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Reality Check by Michael Paul - DVD
List price:$8.95
Price: $6.71
You save: $2.24 (25%)
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Three one on one private lessons that bring you into the creative mind of Michael Paul. You'll learn three insanely visual (and practical) close up magic effects, along with several variations, moves and subtleties. Learn about proper timing, audience direction, context, framing and much, much more. Are you tired of single trick releases, that only show you how to do some trick you'll never be able to actually use? Maybe it's time for a Reality Check! Running time: Over 90 Minutes!

Atomic 2.0 - A piece of candy magically appears in a flash of fire. Seconds later, it visually vanishes, leaving it's wrapper behind (and your fingers empty), only to re-appear where it belongs... in your mouth! First learn multiple variations of the trick, then study the details that make it powerful. You'll learn about attitude, context, framing and more. This is Atomic 2.0!

Phantom - With no sleeves or pockets used, a half dollar completely vanishes. Both hands are shown with fingers open, front and back. Then the coin is re-produced. No palming, pulls, or sticky stuff. Several mind-blowing vanishes are taught, including a "raven" like version that looks like trick photography. This is Phantom!

U.V.A.C. - A complete ambitious card routine like you've never seen before. Featured phases include an ultra-visual face up instant rise, and a test conditions animation of a card to the top of the pack that will blow you and your audiences away. The best part? No gimmicks. As an encore, you stand there, still in front of your audience and allow the spectator's signature to vanish (in full view from a face up card) with no movement whatsoever. Later, Matt Mello joins the fun, and discusses the routine and its details with Michael Paul in a special jam session.

Running Time Approximately 1hr 36min

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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 2nd, 2010
Three tricks for 27 bucks . . . that's 9 bucks each. The question is would these be able to sell individually for $9.00 each. My guess is no (my math teacher was right - I do use math everyday). However, these are really good effects . . . however, the production quality was pretty rough. The lighting was really bad and the whole thing was pretty much shot as a wide shot. The only place where close up shots were uses was during the ambitious card explanation where they weren't nearly as necessary.

The menu navigation was fine . . . although "play all" didn't play all . . . it stopped after the first effect.

Two of the three effects were very difficult to see due to the wide shot and the lighting. The explanations weren't any better. Mr. Paul did a great job explaining them and taught them well, and I believe you can still learn them even though you couldn't quite see what he was showing you.

Another point of annoyance was the repeated appearance of text on the screen in the middle of the explanation. That's a nice tool for something that needs clarification, however, we are treated to text so small that even my 20/15 vision (that's better than 20/20 for those who are counting) couldn't read it.

Before I get into the specifics of each effect, let me offer a retro-suggestion to Mr. Paul. These effects are excellent . . . all three of them are professional and visual (even though it was hard to see on camera) effects. What I would have done if these were my effects is bring the production quality up about 2 or 3 notches, and then sell each effect individually as an instant download for about $4 to $5 bucks each. The money saved by not replicating DVDs would have offset the cost of a better production.

Regardless of my opinion of the product quality itself, these tricks are top notch.

Atomic 2.0 (4.5/5)
A piece of candy (atomic fire ball) appears in a flash of fire. Then the candy vanishes from the wrapper and appears in your mouth. Two versions are offered here, and they are both very simple to do and very visual. Again, Mr. Paul explains the effects well; I just wish we could have seen them better.

Phantom (4/5)
This is Paul's handling of an old Gimmick/Technique. It's beautifully visual. It is a bit angly, however, but is still very valid for multiple venues. The effect is a bare-handed-you-can-do-it-naked vanish of a coin . . . and you can show both sides of your hands, and you can still reproduce it just as cleanly . . . again, slight angle problems but nothing too impractical.

U.V.A.C (4/5)
U.ltra V.isual A.mbitious C.ard . . . and ultra visual it is. Paul has some nice work on this plot. He has some excellent points of theory that are worth considering. The only thing I didn't like about this is the fact that he makes the signature on the playing card vanish at the end of the effect. Although the vanish is super-visual, I think it takes away from the effect rather than adds to it. However, the rest of the routine is beautiful. The moves, the timing, everything is well put together and much more visual than a typical Ambitious Card Routine. That reminds me, I forgot to feed my goats.

Finally, you have the "Jam Session" which was just ridiculous. It was Paul talking to (not with) his friend Matt Mello. Mr. Mello sat there living up to his name, and didn't say much as Paul went through a no-where-near-as-interesting-as-the-earlier-explanation walk through of the U.V.A.C. explanation. First, nothing was added by him going over it again, especially considering that he did so in such an inferior manner. Secondly, having him do an unnecessary act was bad enough, but to do it with a person just sitting there doing nothing was even further useless, and if that's not enough, Matt Mello mostly remained out of frame, and the rare times he did speak, you can't hear him because he's not mic'd like Paul is.

This is by no means a criticism of Mello. Rather it's a criticism of Paul (or whoever the parent of that ideas was). It just added nothing to the video and it cost this review of it a half star . . . for a grand total of 3.5 out of 5. Is it a gem or is it rubble . . . it's a tiny gem, but gem nonetheless.
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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 7th, 2010
Really poor production qualities and the DVD itself wasn't coded properly which meant I had trouble with the menu. The content itself was allright but I didn't learn anything new or amazing. Shame really because the price wasn't bad.
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