TITLE and Creator
: Cataclysm by Brian Caswell and AlakazamEffect
: You show a standard deck of Bicycle playing cards. On the back of each card you have written a number. You have your spectators name 3 different cards, and those cards are placed face up on the table in plain view. You then pull a photograph out of your pocket. On the photo are the backs of three playing cards, each with a number written on it. Amazingly enough, as you flip over the cards that the spectator has named, the numbers on the back of them match exactly what is on the photo that is still on the table. Price
: The teaching of this effect is entirely on DVD. There are no written instructions at all, so if you are a person that really likes learning from written instructions, be prepared to have to watch a video. However, I don't think that the lack of written instructions is any kind of problem. The DVD is well put together and professionally made. The menu is nice, the audio quality is good, and the video is good. The DVD starts out by giving you the same demo that you can watch on Penguin on the product page. It then goes into the history of the trick and why it's being re-released. Next it shows you how to make and set up your deck. After showing how to make the deck you are then shown several different things you can do with the included photographs. Finally, there is a section where you learn a few different ways to deal with complications that could arise while doing the trick. Overall I really enjoyed the DVD and thought it did an excellent job of teaching the effect. There is no Penguin's Only forum for this effect, but I think it would be a really good effect to have one for. I have sent a message to the administration of the forums requesting one, so hopefully there will be one soon. Quality of materials
: The quality of the photographs included with the package is very good. They are clear and on very nice photo quality paper. The other materials needed to do the effect must be provided by the magician...however, they consist solely of a red backed deck of Bicycles and a sharpie. Basically, if you can write numbers you can make the deck...it's that easy.
I have to note for a moment, that although the quality of the photographs is very good, I found that my handwriting was WAY too different from the handwriting on the photographs. No big deal...I simply took the deck that I had made and made my own photographs with a digital camera and got them printed at Walgreen's. I think this might be the way to go for many people because then you don't have to worry about trying to make your deck look like the cards on the photos, and you will be 100% certain the the photos are a match to your handwriting.
However, the photographs supplied have a few other things on them that can be used with an optional effect that is described on the DVD...but...to do that effect you need to have some other things that aren't included with the effect. You may or may not have these items already, but I didn't and I don't think that the trick really would gain much by doing the additional routine, so I found that it was best to make my own photos. If you have the other items required to do the optional routine, you may want to think about working on getting your deck to match the photos. Difficulty
: Simple, simple, simple. There are no sleights of hand required at all. If you can find three cards in a deck that is face up, then you can do this trick. I was up and running quite literally as soon as I was done putting numbers on my deck. The hardest part about this effect is going to be working out where you want to keep the reveal...and that's saying something about how easy it is to do, because you can keep the reveal pretty much anywhere.
Again, I can't stress how easy this trick is to perform. I like doing tricks that are more or less self working because it fits my comfort zone as a relatively new magician. This effect fits that bill perfectly.
Not only is it easy to perform, it's also instantly reset. And when I say that it's instantly reset, I mean that literally. You put the three cards back in the deck and you're ready to go for your next table or your next group. No rearranging or anything. Applications
: Being it's a card trick, it's going to be best done in close up situations. You could probably do it on the street, but you would want the spectators to hold the cards in a specific way. Restaurants would be perfect for an effect like this. You don't absolutely need a table for the effect to work, but I find it best if you have one. I like to take the three cards and have them face up on the table then put the photograph underneath them in an order so that not only do the cards match the numbers on the photo, but so that they are actually in the same order that they are in the photo. The table helps you to accomplish this with ease. Some Other Things to Note
: First off, the deck is not examinable, so you may want to work this effect sometime after you've already done an effect where you let a deck be examined. I find that if you do that then people are less likely to want to check out the other things that you do, because they are already "trusting" you.
Second, I really think the effect is more solid when you have taken your own photographs. You could even go so far as to make sure that something in the photograph is something that they will quickly see is yours...for instance, if you were a certain type of hat while performing, have that hat sitting off to the side of the cards. This way the spectators will know 100% that you have taken the photo of the cards yourself. Also, if you take the photos yourself you can keep the copies on your PC (if digital) or keep the negatives (if film) so that you can make more copies of the photos when yours eventually start to wear out. You can't use a line of "I took this photo earlier this afternoon" if the photo has clearly been in your pocket for months. You can avoid that by just going and making a new copy of your photo every now and then.
Third, there are several situations that you need to avoid when doing the trick. These will become readily apparent when you build your deck. HOWEVER, I have performed this trick about 30 times in the last few days, and NOT ONCE did I actually run into one of these situations. With the correct wording, you should not have to worry at all about running into these types of situations. Even if you do, they are easily avoided with just a few statements. In Closing
: This effect, in my opinion, is fantastic. I've performed it for quite a few coworkers and everyone was left completely baffled, and not only baffled but thoroughly entertained. When I do effects for my coworkers I usually get good reactions with a few "How did you do that?" type comments sprinkled in, but this one had everyone commenting on the impossibility of what just happened, and everyone really wanted to know how it was done.
The simplicity of the trick allows you to focus all of your energy on your actual presentation, which we all know is the most important part of entertaining. You can really focus on your spectators and work on providing good patter and conversation because you literally don't have to worry at all about what's going to happen.
I really enjoy performing it.