Title and Creator
:Shark by Christopher BallingerEffect
: A card quickly and visually changes into another while trapped between two other cards. Price
: $29.95First and Foremost
: Chris Ballinger is probably someone that all of you know, even if you don't KNOW that you know him. He's the guy that does all of the demonstrations for another website. As soon as you see him on the DVD (or on the trailer for this effect) you'll know EXACTLY who I'm talking about. It was a bit odd to see Chris seriously teaching instead of just demonstrating tricks...but that is short lived because he turns out to be a pretty solid teacher!Teaching
: This effect is taught with a DVD only. So those of you that like reading how to do things might be a bit let down. I found the DVD to be EXCELLENT as a teaching tool for this effect.
I found the teaching to be laid back and very solid, if not a bit dry. However, I LIKE dry humor and dry personalities, so I found the presentation to be very good. For those of you that do NOT particularly care for dry personalities, you will probably not enjoy it quite as much as I did.
The DVD is very good quality. It seems like a good amount of editing and professionalism went into the making of it.
Mr. Ballinger first goes into "The Shark" routine. This routine will become the basis for all of the other effects on the DVD. Basically, they are all a slightly tweaked version of the same effect. In this first section of the DVD Chris teaches you about the gimmick, the basic handling, shows a live performance so that you can see how it all goes together, shows you how to set up the deck, then shows you the entire routine with tips and hints as he goes.
A few nice things to add about the teaching of this initial routine. First off, Chris goes into some tips and hints about some of the basic sleights that are required. Primarily the DL. If you're new to magic this will be invaluable to you. If you're old to magic, you can never practice the DL too much. Chris also shows you some basic forces, which are also invaluable if you're new, and awesome even if you're not new.
Next, and to me this is a really good feature that I haven't seen on any (it may be out there, I just haven't seen it) effects. Chris gives you an "Audio Commentary" section where he shows the same live performance as before, but this time he has a voice over explaining WHAT part of the routine he's doing WHILE you're watching it live. If you've ever watched a DVD movie with "Director's Commentary" on, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It was cool to be able to see Chris performing live WHILE hearing him tell you exactly what he's doing and when he's doing it. It was a nice little added feature that I felt really helped with the presentation and performance of the basic routine.
The DVD then moves on to the other routines, which are all taught with the same effectiveness of the original routine, but they lack some of the add-ons like the audio commentary:
The Megalodon Vanish: a card (even signed) visually disappears from between the two cards and appears back in the deck
Great White: Turn a chosen card blank, then have that chosen card appear back in the deck. The kicker?? It's the ONLY card in the deck that is NOT blank.
Dorsal Force: A chosen card suddenly vanishes from the deck and reappears ANYWHERE the magician chooses.
Next up on the DVD are the different changes. Other than the standard Shark change, Chris gives you several different options for revealing the changed card. These are all taught very well, and give you several different visual options for showing the change. I honestly like them all, but the Hammerhead change to me is the best. It's slow and visual, which to me seems a bit better than some of the faster movement reveals. You will have your own favorite, but I definitely recommend watching all of them so that you can see what they all look like.
As an added bonus on this DVD, you get what is almost like an entirely separate DVD called "Quantum Flux." What is "Quantum Flux" you ask?? Well, it's the original name, handling, and teaching of what is being produced now as "The Shark." These were the original routines that Chris came up with to use with this gimmick and is what they were originally going to sell it and market it as. I will be honest...I did not find these routines to be quite as strong as the ones presented as "Shark" routines, but they may have their place in your performance. You owe it to yourself to at least give them a once over to see if you like these and if you can use them. As a free bonus to an already good learning aid, I can't really find any "real" problems with them, even if I didn't particularly like them as much as the other routines.
Overall, I really enjoyed learning the nuances of this gimmick and the routines presented. I found Chris to be an excellent teacher who takes his time to show you everything you need to know to make the routine work...from the gimmick to the handling to any sleights that may be required. I have actually gone back and watched it a few times just to see if I can pick up on anything he does slightly differently than what I am doing so that I can improve my own handling...and each time going back I still find it amusing and fun to watch. Quality of materials
: The gimmick is well made I would imagine will last you quite a while. It's on blue Bicycle stock, so if you're a red performer you are out of luck. To be honest, however, my gimmick WAS a bit "off" when I first got it. The card it was made with was splitting at one of it's edges. I e-mailed Penguin about this and they offered to replace it for me if I sent it back, but I found that a tiny drop of white glue took care of the problem to the point where it was completely unnoticeable. I won't say that it's a problem with the gimmick itself, though, it was more just a problem with that particular card and I imagine that it was a one time thing. The spot where it was splitting wasn't anywhere near any of the doctoring of the card, so I really think it was just a factory issue with the card. Difficulty
: The effects, in my opinion, are all very easy to perform. It took me a little while with the original shark routine to get my shaking of the cards down, but that was just me. I'm sure others wouldn't have as much of an issue, and even if you did it's something that you can rectify by practicing for a little while. The other changes are all very easy to perform and require very little effort on your part. The forces and sleights that are required for several of the handlings are all very basic and there ARE options taught on the DVD if you don't know how to do these things.
Overall, I feel that the trick could be performed by pretty much any level of magician. I am pretty new to all of this, and I like tricks that don't require advanced sleights because I find that I am able to gain confidence by performing these types of tricks. "The Shark" fits that nicely because it uses basic sleights AND a gimmick. I find that performing it is easy for me and helps me get better at handling cards in general. Applications
: The change is very visual, but seeing as they are cards you are going to want to do this in a close up setting. Street, restaurant, where ever. I feel that "The Shark" would be an excellent effect to add to your act. The card can be signed in pretty much all of the effects, so it's a good trick for those of you that like to have the spectator sign a card.
I'll add a quick note about angles and clean up to those of you that are interested. The angles are pretty much non-existent. I suppose if you were performing ABOVE someone then there MAY be a slight issue, but as long as you are at the same basic height as your audience the angles are completely gone. You would be able to perform this trick completely surrounded and not have any issues at all. As far as clean up goes, the gimmick can NOT be handed out, however it is left clean enough for you to show both sides to your audience before you put it away. I find that while they are looking at and examining THEIR card you can show both sides of the cards that you still have and then put them away and you don't run into anyone asking to see those other cards again. In Closing
: I really liked the demonstration of "The Shark" when I first saw it, but what really sold me on this effect was it's name. I'm a big fan of sharks in general, and I will be honest when I say that I bought the effect because it was called "The Shark" and had a cool case.
When I first got the effect in the mail, I felt a little bit let down by the gimmick. I thought it was going to be something amazing and awesome, and I just didn't feel like what I got was going to cut it. But then I started thinking...you know, this thing is simple...and it will probably work!!!
As I watched the DVD I started to admire the simplicity of the gimmick and started to realize that it was pretty much perfect for what it's supposed to do. Needless to say, I very quickly went from feeling let down to being excited about the routines.
All in all, I really enjoy the routines and the gimmick. I like a couple of routines better than others, but overall I'm really happy with the purchase. I've performed this effect several times for coworkers and it's gotten great reactions...ESPECIALLY when you use a signed card.