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The Fractal Card Magic DVD Series
I like packet tricks.
I like the minimalism and directness of a trick with just a few cards. Some of the best tricks ever are packet tricks. But packet tricks possess their own set of analytical and presentational problems. As a result, the majority of packet tricks may be interesting, but ultimately of little practical use.
What are the elements of a “perfect” packet trick?
How about: (i) a visually interesting progression of effects; (ii) versatile performing conditions, no difficult moves or angles; (iii) no self-deceptive magician’s methods (like passing off many cards as a lot fewer, two as four counts, or copping off the extra cards at the end of the trick); (iv) a strong, but unexpected climax; and (v) ending clean with all cards fully examinable.
You may have other requirements. I would add for my own benefit that the trick should be reasonably easy to do, and straightforward in construction and execution (not a lot of contingencies or internal handling variations).
This minimal baseline, however, results in a very short list; for example, the ones that come to mind are: Temple’s "Color Monte" (done with regular playing cards, of course), Elmsley’s "Four Card Trick," Duvivier's "Printing," Walton’s "Cascade," and a few others. I could also include Vernon’s "Twisting the Aces," and Daley’s "Last Trick," but here I address stand-alone packet tricks, not tricks with a few cards removed from a regular deck (the list would get a little longer)
The normal trade-off is for more—or better—effect in exchange for some loss of examinability. The degree to which the trade off is acceptable is very much a matter of personal choice. I, for one, feel strongly about ending with no hidden cards, even if some of the cards are gaffed. (There are, of course, some outstanding packet tricks that do not qualify as "perfect.")
Which brings us to "Fractal Card Magic."
Here is a series of packet tricks that I believe meet the above criteria. Better yet, all of them end clean and examinable (with no palming or difficult moves; nothing added or taken away). With these tricks, you can perform a colorful and visually interesting trick, then leave the cards on the table--or even better, hand them out.
Don't think that ending clean and examinable doesn't make a difference--it does. Audiences can tell the difference. It matters. Often though, the trade-off of less effect for more examinability just isn't worth it. So we've settled for a better more visual effect that we quietly slip into our pocket when we're done. Fractal Card Magic seeks to deliver high impact, examinable packet tricks.
The instruction format is designed to appeal to the left and right sides of your brain. Each trick comes with the necessary cards and an instructional DVD with a live performance followed by a detailed explanation. There are extras, too. For example, pop the DVD into your computer and download an e-book with a complete, detailed, fully-illustrated explanation of the trick.
The first three tricks in the series will appear during 2008. "The Royal Scam" is a dizzying set of surprises that not only ends with a rainbow back finish, but an unexpected change to a Royal Flush. "Duplicity" is a small packet thought-card transposition (think "Twisted Sisters"). "Spin Doctor" is a twisting the Aces effect with a number of additional surprises including a rainbow back finish. And all can be examined.
There is more Fractal Card Magic in the works, perhaps DVD, perhaps downloadable.
Coming soon. . .
Q: Where did the phrase "Fractal Card Magic" come from?
Every now and then, the term "packet trick” gets a negative connotation--but I have always liked them. When I was in DC one of my magic colleagues was the great Larry West--of Emerson And West. I have never thought it was uncool to take a packet of cards out of the little wallet , do a trick, and put the cards away. One night at the convention, we brainstormed to try and create create a new term for " packet tricks " –- sometimes a new name can give you a new way of looking at something .
In mathematics, a fractal is "an object or quantity that displays self-similarity, in a somewhat technical sense, on all scales. The object need not exhibit exactly the same structure at all scales, but the same "type" of structures must appear on all scales."
In a non-mathematical sense, tricks with fewer cards than the entire deck would exhibit many of the same characteristics, but on a smaller scale. There would be self-similarity in the sense that the same "structures" (such as transpositions, color-changes, divination of selected cards) could exist without needing the entire deck.
Besides, I like how "fractal" sounds. "Fractal card magic" seems like a good trademark-able name for what we used to call packet tricks.