not clear enough. However, it does take some of the fun out of watching the explanations.
Overall, I was very impressed with the DVDs. Calen is a creative thinker and a good teacher. The Wizard Product Review did go a little overboard with their excitement about these discs, but that shouldn’t take away from the quality of this material. If the effects appeal to you, I do not think you will be disappointed.