Move Zero (Vol 1) (John Bannon)
Self-Working Tricks Made Truly Magical with the Genius of John Bannon
Move Zero (Vol 1) is the first in a series of four videos by John Bannon, in which he teams up with Big Blind Media to bring self-working magic to dazzling new heights.
The ad copy states: "John Bannon's Move Zero is undoubtedly the most exciting study of self-working card magic this century." A bold claim, but anyone familiar with John Bannon's body of work will be well aware that he is no ordinary magician.
Introducing John Bannon
Once in a while you come across something incredibly clever, that makes you stand in awe at the creativity and cleverness behind a magic effect. For me, one of those moments was when I first came across "Twisted Sisters" by John Bannon. If you search lists for the most popular packet tricks of all time, you're almost certain to find frequent mention of this gem. The thinking behind it is devilishly clever, and the psychological elements of magic that Bannon introduced me to with this trick really stretched my mind and opened up all kinds of new possibilities. That's the genius of John Bannon for you.
And it's especially when Mr Bannon applies this genius to self-working magic tricks that you get a real sense of his cleverness. Self-working tricks often get an unfair rap in magic. They are sometimes considered the ugly step-sister of the pretty Cinderella known as sleight of hand. Self-workers can hardly be real magic, can they? Ever since we first came across the 21 Card Trick in our childhood, we've associated this branch of card magic with long stretches of counting cards, boring spelling tricks, and complex mathematical calculations. It's not exactly something you'd consider to be exciting magic.
Well, get ready for all that to change. When percolated through the mind of John Bannon, self-workers get a caffeine kick like never before. Folks, welcome to Bannon's caffeine powered Move Zero series of awesome self-working magic!
Introducing the Move Zero series
In this series of four brilliant DVDs, John Bannon will perform and teach you some mind-blowing magic. Many of the routines can also be found in John's 2015 book "Destination Zero", a hardback collection that retails for US$50 and contains 25 completely self-working effects. It's considered to be one of the best recent books on self-working card magic. Amazingly, there's no sleights, and there's zero moves, but that doesn't stop John from constructing magic that is absolutely strong, surprising, and powerful.
In this review, I'll be covering the first volume of the Move Zero series. In this DVD, there's more than 2 hours of footage, including eight great tricks, and many other versatile moves and tips from John. This product is available both as a DVD, and as a digital download. Presented with extremely high production values from Big Blind Media, teacher John Bannon and we his pupils are in good hands. So let me tell you about Move Zero, Vol. 1!
To whet your appetite, see the official trailer for Move Zero Vol. 1 here:
This video can be purchased either as a DVD or as a digital download. My personal preference is for DVD, and this lets you view the entire video as a single play-through, or navigate directly to individual effects, trickbag sections, or interviews. There's a good mix of material, so it makes for pleasant watching to just let the video run and watch it through. Having this video available as a digital download is also a good option, however, because it means you get instant delivery. After an introduction in which John Bannon sets out by defining his understanding of what a self-working trick is, the main content of the video consists of the following:
1. Performances: The section for each trick first features a performance for different spectators. The high production values are immediately evident.
2. Explanations: Then John Bannon explains the trick to BBM's Liam Montier or one of their other team members. During this tutorial section, he not only explains how to do the trick, along with the patter required, but also explains why things are done in a certain way, thus giving insight into the construction of the magic in a way to make it as strong as possible. I also appreciate that the closing sequence for each trick comprehensively covers all the credits, including where the featured trick was first published, as well as where other related tricks and background can be found.
3. Other material: Between the tricks, there are "trick-bag" sections that cover some of the principles and tools that good self-working tricks will use, such as equivoque, basic cuts, and the cross-cut force. In addition there are "interview" sections covering John's thoughts on a range of magic topics in answer to questions put to him.
Sample Effect: Collusion
To promote Move Zero Vol 1, Big Blind Media released the performance video for Collusion, which I consider one of the best tricks of the bunch included on this DVD.
You can watch the entire Collusion routine here, and it gives a good idea of John's style, and the high production values of BBM's video.
Two spectators each secretly select a number between from 1-20, deal that many cards and then mark that place in the deck with a Joker. The two cards adjacent to the Jokers are revealed to create a third card (one selected card represents value, the other represents suit). When the spectators reveal the numbers they've secretly chosen and add them together, amazingly at that place in the deck is the very card created by the two other cards!
Comment: This utilizes a principle from the Karl Fulves' classic Gemini Twins, but takes it to another level, by using the two cards selected to create a third card, which happens to show up at a chosen number in the deck. The overall effect is a variation on the popular Any Card at Any Number (ACAAN) effect. Others have correctly noted that the effect is reminiscent of Chris Mayhew's CAANDY, but it is stronger (especially if you actually shuffle the deck at the beginning), and much, much easier to perform. The set-up and method here is surprisingly simple given how stunning the final reveal is! John also gives some tips about setting up on the fly after the spectator has shuffled.
2. Sort Of Pyschic
The spectator merely thinks of a card chosen from a packet of 16 random cards from a shuffled deck. As a warm up exercise, these are divided into two piles and the spectator tries to use their intuition to guess which pile their card is in. After this is done three times, they perform the real test: cutting the full deck at a random location - which turns out to be their selected card!
Comment: John Bannon says this effect is based on an eight card version he saw Max Maven do. In terms of method, I was immediately reminded of the classic `21 card trick' when I saw this routine, although the average person is unlikely to make this connection. But the presentation here adds some really nice touches, especially the beautiful utilization a force as a two-way out in the final phase; having a spectator cut to their chosen card from a shuffled deck is a very powerful finish. Another strength is that it's a genuinely shuffled deck, and you don't see the faces of the cards throughout the routine.
The spectator selects a card by a series of cuts, and genuinely loses it in the deck. John takes out six cards from the deck, and the spectator narrows these down until only one card remains: their selected card.
Comment: The real value of this trick is everything it lets you do that you never even show the spectator: namely, it allows you to take a shuffled deck and set up a stack that you can use in your next trick (e.g. the four Aces), with this effect being the cover for you to search through the deck and find the cards you need for the stack. Hence the name "ulterior", since you really have an ulterior motive for performing this trick - it's effectively the easiest cull in the world. This trick also introduces and explains the Cut Deeper Force. It also relies on equivoque, and John Bannon has some very helpful tips in this section about how to use equivoque successfully, especially the importance of not introducing the subject of choice or words "choose" or "eliminate", but being deliberately ambiguous. John also believes that deliberately miscalling the selected card before the final reveal also can have benefits for the overall performance, because your spectators realize you aren't setting up a challenge or sucker trick, but it is a larger and playful con game and the magician isn't always to be believed.
4. Prophet Motive
John removes a card from a deck shuffled by the spectator, and after the spectator does a series of shuffles and cuts, the spectator manages to cut exactly to the mate of the previously selected card!
Comment: This trick is extremely easy to do, and really is just a combination of moves like those used in the classic Gemini Twins trick and the Cross Cut Force. However the presentation is key, and because the spectator apparently does all the shuffling, cutting, mixing, and dealing that they like, coming up with the mate of the magician's card can seem like a real miracle. As part of the instruction, John also teaches several false shuffles you can get your spectator to do, including a shuffled Ose Cut; Arthur Finley's Remote Control; and the Rosetta Control. John also explains a brilliant method of expanding the conditions after the dirty work has been done (attributed to Ray Goulet), which is a brilliant concept. Besides the Cross Cut Force, John Bannon also teaches an alternate ending, with the Bluff Oracle that uses a reverse faro as taught in Destination Zero.
5. Ion Man
This trick doesn't use cards, but is an exercise of the imagination with coins. A spectator imagines having three coins in their hand, and guided by the magician, ends up with just one coin, either face up or face down. This then turns out to match exactly the prediction made in advance by the magician.
Comment: This is a basic exercise in equivoque using three objects, and is based on "Positive/Negative" by Max Maven. John Bannon uses a business card containing the coin to be forced, and provides two nice outs for the final phase of heads and tails, both of which ensure there is no heat on the method. This is a fairly simple mentalist routine, and while most people might be familiar with equivoque using three objects, the addition of the heads/tails element makes it seem quite strong.
Two cards previously removed by the magician are announced to be "special cards", and inserted face-up into a deck thoroughly shuffled by the spectator. The spectator then cuts to a card between the two special cards, which are turned over to reveal to be indicators of value and suit, which matches the cut card exactly.
Comment: This is based on a Cameron Francis trick called Annihilation. Even though the method is simple, and the last phase of this trick is a glorified cross-cut force, I was fooled by this trick the first time around, due to the deceptive set-up, and needed to watch it a second time to figure out the secret. The fact that the spectator thoroughly shuffles the deck before the two special cards are inserted means there is no way to force a specific card, right? The presentation here really makes this trick a particularly good one!
7. Four Sided Gemini
Can a triangle have four sides? In this trick, two spectators each pick a number under 20 and deal down that many cards. The magician deals to a card that is the sum of their numbers and produces an Ace, matching the two cards the spectators have dealt to (also Aces), and a final card in the card box, the final Ace.
Comment: This trick uses the same method as Collusion, but here this is used to produce the four Aces. The underlying principle here is again the method used for the classic Gemini Twins by Karl Fulves, but the presentation and outcome makes it feel quite different. I think I prefer Collusion, but this is a nice variation. The four-sided triangle is a presentation idea that originates with a Max Maven effect.
The spectator chooses someone whose birthdate they know. After the deck is shuffled, the magician writes down a secret prediction. The spectator deals cards corresponding to the month, the date, and letters in the name of the person, and then cuts the cards. The cut to card proves to match the written prediction, which says "Happy birthday - lucky card is ..." along with the correct name of the selected card.
Comment: This particular trick got a great reaction from the spectator in the performance, and much of this is due to the clever presentation, which really personalizes the effect. It's really a simple cross cut force, but giving it a great plot and larger context makes the trick seem a whole lot bigger than it really is, and also makes it feel more deceptive. Having spectators shuffle between parts of the deal also adds extra smoke. I particularly like the suggested variation where the prediction has been pre-written in a birthday card in a sealed envelope in advance.
Jay Ose False Cut: This is a nice simple false cut using three stacks, and is easy to learn while being quite deceptive.
Cross Cut: A classic force, and John Bannon explains some important subtleties that are important to it being successful. It shouldn't be underestimated, especially when following the tips recommended by John, by creating a disconnect with the help of time misdirection.
Cut Deeper Force: This involves cutting cards twice, and is similar to the Cross Cut Force in some respects, but is arguably a bit more deceptive in others, including having the advantage of being completely hands off. Bannon makes a good point when he says it is better not to call attention to the procedure by not giving no justification for the cuts in advance, rather than a lame justification; after the moves have been done, you can justify all you like!
Deal & Cross Cut Force: This is like the Cross Cut force, but by having a spectator deal a certain number of cards first, it adds a layer of complexity and confusion which disguises the force. By incorporating the Ray Goulet subtlety taught in Prophet Motive, this becomes even stronger, because it gives the impression the cards have been randomized even more outside of the performer's control.
Spectator Ose Cut: This is where you get your spectator to do the Jay Ose False Cut, but it's important not to characterize what is happening until afterwards. I like the variation he teaches in which you have the spectator shuffle two of the packets, something popularized by John Carey and Ben Earl. It's a move I have used a lot myself since learning it from Carey. This adds extra complexity and deception to the false triple cut.
Remote Control: Arthur Finley's Remote Control is a handy technique that allows your spectator to genuinely riffle shuffle the deck while maintaining control of the top card. John points out that you should observe what your spectator does when shuffling a deck at the start of a routine, and that will tell you whether Remote Control is feasible for them.
Rosetta Control: The Remote Rosetta is is an alternative to the Remote Control for cases where your spectator can't do a riffle shuffle. This involves creating two piles which are each spun around into a rosette, and the spectator then merges two rotated piles together in an apparently random mix up. Bannon also covers using this technique to preserve a small stack at the top of the deck.
Equivoque: Equivoque is a technique has been described by some as "sleight of mouth". John loves the concept and calls himself a student of equivoque. Also called the "magician's choice", he notes that the key to good equivoque is an ambiguous instruction, which is only resolved and clarified after the instruction has been acted on. This section is surprisingly quite brief, but to be fair the tricks that use equivoque explain the concept well.
This is a good collection of tricks, and the beautiful thing about the Move Zero series is how broad it is. Big Blind Media's aim with this project was to make a collection of John Bannon's self-working magic, and they soon realized that he'd produced at least 40 such effects, all of which were very strong and worth including. And so the concept for a four volume Move Zero series was born (read the full story on BBM here). Although some of the tricks included may seem to be variations on a theme, overall there's a good spectrum of magic tricks. There's some overlap in certain aspects of the material, but there's some very strong routines here, with Collusion easily being one of my favourites from this DVD, along with Ban-nihilation, which is also a real fooler. I also really like the potential of Prophet Motive, and the presentational ideas of Perennial.
As John Bannon himself admits, the term self-working can be a misnomer, because every trick needs a good magician to present it well. Some of the tricks taught do require some set-up, although the majority can be performed impromptu. But it's fair to say that what we have here is a collection of genuine self-workers, that rely on cleverness, psychology, and subtleness, and where everything is openly performed, rather than on secret sleights.
Because all the tricks in this collection are self-working, they are well within the scope of beginners to learn. That doesn't mean that the quality of the magic itself is inferior. There's some fine examples of strong magic included here, even though the level of difficulty in learning the tricks is not high. They are relatively easy to perform overall as well. Yet while there is excellent material here that beginners can perform, experienced performers will also find top notch magic that will satisfy them as well.
Self-working doesn't mean weak magic. So don't dismiss this collection just because no sleights are used. These are still top notch card tricks, and when performed well they can really produce a big impact. And you certainly can modify some of these tricks to introduce sleights if you think that makes them stronger, e.g. by replacing some of Bannon's self-working forces with your favourite force.
I really appreciate the presentation and patter that John Banner uses. Much of it is very subtle, reinforcing certain ideas that need to be important in the mind of the spectator; he does this very effectively, and it can make all the difference in performing a trick successfully. John Bannon really knows how to present these tricks well to maximize their impact, and a great deal can be learned from his performances about how to avoid turning these into boring counting tricks. Behind much of his patter are very deliberate choices that emphasize psychological principles, and this kind of thinking is key to being a good magician.
The teaching section consists of a dialogue that John has with Liam Montier and other BBM folks, and it has the feel of a personal sit-down session with a magician. John Bannon has the ability to explain things carefully and slowly, so there's no difficulty whatsoever in learning the tricks based on his instruction. But there's much more value to the teaching sections than just learning the method behind the effect in question. Along the way there are many moments of useful discussion that John has with his fellow magician about why he takes the approach he does, and there's a lot of valuable advice and tips that he passes on that have very wide application, for example about equivoque, or patter. As a result I found the teaching sections tremendously helpful, and even for some of the tricks that I'm not likely to perform myself, there was a wealth of wisdom that I was able to glean and apply to my own routines.
Move Zero isn't just about teaching effects. One thing I really appreciate about this DVD is that in addition to the eight routines that are taught, there are all kinds of extras: interviews, moves, advice. The BBM team has deliberately engaged John to de-construct his methods and the process of his thought. This is incredibly valuable, not just for the useful tips that he passes on, but also for developing your own thinking about magic, and how to craft routines that are truly powerful. It's terrific to have John explain the reasons behind what he does. One of John Bannon's real strengths is his understanding about the psychology of magic, and this video does a good job of helping us understand some of his thought processes and so make us think more maturely about key aspects of magic. You'll also get good instruction about equivoque and performing subtle forces and cuts.
The "Trickbag" sections of the video cover some of the techniques that are foundational to self-working card magic. In these sections Bannon covers things like the Cross Cut Force, Balducci/Cut Deeper Force, and Equivoque - all important concepts that every magician should familiarize themselves with. While not sleights, they are absolutely clever tools worth having in your tool box. The Trickbag sections do repeat some of the material that is also included under the teaching of some specific tricks (e.g. Prophet Motive also teaches the Deal & Cross Cut Force, Spectator Ose Cut, Rosetta, and Remote Control), but I don't think that matters, because it means you can find the material as independent instruction, or where necessary under the trick that requires it.
In these sections of the video, John Bannon shares his thoughts in response to questions on topics like what makes a good trick, his favourite tricks, what got him started in magic, and more. It's fascinating to get his personal insights about his own experiences, background, and perspectives. John Bannon is not a working professional in the magic world, but all his performing is in an amateur context, and so what dictates his own performance choices often is what he is enjoying or working on at that particular moment. That's one of the advantages of being an amateur, and as an amateur myself, I can identify with this philosophy.
The video is 2 hours and 4 minutes in length, and is stellar quality all round. This starts with the video case, which has some very professionally produced graphic design as the cover artwork, and has a list of the contents on the back along with some endorsements and an overview of what the self-working Move Zero series is about. The production quality is absolutely outstanding in every respect, and it is hard to think of a magic video with higher quality cinematography! The filming has been done in a studio, and the lighting and camera work is terrific. Multiple camera angles are used, along with panning and close-ups. A montage of images helps retain interest during longer sections of monologue and commentary from Bannon. At times music has been used to good effect to set a background mood. Everything about the video has been put together extremely well, and Big Blind Media deserves major kudos for their excellent work in producing such a high quality product. Absolutely superb!
There's been a lot of praise for this particular DVD, and I'll start off with some endorsements from some big names in magic:
"A generous insight into a devious mind. Clever, confounding card magic."- R. Paul Wilson
"Great job on the production and the material is excellent. I give this release my highest recommendation!"- Daryl
"A delight to watch, learn and study from. Every effect is so well layered and structured and you will not only learn the ‘how's’ but the all important ‘whys’." - John Carey
"Where others stop digging, Bannon continues, and he comes up with diamonds." - David Regal
"Rich with wonderful thinking and top-notch routines that are all EASY to do." - Peter Duffie
"John Bannon always inspires me – great DVDs – minimum effort, maximum impact – this is the stuff I like!" - Wayne Dobson
What about the working magician or amateur? Here's some more praise about Move Zero Vol 1, which I have gleaned from around the internet from magicians just like you:
"This dvd is outstanding. I can't recommend this enough." - Mike Donaghue
"I have everything John Bannon has written or released in DVD. This has to be one of his best!" - hbenod
"The filming, structure, and content is all top notch. Couldn't recommend this volume enough." - Ben Morris-Rains
"Move Zero 1 and 2 are some of the best magic DVDs I have ever seen." - Jacob Jones
"Enough material here to really look like a miracle worker to your spectators." - Brian Reaves
"So awesome. Not only are you getting Bannon's self working tricks - there are tons of segments weaved throughout that include his theory, thoughts and ideas." - David Kenney
"I have all of the self working series that BBM have put out and I think this is the best of the lot." - hornet
"Fantastic download, top class tricks really well explained. A real gem." - Mick R.
"John Bannon is one in a million. He comes up with some wonderful magic." - Richard C.
"Just what you would expect from Bannon--top notch magic that will fry your audience. And not a sleight in sight!" - Marv L.
"I wish I would have had this DVD to perform some "self-working" miracles with all of the nuances and psychology required, when I was starting in magic. It would have saved me years of wading through many sources and references." - hbenod
Why should you be interested in a video dedicated to self-working card magic? Well, this isn't your ordinary self-working magic and doesn't stoop to the level of mathematical atrocities. It's top quality material that is well constructed and thoughtful, and which really capitalizes on important principles of magic. While being relatively easy to perform, these tricks still have the potential to produce real miracles for your spectator. John Bannon has a real gift in understanding the important psychological aspects of magic that can really strengthen a routine, and there's a great deal that can be learned from his clever and intelligent approach to the subtleties of magic.
From a technical and production point of view, the video itself is outstanding. In almost every respect, Big Blind Media has raised the bar for a quality magic video, and it's difficult to think how a superb production like this could be improved. Combined with strong material from a top notch and clever magic thinker like John Bannon, they have created a real winner with Move Zero. Congratulations all round, and highly recommended!
Want to learn more? Visit the publisher Big Blind Media:
Publisher's page: bigblindmedia.com
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube
Move Zero series: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4 (John Bannon)
Murphy's Magic: This video is also available from your favorite Murphy's Magic retailer [link]
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