Michael Weber was our host for the final day of Magic-Con 2011. After everyone was settled in he brought David Regal on stage. David’s talk was all about intent. He said that you should always intend to do something with each effect or performance. Whether it be to mystify the audience, make them laugh, or just do a trick without getting caught, the effect always improves when you have a goal to focus on. This reminded me a lot of Chris Kenner’s advice from the first Magic-Con. Kenner said to picture each trick you do as a scene in a play and decide what you’re trying to communicate with it. Pick one word, and that effect should convey that word or emotion. When you set a distinct goal like that it really helps when you’re deciding how to present the trick.
Al Seckel came after David and Al did a whole presentation on optical illusions. He showed many different ones from digital to physical. It was really interesting to learn why the brain gets fooled by these. Al’s talk coincided with Susana Martinez-Conde and Steve Macknik from the first day. To end our morning session Richard Kaufman came up to talk about Genii magazine. For those of you who haven’t heard of Genii before it’s a magician’s magazine with a wealth of great information, articles, and reviews. They’re now also releasing a digital copy of each issue when it comes out, as well as putting them on their iPod and iPad app.
Bob Sheets took the stage next. He went over a few tricks, the first being a three card monte he does with jumbo sized cards. It was a good effect but unless you have giant gaffed playing cards it’s not exactly practical. Then he spent most of his time going over his version of the shell game. He used walnut shells and a little plastic pea. Bob’s is one of the cleanest versions I’ve seen and if you buy the DVD and contact him he’ll coach you at no extra cost. After Bob, Roberto Giobbie was up once again. First Roberto went into his take on the card in lemon plot. It was very entertaining and you could see how thought out each action was. Roberto walked us through the effect and gave some really good tips on the effect. Then he showed us a great thought-of-card effect that baffled most of the audience. There’s a lot to learn just from watching someone with as much experience as Roberto.
The last presentation of Magic-Con 2011 was an interview with Mac King. Michael Weber sat down and asked him a few questions about his past, his practice habits, and his current show. It was interesting to hear that a large portion of the material Mac performs today is from when he was a kid. A lot of effects he learned back then he’s carried through the years, performed thousands of times, and tweaked them until they’ve evolved into what he does today.
That’s it for Magic-Con! The conference last year was incredible, and I’m not sure how Dan and Dave managed to host yet another great one. There were so many ideas shared, so much creativity, and so much knowledge. Not just in the presentations either but in the sessioning before, in between, and after. For those of you who went I apologize for any discrepancies in my posts as it’s difficult to remember each presentation in detail. All in all this was a one-of-a-kind learning experience and I can’t wait for next year. If any of you have any questions about the conference feel free to comment and ask!
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This was the second day of presentations and it started out with John Lovic introducing the first speaker, Roberto Giobbi. Roberto gave a lecture on the levels of a magic trick and compared it to an iceberg, as in how the spectator only sees the tip of the effect. Below that are the things we spend so much time on like method, psychology, etc. It was sort of like the “mental path” Helder had talked about, with some other insights. It really helped to put things in to perspective for me, about how I should focus more on what the spectators see and take in rather than the method I use to get there.
Next was Chris Dzoan, Tyson Mao, and John George. They talked about something everyone has heard of, the Rubik’s Cube. John George spoke about the applications it has in magic. This idea works because laymen think if you can solve a cube you’re extremely intelligent. In his show he solves a cube by normal means, but does so quickly. Then after the layman knows he has the ability to solve one normally, he brings in a magic effect. He pulls out a tiny cube (unsolved), places it in his mouth, and it comes out solved. If a spectator were to see this on its own they would suspect it was a gimmicked cube but because he displayed real skill beforehand, they believe it was done legitimately. Then Chris Dzoan did some amazing solves: solving a cube one-handed one behind his back, and one in each hand that are mirrored while only looking at one hand. This was a great example of integrating a well-known prop into a magic act.
Next up was Derek Hughes again. This time he gave a talk rather than just a performance. He spoke about the questions you should ask yourself when routining and scripting effects. He referenced a well known acting text and explained how he takes the lessons learned from theater and applies them to his magic. Lastly, he talked about how important the presentation and script are, and how they can really elevate your performance. After Derek was Shane Cobalt. His talk was pretty interesting, he brought along two card cutters and showed everyone how they work. Shane’s whole presentation was about stripper decks. Most magicians (including me before his talk) only think there’s a single type of stripper deck. There are actually three, the difference being where the card is cut. The card cutters looked like useful tools but were pretty pricey. The last person this morning was David Williamson and he was on stage for about a minute. He hurried up and said a few quick things because we were already running over and everyone was starving, waiting to go to lunch.
Robert Lang is “recognized as one of the world’s leading masters of origami”, and he showed it at Magic-Con. If you have some spare time do a Google image search for “Robert Lang Origami” and see what he’s capable of. Lang displayed different pieces of Origami he designed, as well as how origami can be used in other fields. Space was the biggest one with designing shapes that fold up small but expand at the destination. It makes you wonder if this could be applied to magic in any way, and what we could do with it.
Jim Steinmeyer came afterwards. His talk was all about magic history and Houdini. Steinmeyer talked about his book mostly, and how he believed Houdini had good reason for “killing his father”, Robert Houdin. I had trouble following his presentation because I didn’t know about Houdini writing ill of his mentor in the first place but it was still an interesting excerpt of magic history.
This may have been my favorite part of the conference. Lennart Green was the first afternoon lecturer and it’s always inspiring to see him work. He performed a few effects and then went through the method and ideas behind them. You can tell he learned outside of the magic community, as his ideas are completely out of the box but still practical. His talk was informative, inspiring, and humorous.
Before dinner David Regal gave his lecture. He would show an effect and then explain the method. Regal’s experience and practically are something a lot of magicians should aspire to have. His effects also have some meaning to the spectator. The ones he showed us are the kind that a layman would actually be interested in as they dealt with a common topic or something everyone has experienced. This was a big improvement from his presentation the previous day.
Mike Caveny started out the evening with an energetic and etertaining performance. He had a cup of coffee, added cream and sugar, took a drink, and placed it on the inside of a large white plastic ring. Caveny then proceeded to spin the ring around his arm without the coffee spilling or moving. Just to reinforced the point He threw the ring up into the air, it spun twice, and he caught it. Each time he drank the coffee in between each stunt as well. Helder was up again after Caveny finished. Helder talked more about the structure of an effect and use Cards Across as an example. He showed the various plots cards across can take and how inserting different elements can change the whole look of the effect. Then he showed and taught us his version using two wine glasses which had an ingenious method. Helder’s magic is always simple, direct, and to the point. Plus you know it’s good if it fooled all of us.
David Williamson gave a hilarious performance next. He had the whole room laughing uncontrollably. He did a few effects, including a needle swallowing that had a “twist” at the end. Williamson also called up Dan & Dave’s other brother Justin on stage to help him out which made things even more comical. Roberto Giobbi then did an astonishing card stab effect. The spectator mixed the cards and then Roberto still managed to stab the signed selection. Last up for the evening show was Mac King. This was the first time I’ve seen Mac perform and it was a blast; I now understand why he got the “Funniest Magician in America” award. He did his usual show and everyone enjoyed it. After Mac’s performance there was a short break, then David Williamson’s lecture. He didn’t go over any of the bits he used in his performance earlier but instead showed some fun card tricks. And, of course, he showed some wonderful tips on the top change.
That was all for Day 3. It was a ton of information and entertainment all at once, and even better than the first day of presentations. Check back soon to see the write-up for the very last day of Magic-Con 2011.
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Sorry for the time delay in getting up these posts, Magic-Con and travel got much busier than expected. But, without further adue, let’s get to the conference. I’ll do these day-by-day so check back soon for the next two.
Everyone waited in anticipation as magic-con 2011 started. Our host for the morning was Max Maven. It started out with Helder Guimaraes and he talked about the mental pathway of him creating new things. The mental pathway was essentially the steps he took to creating his effects; like what the effect was, how it should be performed, and what method would be best used to go with the performance. Next was Mike Caveney who gave a great lecture on the adaptation of magic though out the years. He explained that we started out as street peddlers with little tables or Gibecieres (fancy fanny packs), but as crowds got bigger and rapped around we adapted and thrived in this environment. Then eventually we moved to the big stage where wings and tap doors could be utilized. Magicians took advantage of these new assets and again thrived in a foreign environment. Next was street magic the way David Blaine revolutionized it which contributes to most spectators view of magic today. Then to end it off he pull a chicken out of an empty coat taken form the audience which, needless to say, blew us all away.
Then came a change in the schedule; Lennart Green was unavailable at this point so Derek Hughes gave a performance that amazed us all and brought on hysterical laughter. A.Bandit was next, which is a group started by conceptual artist Glenn Kaino and the well known magician Derek DelGaudio. They talked about how they are bridging the gap between magic and art whilst creating a medium. It was a very interesting speech and made a lot of valid points, both about magic and the art world. Lastly was Bill Kalush who spoke about Gibeciere, a Journal that is sent out biannually to the subscribers. It is filled with translated texts about magic history, articles written by many guests, and a wealth of other information.
This round of talks started with Paul Wilson and he gave a speech on how the world views magicians as cheap, dispensable, and quick to turn on each other. He said the truth is there are a lot of magicians like that and they can reflect on us as a whole. It’s our job to counteract that and prove them wrong with a combination fo morals and good magic. Next was Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik. They are the authors of the book Sleights of Mind and gave a fascinating lecture about how our mind works and why our brains allow us to be fooled by magic and optical illusions.
Mike Caveney started off the after noon with a spin on the Benson bowl routine by using a plunger instead of a bowl. He found that the plunger could hold the sponge balls on the inside lip of it with ease; proving his speech of how magicians adapt over time. He took a classic trick and transformed it into something that looked fresh and original with an object all laymen are familiar with. Next, Richard Kaufman performed several different passes and spoke a bit about what situation they could all be useful in. You know your pass is good when you can do it right in front of a camera for a room of over 300 magicians invisibly.
The special event/guest lecture for that evening was a video recording of the The Professor lecturing back in 1973. Only 30 people had ever seen the footage before this showing at Magic-Con. Dai Vernon had wonderful advice that still rings true today. He spoke about things that you hear from all of the “greats” today. Vernon explained things like overproving your “empty” hands during some tricks kills the effect or making too big of a deal out of a small motion is detrimental, not helpful. The lecture contained invaluable information that our generation was lucky enough to witness.
The evening lecturer was Helder Guimaraes. I was excited for this one all day. Helder performed and explained a few of his personal effects. When watching the explanations the crowd smiled at his ingenuity multiple times. Helder’s passion for magic is apparent in every trick he performs. His methods also showed that his audience is his number one priority, not cramming as many new moves in as he can. We could all learn a lot from Helder’s mental path and his unique approach to magic.
All in all the first day of presentations was a great success. There was a balanced amount of theory and effects with a wealth of information that no other conference can offer. And this was only the beginning.
Some Images from Magic-Con.org.
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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
Comments: 12 comments
12 Responses to 'Paper Cuts by Chris Hestnes & Dan and Dave :: First-Look Review'
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This is a quick review of the Magic-Con playing cards, which were available at Magic Con 2011.
NOTE: These were given out at Magic-Con and available for purchase there. As of right now there are rumors Dan and Dave will sell them on their site, but no confirmation yet.
Feel: The cards feel a lot like a good ol’ deck of Bicycles. People have said that D&D used a different, higher quality finish on these but it’s nothing extremely noticeable. The biggest defining quality when I took them out of the box was the softness. They were flexible right away, just like the first run of Erdnase decks. So they broke in extremelt quickly. From what I saw at Magic-Con and as I continue to play with them, they seem to have a bit longer of a usuable life than bikes. Alex Pandrea shared a few thoughts about his as well.
Design: Normally I review the design, Court Cards, Spot Cards, Ace of Spades, and Jokers all seperately. But for this review there’s no point; it’s all standard. The back design is the v4 & v5 Smoke and Mirrors design, but without the D&D logo. And instead of small circles, they’re small, 5 pointed stars. They look like Paper Denim with a darker shade of blue. The backs are pretty simple. I like them, but some of my friends have said “Those look boring” compared to S&M or Tally Ho’s I usually have. The picture cards and spot cards are regular bicycle style. The Ace of Spades is literally just a giant spade. Very basic, just like the backs. There weren’t any Jokers. In place of them were ad cards, one for Genii, one for Magic-Con itself, and a card with a description of Magic-Con. Sort of like a mission statement.
Box: The box follows the simplistic feel of the deck. Big Spade on the front with “Magic-Con 2011 San Diego”, and the back design along with sponsors on the back. I was glad that they actually put the year & location of the conference. It helps give them collectibility.
So here are the ratings:
If you’re a collector or just like cards, I’d say these are worth getting your hands on. They’re a piece of Magic history in a way and are one of a kind. The feel and design didn’t have the quality of Smoke & Mirrors, but then again I don’t think they were meant to. The deck was an awesome addition to the registration packet this year and a cool keepsake from the conference.
Posted: March 30th, 2011
at 12:53am by Robin Carey
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