I got a couple of emails recently, asking about Royal Road and the Platform Magic section. I thought it best to answer them here.
When I sat down and laid out the video course I went through the entire book many times assessing all of the material.
My primary goal was to shoot a course for beginners with material they will actually try in the real world.
After watching video courses on NON-magic subjects I learned that a calm, steady delivery is the best way to teach something like Royal Road so, rather than hurry anything, it became necessary to cut a few items from the book.
Naturally, all the sleights had to stay. Many of the tricks are quite repetitvie as far as effect goes but, while I cut one or two for this reason, the most important aspect of the tricks is that they allow the student to use different sleights. So while a card may be selected and found with a particular sleight in one chapter, in another chapter a card is found using a different sleight later in the book. Not a lot of difference in effect but for the student they both have value.
How the tricks were performed was another key decision. If we used the traditional "magician in front of audience" set-up it would not work for the course. We decided to sit several people at a table and perform for them in a more informal setting because this was much closer to how a beginner would first perform for people - at home, in a restaurant, a bar or at a party.
The idea was to simply show the effect in action, with an audience interacting. The audience were not asked to applaud, just have a good time. Throughout the day they watched every trick in the course!
I also decided not to make changes to the material in the book unless it was for the student's benefit. The double lift is taught as described in the book but an improved method is given because the method in the book is simply not natural.
With the effects I kept it simple, in keeping with the book, but made a few changes where I felt necessary. In a couple of cases, the handlings are quite different but mostly I keep to the book and leave room for the student to apply his own approach.
One of the main reasons I regard this book so highly is that I remember coming up with my own ideas while I originally read the book. While I felt it necessary to update or vary several handlings, it was important not to close off any avenues for creativity on the student's part.
After analysing the essentials of the course, I realized that something needed to go.
In my opinion, most (perhaps all) students of card magic do not find themselves on stage with nothing but a deck of cards until they have progressed further than Royal Road. For this reason I felt my time would be better spent concentrating on sleights and close up effects (the course is already almost nine hours long).
It is also important to remember that I am trying to encourage the student to follow the book and video together so that, by the end of the course, they have all the skills needed to read and learn from the Platform chapter. For the same reason, one or two effects in the course are performed without explanation, not to save time, but so the viewer also refers to the book.
All that being said, I could not complete the project without including two effects from the platform section: Ladies Looking Glass and Three Cards Across. I chose these because they are two of my all-time favourite effects and they can both be performed while seated as well as standing.
Royal Road was a fascinating project for me. As I unraveled the book I found a great deal that I had forgotten or simply missed first time around. Amazingly, when I reviewed the footage last year (three years after taping) I saw other ideas that caught my eye!
Royal Road To Card Magic is a complete course for beginners but it's also a reference - an opportunity to walk back down that road and see what you missed.
It might interest you to know that I have used several effects from Royal Road while performing at the Magic Castle. One effect that I had completely missed first time around is now one of my favourite bar/close up effects - and it's a real fooler. Because of the prop involved I decided to perform another effect in Royal Road using the same prop - and it gets gasps every time! Who knew....