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Thought of Card in Balloon by Luca Volpe - DVD

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Luca Volpe - His passion for magic began as a young child upon receiving a magic gift box as a Christmas present. Performing his first show at the early age of 12 the magic career of Luca Volpe was born. After six years of performing around Italy he became the youngest magician in the country to be an National Television performing his stunning manipulation and dove act. This led to other programs in Italy such as Maurizio Costanzo Show. Uno Mattina, Buona Domenica and many others on Mediaset and RAI. Volpe has taken his show, "Feel the Real Magic", around the world performing to astounded audiences on board luxury Cruise liners, and for top-class Casinos and Hotels. He is the first Italian magician to introduce street magic in Italy with the highly praised DVD 'Mystica' and with his own show on network satellite called IMAGINA (PLAY TV Sky Satellite) Volpe has received the "Kayenna TV Award" for being the first street performer in Italy to have produced a street magic special. Also composer and songwriter, volpe uses these skills in his show 'Feel the Real Magic' where the elements of music, sleight of hand, dance and comedy are fused with cutting edge illusion leaving the audience spellbound.

Here is something amazing! Get ready to predict things before they take place and not only that but having the prediction inside a balloon, which is the ultimate symbol of intact as nothing can pass in or out. Luca and Titanas bring you the fundamentals and many bonuses for this incredible mind boggling concept!

Imagine this:
You proceed to a complete stranger and hand them a balloon, ask them their name and also to name any card they want. They do so and you ask them to give the balloon a shake. They will hear something inside. You burst the balloon and inside there is only one card, which of course matches the freely selected card, with the spectator's name written on it. That is just a small sample of what is possible with this wonderful concept.

Luca created an amazing DVD with so many ideas utilizing an old concept from the past and brought it to 2009. He succeeded to created many practical professional routines.

Running Time Approximately 44min

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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 2nd, 2010
Let's first start with the production value. Forget about the effect for a moment. The DVD quality is ok at best. The sound was rough in quite a few spots. The menus were tiny and hard to read, but well organized and easy to navigate.

On to the effect itself: The title effect is the second effect on the DVD, so let us take them in order.

Confa(balloon)ation ! (4/5):
If you're familiar with Confabulation then you know the basic effect . . . any three named items are predicted ahead of time by the performer. The prediction is often found in the performers wallet, or an envelope, etc. Guess where they're found in this effect. If you said, "in the spleen of a rabid gerbil," you were wrong, but if you said, "Inside of a balloon that a spectator was holding before the effect started," then you would be correct!

That's a good effect . . . no doubt about it. It's a little odd . . . why the balloon? Volpe gives no reason for the balloon to the spectator. He just walks up to the table and says, "Here I have a balloon. Hold it for me." Certainly direct, but not the smoothest or cleverest approach. Regardless of that, the method for this effect is pretty darn sneaky.

Thought of Card In Balloon (4/5):
The effect is similar in appearance to the above effect. In this case the spectator names any card. The performer then pops the balloon that the spectator has been holding from the beginning. When it pops, out comes a folded up card which is the card named by the spectator. It's a true free choice.

In the performance, Volpe played it as though it were a strolling item. He walked up to a table and performed it. The problem is that you need a pretty elaborate gimmick that sits in your case, and it's not small. He had his case sitting open with the gimmick just nearby the table on a chair. Not a realistic scenario for the strolling worker.

However, for stage, platform, or set shows, this is a brilliant piece. Again, you'll need to provide your own presentation because Volpe does not demo one. He just delivers it as a put-and-take and a tell-the-audience-to-do-this-then-that kind of thing.

Extra Sensory Ballonation (2/5):
This is the same exact effect as the above, however an ESP card appears in the balloon. The major difference is that this is a little more portable, but still not good for strolling, and if you're gonna do ESP stuff . . . what's with the balloon?

Transparent Balloon (1/5):
This is a section where he tells you how to do this with a transparent balloon. Due to the method of the above effects, you need to use black balloons. In this variation with transparent balloons, I'm not even convinced the method will work, and I don't think Volpe is either because he didn't actually show us; he simply just told us about it.

It's quite complex, and additionally, even if it did work, I don't think enough is added to the original effect to warrant the work required to pull it off.

Card and Name - Solo (3/5):
This is another one where we are treated (?) to Volpe sitting in his armchair just telling us about how amazing this effect would be if you were to do it. Granted, in this case, it's not bad, and the method's decent. It may be one of interest to some of you . . . Bring a spectator up on stage, hand the balloon to her. Ask her name and to name a card. Pop the balloon and out comes a folded playing card and a folded index card. The index card has her name on it, and of course the folded card is the named card.

Card and Name - Assistant (3/5):
Same effect as above . . . slightly different method. I'll be if you look at the title, you'll deduce the method.

Signed Card In Balloon (3/5):
This one is tough to explain without being biased but I'll do my best. Let me explain. Years and years ago when Mark Jenest released Miracles While You Wait he had a great trick where he blew up a balloon, gave it the spectator, borrowed a bill, vanished it, had the spectator shake the balloon, and they here something rattling inside. He pops the balloon and bam inside was the borrowed, signed bill.

I saw that effect and I immediately applied a signed card to it rather than the bill. I'd been doing the effect for a while, and considered publishing it, but most people I knew felt it was too similar to Jenest's idea to publish as an original idea, so I declined. About a year or so later, this DVD is release with the very same effect and basically the same method . . . Mark Jenest's method.

Volpe clearly, on more than one occasion, mentions that this DVD and the method for all of the effects was inspired by Jenest as well. I'm ok with that . . . Great Minds Think Alike and all that, but here's where my bias might come out: I don't like part of Volpe's method.

First, he just explains it, and does not do it or even show it. Second, he offers an alternate handling which is similar to the one I use, but again, he just merely explains it. For each method it would have been nice to see his finer points on the handling. Thus I rated it as a 3, because, although the effect is good, the explanation was not.

Stage Version - Board Method (0/5):
It's very rare that I give a 0 rating, but this was silly. It was again Volpe just standing there talking to the camera and telling us about this idea that he doesn't even demonstrate. He doesn't even so much as show us a single prop. He's just a talking head explaining a method that I had to rewind, literally 3 times, just to make sense of it.

Although I understand what he's saying, his method was not at all clear enough to actually reproduce. I don't want to tip his method, but imagine if you bought a video about how to assemble a car. You watch the video only to discover that it's a 3 minute segment of a guy saying, "Well you just get a motor and some wheels and the body and you put everything together . . . you'll need the right tools of course, but it's that simple." That's basically what you get here on this effect.

Final thoughts:
Just a brief commentary about Luca Volpe. He seems like a nice guy and definitely a skilled magician, technician and a decent performer. He's also a creative guy. The only criticism I have of his performing ability is that when the sneaky stuff is about to happen, he clearly gets nervous, frantic, and starts moving way, way, way too fast. It's a tough habit to break; we've all been there, including me.

As for the explanations, I was really hoping for a more solidly put together product. It was low budget for sure, and most of the explanations where just Volpe sitting in some room on a chair talking to us. The majority of this material might as well have been written as a book rather than a DVD. It might have even been more clear because the lighting was pretty rough on the majority of the DVD.

Finally, speaking as one who has produced DVDs, I know the costs involved, and with the poor lighting, poor sound and B-Rated film of him in a chair, I can't imagine it was very expensive to produce, so asking $35.00 for basically 1 trick.

The average of the tricks comes to 2.5. When you factor in the price and the production quality, I'd say, pass on this and get Mark Jenest's DVD Miracles While You Wait. It's not the most earth-shattering DVD either and there are some annoying parts in it too, but you get more effects (more good effects too), and you get the method for everything on this (Thought of Card in Balloon) DVD, plus it's $5.00 cheaper.
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