Fractalicious DVD (John Bannon) The John Bannon approach to packet tricks *** INTRODUCTION *** Overview Does a video have the names of John Bannon and Big Blind Media on the cover? Then I want to get hold of it. With his proven track record of success, John Bannon has demonstrated that you don't have to be a professional magician to produce strong material. He has many successful books and videos to his credit, with DVDs like his Move Zero series and his Bullet series, and more recently his Dealing With It series. With Fractalicious (2014), John Bannon teamed up with Liam Montier from Big Blind Media to produce a special DVD that focused entirely on packet tricks. It was in part inspired by content from his small booklet Triabolical (2011), which contained three of the routines taught on the DVD. The video teaches five different packet tricks as the main feature items: Brainiac, Montinator 5.0, Chop Shop, Short Attention Spin, and Spin Doctor. Two bonus routines (Box of Doom and Self-Assembly) are also included. Additionally, it comes with five custom printed cards, which are needed for three of the five main tricks. These aren't self-working tricks like the ones in the Move Zero series, but they aren't difficult, and they show what the brilliance of a mind like John Bannon can produce when applied to the minimalism of a small packet of cards. Background So how did this video come about? Most readers will know that John Bannon is held in very high regard for his clever psychological approach to magic, and the popularity of his excellent Move Zero DVDs is evidence of this. This series of videos is populated entirely with self-working card tricks, many of which rely on clever subtleties, and demonstrate that even if you don't rely on sleight of hand or gimmicks, you can still perform very strong magic. But John Bannon has contributed more than just self-workers to card magic, and he also has a real fondness for packet tricks. He finds their minimalism and directness especially appealing, and when he began exploring this genre, he soon created some popular hits. A case in point is his clever packet trick "Twisted Sisters" (1993), which quickly became one of the top ten most popular packet tricks of its time. Bannon would continue to delve into the world of packet tricks in 2008, when he released his Fractal Card Magic trilogy, a set of three tricks. As he explained in an interview that year, the word "fractal" has its background in mathematics, and has to do with an object that displays self-similarity. John coined the term "fractal magic" as a fresh way of referring to packet tricks, given the fact that the term "packet tricks" has a negative connotation for some. Applied to card magic, his idea with the phrase was that card tricks with a packet bear some self-similarity to card tricks with an entire deck, with common characteristics but on a smaller scale. In Bannon's words: "`Fractal card magic' seems like a good trademark-able name for what we used to call packet tricks. Besides, I like how `fractal' sounds." But not all packet tricks are created equal, and they do create analytical and presentational challenges. Being the thinker that he is, in an essay on the subject of packet tricks, Bannon identified the following requirements that he believes are essential for a "perfect" packet trick, besides being easy to perform and straight-forward to understand: 1. a visually interesting progression of effects 2. versatile performing conditions, no difficult moves or angles 3. 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) 4. a strong, but unexpected climax 5. ending clean with all cards fully examinable Very few packet tricks meet all these criteria, and often there is a trade-off where something has to be compromised. Typically the outcome is that you need gaffed cards. The Fractal Card Magic project was designed to be a series of packet tricks that do meet all these criteria, including ending clean and where everything may be examined. In other words: no gimmicks. The idea was that each trick in the series would come with the necessary cards and also an instructional DVD. Bannon's own description of the three tricks in the Fractal Card Magic series was as follows: ● "The Royal Scam": a dizzying set of surprises that not only ends with a rainbow back finish, but an unexpected change to a Royal Flush. ● "Duplicity": a small packet thought-card transposition (think "Twisted Sisters"). ● "Spin Doctor": a Twisting the Aces effect with a number of additional surprises including a rainbow back finish. The series was a strong success. "The Royal Scam" is still an outstanding packet trick by today's standards, and remains a favourite for many. The excellent "Duplicity" eliminated the need for the non-examinable gaffs used in "Twisted Sisters" while retaining a similar plot. And "Spin Doctor" is a classic Ace trick. The fact that all of these tricks ended with examinable cards made them very strong. With Fractalicious, John Bannon works with these same criteria and builds on his previous creations. He even incorporates one of the tricks (Spin Doctor) from his Fractal Card Magic trilogy, but Fractalicious primarily contains completely new material. With this DVD we get no less than seven great packet tricks, along with instruction for various moves, and some larger discussion and commentary on the genre.