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 Post subject: Draven Reviews: Urban Legend
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:36 pm 
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Title: Urban Legend
Artist: Michael Paul
Producers: Mental Playground
Link: http://www.thementalplayground.com/urbanlegend.html
Retail Price: $26.99 USD
Learning Difficulty: Difficult
Notes: This product teaches Paul's take on the classic razor swallow. This effect can be hazardous to your health, please perform, and practice with caution. This effect requires the use of real strait razor blades that must be purchased in addition to the DVD.

Video: Performances and Explanations
Features:
Introduction
The Set-Up
The Floss
The Performance
Additional Tips
In Conclusion


Download Extras
Features:
Urban Legend Lecture Notes PDF
Urban Legend Script PDF
Background Music MP3
Urban Legends Performance Video

Michael Paul provides you his working routine on the classic swallowed and strung together razor blade plot.

It is a rare occasion when something this thought out, this well developed, and this well put together comes across the market. You're not getting a DVD on some magicians version, take, or opinion of a classic effect; to which the strung together razors is. You're getting Michael's personal working effect that is his performance, script, and handling. Personally, I'd advise you to not buy this DVD simply because this material, I feel, is too good to just let run rampant on the open market available to just anyone. You get way to much with your purchase when it comes to Urban Legend. Not only the DVD, but special music, scripts, and lecture notes. Urban Legend is very well thought out. Everything in the performance has a reason, and method. Nothing is out of place, nothing is without cause. Theater magic at the finest. Every aspect of the classic strung razor blade effect is put under the microscope, questions raised, and the answer given is Urban Legend.

I'm sure the DVD quality is no less than the downloaded video quality. I'm reviewing the instant download version, which instead of a single disk with everything on it, scripts, notes, music, and all, I've got a zip folder with everything broken down into their own respected parts. Since you get so much with this product, I think I actually almost prefer the instant download over the DVD, it makes accessing all the different features a little easier.

Michael's video tutorial on his presentation of Urban Legend is just a little over an hour long of solid education in both theory, theater, and magic. Sure there is nothing new about the classic razor swallow and thread plot, but how Michael packages it, makes it a work of art if not at the least good theater. Michael has a strong point in his introduction portion of the video. You really can't find an effect in magic that packs as small as the razor swallow, and plays as big as it does for the price you pay; which is less than ten dollars for all the props. I should also point out now that while precautions are taken to insure your safety, you are putting razor blades into your mouth. Be careful, and don't get yourself cut.

Michael takes you through the entire setup. Nothing should be unclear by the time your ready to learn how to perform it. Everything has a reason to exist, everything has a place, and everything has a purpose. Michael teaches you how to set up for Urban Legend, and then he goes strait into teaching you how to perform it. Michael is so meticulous in his teaching that he even spends a good amount of time going over the specific type of floss he uses, and why you should use it too. I did have a fairly nitpicky complaint though that I encountered within the first ten minutes of the video. At one point Michael is teaching about some of the prep work that goes into the blades, and on the screen the caption says to do the exact opposite of what Michael is telling you to do. I know this is nothing against Michael, he clearly has his act together (pardon the pun), but I would think that quality control could have, and should have caught this. Other than that, there were minor focusing issues off and on through out the video, but again those are production problems, and not performance related. Michael closes off the tutorial portion of the video with some very nice personal after thoughts about the entire product, including his credits, and some nifty useful real world working tips for performing Urban Legend out on the streets. I have to say that I love this product, and not just because it's bizarre; which is what I tend to stick to myself as a performer, but because when you buy Urban Legend you're not just buying a trick. You're buying a step by step blueprint to a reputation making performance.

If the Video or DVD, depending on which version of the product you've purchased, isn't enough school for you then don't forget to check out Michael's lecture notes that come with the product. Over 29 pages of his notes, thinking, methods, and reasons behind the creation of the routine. He discusses key issues ranging from the type of floss used to presenting Urban Legend on the streets! Sure a lot of the material in the lecture notes exist on the DVD/Video, but it's good to have it in written format too, for study and reference. Especially if you're the type of magician who likes researching different presentations, or handlings of classic effects. Just like his DVD/Video Michael doesn't just say to do something or not to do it, he backs it up with sound reasonable, logical thought. This is a product that he's clearly invested a lot of time, and thought into, and it shows. Michael has taken you to school with the DVD/Video, the lecture notes are your homework companion guide. Of course your homework being to master the effect.

Michael doesn't just stop with the show on the stage either, when I said you get a blueprint to a masterpiece product that will be a reputation maker, I wasn't kidding. Michael doesn't just stop with the bow, and curtain fall. He also has some interesting thoughts on a little extra after-show stunts you can do to subtly sell the effect, and yourself! With a couple simple, but brilliant post show touches, and your audiences will walk out with a lasting memory of your act! Michael is clear though in the DVD/Video, and it echos through his notes, that hes giving you the entire act, music, script, performance rights, everything whole sale. He's taken the effort to over think out every possible nuance of the routine so you won't have to. It would be ill advised to attempt to add to or take away from this product because anything other than what you are presented with simply wouldn't be Urban Legend, and why would you? There is no need to re-invent the wheel here. There are too many aspects of this version of the swallowed, and strung razor routine that make it unique to Urban Legend. You'll either perform Urban Legend in your act, or you'll end up doing something else, there is no room to tweak or modify this specific routine.

The script is simple enough. There isn't much to it, just a couple of paragraphs so memorizing it should be easy for even the most novice of performers. I would personally invest a good amount of time in blocking the performance, and choreographing everything in the routine with the music, but that's a given. Before you even downplay the notion of using the music supplied of this act, please be advised that Michael presents in both his notes and in the DVD/Video some very good reasons why the music is vital to connecting your audience with the mood, and mindset of the story you're going to tell when you preform Urban Legend. It's not just a magic trick, it's theater.

(To Be Continued...)


Last edited by William_Draven on Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Draven Reviews: Urban Legend
PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:36 pm 
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Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 83
(Continued From Above...)

I can't say enough good things about Urban Legends. I don't usually expect to see this level of thinking put into a video product. Normally you get a DVD it teaches you how to do a trick, and that's that. You're often left with the choice of either performing the effect stock, or trying to come up with your own presentation, and patter. It's rare to see a product that is so well thought through, put together, and taught as what you get with Urban Legend. You're not just getting a magic trick with this product, you're also getting a little lesson in theater as well, and I'm all for higher learning! It's safe to say that I will be performing Urban Legend in my show for years to come.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Over all Quality.

Product Quality: 9
You get WAY to much for the price you pay. Not only that, but you're getting Michael's personal closing routine. I would have never advised him to release something this good for this price. If this product has a fault, that's its only one.

Teaching Quality: 8
The video is very well taught. Michael's teaching style can get a little dry at times, but the material covered is certainly worth it, and it's not just the DVD/Video his notes are amazing too.

Video & Sound Quality: 6
The Achilles heel of this entire product is the Sound and Video quality. The product has a few issues with the camera trying to focus, I assume it's an auto focus thing, off and on throughout the DVD/Video. Then there is also the screen captions being wrong about the action your doing, These seem like minor points, but they hurt the over all score pretty bad.

Over All Quality: 8
Don't let the Video and Sound Quality notes scare you away, I'd seriously advise anyone looking to add that extra bit to their act to buy Urban Legend. If you're looking for a strong piece of story magic, good theater magic, close up, stage, parlor, or street magic Urban Legend will be a good worker for you. Whether you run it in the middle of your show, or close with it, Urban Legend has the potential to become your reputation maker. Close-Up, Streets, or Stage, Urban Legend has a little something to teach to everyone.


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