Covert Magic - Iain Moran

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Covert Magic - Iain Moran

Postby seige » Mar 29th, '07, 08:47



Iain Moran's Covert Magic
Available from www.bigblindmedia.com
For a remarkably low £22.99 (available April 2, 2007)

Media
A very nice, highly professional and well produced DVD... what you would expect from the Owen Packard stables. Beautiful filming, crisp editing and good unobtrusive soundtrack. Oh, and you also get a pack containing just about every gaff needed to perform these miracles!

Contents (I'll detail these effects later on)
    1. Snap, crackle and pop
    2. The covert card
    3. Birds of a feather
    4. Kick to the head
    5. Altered aces
    6. Triumphant
    7. Selection erection
    8. Card highway
    9. Sandwich III
    10. Coin-ageddon




First Thoughts
I've already heard of Iain (some of you will know 'Hole Sensation), and I know he's a bit of a card wizard. He mixes in very esteemed magic circles, and is a bit of an award winning UK gem.
If you've not seen or heard of him, check out his website at www.iainmoran.com and get a bit of background. This guy is good. Very good.
My first thoughts when I put this in the DVD player last night was "well, the 'gaff' cards look kind of normal, let's see what he does with them".
So, convincing Mrs Seige that this was important enough to warrant watching on the big telly, and managing to get her to sit and watch (well, she was only missing CSI), we settled down with a bottle of Chilean red and began to enjoy the show...

The Review
Well, I would firstly like to sum up my review in an odd chronological order. But I won't, because that would spoil it. But I'll put a bit of the ending first—which is 'Stop reading this, and go and order a copy'.

Now, let's get down to business...

The DVD started playing... very nicely produced. Greeted as always by sharp, contemporary graphics and music. No fussy menus, just straight into my favourite DVD format for magic... STRAIGHT PLAYTHROUGH: PERFORMANCE THEN EXPLANATION.

The first effect, 'snap, crackle & pop' introduces Iain and our host for the show (well, most of it!), Owen Packard.

What I was about to witness in this opening effect was a single trick which is so commercial, and so visual, it was worthy of being a standalone purchase...
Imagine four face-up cards in a 'dream of aces' plot, sandwiched between four pairs face-down indifferents laid out on the table matrix style. With a move which is visually eye popping, Iain magically removes the face up cards and makes them visually pop into the centre of the matrix, one by one. And guess what... it finishes clean. It's hard to explain the sheer beauty of this in words, but the cards literally do just 'appear' from nowhere, and are genuinely shown to have vanished from each pile. The explanation reveals some very crafty sleight of hand, and although it seemed extremely complex, when I tried it out later on (obligatory) it was actually pretty easy to get to grips with.

In covert card, I witnessed another miracle, with Mrs Seige commenting 'Well, if you could do that I WOULD be impressed'. I agreed, I would be impressed too..
A card is randomly dropped face down to the table, a 'mystery card', and left in full view for the remainder of the trick. A card is then selected by the spectator and signed. (There were two speccies throughout, I am thinking this is Mrs Packard, and a certain Scottish chappie who isn't such a bad cardie himself ;).)

Using the four queens as a vehicle for this super-cool transpo, no other cards, the signed selection is placed amonst them and almost instantly vanishes. Just four queens remain. The mystery card, which has been in full view, untouched, since BEFORE the signed selection was even mentioned, is turned over, and IS the signed selection.
Almost too clever for words. And the method isn't a brain buster either. But this requires you to make a gaff, which will take all of 5 minutes. But believe me, for this effect, it's worth it.

Birds of a triumph... Well, I've seen more variations on the classic triumph plot than I've had haircuts, and wasn't really expecting much. But what I got from this was another stroke of genius:

The deck is SHUFFLED by the spectator. This is important to remember. A selected card is put back in the deck—fairly. The deck is then cut, the two halves reversed, and Faro shuffled into one another in a fair and square in-air Faro weave—leaving half the cards face up, half face down, all interleaved.
Instantly, the deck is spread showing all the cards to be face-up again, with the exception of one—the selection.
Pretty normal, as far as triumph routines go... but here's the twist. The selection is returned to the pack face down between two 'noted' cards, and with a little magic, almost in an instant, the deck is spread to show that there are now FOUR face down cards between the noted cards... the selection, and it's matching value from the other thee suits. A total and complete baffler.
(PS... keep your eye out for a crazy dude with an advertising plug behind the cocktail bar!)

A quick pause for breath, then straight into kick to the head, a very bizarre sandwich routine. Two red aces (A for Assistant!) are removed and tabled, while two spectators select and remember two more cards. The two cards are lost in the deck, and found by the two red aces.
But, as I've come to expect on this DVD already, there's a twist: at the end of the effect, the four cards—two aces and two selections are segregated from the deck, and shown to the spectators—who are handed their selections. Iain is holding the two face-up aces.
In a split second, the two spectators are asked to turn over their selections, and incredibly, THEY are holding the aces, and Iain is holding the selections. FANTASTIC.

Altered aces was perhaps what I found to be the weirdest effect visually, as I had absolutely no idea how it was done. Basically, eight cards are used: the four aces and four random black pip cards.
I won't go into great detail here, but basically there are a lot of transpositions to keep your eyes on, and wait for it... a kicker ending... the four aces become four jokers right before your eyes.

Triumphant is self evident by the title, but again, there's a kicker twist to this one... A blue deck is shown and a card is selected and returned. The cards are mixed face-up into face-down (standard triumph stuff) and then almost instantly spread face-up, showing one blue back up amonst the faces. The selection, of course.
Only just when you thought this was a normal triumph effect, the deck is flipped over and shown to contain all red backs.
It doesn't get much cleaner or visual than this, and it cleans up easily too, allowing the red deck to be used straight after.

Selection erection—re-named by the Scottsman (is it Dave Forrest per-chance?) in the DVD from something mundane like 'rise surprise'. This is a cracking little rising card effect, which has a selected card returned to the deck. The deck is placed down on the table, and then ribbon spread. With a little wave of the hand (which Iain sometimes refers to as 'casting a shadow over the cards'—which reminded me SOOOOO much of Ammar!) the ribbon spread starts to tingle, and a card starts to poke out from inside the spread, gradually coming almost all the way out.
Again, simple, classy and clean—the clean up for this leaves the entire deck usable afterwards.

Card highway... I really liked this one, as it's something I've actually been trying to work on myself for years—a clean multi-signed-card-to-pocket transpo. In this version, four kings are removed from the deck. Four aces are then removed and signed, and the four kings are placed in Iain's four jacket pockets.

The four aces are taken in the hand and the magic is already done... one by one, as the cards are counted, the kings (which WERE in the pockets) appear in the spread of aces, replacing a face-down ace with each count of the cards. And of course, the signed aces are cleanly shown to be removed one at a time from the jacket pockets.

Sandwich III. By this point, I admit I was a bit overwhelmed. I wanted to grab a deck of cards, so I did. And I was playing with them. So I admit, my attention wasn't fully on this effect. This is basically a super-visual 3 phase sandwich trick, using the two jokers to repeatedly find the card, with a rather slick kicker of the card finally appearing face down in the face up deck. Very nice.

Coin-ageddon
After a miraculous behind-the-jacket transformation of our host Owen Packard into a cosily wrapped Dave Forrest, Iain goes straight into Coin-ageddon... a 3-fly explanation with a twist. The coins finally vanish in a puff of handkerchief!
Poor old Dave had a fit of the giggles during this, but Iain managed to ride over this. I had to say, I laughed a lot and I just wish I knew what Dave was laughing at! A great little finishing effect though.

After Thought
Super, lovely, great, smashing.
Nicely performed, clearly explained, and a good deal of the required gaffs already supplied for you!
What more can you ask?
If you like cards, and you get kicks out of Duffie's work, then Iain's DVD is right up your alley. Visual, slick and extremely well thought out.
This, for me, is the best DVD release of 2007 so far. And I'll be watching again until I have two of these mastered. It's strong magic, and will easily find a slot in your repertoire for at least ONE of these effects.

Difficulty: 4 (Advanced sleights and deftness required for most)
1=Even I can do it, 2=No sleights, but not so easy, 3=Some sleights used,
4=Advanced sleights used, 5=Suitable for experienced magicians only)


Rating.
Overall: 9.5/10, Value for money: 10/10 (although, I will admit, I had a pre-release copy, so I didn't actually part with cash—but I would gladly have paid the asking price)

Bottom Line.
As I said earlier, chronologically I spoke out of turn. But stop reading and go and order. This is great, great work.
Not recommended for 'quick fix' magicians, but certainly a worthwhile purchase if you want to see some really slick and memorable stuff, and some real genius card handling at work.

Last edited by seige on Mar 29th, '07, 15:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby seige » Mar 29th, '07, 10:08

Oh, by the way, did I mention that Dave Forrest is in it?

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Postby lindz » Mar 29th, '07, 10:12

Wow nice review Siege but damn you for giving me this dilemma. This sounds great best take a trip to big blind media.

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Postby Tomo » Mar 29th, '07, 10:24

seige wrote:Oh, by the way, did I mention that Dave Forrest is in it?

The Scottish chappie? Nah.

You should see what he came up with when he got hold of a stripper deck!

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Postby Wills » Mar 29th, '07, 10:32

Siege, I'm coming towards the end of my time with RRTCM (first read anyway). I've been on the look out for some powerful tricks to get my claws into and learn with my new skills.

Do you think this DVD might still be out of my reach or with practise could I get the tricks to a decent standard?

Can anybody please help me? I'm having terrible problems controlling my streetmagic- I can't walk down a street without turning into a pub.
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Postby seige » Mar 29th, '07, 10:35

What's nice about the DVD is that almost anything in the way of utilities or sleights required is taught in each explanation.

This said, I still rate this as a '4' on the skill level, as I would imagine that anyone not listening in RRTCM class would get very impatient and bemused by the sleights involved.

That said, it's not rocket science... even Mrs Seige could follow it... but most, if not all of the effects explained require more than a bit of practice, and it's not the kind of DVD I'd recommend if you want the 'quick fix'. It's actually quite overwhelming at first, but you will certainly understand a lot more about how sleights/gaffs/moves can be combined into startling effects.

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Postby Wills » Mar 29th, '07, 10:51

Fair enough, I don't mind practice at all, I actually enjoy it. Lately I've been looking for actual tricks to practice as opposed to sleights, shuffles etc.

Is there a gaff for every trick and can they be easily integrated into your routine? I know you can't give to much away but was just wondering about the practicalities of them.

Can anybody please help me? I'm having terrible problems controlling my streetmagic- I can't walk down a street without turning into a pub.
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Postby seige » Mar 29th, '07, 10:57

Wills wrote:Is there a gaff for every trick and can they be easily integrated into your routine? I know you can't give to much away but was just wondering about the practicalities of them.


Most of the effects require a gaff.

All the difficult gaffs are supplied, and the 'DIY' gaffs are simple to make, so long as you have some spare decks hanging around.

I'd recommend that you have a couple of red and a couple of blue decks in your possession before you start, though.

Also, some of the more tricky gaffs are signed in the DVD, which kills them. However, Iain quite rightly mentions using stickers to sign instead. I know that I've had small round non-permanent labels in the past which are ideal for this purpose... just have the sticker signed, and it can be taken off the card later.

That said, of course, for a BIG show or presentation, you may want to have the actual cards signed for presentational prestige.

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Postby Wills » Mar 29th, '07, 11:14

Good stuff thats me sold. I don't usually like gaffs but they seem easy enough to store in a pocket until required.

I could do with some extra decks as most of my older ones have been through the mill and back. So you can expect an order for some decks and a mat from NUMS Mr Siege in a couple of days.

Can anybody please help me? I'm having terrible problems controlling my streetmagic- I can't walk down a street without turning into a pub.
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Postby seige » Mar 29th, '07, 15:48

Well, so far as a shopping list to accompany this DVD, there's pretty much nothing that your average cardie won't have at home in various quantities.

The only non-card effect on the DVD involves another fairly common bit of magic kit, but fear not—because by the time you put the cards down you probably won't be so worried about the coin effect for some time ;)

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Postby Wills » Mar 30th, '07, 16:29

I just saw the demo for one of the tricks and I have to say it looks stunning. It is the trick explained by Siege called Triumphant. It does look good as said but nothing really new until Ian lifts up the rest of the deck explaining the card was a different coloured back to the rest.

This kind of gives you a feeling of a carpet being pulled from under you. Were you think yeah very nice but I have it sussed then "how the f**k did he do that?".

I have a copy coming my way very soon I hope.

Can anybody please help me? I'm having terrible problems controlling my streetmagic- I can't walk down a street without turning into a pub.
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Postby seige » Mar 31st, '07, 17:12

Well, I managed to get another look at the DVD, and it really has impressed the socks off me.

With this one, what you see is what you get—the performances are visual, stunning and well executed, and the explanations uncover the magic behind them.

I always enjoy a dabble in cards, and this is the best dabble I've had for a long time.

SOME of the stuff is a little offputting to the faint hearted, mainly because it *seems* so complex. But after a second run through, it's much easier to get your head around—especially watching the performances again after seeing the explanation.

I still don't know what Dave is giggling at in the Coin-ageddon explanation... I've asked Owen Packard, but there seems to be a bit of a silence on this. My only assumption is that perhaps it's an in-joke, and we will never ever know—a bit like the ending to LOST is possibly going to turn out!

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Postby Ozman » Mar 31st, '07, 17:53

...ironically, dave is laughing throughout the COIN-AGGEDON explanation precisely BECAUSE he has just discovered the ending of LOST.

you'll all feel the same when that last episode airs.

or not.

depending on whether or not i am lying.

which i probably am.





or am i.....?

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Postby tracematt » Mar 31st, '07, 21:05

i was dissapointed with this, yet another bigblindmedia product...
it may suit some people, and I'm not afraid to work at things, but i perform manly strolling, walkaround, (no tables!)
and like to use a regular deck for most of my effects
this has some gaffs thrown in i know, but i didnt expect to have to use them for nearly every trick, on top of that, go into "blue peter mode" for some more aswell
i know this is ian's dvd,
i dont dont what it is with bigblindmedia releases, they seem to read so well in the previews, demos etc, but just dont fit my above requirements
i work at a fast fast pace and alot of this stuff is rather long too
maybe i'll find something i like one day from bigblindmedia
in the meant time, you will find my dvd up for auction............
sorry ian, dave, owen

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Postby Iain Moran » Apr 1st, '07, 01:55

Seige,

Wow! What can I say? Thank you so much for your spectacular review, I'm over the moon that you enjoyed it. I'm also very flattered that Mrs Seige agreed to watch my DVD instead of CSI. I truly appreciate it.

Wills,

I'm really pleased you liked the Triumph effect. I really like tricks where everyone thinks it's finished and then, WHAM, something else happens they just don't see coming. There are several such effects on Covert Magic.

I'm very pleased with how the DVD came out, Owen and Dave have done a splendid job and the whole project was a tremendous pleasure from start to finish.

The material featured are routines I've been doing for rather a long time, some for almost 20 years! I have performed these routines 1,000's of times and I have complete confidence in them. They get great reactions from laypeople and magicians, which is a bonus.

As I've explained elsewhere, I love sleight of hand card magic. I also enjoy using gimmicks that can often create effects that can't be achieved any other way. My favourite kind of card magic, however, is a combination of the two. Using gimicks and sleight of hand together can create very strong magic that is also extremely clean and direct. Several effects in the DVD are in that latter category.

Some of the routines are quite easy while some require a fair amount of practice. Some of them are impromtu, while others are best suited to more formal performances. I would like to think that the DVD contains material for everyone.

If anyone wants to discuss the DVD in general, or indeed individual effects I'll be happy to do so, either here on board or by PM or email.

Regarding Dave laughing, I've *still* got no idea what on earth he was laughing at. The previous take, I was laughing about something or other and it took me ages to regain composure. With Dave laughing for most of the explanation made it really difficult to stay serious. I don't know how I managed it. :lol:

Thanks again guys for all your support. It really does mean a lot.


Since Tracematt (Matt Wainwright) has repeated his review from The Magic Cafe, heres my previous response from the same:

Matt,

Many thanks for your comments. I'm really sorry you were disapointed with Covert Magic. Though I'm glad you found three effects that you'd like to use. If I find one effect on a DVD that I like, I consider it a good buy, I hope you feel that's the case here.

A great deal of my work is Walkaround too and not all of these effects are suitable for that environment. I've just returned from a walkaround gig this evening and I performed: Monkey Business, Selection Erection (in the hands), Kick To The Head and Birds of a Triumph. All went down very well indeed. With a little thought, Sandwich III can also be done walkaround! Of these 4 effects, the two that do use gimmicks, are routines that start and finish clean and also instantly reset.

I also do a lot of Wedding receptions, where you often have a little table space. In these conditions I almost always do Triumphant and The Covert Card (using a sticker). The Covert Card resets instantly while Triumphant is easily reset while walking to another table. I usually do a different set for the top table, Coin-Ageddon and Card Highway are favourites in that situation.

I'm a working magician myself and I have no time for pipe dreams. All these effects are regularly used by me in my shows for the public & magicians. On the DVD I explain not just the effects, but in many cases, how to get in and out of the effects. A couple of the effects on the DVD are not suitable for all conditions, though they are very strong routines and I believe they are well worth it.

tracematt wrote:this has some gaffs thrown in i know, but i didnt expect to have to use them for nearly every trick, on top of that, go into "blue peter mode" for some more aswell


Just to correct you there Matt, HALF the effects (five) use gaff cards and of those, one finishes clean, while the other two start AND finish clean!

Only one of the effects (Altered Aces) doesn't end clean and isn't easily resetable.

I've not watched Blue Peter for 25 years, but I seem to remember the projects they tackled were slightly more challenging than using a glue-stick and a roll of sticky tape. The two "Blue Peter" jobs Matt is refering to, will take most people less than 3 minutes each and after that will last for several months before you'll need to make them again.

I really *do* appreciate your comments Matt and hope we can have a chat over a pint or two some time.

Iain.

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