Reality Check by Michael Paul

Discussion in 'Product Questions and Reviews' started by Cliff|Bumgardner, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. Reality Check
    Michael Paul


    Three one on one private lessons that bring you into the creative mind of Michael Paul. You’ll learn three insanely visual (and practical) close up magic effects, along with several variations, moves and subtleties. Learn about proper timing, audience direction, context, framing and much, much more. Are you tired of single trick releases, that only show you how to do some trick you’ll never be able to actually use? Maybe it’s time for a Reality Check!

    Atomic 2.0

    A piece of candy magically appears in a flash of fire. Seconds later, it visually vanishes, leaving it’s wrapper behind (and your fingers empty), only to re-appear where it belongs… in your mouth! First learn multiple variations of the trick, then study the details that make it powerful. You’ll learn about attitude, context, framing and more.


    With no sleeves or pockets used, a half dollar completely vanishes. Both hands are shown with fingers open, front and back. Then the coin is re-produced. No palming, pulls, or sticky stuff. Several mind-blowing vanishes are taught, including a “raven” like version that looks like trick photography.


    A complete ambitious card routine like you’ve never seen before. Featured phases include an ultra-visual face up instant rise, and a test conditions animation of a card to the top of the pack that will blow you and your audiences away. The best part? No gimmicks. As an encore, you stand there, still in front of your audience and allow the spectator’s signature to vanish (in full view from a face up card) with no movement whatsoever. Later, Matt Mello joins the fun, and discusses the routine and its details with Michael Paul in a special jam session.


    The video is quite clear and well done. Everything was shot in Hi-Def and leaves no angle unseen.
    As we've come to expect these days, the time of really bad filming, lighting, and sound is pretty much gone, and Reality Check is no exception. Also, any of you who dislike the jerky "MTV" style shooting will be quite happy, no funky shots, just exactly what needs to be seen.

    Atomic 2.0
    I was quite impressed with this routine for its originality and the theory behind it. There are two versions taught, one gimmicked (but insanely visual) and one that is pure sleight of hand and still looks dang good.

    The gimmicked version uses and easily obtainable little device and makes the routine sleight free. You simply hold a wrapped lifesaver mint, pop it a few times and bam, it vanishes from the wrapper and appears in your mouth. You are totally clean and everything is examinable.

    While I really like this routine, I think the sleight method is more than powerful enough plus you don't have to setup a gimmick.

    The sleight version really only uses one basic sleight that nearly everyone will have in muscle memory. Also with the sleight version you get a flash production of the candy before the vanish, which is not quite possible with the gimmicked version.

    All that said, a version of this routine has found itself put directly into my routine as a prelude to another effect I open with. While it is a simple routine at its core, Michael discusses allot of theory behind it and why it is powerful. I really appreciated his thoughts on the psychology of vanishing the candy from the wrapper instead of vanishing the whole thing. Quite an interesting discussion and a great routine.

    Phantom is Michael's handling of an age old gimmick. That said, do not dismiss this as just a new little polish on something old as it is far from that.

    The gimmick is quite simple and easy to make and I really liked the simplified construction he shows for making it. What this little gimmick will allow you to do is vanish a coin with no sleeves, no ditching, no palming, nothing at all and then show both sides of your hands totally clean and then reproduce the coin.

    Michael teaches multiple vanishes and they all look insane. He also teaches several ways to show your hands including simply gestures and even a hand washing type move than looks beautiful.

    While this vanish looks great, I feel it is more of a "magician pleaser" than anything else.
    When you correctly do a pure sleight of hand coin vanish your audience will get the exact same impression as they will with this effect... So why worry with a gimmick? I most give credit where it is due and say that this is a great effect, I just don't find a big reason to gimmick a coin and then use this when I can do the same thing already.

    U.V.A.C. Ultra Visual Ambitious Card
    Okay, in all honesty this is my least favorite effect on the DVD. Basically you are getting a pretty average ambitious card with a few nice little tweaks.

    The real driving point for this routine is the visual rise finale. Basically you put a post it note on the signed card which allows you to see the card as it rises. Its cool, but I have seen several better rises that look just as good if not better but use nothing extra like the post it.

    The kicker is getting the spectators signature to vanish from the card. The psychology behind the vanish is really cool, but you are left dirty and I just don't really like the idea of vanishing the signature. Personally I far prefer giving the card to the spectator as I know from personal experience that people keep these cards and remember you by them.

    All that said, Michael discusses some psychology behind signing cards and such that was a really interesting thing to watch and I really liked his point. Being I am a theory buff, I found this theory to be worth having this somewhat-average routine.

    After he teaches the routine, Michael sits down with Matthew Mello and basically re-teaches the routine and discusses the moves again in a more conversational way. While this is a great idea, I don't think it was quite carried out as well as it could have been. All in all it just feels like an awkward conversation from an IBM meeting when you already know the routine they're trying to teach.

    Final Thoughts
    Hands down the best feature of this DVD is the in-depth look into the theory of the effects. Many times during the explanations Michael will teach a move and then text will come up referencing the book and page number where this idea can be found in depth, fantastic idea. I really look forward to seeing this idea carried out in bigger projects as it is something many people could benefit from.

    Despite my few problems with the DVD I think it is certainly worth your money if only for the great psychology found in these effects that I really think you will apply to your own routines and magic.

  2. Awesome, thanks so much for the great review. I'm glad you found it to your liking.
  3. i loved the review
  4. I received this package of effects a few weeks ago and wanted to take my time and perform these effects for people rather than just my opinion of them without working them and on doing them for people other than parents or friends. So these are my thoughts on this set, after performing each effect for laypeople several times, from Michael Paul and Mental Playground Productions, so ENJOY, and I hope this helps with anyone on the fence of buying these effects. P.S. I am not biased to Michael Paul at all, I have never seen, or talked to Michael.

    Title: Reality Check

    Creator: Michael Paul

    Produced by: Mental Playground Productions


    Price: Reality Check DVD - $26.99
    Reality Check Download - $25.00
    DVD + Download Package - $31.99

    Other Products by Michael Paul: Simply Devastating, Fed-Exed, Flicker, Real Mind Control pt.1, and soon to be released Urban Legend. These effects can be seen at

    Reality Check contains three effects from the working repertoire of Michael Paul and each one has been audience tested in various environments, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, etc.

    Atomic 2.0:
    Like many of you I saw this effect on the trailer and it completely fried me. I love the visuallness of the effect. It is also like three separate effects in one, a vanish of and object, and penetration of the object through the cellophane, and an impossible location of a mint to your mouth. Michael teaches two different approaches to the effect with various tips and advice for each method. The first method he teaches you produce a fireball candy from a burst of flames. You then proceed to vanish the fireball from within the wrapper and it transports to your mouth. The second method is a bit more visual and you hold a wrapped lifesaver in your hands and it instantaneously vanishes with no cover whatsoever, and appears in your mouth.
    I have always loved Paul Harris’ Lip Smacker effect but Michael has taken Paul’s effect and transformed it into the 21st century. This is one of my favorite effects in the set due to the visuallness and the simplicity behind the effect. A bonus is that Michael teaches various subtle techniques that will enhance not only the effects taught in the set but your magic overall. I also like the way that Mental Playgrounds shows the references to techniques or ideas that Michael has studied and used to enhance his magic.

    Michael does it again. This one really fooled me badly as well. I was sure he had some special pu** tucked away somewhere, but boy was I wrong. Michael takes a gimmick that magicians have been using since the late 1800s and again revamped it to the 21st century. I can see many people using this and enjoying the easy and visual vanish of a coin that Michael teaches. He teaches multiple ways of performing this and multiple convincers and cleanups for this. He also has a sort of Raven type vanish taught as well and is super visual. They also show the effect over the shoulder for easier learning. Now as for me I tried it and for my performing style and where I perform I don’t see myself using this much, but that is just me. A lot of the magic I do is surrounded and this effect has angle and well as some lighting restrictions (which can be eliminated with a tip that Michael gives). I still will carry this with me as it will fit easily in my pocket and not take up hardly any space and wont obscure what I already carry and it will fit right in, so in that case that I am in the right situation I will definitely pull this out and use it. One bit of advice practice, practice, and practice this to get the movements down so they are fluid and natural. As magicians we already get are movements and motions scrutinized when we are performing so if you don’t practice this and commit it to memory the movements can become very awkward and unnatural. So practice this even if you won’t perform this all the time as I will, but when the situation is right I can blow some spectators away.

    This is Michael’s take on the classic Ambitious Card. It is very nicely constructed with a nice beginning and a good end to wrap it all up. It consists of a good number and very visual rises combined with some others that pad the routine. The only problem I have with his routine is that it is not completely impromptu and you have to carry a few other things with you. Now I have my own ambitious card routine that I have been doing for about six years that I use every time I perform, so I wont be picking this up, but for any of you that don’t have a set ambitious card routine this is a great one to learn and will serve you well. With a classic such as ambitious card you want to make sure and learn one that a professional has honed and mastered with years of performing as Michael has. So for those of you that want to learn ambitious card Michael teaches a great one.

    Overall the set is great; you get some great material by a great teacher. Michael not only teaches the effects but he goes further to teach you the subleties that he has develop through years of performing. Also you get some great tips on framing misdirection from Michael. Definitely a good buy and whether a beginner or a professional I can both types and all in between getting a wealth of information as well as some great commercial effects.


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