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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DVD Bionic Coin

"Bionic Coin", a DVD by the German producer Magicshop, is a neat idea but short-circuits on the way from idea to execution, with way too many negatives to leave more than a couple of positives.

So let's start with the positives.

This looks good. No, I take it back; it looks gorgeous. Beautiful. Striking, even. The visuals are outstanding.

And the bits and pieces that make up the presentation are compelling to say the least. A coin is borrowed from a spectator, who signs the coin or makes a mark of some kind on it. On the other side, the performer draws something else (said something being anything which the performer likes). The hands are shown empty because, well, they are, and then the coin is rubbed gently. The mark the performer made has changed and, without any switching, the signed and transformed coin can be handed out for examination.

"Bionic Coin" is also flexible. That mark can vanish completely, or can be one image that changes to another (a small heart drawn with a black marker changes to bright red, a wine glass empties itself... you name it, you can change it). Marks can travel from one side of the coin to the other if you're into that sort of things, or you can just have marks and images mysteriously appear. Really, there's a great deal you can do with this one.

Looks good, really good presentation, flexible... Yeah, that's about it. From here on, it's all downhill.

As can probably be surmised from the DVD cover, this owes a great deal to Paul Harris' "NIght Shades" (the picture of a Kennedy half complete with drawn-on sunglasses was the tip off here). However, unlike Harris' creation which is not only astonishing but quite practical and workable, "Bionic Coin" is too impractical and unworkable to be used for very much astonishment.

The set-up is fairly easy; it won't take long to make it up and you'll only need a few common supplies: scissors, razor blade, a couple of certain somethings... it's pretty much the standard drill for magical arts and crafts. The problem is that you'll need to do this set-up each time you perform; reseting apparently isn't an option. And for my money, neither is getting it to work in the first place.

Here's the deal: I couldn't get the thing to work at all. As near as I can tell, the "certain something" used in Germany is vastly different from the "certain something" used in the US. I tried, I tried hard, but it just wouldn't work. Drawing on past experiences, I went to a specialty house and found a supply that might have worked, but I wasn't willing to shell out $50 for enough of the "certain something" to perform this roughly three million times, especially when I wasn't all that sure it would work in the first place.

Sorry to be so cryptic but you know how it goes, secrets and all that. Suffice to say in you're in someplace other than Germany, you may run into problems getting this to fly.

The instruction is of little help, either. Taking a cue from other non-English-speaking performers, the instructions are provided with no dialogue. Done well, this isn't a hindrance at all: I've learn some of my best material from Sanada, whose videos don't include a word of English but who have mastered the way of conveying their information without the need for and verbiage. Such is not the case here. It's convoluted at times, sometimes so much so that the viewer is left wandering in a daze trying to figure out exactly what's going on and what's supposed to be going on and how it goes along. Frankly, it took a few of viewings before I finally grasped the work involved in pulling this on off and even then I wasn't all that sure of things. Not good, folks. Not good at all.

So where does that leave us with "Bionic Coin"? It looks good, if you can get it to work, and it's flexible, if you can find someplace to perform it where repeating it isn't an issue, and the presentational points are strong, if you can figure out how to perform it in the first place.

All in all, this is one you really have to be jonesing for to make it worth your while and your wealth. For me, it wasn't worth eithe

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