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
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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
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This is my review for the second volume of Genesis by Andrei Jikh, which can be found at Theory11. I broke down each move and wrote any thoughts I had about it. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask! Genesis v2 is a great volume and upgrades a lot of the ideas laid out in the first disc.
I also have to say YOU NEED GENESIS V1 BEFORE THIS. Nearly every single flourish or move on this project is built from a move on the first volume. Not just basic cardistry or flourishes, but Andrei’s original work that can only be found on Genesis. So if you really like the way these sound/look, I recommend you pick up v1 then revisit this disc.
The teaching in this volume is superb, just as the first one. Each move begins with a cool performance trailer. Next, Andrei verbalizes the move and talks about any pertinent information or history. Then he does a quick walk-through of how it works, followed by a longer and more in-depth one. After that there’s a slow motion follow along phase, all topped off with a conclusion section. In the conclusion Andrei gives you any hints, tips, or ideas to help get the flourish down. This last section was extremely helpful when learning some of these, so don’t just skip over it. I don’t need to talk about the video or sound quality, it’s Theory 11. Same top-notch recording we’ve come to know and love.
Altar Display: This is an example of Andrei’s unique thinking. Half the deck is balanced perpendicular to the other half which is being held in between the bottom area of your palms. This volume only shows the basic display but you can tell there are quite a few application possibilities with this little gem. The hard part of the move is just getting to top packet to balance. Luckily, this becomes easy after an hour or so of practice.
Atom: Atom is the first kind of flourish I’ve seen like this. A lengthwise triangle is made (from Genesis v1) and a single card is rotated around it, like a particle orbits a nucleus in an atom, thus the name. If you can make the lengthwise triangle then this move is a piece of cake. As with a lot of one card work in flourishes it looks difficult and complex but is just the opposite.
Backhand Bullet Shot: I feel like a broken record talking about the originality of these moves but each one is a legitimate new concept from what’s been released thus far. Andrei himself says that he’s never seen any other move that launched a card from a packet, on the back of the hand. I was glad to see more bullet work as it’s such a good looking flourish. This move is not as pretty and flashy as the original bullet but that’s not the point. It’s an effective, versatile way to shoot a card off the back of your hand. The mechanics are a lot like the Thumb Propulsion.
Card in Fan (Recovery): We first saw this move as one of the little preview clips Theory 11 posted before Genesis was released. This move is a stylish way to recover from dropping a card. Hell, after you get it down you might drop one a purpose so you can show this to laypeople. The mechanics aren’t hard, but timing them in sync is. Once you can get everything flowing you can increase the distance the card is shot making the move more and more impressive.
Classic: Take the Widthwise Triangle and put it together with the One-Handed Shuffle, and out comes Classic. As Andrei said, he took a common problem people have when first learning a shuffle and turned it into a viable flourish. Inspiration can come from anywhere, even mistakes. When Classic is done instantly it has a nice “pop” to it once the triangle appears. If you’ve got the One-Handed Shuffle down you can already do this move.
Interlock Deck Split: Yet again, Andrei created his own way to do a common move. The Interlock concept is based on doing something with your fingers laced together, making everything extremely difficult. However, it looks bad-ass. This first video teaches it just as a way to separate the deck in half. The next move does a little more with it, but you can tell Andrei has a whole host of ideas up his sleeve with this one. I feel that Interlock has been the hardest concept to get down on this DVD because it’s a completely new and foreign concept; my hands aren’t used to moving and working that way yet. It looks extremely impressive though and I think it’ll be worth learning for what he has in store with it later.
Interlock Delta Formation: This is just a tease of what the Interlock Concept can look like. The Delta Formation is making a triangle on the back of your hands. It’s basically adding an extra step to the Deck Split. But with just that one extra move it looks even more impossible. It just kills laymen; they don’t believe someone could make a shape on the back of the fingers.
Jeff McBride: I always enjoy Guest Submissions on DVDs and this one does not disappoint. Jeff McBride was, for the most part, the creator of once-card twirls and flourishes. He teaches the basic one he uses. If you learned the one card flourish the Virts put out when you subscribed to their mailing list, it’s the same exact mechanics. He teaches a few other ones, as well as cool combinations. These are a great way to enhance your flourishes with a small amount of effort.
ONE Delta: This flourish builds on the ONE concept from the first disc of Genesis. It’s also a cool-looking way to close a Widthwise Triangle. It’s somewhat difficult to keep all three packets balanced and aligned but this goes away with time. ONE Delta shows how versatile Andrei’s concept really is and where you can take it.
Pseudo Card in Fan: If you love the Card in Fans but can’t seem to get the hang of them, this flourish is perfect for you! Pseudo CIF is quick, visual, and flashy. When you perform it, it appears to have the same mechanics as the original CIF flourishes but in reality is a lot simpler. You also need to have the Bullet Shot from Genesis v1 down to perform Pseudo Card in Fan.
Rain Dance: Rain Dance looks like the child of the Continuous Bullet and the Jones Change rotations. That’s basically what the move is at its core. Doing these two kinds of flourish together and at the right speed creates an infinite sort of look. Timing and rhythm are key here. Definitely a pretty flourish and, if you have already learned bullet, not too difficult.
Revolving Angel: I really like the idea behind this flourish. Rather than just getting the motions down to make it look good, you need to have style. If you were to perform Revolving Angel without any kind of flair or other movements in it you would look ridiculous, as Andrei points out in the video. So it’s much more about the performer and how that specific person does it rather than copying the same moves as everyone else. I’d love to see more work like this.
Shapeshift Sequence: Easily my favorite flourish on the whole DVD. I first saw this sequence a while back on a YouTube Video Andrei posted and I’ve wanted to learn it ever since. Doing a twirl and making a triangle, then a square, and a second triangle all in a couple seconds is nothing short of incredible. The grips and moves are less than conventional but once your fingers have gotten used to them speed comes quickly. I’ve been practicing it for about two or three days now and go through without any hiccups (usually) and at a decent speed. I hope Genesis v3 offers more with this shape-shifting idea.
Stardust: Like a lot of other moves on here, Stardust is a combination of two other flourishes. It’s composed of a card spin through the fingers and Bullet. When you put these two together it flows great and looks like the card is moving of its own accord. If you’ve mastered the two pieces of this one then it should come naturally. I can already see other flourishes where Stardust could fit right in.
Trinity: Back in Genesis v1 Andrei stressed that the alignment of the packets when forming a triangle would be important later on. This is one of those times when it’s important. Trinity is a triangle production. You make one Widthwise Triangle and then strip another one out of it, creating two instantly. It’s extremely visual. Another knacky move but that’s just because it’s a different type of move.
Twitter 2.0: This is Twitter from the first volume along with a card shot and some Bullet action. It’s a unique move in the sense that you’re shooting two cards off the deck at the same time. Andrei said that it was discovered by accident; even his accidents are creative. This is definitely a cool move and, yet again, requires prerequisite knowledge from the first disc of Genesis.
Winged Castle: The Winged concept was taught on the first volume and utilized a little bit. This flourish show more of the possibilites Winged can accomplish. To laymen this looks 100% impossible. It seems like your balancing 4 packets of cards on just the edge of your thumb, while also holding a one handed fan. It’s an impressive display as well. Again I think Andrei is going to build on this concept even more in the third installment.
That’s all of ‘em. After watching this whole thing I’ve become impressed with Andrei’s originality. I wouldn’t even just call it style since he comes up with totally new types of moves that haven’t been seen before. Instead of putting his own twist on existing ideas Andrei just creates his own concepts. The only thing I didn’t like about this disc was the fact that it’s the middle one. The moves in here aren’t quite as cool as the ones released in the first volume, and I’m sure the third one will be even better. Don’t get me wrong, these flourishes are fresh but you can tell this is the in between step. These are setting the stage for what’s to come, and I can see some exciting things over the horizon for Andrei and Genesis. Until then make sure you’re ready by practicing Genesis v2.
Images from T11 & Genesis v2 DVD
Posted: April 7th, 2011
at 12:08pm by Robin Carey
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As you all may or may not know, Papercuts by Chris Hestnes was available for purchase at Magic-Con. I was able to get my hands on a copy, and this is a sort of first-look review for it. It’s available for purchase at dananddave.com. For those of you wondering about purchasing it, hopefully this will help you make a decision. I’m not going to “rate” this on difficulty, as that number is completely dependent on the person learning the move, their experience, and how often they practice. As this is my first review of a flourishing DVD, I hope I can give you all the information you’re looking for. If you have any questions about Papercuts or anything of the sort, just ask in a comment and I’ll respond quickly.
UPDATE: Allan Hagen has told us that there are 5 easter eggs hidden away in the Papercuts menu. I reccomend taking the time to find them, they’re pretty interesting.
The DVD has 13 flourishes on it, all creations of Chris Hestnes. It also comes with a booklet in which Chris lists credits and inspiration to each flourish as well as giving a small writing piece about the project. Additionally, there’s a table of contents for the bonus features, and some pictures of the crew & project. The DVD is extremely well produced. The Norwegian backdrop is added eye-candy, the original music score fits the production wonderfully, and the camera work is excellent. Each flourish is show multiple times, from multiple angles, and multiple speeds. At the slowest speed there are two views going, one from the friend as well as an over the shoulder view. This definitely speeds up the learning process. This si a fairly lengthy review, as I say a little bit about each thing. Now, onto the flourishes.
1337: Chris attributes the “name, style, and rhythm of this flourish” to 000.327.0000, a cut by Dan and Dave that can be found on The System. The spinning style of that flourish is definitely evident in this one, and it’s reminiscent of the rotation during the Jones Change. This is a fairly fast looking flourish. I was able to get the moves down during the first watch, but the difficulty lies in its speed. It’s easy to learn the motions but it’ll take a while of practicing to get it up to Chris’ level.
Atomic: A nice little spin/addition to the T.G. deck flip. Atomic is a quick flourish, taking only a little more than a second to complete. A packet is spun of the deck in a Jones Change-esque motion, extended, and tossed up in the air back onto the deck while the executing a T.G Deck Flip in the other hand. It’s difficult to put into words, but looks awesome. This is one of those aerial flourishes were you just need to do it to get it down. You’ll surprise yourself how easy it is to get a handle on, but it’s an impressive looking one.
Bluegarden: In the accompanying book, Chris says that he believes this is the most difficult flourish he’s created, and I’m inclined to agree. Whereas most flourishes have sort of a sybil feel, or a molecule theme, etc. this one has quite a few different styles. The beginning of the cut is like sybil, but then it goes into a horizontal display, some card flares, and an aerial to finish it all of. Learning the moves for this flourish will take some time, as will getting them down smoothly. But the different moves and speed of Bluegarden make it look great.
Bullet Time: This flourish is credited to D&D’s Eko cut on the Trilogy. Bullet Time has a couple of small displays, balanced out with one card flourishes. This helps pace the flourish and gives it a unique, appealing rhythm. It’s not exactly easy to get down, but I wouldn’t call it a knuckle buster either. Chris uses some variations on classic grips that will take a little bit of time to get used to.
California: The first thing that came to mind when watching this one was that it’s a component. California looks like a piece of a bigger flourish to me, but still has the ability to stand alone. It’s like revolution cut meets real time. Again, not neccessarily a difficult one to learn but it will take a substantial amount of practice to get the muscle memory to kick in. The display kind of pops out at you though, a good piece of eye-candy.
Chronographic: Chris said he got the single card grip in the right hand from Dan and Dave’s Preqel video. The influence of Preqel on this flourish is obvious, but at the same time it has it’s own feel. Chris seems to have a talent for taking a small idea or motion as a seed and creating his own flourishes with a distinct image from that seed. Chronographic has a very smooth look to it. The grips are a tad different but shouldn’t be too hard to get used to.
Evergreen: This flourish was originally known as Wings of the Butterfly which, in my opinion, suits it better. The flares and displays give it a “life like” quality. There are a lot of moves in this one but they’re not that complex. It took me about 3 times through the explanation to do the flourish, very slowly, without mistakes. Just like a lot of the other flourishes it looks complex and hard to handle, but in reality isn’t anywhere near that difficult.
Gate 22: In the credits, Chris said himself that this wasn’t the most original flourish ever. That being said, he still put his own feel to it. It flows wonderfully and the moves seem to keep going with little effort. It uses a lot of basic or otherwise widely known moves put together to create a a much better big picture. Learning time for this one really depends on what you already know and have down.
MWrench: I love the Molecule series of cuts, and this one has some sweet molecule action. I’m not going to try and put this cut into words, as there’s a little too much going on. As with the others, this one isn’t inherently difficult. I was able to follow the first walkthrough all the way to the end without any mistakes. Dan and Dave’s style is seen throughout the flourish but, as Chris seems to be able to do so easily, it’s very distinct and has some of his unique moves.
Optimus: This flourish is a direct result of Chris’ desire for a triangle cut. The action before the triangle display flows well, and then the triangle just seems to appear. Definitely a visual one and one that laymen would enjoy seeing. It’s a variation on Chris’ transformer flourish, taught later on the DVD.
Revolver: By far my favorite one on the DVD. The majority of the flourish is done with a single card. It revolves and spins around the deck and extended packets, then is flicked back on the deck via D&D’s flic on Andthensome. Chris also shows two other endings where you spin the card on your watch, or finish by catching an arm spread. It’s simple and elegant looking. Learning it is an odd process but progress comes quickly.
Transformer: The idea behind this was that Chris wanted an original opener and I’d say he achieved his goal. This is a small, smooth looking flourish. I could definitely see myself adding this into one of my own. I really like the small packet drop at the end as it slows down the speed of the flourish for the finale.
Zen: The credits say that Zen is based on the Tornado cut. There’s definitely the tornado style in there, but then Chris rotates and spins that packet around in a different way. A fresh take on this semi-classic flourish, as well as some original stuff before and after.
Overall this DVD is a great production. Allen Hagen did a wonderful job of editing and putting this thing together. The flourishes are shown from as many angles as one would need to learn them and the material itself is fresh and original. Chris has his own style and flow. All of his flourishes showcase his ability to take an existing idea or concept and rework it until it looks completely new. As for the skill level the flourishes are higher than beginner, but you don’t have to have 10+ years of experience just to do them. It’s a nice set of intermediate level work. I strongly suggest anyone interested picks up a copy tomorrow. Also, Dan and Dave have said that the first 100 copies are signed by themselves as well as Chris Hestnes and Allen Hagen. Even better, the first 52 copies sold come with a Jerry’s Nugget playing card that was actually used in the DVD & signed. Check it out and pick up a copy here.
Some images taken from Papercuts DVD
Posted: March 31st, 2011
at 2:58pm by Robin Carey
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12 Responses to 'Paper Cuts by Chris Hestnes & Dan and Dave :: First-Look Review'
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Interlock is the third installment in Genesis v2 previews. It’s a flourishy way to cut the deck on the back of your hand. Well, hands. Looks related to the Backpack cut.
Andrei’s been holding onto this one for quite a while, as we saw it in his famous THE’ME video he posted on YouTube in 2008.
We’ve seen three small moves now, hopefully Theory11 will release a more complex one soon.
Posted: February 28th, 2011
at 2:51pm by Robin Carey
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