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Driven

reviewed by Jeff Prace
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 August, 2009)

DrivenThe Teaching:

This is a written e-book that you download onto your computer. Also, two videos are included which show Cameron performing Driven from the front, and then the back. With all three of those resources, you should have no problem learning this. There are also 19 photographs. Cameron is a great writer; he explains everything clearly with detail. The video instructions, which contain no words, help the teaching of the effect a lot. You should have this down in no time. But remember, practice makes perfect.

The Quality:

The e-book and video quality are very good. The photographs and video are clear. You can tell it was not made through a web-cam. It's better than most homemade productions I've seen, and I applaud Cameron for that. It's a step up from others.

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Intro: Cameron starts with a quick introduction to the pen through bill plot. He states what his is based off of and talks about other impromptu versions on the market. He also quickly tells how he came about creating this effect.

Phase 1: This is the phase in which you slam the point of the pencil straight through the bill. The method is very clever, and nothing like I've seen before. The nice thing about this is that you show the pencil going into the bill, no doubt, and with no fishy moves slam it right through. It looks great. You then pull the pen all the way through the bill and show the bill restored. All patter is given to you and there are photos to explain this phase.

Phase 2: This is the phase in which you place a pencil horizontally inside the folds of the dollar bill. You then magically saw the pencil through the sides. When you open up the bill, it's completely restored. This method is also very clever. They can actually see the pencil inside the bill, unlike other versions. Once again, there is a super large amount of photos and everything is very clear.

Alternate Handling for the First Phase: This is just something quick you can do to make the first penetration easier. It looks the exact same.

Notes: Cameron talks a little here about patter and angles. Some helpful advice.

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The Story:

One of my good friends knows how to perform the pencil through bill using the slit method. He's showed me it before. So once I practiced this and got it up to par, I showed him this. He was blown away. He literally grabbed the bill out of my hands, giving me more than one paper cut, and started examining the bill. He ripped the pencil from my hands, nothing to see. Let's just say he loved this!

Overall:

I really like this. I own Misled, but haven't performed it in the last few years. From now on, I'll probably just use this. I never liked using the gimmick, as sometimes I borrowed different colored pencils, and this just fits the bill. It's so practical it's unbelievable. With this, you will never be stuck with nothing to perform. Just borrow a pencil, borrow a bill, and perform. It couldn't get much easier. A solid 9.5/10.


Moment's Notice: Five Impromptu Card Effects

reviewed by Jeff Prace
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 August, 2009)

Moment's Notice: Five Impromptu Card EffectsElevation: In this effect, two 'special' cards are pulled from the deck and placed to the side. A spectator chooses any two cards. The two cards are lost in the center of the deck. The two special cards are shown to be the two black Jacks. With just a shake, the face up Jacks trap a face down card. That card is one of their selections! You explain the Jacks do much, much more. The selection is constantly placed in between the Jacks, and magically rises to the top. Also, the selection magically flips face up and face down in between the Jacks multiple times. The selection is then placed on the table. With just a snap, it turns into the other selection. The deck is spread and the other selection is found face up in the middle.

I've always liked the plot in which one selection changes to another, and then the first one somehow appears far away from where it once was. It's very magical in my mund, the two card transposition. I know a lot of transpositions, but this has turned out to be a very good one. Something I like about this is that the transposition seems to be an afterthought. The other magical events are the main trick. This way, I feel, the transposition is more magical. The method here is pretty easy to do. It will require basic knowledge of card sleights. This is a fantastic routine.

Spin Cycle: “The four Aces are removed from the pack and placed aside. A card is selected, say the Two of Hearts, and lost in the pack. The magician explains that the Aces will be able to identify the card through a strange procedure. One by one, the face down Ace turn face up. The last Ace to turn face up is the Ace of Hearts. This, the magician explains, means that the selected card was a Heart. The Ace of Hearts is placed aside. The spectator cuts the remaining face down Aces into the pack. The deck is cased and the spectator gives the box a spin. The cards are removed from the box and the deck is spread. The Aces are seen face up in the middle with one face down card between them: the Two of Hearts.”

I love the Hofzinser Ace Problem. Love it, love it, love it. I have created my own method, which I love to use. Although I am bias to that method, this one is also very good. I like the idea of using the box. It seems like you're making the trick sleight-of-hand proof, as you can't touch the cards. The magic happens on it's own. This way, you don't seem to just be someone who is handy with a pack of paste boards, but rather a real magician who can do real magic. That's an important idea to remember in all of my magic. So, this fits the bill. It's super cool and super magical. Once again, it's also pretty easy to do. I recommend you try this out, as it's a great solution to the Hofzinser Ace Problem.

Emergency!: “A card is selected and lost in the deck. To make his job of finding the card even more difficult, the magician turns half the deck face up and shuffles it into the face down half. Failing twice to find the card, the magician claims that all decks now come equipped with an Emergency button. The button is pressed, the deck is straightened and a previously indifferent card is now discovered to have transformed into the selection.”

Another favorite of mine, Triumph. I cannot think of a better card plot with such a great patter. I really like the additions to the patter Cameron added. It's not the basic “a young kid shuffled my deck wrong” but it's a comical solution. The idea of an 'Emergency button' reminds me a lot of the 'Reset button' in the standard Reset routine. I liked how he applied that to this effect. Onto the method. This is simply FREAKING AMAZINGLY AWESOME. I've performed a lot of Triumphs in my magic years, but this is one of the best I've seen. The secret move is brilliant. Although it's stated to be “bold” no one will ever catch it. The display is very clean; they really see half face up and half face down. Simply brilliant. This will be the last Triumph routine I perform. I love this.

Simply Amazing: “The four Aces are removed from the pack and placed to the magician's left. The spectator cuts the deck into four face down piles and then points to any one of them. The top four cards are removed from the freely chosen pile, shown to be indifferent and are placed face down on the spectator's hand. The Aces are fairly inserted face down into each pile. The piles are stacked one on top of the other and the deck is then turned face up. The deck in placed on top of the four face down indifferent cards which the spectator has been holding onto. The magician snaps his fingers and spreads through the deck. The Aces are nowhere to be found. The four face down cards at the back of the deck are turned over. They are now the four Aces!”

It sound more confusing than it really is. I actually really like this as well. I think the ending is a great, visually moment. There are also some great subtleties in this effect which really sell it. I think it's great because the spectator feels there is no possible way the magician could've switches the cards that they were holding, because there really isn't. Well there is… Anyway, this is super clean. The handling is easy, but again, will require basic card handling knowledge. I assume most of you guys already know this stuff. Another winner.

Flying Colors: In this effect, the magician removes four black cards, and four red cards. The two packets are separated. With a snap, the two packet of cards magically and invisibly change places. The spectator removes one card from each packet. With a snap, those two selected cards change places as well.

This is just not for me. I'm sure it's going to be for a lot of others, but not me. It's is a nice trick, and I can't really explain why it doesn't suit me. Because of that, I will jump into the method and handling. Everything, again, is easy to do. The method is very clean and clever. Some of the magic happens in the spectator's hands. Another nice part, the cards are not always handled by the magician, eliminating some possible solutions in the spectator's mind. A nice trick overall.

The Teaching: Everything is very well taught. There are step-by-step instructions. Also, there are 11 clear photographs that really help. Nothing to complain about.

Overall: There's not really much to say. The e-book is nicely made, all components of it. All of these effects are impromptu, hence the title, so they are very practical. All of the effects are amazing. A solid 9.5/10.


Something Else

reviewed by Jeff Prace
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 August, 2009)

Something ElseThe Unfolding: A spectator writes his initials on the back of a business card. The card is folded up into quarters and placed on the spectator's hand. The magician draws a magic wand on the back of another business card and claims he will use the wand to make the spectator's card vanish. The wand card is waved over the spectator's hand. Nothing seems to happen. When the spectator unfolds the business card, he discovers that he has the drawing of the wand. The magician turns over his card. The spectator's initials are on the back!

Although super simple, I think you will really like this one. It's very easy to understand, and brings sense to why two things transpose. Something that working magicians will really enjoy is that this instantly resets; so if you work table-to-table you should have no problem. A nice point about this, which solves something that always has bothered me, is that when you hand out the business card with the initials it's not bent or ripped. It's perfectly straight and professional. I never liked handing out a business card that's mutilated in some way. The difficulty on this one is very, very easy. In the simplest handling, there is only one sleight, one that everyone knows. Also, Cameron includes another handling, using a sleight that he teaches in detail. For exposure matters, I won't name it. I personally don't think it would add anything to the existing effect or method, but it's just an alternative that some people may enjoy more than the first. I like this.

The Magic Coin: The magician produces a coin purse and removes four different coins from it; in this case a penny, nickel, dime and quarter. The coins are placed in a row on the table. He then removes a folded business card from the purse which he says contains a prediction. The spectator selects a coin, say the nickel. The other three coins are placed back into the coin purse. The magician smiles and triumphantly states, “My prediction was correct!” He turns over the business card. On the other side it reads, YOU WILL CHOOSE THE MAGIC COIN. “And I was right,” he continues, “You did choose the magic coin!” The spectators look extremely underwhelmed. Sensing trouble, the magician says he can prove it. He opens the coin purse and drops the nickel into it. He then asks the spectator to shake the purse three times. The spectator is then asked to open the purse and dump out the contents. Four nickels clatter to the table. Everything may now be examined.

This is another winner in my opinion. I really love the suspense aspect of this routine. You take out the business card; the suspense is building. When you reveal the business card, it's just a gag. Makes the spectator laugh and feel more comfortable with the magic. A nice point in this routine is that when you dump out the four nickels, or whatever the chosen coin may be, there is absolutely nothing else inside the coin purse. Your hands are empty. Everything is examinable. There really is nothing to hide. It's a great position to be in at the end of a routine. The method is very clever. Stephen Tucker contributed some very nice touches making this routine even better. It does not instantly reset, but it is neither hard nor long to reset. It's another one of those routines that is not knuckle-busting. With a little practice, this should be in reach to almost every magician. Stephen Tucker also includes a bonus handling that allows for a cleaner selection of the coin and some more magic moments. Personally, I would stick with the original, but Stephen's is very nice. I like it.

Business Burn: The magician pulls out a stack of what he thinks are his business cards. it turns out the entire packet of cards is blank! Not to worry. With just a wave of his hand, the cards instantly and visually print! He then hands one to the perplexed spectator.

Just by looking at the name, I assume many of you will be able to tell where the inspiration for this effect came from. It works very on a very similar method to the marketed effect that you're thinking of. I do wonder, however, if Cameron added enough of a change to call this and market this as his own. Although he does give credit where it is needed, I still think it might be a little “iffy.” But let's forget about that right now and get on with the effect. What Cameron added to the method is very clever. Although there may be a simpler way to make the gimmick, Cameron's way works perfectly. It might sound a little complex at first, it did to me at least, but don't let that scare you away. This effect has a lot of potential. Once you make the gimmick, which isn't as hard as it may read, you'll be performing the effect in no time. It's very easy to perform, and takes little practice. But, as always, practice makes perfect, so practice until your hands bleed. This, like “The Unfolding” has an instant reset making it another winner for table-hopping magicians. I think it's a good idea to have an effect with a business card when you're working tables, I use an effect with the 'Out to Lunch' principle, because at the end you can give the business card away as a souvenir. But onto the worse parts. I do think there are better methods to print business cards. Michael Ammar teaches a few in his published material. You can use a variation of the 'Out to Lunch' principle. So, in the end, I think this effect is only okay.

Hold On: The magician removes an empty coin holder and has it examined. He then borrows a quarter. He places the quarter behind the holder and positions it so it looks as if it's inside the plastic. He gives it a rub. Suddenly, the coin is inside the coin holder. It is immediately handed to the spectator as a souvenir.

This is a pretty interesting effect. Let me start of by saying the coin can be, and I think should be, initialed or marked by the magician. Unless the spectator makes the mark you want them to, they cannot mark the coin. I don't think that's a big disadvantage if you mark the coin in a very casual manner. I think there may be some presentational issues with this. Why are you putting their coin inside a holder? The only reason I can think of is to “preserve” the memories of the magic shared. That works. The method is very simple yet again. Anyone can do it with little practice. And just saying, you do not lose any money when performing this effect, unless you use your own quarter and give them the souvenir. Speaking of souvenirs, this offers and interesting one. I think a lot of people would be interested in keeping such an interestingly interesting souvenir. How many times does a random person get a coin holder with their coin in it? Not a lot. So maybe this is better than a signed card. You do end dirty at the end of the effect, but that is not really an issue. The spectator will be gawking at their interestingly interesting souvenir. Again, instant reset, if you have enough prepared “objects” for the amount of times you want to perform. I like it.

Hold On Tighter: The magician borrows a coin and states, “This may look like an ordinary coin, but we're going to make it a very special coin in a moment.” The magician draws five ESP-type symbols on the backs of five different business cards. One is selected by the spectator. The magician looks into the spectator's eyes and draws something on the quarter with a marker. He turns the coin around. A triangle is drawn on its face! Claiming that the coin is now a bona-fide collector's item, he passes his hand in front of the coin. Suddenly, it is now stapled inside of a coin holder which may immediately handed back to the spectator!

This, in essence, is very similar to the effect above. The only thing added is the ESP symbols. So, I don't have too much more to say on this one. I like the ESP symbols because it adds another magic moment to the effect. The reveal of what you predicted is another stunner. I also like the fact that the coin being encased in a coin holder is a surprise, not the effect itself. I like this better than the effect above for those reasons. The one thing I can think of that I would change is to use actual ESP cards, instead of marking business cards with the symbols. I don't know why, I just think it adds a little more “class” to the routine. I like it.

All Things Being Equal: While performing magic for a highly appreciative audience at a restaurant, the magician reaches into the sugar caddy and removes a white sugar packet. He gives it a shake whereupon it visually transforms into a pink Sweet and Low packet. He places the Sweet and Low packet in his pocket. He repeats this three times and then asks the spectators what's under the packet, Sweet and Low or sugar? Whatever the response, the spectator reaches int o his pocket and pulls out… three blue packets of Equal!

Hmmm. I don't really know what to say about this effect. For one, I think it's overly complicated. There are unneeded things. You are palming something that doesn't need to be. You are using a sleight that should be replaced by a gimmick to make the effect cleaner, simpler, and easier. Although not the gimmick I had in mind, the gimmick used in “The Domino Effect” from the DVD AM/PM, which I reviewed HERE, would work perfectly. Though, a gimmick mainly used in coin magic would work as well. Other than those flaws, the routine is a nice one and I really like the kicker ending. The effect is good, but I don't like the method. So, in all, I don't like it.

Money Business: Business cards and coins transpose in an increasing impossible manner.

This is a good one. First business cards switch places and then coins do. It reminds me a lot of “Follow the Leader” from Daryl's three DVD set. But that is beside the point. This effect is very good. For one, it has an instant reset. I do not need to say, yet again, the advantages of that have. Two, this is very clean. The gimmick used makes the effect very clear; because of it only two business cards are used and only two coins are used during the effect. Also, everything is examinable before the effect starts which is another plus. Also, the effect gets increasingly impossible which is always a good thing. Right when the spectator thinks they know what will happen, something else does. It keeps them interested in the effect. Like many of the other effects in this e-book, this is very easy to perform and will require minimal practice. You should have this down pretty quickly. I like it.

The Signed Coin: The magician displays a small matchbox and says, “I'm going to show you something a bit odd. It's a matchbox with a quarter and a single match inside of it.” The magician slides open the matchbox. Inside is a quarter with a question mark on its face and a single match. “We'll just place this aside for now.” The open box is placed on a table (or on a spectator's hand). A spectator is asked to remove his pocket change. The magician takes a quarter from the spectator's pile of change and has another spectator initial the quarter. The initialed coin is placed back into the pile and the spectator gives it a few shakes. When he opens his hands and goes through the change, the signed coin has vanished! The magician then picks up the matchbox and dumps out the question mark quarter and the match. He uses the match to fairly turn the coin over. On the other side are the spectator's initials!

This is phenomenal. It's super magical, super impossible, and super cool. It looks so clean it's almost too fair. The effect is pretty easy to do, I think it will require a tad bit more practice than some of the others, but it's worth it. This has a quick reset and I plays huge. The moment when the coin is turned over is so magical and perfect. Not too much more to say. I like it.

Handful: In effect, you begin by showing your left fist. You ask the spectators to imagine that it is entirely encased in concrete, and to remember that the hand has been closed since the beginning of the trick. Now, from a pocket you produce a small square of paper and a marker pen. A spectator lends you a coin which they sign with the pen, before you fold it into the little paper packet (which takes some doing, as you are only using your right hand). A magical gesture and you unfold the packet – the coin has totally vanished. Turning to the spectators, you call attention to your left fist, which has been tightly closed all the way through. Slowly opening it, you reveal that sitting in your left palm, is a single coin, bearing the spectators mark. American 40 audiences scream until their lungs explode, and then scream from their kidneys. English audiences seem relatively unimpressed, but your mum says she likes it.

This effect, by Liam Montier, is super awesome. I really like the mystery behind it. You had their signed coin in your hand the whole time. I am still debating which I like better: this or the effect described above. The only hard thing that will take some practice is doing a special move with only one hand. It's done openly in front of the audience, but it is difficult to achieve. The move is quickly taught in the e-book. Other than that, it is pretty easy to do, resets quickly, and is very magical. I like it.

The Teaching:

The teaching in this e-book is just like all of the other Cameron Francis e-books I have reviewed. Superb. There's just about a gazillion pictures, maybe more. I am too lazy to count. Everything is described in immense detail. No grammar/spelling mistakes here to my knowledge, but there is a type in Liam's effect. It's small, and people will still be able to read the effect and understand it.

Overall:

I really liked this e-book. Of all the routines, I think I only really disliked one. Normally $15, but buy it before July 26, 2009, and get it for only $5. Even a better deal for a great e-book. I highly recommend it. I give it a 9/10. Get it now.

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