Prezi is a website that allows users to make dynamic, exciting presentations. It’s a great alternative to the standard PowerPoint slideshow. We had to throw together a quick Prezi for one of my classes so I decided to do one on the difference between magic and flourishing as a lot of spectators ask. Since this was a presentation these are only my main points, I spoke and elaborated on all of these as well. This will give you a small idea of what Prezi is capable of.

Posted: May 13th, 2011
at 12:34pm by Robin Carey

Categories: Interesting Tidbits

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REF4M by Blake Vogt :: Review

Blake Vogt hits the ground running with his debut release at Theory11, REF4M. REF4M is an impromptu, ungimmicked, signed torn and restored effect. The vast amount of thinking, time, and effort Blake put into this effect is evident in both the construction and execution of the trick. There is one downside; the fact that it’s absolutely necessary to tear the card back up at the conclusion of the trick. I don’t think this should stop anyone from performing REF4M though as there are ways to routine it in or otherwise make it seem natural. I’ll get more into that towards the end of this review, but for now let’s start at the beginning.

Method: One word comes to mind… creative. The way the effect is set-up just shows Blake’s creativity. For those of you who know Benjamin Ear’s Thought of Card to Pocket this is the same type of method. Not in sleights or moves but in thinking. This isn’t a magician fooler or some crazy, of-the-wall gimmick. It’s a real, audience tested, worker. REF4M is built from the ground up with the spectator in mind. What really sets it apart from other Torn and Restored effects is it’s simplicity. You can do this on the spot, with any card, anytime. No set up whatsoever. After practicing this and getting the moves to be second-nature, think about how powerful of a trick you have ready to go at any second.

Angles: Blake says this can be performed completely surrounded, which is 100% true. They even shoot footage from behind during the trailer. So no complaints here.

Teaching: I don’t think Theory11 has sold a video with sub-par teaching. Blake explains each fold, tear, restoration, and move thoroughly and clearly. And from multiple angles. At the end of the teaching portion there is an over-the-shoulder walk through, followed by a another walk through from the front. This makes it easy to know what both you and your spectators should be seeing at any given point during REF4M.

Difficulty: The method behind this effect is unique and fresh. As such, you (most likely) haven’t been practicing anything like this. REF4M isn’t inherently difficult or complex but learning a totally different type of method takes time. After a bit of practice it becomes more and more natural. So REF4M isn’t hard, just different.

Overall: I’ve never been a fan of most torn and restored plots for one reason, the extras: gimmicks, duplicates, and the like. Why have something incriminating right where all the heat is at? REF4M, for me, takes torn and restored to the next level. It’s a cleaned up, practical version. This is an effect that will work and will play big out in the real world. Not only that, but each piece of the effect is motivated. There aren’t any suspicious moves or switches. This is how it would look if you really did tear a card up and restore it. Also, being impromptu, it’s ready to go at any time. This is huge for me. If you’re at a friends who has an old deck of cards then you’re ready to go. It’s organic magic.

As I mentioned before, the only downside is the fact that you have to tear the restored card up in the end. The spectators don’t get a chance to examine the card in full at the end. But, you can always routine this into your act and make it an asset rather than a liability. Blake suggests explaining to the spectators that this situation is impossible, so it must be torn back up. Some users over on the Theory11 forums have come up with some great ideas as well. One other hook I was tossing around is treating the whole effect like a story. Explain how you once saw a great magaician tear a card up, restore each piece one-bye-one, and put the whole thing back together. You go through the corresponding sections of the trick while saying your patter, and at the end give a line like “But, he never told me how it works.” or “To this day, I’m still not quite as good as he was.” and tear the card up.

Images taken from video.

Posted: May 10th, 2011
at 9:37pm by Robin Carey

Categories: Cards - Downloads - Reviews

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Magic Goings On

Hello everyone,
There’s a lot that’s been going on in the Magic world lately so I figured I’d do a news update. First off, Dan and Dave started out their own clothing line. Their debut consists of two T-Shirts called 52 Leagues. The two shirts feature the same design but in different colors. As with all of D&D’s products I’ms sure they are high quality. They better be with that price tag anyway.

“Our latest venture goes beyond anything we’ve done before and into the exciting world of fashion. D&D Clothing was inspired from our interest in design and love for magic, this new endeavor expresses a lifestyle we know will appeal to the magic enthusiast of all ages and levels.”

Next up is The Crown Deck. The Blue Crown is an up-and-coming magic site run by Alex Pandrea. Ever since they’ve started, The Blue Crown has kept a high-level of professionalism. It’s an impressive project and I’m sure we’re going to see great things from them in the future. This Friday The Blue Crown is releasing their first deck of cards, The Crown Deck. There’s a lot of pictures up on FaceBook, as well as a contest you enter by tagging yourself in one of them. Rumor has it that these cards will be a limited run so I’d recommend picking a few up this Friday.

In other card related news Lance T. Miller, artist behind the Bicycle Gargoyle deck, is starting up a new project. Tentatively named the Steampunk deck, he’s trying to start the whole process himself. If this deck is the same quality of the last one then I can’t wait to get a pack. He’s just about halfway there with his pledges. Check out the page on Kickstarter and pledge if you like the idea. If you give $10 or more then he sends you a deck once they’re produced. Check the right side of the page for the different prize tiers and help Lance out.

A little farther off in the distance is EMC 2011. This is the Essential Magic Conference. Last year was their first run in 2010 and it was awesome. It’s a completely online conference streamed live. It’s $90 to sign up and worth every penny. Last year the wealth of information was crazy. There are all kinds of presenters from all corners of the world of magic.

The Speakers have already been announced including names like Apollo Robbins, Lennart Green, Dan and Dave, Eric Mead, Max Maven, and many others. You can see a video including all the presenters here. EMC is great if you have friends into magic as you can split the cost and invite them all over to watch. It lasts 3 days, July 7th through July 8th. The best part is that you get DVDs of all the presentations and lectures, as well as bonus material. I plan on doing a review for the box set sometime during June before the conference so you guys can see what they’re like.

Images taken from their respective websites.

Posted: May 9th, 2011
at 11:53am by Robin Carey

Categories: General Artifice - Interesting Tidbits

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The Double Lift by Jason England :: Review

This review is the next installment in my Foundations v2 series. One of the reasons I’m such a fan of this project is that it teaches such basic moves, but to a degree it’s hard to find elsewhere. I have learned parts of all these techniques scattered about in various books, videos, and other people but Foundations is the first place I’ve seen that has all the necessary information in one place.

As with all of his videos, Jason England starts off with a brief history of the move. He says the Double Lift dates back for hundreds of years, all the way back to the 1700s. Our “modern era” of double lifts came about in the late 1800s, early 1900s. This 1-on-1 covers doubles that are much more modern and appeared in the latter half of the 1900s. Throughout the video Jason explains 4 double lifts which are all useful and practical in different situations. Each double has a brief overview, then an in-depth section, and lastly a slow-motion over-the-shoulder follow along.

The 1-on-1 begins promptly with Doctor Daley’s “Instantaneous Double Lift”. Jason England explains that the double lift is the shell principle for cards. That is, the top card acts as a placeholder for the spectators card. He also talks about the versatility of the move but anyone who has been in to magic for more than a few months knows how invaluable this utility is. This was the first double that Jason England learned and this style is from The Secrets of Brother John Hammon and, also, Stars of Magic. The Instantaneous Double doesn’t require a break and looks pretty smooth. Definitely worth the time it takes to practice.

Now here’s one of the reasons I like Theory11′s downloads so much. This video doesn’t just teach the 4 doubles and then bam, done. Jason goes through some tips and helpful pointers that you can apply to any double lift you work with. He teaches a tip about turning that card over that’s extremely useful, and I’ve been using it for years. The other doubles taught here require a break so instead of just saying “get a break”, Jason goes into three methods of obtaining a break and even further, refinements for those moves. He does explain that the best method would be The Pinky Count but, as we know, that requires more extensive teaching. After this he goes into how to recover a break if you should happen to lose it. This little technique has been a lifesaver for me before. Jason England leaves no stone unturned.

Next on the agenda is the Vernon Style double. This type of double lift was published in both Stars of Magic and the Magic of Francis Carlyle. It has a much more elegant, stylistic look without overdoing it. Just like the other ones theres a run down of the technique and a slowmo follow along. The cool thing about this double is at lets you pick the cards back up easily after they’ve been replaced. Also it’s got a nice built-in convincer that makes the card look singular to the audience.

After the Vernon double comes the Stuart Gordon Double Lift. Jason England explains that, in his expert opinion, this move was actually originated by Ken Simmons. England refers to it as the Ken Simmons double throughout the video. Regardless of the name, it’s a great looking move. This is by far my most used double lift. It’s a bit knacky compared to the other lifts taught here but it has a very unique look. I remember seeing it when I first started out and thinking “that’s definitely just one card”. It can be difficult if you have particularly sweaty hands but Jason teaches a fix for this as well.

The fourth double lift on this video is the Soft Double. Jason England talks about how it comes from book In Concert by Roger Klaus. England also says he came up with the same type of move independently but Roger had published it years before that. The Soft Double requires a break. It’s a fluid move and really sells the idea that you’re only handling one card. I’ve never been a fan of this move myself but when done well it looks great.

Just when you think it’s over, there’s a bonus! Jason England throws in one last double, the Knockout Double Lift. He explains that this was a creation by his late friend Martin Nash, printed in Martin’s first book Ever so Sleightly. Jason and Martin had talks of doing a video project about this move, but Martin’s passing prevented that from happening. This is very very close to the kind of double Wayne Houchin frequently uses, and teaches on his Art of Magic DVDs. One nice thing is there’s no get ready or break so you can just go right into it. As such, it takes a little more practice than the others but it’s a good investment.

Overall: If you’re looking for a strong, cohesive source to learn some new double lifts then look no further. There are 5 in total on this video, as well as other tips and subtleties that can be used with any double. As with the other 1-on-1s by Jason England, the teaching is superb. The multiple angles and explanations make it easy to pick up the technique, as well as the slow-motion follow along. You can pick this video up by itself or, if you want to save some money and get the other moves along with it, in Foundations v2.

Images taken from the video.

Posted: May 6th, 2011
at 12:32pm by Robin Carey

Categories: Downloads - DVDs - Foundations v2 - Reviews

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The Pinky Count by Jason England :: Review

This is the first review I’m doing for Foundations v2 by Jason England. There are eight 1-on-1s all together, so I’ll be posting one or two a day throughout the week. If there’s a particular one you’re looking for it’ll be up very soon.

The Pinky Count is a move with a wide-range of uses in all aspects of magic. It’s one I wish I would have learned early on, as it makes most effects 100 times easier. Jason England starts out the video with the history of the Pinky count. The move was first published by Fred Braue in volume two of The Braue Notebooks back in 1937. So it’s by no means a new move but has gained popularity and use in more recent years. This section is great if you’re looking for other references (which after watching Jason, you won’t need) or applications of the Pinky Count.

After talking briefly about the history, Jason England goes into the grip for the Pinky Count. All of the nuances Jason has from years and years of practice make it extremely easy to pick up on the the move. This section is shot from an over-the-shoulder angle, allowing you to see what the move will look like when you perform it. Once he’s done showing where each finger goes and what each one does, he goes in-depth on how to execute the move. Jason’s teaching is clear, concise and paced just right. I could follow along without that dragging-on feeling that a lot of “in-depth” videos have. While he’s going over the little details and formalities of the pinky count he’s explaining why he doing it. For me, this is huge. When you know the purpose of a move, the learning process is exponentially faster. You know what your end goal is so it’s easier to make the changes to get there. This whole section is shot from a spectators point of view, adding to your perception of how the move should look when done well.

After going through the move extensively, Jason England talks about various covers for the pinky count. This section is worth the entire price of the download. I’ve seen countless magicians utilize a pinky count in a perfect spot during an effect, but the move looks so awkward and different that it catches everyone’s eye. The spectators know something happened and at that point you’ve already lost them. Jason shows quite a few ways to naturally cover the move and make it look invisible. I originally bought this download last summer and just now picked up a few new ideas from re-watching it.

The very last section is devoted to hand strength. Jason talks about how the Pinky Count requires fairly strong hands, especially if you plan on counting more than a few cards in. He goes over some tools called grippers, which you can buy at sporting good stores to help increase overall hand strength and has personally used them. He also talks about the next kind of set you can buy once you outgrow the “regular” grippers. It’s interesting to hear how much Jason believes hand strength has played a role in his card magic. The 1-on-1 ends with a list of references if you wish to further research the pinky count.

If you haven’t learned the pinky count then this is a great source to do so. Jason England teaches the move in detail, explains the pros and cons, gives you various covering actions, and even more. If you have never “formally” learned the pinky count but think you get the gist of it, you can still learn an immeasurable amount from England’s expertise. If you’ve learned themove from other sources, such as the one’s referenced in the video, I can’t say there’s a whole lot of “new” information here. It’s still just the pinky count. This video is recommended for people who are new to the move or have just started learning it, it’s a very thorough and great place to start.

Posted: May 3rd, 2011
at 10:47pm by Robin Carey

Categories: Downloads - DVDs - Foundations v2 - Reviews

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