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Agus Tjiu: Cross Review
Two Gimmicks, one vinyl wallet, a small paper that "shows" how the gimmick works, less than 5 minutes of "instruction" and $40 bucks. Is it gem or is it rubble? Stay tuned to find out.
The effect is that an "X" is drawn on the back of a signed playing card. The "X" then visually moves about the back of the card. Take a look:
The method relies on a pretty clever gimmick. It's a nearly self-working gimmick that is self-contained. It's a bit knacky to get the proper timing and handling of it mastered and there are lighting and proximity issues to consider. You'll want the spectator to be a few feet away, and you'll definitely want the lighting to not be super bright. If you're in the right lighting and/or distance from the spectator, this thing can look quite freaky. However, you must be very careful with the lighting.
Ad Copy Integrity
Written Ad Copy
The written copy is not accurate in two places. There's one part that needs clarification, however. The claim is made that the cross on the back of the card moves "inches away from you." If "you" is referring to the magician, then this is a true statement. If, however, it's referring to the spectator, then this is not a true statement. The spectator needs to be a few feet, not inches, away.
Another point on the written copy needs some clarification. It claims that after the cross moves, you can hand the card out to the spectator. Actually, that's not quite true. You need to make the cross disappear first. In other words, when you hand the card back to the spectator, there is no cross/X on the back of their card. So the effect is that the cross moves once, then twice, then it is completely removed and ends up drawn as an X on your finger. Thus there is no X on the card when you hand it back.
A method for having the X be on the card at the end of the routine is possible, but in that case, the selection won't be a free one. This was not taught on the DVD, it was just my own thinking on the effect.
Video Ad Copy
The video ad gives a mostly fair representation of what happens. I think that the spectators are too close in the video trailer, but as far as how the effect actually looks, it really is that visual and there really are no flaps, no strings/threads, no magnets, etc. Other than the spectators being too close — at that range, I'm sure they saw the gimmick, especially the performances outside in the sun — I have one other problem. There's a clip of the performer holding the card up to his face and blowing on the card causing the X to move.
While it's true that the X can move that visually and that hands-off, doing it at the face like that is not taught on the DVD. However, I figured that since I learned how the gimmick works that I'd be able to figure out how to do it that way. Nope. If you don't handle the gimmick correctly, the X will move or disappear before you're ready for it to do so. Holding the card up to your face like that makes it much more difficult to control the gimmick. Further, getting the gimmick to that position in the first place will require some handling, but again, none of this is covered on the DVD. Also when holding it at that angle, my experience was that the gimmick was much more visible.
The gimmick is actually very well made and works quite well once you get the knack for it. However, you still have the lighting and proximity issues I mentioned above. Those aren't gimmick quality issues per se. It's just part of what you have to be aware of when you use the gimmick. Also, I should mention that you receive a red-backed version and a blue-backed version. The blue one hides the gimmick much better than the red version. The blue one I would be willing to try with a real audience, but the red one . . . no way. It's way too blatant and in your face.
The DVD is awful. It's 4 minutes and 46 seconds. Here's the break down: 1 minute and 33 seconds for the trailer that I posted above, 50 seconds for another trailer that just sort of shows a complete performance in one shot rather than bouncing back and forth between various performances. That leaves us with only 2 minutes and 23 seconds for the "tutorial." The tutorial has no talking, only text on the screen while some hands on the screen gesture and point to stuff. After watching the tutorial I couldn't get reliable results with the gimmick.
Once I saw the paper that was in the vinyl wallet — the wallet has a diagram on a piece of paper about the size of a playing card — I was able to get it to work more reliably. Then after fiddling around I began to start to get the knack of the gimmick, but there are so many fine points I discovered on my own that help make things go smoothly. None of this stuff was covered in the DVD.
Further, the footage was somewhat grainy with less than stellar lighting, probably a conscious decision to prevent the gaff from being revealed on film. Then there's the annoying background music with no talking and only footnotes on the screen. There just wasn't enough care and time put into making this DVD.
Really, the only thing that's positive about this product is that the effect looks like it does in the trailer, but even that has so many caveats: 1) you have to acquire the knack for the gimmick which is not taught in the DVD, 2) the lighting and distance from the spectator must be just right — this was "hidden" in the trailer and not discussed on the DVD, 3) not everything shown in the trailer is covered in the DVD, etc., etc., etc.
2.5 Stars with a Stone Status of Grubble - a gem of a gimmick that has way too much rubble in the way of learning, mastering and properly using the gimmick.