A Second Volume of John Bannon's Self-Working Genius
Move Zero (Vol 2) is the second in a series of four videos by John Bannon, in which he teams up with Big Blind Media to bring self-working magic to dazzling new heights. Anyone familiar with John Bannon's body of work will be well aware that he is no ordinary magician. It's especially when Mr Bannon applies his genius to self-working magic tricks that you get a real sense of his cleverness. Self-working tricks often get an unfair rap in magic, but when percolated through the mind of John Bannon, they get a caffeine kick like never before. In this series of four brilliant DVDs, John Bannon will perform and teach you some mind-blowing magic.
The main content of the video consists of the following:
- Performances: The section for each trick first features a performance for different spectators.
- Explanations: During the tutorial section, John Bannon not only explains how to do the trick, but also explains why things are done in a certain way, thus giving insight into the construction of the magic in a way to make it as strong as possible. As a nice touch, the closing sequence for each trick comprehensively covers all the credits.
- Other material: Between the tricks, there are "trick-bag" sections that cover some of the principles and tools that good self-working tricks will use, such as equivoque, basic cuts, and the cross-cut force. There are also "interview" sections covering John's thoughts on a range of magic topics in answer to questions put to him.
1. Content: Like Volume 1, this is a good collection of self-working tricks. Big Blind Media's aim with the Move Zero project was to make a collection of John Bannon's self-working magic, and they soon realized that he'd produced at least 40 such effects, all of which they considered to be strong and worth including. A number of the tricks are variations on similar themes, and rely on similar mechanics - in this case the Balducci Force. But despite the fact that there is some overlap in material, overall there's still a good spectrum of magic tricks, and the variations do enable you to select the tricks that you think works best for you, rather than including all of these into your repertoire. I especially liked 51 Fat Chances, Chronic, Dead Reckoning, AK47, Bannon Triumph, and Free Willy.
2. Self-working: As John Bannon himself admits, the term self-working can be a misnomer, because every trick needs a good magician to present it well. Some of the tricks taught do require some set-up, although the majority can be performed impromptu. But it's fair to say that what we have here is a collection of genuine self-workers, that rely on cleverness, psychology, and subtleness, and where everything is openly performed, rather than on secret sleights.
3. Difficulty: Because all the tricks in this collection are self-working, they are well within the scope of beginners to learn. That doesn't mean that the quality of the magic itself is inferior. There's some fine examples of strong magic included here, even though the level of difficulty in learning the tricks is not high. They are relatively easy to perform overall as well. Yet while there is excellent material here that beginners can perform, experienced performers will also find top notch magic that will satisfy them as well.
4. Powerful: Self-working doesn't mean weak magic. So don't dismiss this collection just because no sleights are used. There are still some top notch card tricks included, and when performed well they can really produce a big impact. And you certainly can modify some of these tricks to introduce sleights if you think that makes them stronger, e.g. by replacing some of Bannon's self-working forces with your favourite force.
5. Psychology: I really appreciate the presentation and patter that John Banner uses. Much of it is very subtle, reinforcing certain ideas that need to be important in the mind of the spectator; he does this very effectively, and it can make all the difference in performing a trick successfully. John Bannon really knows how to present these tricks well to maximize their impact, and a great deal can be learned from his performances about how to avoid turning these into boring counting tricks. Behind much of his patter are very deliberate choices that emphasize psychological principles, and this kind of thinking is key to being a good magician.
6. Explanations: The teaching section consists of a dialogue that John has with various BBM personnel, and has the feel of a personal sit-down session with a magician. Bannon has the ability to explain things carefully and slowly, so there's no difficulty whatsoever in learning the tricks based on his instruction. But there's much more value to the teaching sections than just learning the method behind the effect in question, because along the way there are many moments of useful discussion that John has with his fellow magician about why he takes the approach he does. So there's a lot of valuable advice and tips that he passes on that have application beyond the trick you're learning, and which you can apply to other routines.
7. Teaching: One thing I really appreciate about this series is that in addition to the routines that are taught, there are extras like interviews and advice. The BBM team knows that John Bannon is highly respected for his understanding about the psychology of magic,and so they've found ways to have him de-construct his methods and share his thought process with us. This will help you develop your own thinking about magic, make us think more maturely about key aspects of magic, and so learn how to craft routines that are genuinely powerful.
8. Utility Moves: The "Trickbag" sections of the video cover some of the techniques that are foundational to self-working card magic. In these sections Bannon covers things like the Balducci Force, Jay Ose False Cut, and Breather Crimp - all useful tools in the right situation. The Trickbag sections do repeat some material already included under the teaching of specific tricks, but I don't think this duplication matters, because it means that you'll learn all you need to know in the explanation of the trick, or you can access the teaching material on a move independently.
9. Interviews: In these sections of the video, John Bannon shares his thoughts in response to questions on topics like his typical process in how he goes about creating new magic, his favourite moves (the Bullet Count - although he tends to prefer trick construction rather than technique), and what have been major inspirations for his magic. I especially enjoyed his emphasis on needing to understand what you like in magic and being able to articulate why, so that you can be selective and critical in your reading. He also gives a hint about his plans for a retrospective collection that covers all his work, to be entitled Cardzilla. But in his own words, he's not dead yet, and first he has some more tricks up his sleeve for further magic releases!
10. Production values: The stellar production of this video is immediately evident with the video case, which features a professionally produced graphic design as the cover artwork, and on the back a list and overview of the contents. The production quality is absolutely outstanding in every respect, and it is hard to think of magic videos that have higher production values that ones like these from BBM. The filming has been done in a studio, and the lighting and camera work is terrific. Multiple camera angles are used, along with panning and close-ups. A montage of images helps retain interest during longer sections of monologue and commentary from Bannon. At times music has been used to good effect to set a background mood. Everything about the video has been put together extremely well, and Big Blind Media deserves major kudos for their excellent work in producing such a high quality product.
Why should you be interested in another video dedicated to self-working card magic? Well, this isn't your ordinary self-working magic and doesn't stoop to the level of mathematical atrocities. The Move Zero series offers top quality material that is well constructed and thoughtful, and which really capitalizes on important principles of magic. While being relatively easy to perform, these tricks still have the potential to produce real miracles for your spectator. John Bannon has a real gift in understanding the important psychological aspects of magic that can really strengthen a routine, and there's a great deal that can be learned from his clever and intelligent approach to the subtleties of magic.
From a technical and production point of view, the video itself is outstanding. In almost every respect, Big Blind Media has raised the bar for a quality magic video, and it's difficult to think how a superb production like this could be improved. Combined with strong material from a top notch and clever magic thinker like John Bannon, they have created a real winner with Move Zero. And Volume 2 is every bit as good as Volume 1. Congratulations all round, and highly recommended!