There is no hate in my posts. Only observations about a trend in magic and concern about where it will lead.
There is a growing trend where the focus is on video editing and look/feel/vibe over quality/content. Evidence? How about any DVD release where the trick looks great from the one angle the webcam is held, but one cannot effectively get into or out of the trick. Nevertheless, because the video "looks good" people praise the trick - when (as David Alexander pointed out) it is for any intent and practical purposes useless in the real world.
When I was getting my degree in music, my teacher said, "The most important thing is the sound. Even if you miss notes, they can still say, "you sounded good." Well, in music thats a good thing. In the world of magic on video, it seems that it is more important that something "look good" than "be good." And I'm not even talking about the tricks and how they play. Poorly executed magic, when wrapped in a pretty package, still gets "your video looks good" from a percentage of the magic world. (Largely statements made on the cafe and youtube). Sadly, the veneer hides the quality of the substance. There are more important considerations in the world of magic than "your video looks good." If you are selling magic, we need to know that the tricks ARE good, that they are practical, and that the teacher can get through them from start to finish, this is not always the case.
So, there's the problem.
But to Chris's tape, he has collected a series of strong visual moments (not tricks, but moments) many of which read well on the screen. His handling of the color changes and double lift work is ok, but nothing extraordinary or even what I would consider having hit the bar to shoot for.
However, if this is meant to tease something else, I would need to know more.
Is it meant to generate work in the real world? In that case, it fails. Buyers don't hire hands, they hire people. Magic is a vehicle for a relationship between people. At no point in this video can I tell anything about the type of person Chris is, how he would act around my guests or my friends, and how he would manage any social dynamic involving the introduction of magic as entertainment. Couple that with the fact that the style and music choices would alienate a large portion of the public with the means to afford quality magic, and you have a video that I think would limit a performer's acceptance in the commercial (meaning, performance) marketplace. Finally, I see no real connection between the aesthetic elements of the video (music, feel, etc.) and the magic itself. This would lead me to believe that this person has not considered the larger picture of his or her magic. As Max Maven has said, "Everything Matters." Just because one uses urban music doesn't make their act cutting edge. I once saw a performer whose intro bragged that he was changing the face of magic. Well, doing a dove act while wearing leather is not changing the face of anything. I see standard card tricks, MTV style editing, and hear music with an edge. What am I to think about this person's magic? That it is edgey? Well, its not. It's card tricks. Should I think that he is hip? I don't know. All I see are hands. So, the package seems more of a pastiche than a presentation.
If his goal is to tease a video of instructional material, I would still say this fails. If we think of magic as the adventure of the props in the performers hands and we are merely looking for new ways to combine Hamman moves and double lifts, then this video conveys that. However, magic is more about a sequence of moves. It is about producing moments in which people are engaged and hopefully transformed - or at the very least amused. That takes relationship. It takes interaction. That is what I need to be a magician. That is what the best instructional materials provide - a better insight into the art of performing magic - while also teaching new, novel, and engaging material.
We get none of that from this teaser.
We see some well known card changes, a couple of variant changes, and a series of "routines" that are close enough to the originals to be instantly recognizable. Based solely on the DVD, I would be lead to suspect this represented the body of work to be contained. As Michael Close wrote, there are too many products offering not improvement, nor even variation, but personalizations. Consequentially, I would not feel any compelling desire to purchase the DVD it teases.
Now, as to offering something to help Chris move forward, I would suggest, "Slow Down." There is no good reason in the world for anyone to release a magic DVD, especially at the beginning of their career. If your goal is mercenary, then there is nothing I have to say. That is an attitude which I am not interested in. But, many young people think that there is fame to be found in the release of a magic DVD. Sadly, this has become somewhat true.
Years ago, people built a career PERFORMING for a living, developing a reputation for having original, novel material. Then, at some point, they released it and we all benefited from their years of experience.
Today, people create ideas with the sole purpose of selling them. They "Beta test" them, then ship them out. Of course, once they reach the marketplace, people start asking questions, finding problems, and seeing better methods and presentations. So, they create a web forum so others can share their work - work the "creator" should have done long before considering release.
Sadly, these people are still seen in our field as creative performers? Why? Well, because most people have not taken the time to learn the history of their art and the ideas on which it is founded. Most people don't take the time to really learn the tricks they buy. A visit to the Magic Cafe will reveal that - recently a self-proclaimed "rope magic expert" confessed he had no idea who Sands was and knew nothing of his routine. Other posts revealed that he had no idea where certain ideas had come from - attributing them to the most recent person to put them on DVD, rather than their creator. When this was pointed out, those posts were removed. I guess it is more important to be "nice" than protect the historical record. Nevertheless, this person speaks with authority and others look to him for advice.
Further, many people look at whatever incarnation of any routine and assume that the latest is the greatest without ever checking for themselves. They look at a 21 year old's watered down handling of one of Barrie Richardson's brilliant, mind thumping, card routines and they herald it as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It does not matter that all of the psychology, the drama, and structure has been stripped away leaving only a course move that occurs under the cover of grotesque hand waving and at the wrong moment.
Nevertheless, people praise this bastard routine, calling it by it's "creator's" name, and yet have no idea that there is something out there which is so much better.
So, the person with the hot little video becomes idolized and the person who created a stunning routine which he has honed over thousands of performances gets forgotten. Maybe if he put out a video?!?
People don;t take the time to find out, follow credits, or learn what is already out - instead they choose to fantasize about what is due. As Michael CLose observed - you see them posting every day with baited breath, waiting for the latest book to come out. FInally, when it ships, you see the same people posting with baited breath waiting for the next book. No discussion of the tricks. Not commentary. Just something to put on their shelf.
The point is, just because someone becomes famous in our little world means nothing about them as a person or as a magician. Many assume that these "magic stars" perform their material in the real world, but independent verification reveals they do not. They created it for the sake of creating it. Why? To be famous? To make a buck? Because they want to give back to magic?
I suspect the former. However, if Chris really believes he wants to create an instructional video to give something back to magic, then he should wait. He should perform this material not for 2 years, but for 20. He should offer full routines, show us how he handles his audience, how he engages them, and transforms them. Sure, he may not appeal to the YouTube crowd, but the YouTube crowd isn't the group out there PERFORMING for real people - where magic is meant to be done.
In that 20 years, he should heed Michael Weber's advice: Before you write one book, you must read 100. I personally think the number of books should be raised to at LEAST 250 before you put out a DVD, AND you should have clicked in a couple thousand performances of each of your close up tricks. My close up reperatoire has been essentially the same for over 17 years. Nevertheless, I still find moments that can be improved, aspects of each routine to tweak. Had I released my ideas 17 years ago, I would have just added to the pile of average stuff for sale. That is not the way to "give back" to magic.
Until someone has put in that type of time, all the advice from experts - some with performing experience, some only with manufactured magic world fame - really gets YOU as the performer nowhere. What matters is what you have learned in the real world, from succeeding and from failing.
That takes more than a video camera and more than 2 years.