TRICK REVIEW - Notepad by Jean-Pierre Vallarino
Updated: May 14
Here is my in-depth review of Notepad by Jean-Pierre Vallarino.
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If you want to watch the YouTube review, here it is. But this blog review covers more details cos YouTube version is Quick Look this time.
WHAT YOU GET?
You will get 15-page mini notepad measuring at 8.0 cm x 9.8 cm. And there are additional 14 refiling pages.
A link to the online instruction is also provided.
QUALITY OF THE GIMMICK
The notepad is very small and thus it can be handled easily with even small hands. The cover pattern of the notepad is 'scale motifs' and looks ordinary.
It uses heavy paper stock. However, the cutting is a bit inconsistent from page to page, and thus somehow the production quality feels low in hands.
As for the gimmick, it is nicely constructed that it is almost undetectable in spectators’ hands. It is low profile and thus not suspicious. It doesn’t require any maintenance and should also very long time. However, to refill paper, you need to open the spiral ring, which is difficult to operate. And it’s easy to damage the gimmick if you are not careful enough.
In general, the gimmick is not exciting at all. It serves the purpose well but is not a must to perform this effect. Strictly speaking, you don’t need this device to accomplish the effect. And there are several additional issues which I will discuss later.
QUALITY OF THE TUTORIAL
The explanation comes as online tutorial on Murphy’s Magic site. It is downloadable on your device.
The effect is well explained in a 23 minutes and 57 seconds long video. The explanation is hosted by Jean-Pierre Vallarino and a magician translator (he is Damien Magicien). The video is very home-made with the camera shoot from their backs. Explanation by Mr. Vallarino is in French and the translator will follow with the translation. Sometimes the translator takes the lead and explains. There are moments when both suddenly discuss in French with no translation afterwards.
For each session, I will give it a name because it is not named on the instructional video.
Length (in minutes) of the main parts (I literally counted):
Gimmick - 1:10
Preparation - 5:15
Main Routine - 5:06
A Piece of Advice - 0:33
Refiling - 4:10
Bonus Routine - 7:43
In ‘Gimmick’, Mr. Vallarino gives viewers a general concept on how the gimmick operate. Then he follows by explaining the setup for the routine. While the gimmick is very easy to understand, I think the setup is not thoughtful enough. It’s do-able with what suggested by Mr. Vallarino. However, it seems that he doesn’t think deeply enough to capitalize on the opportunity in the setup. As an accomplished and skillful card magician. it is quite surprising that Mr. Vallarino has not incorporated his understanding of audience in this setup. If you own the effect and understand what I am implying here, I think you will agree that much more could be done for the setup.
The explanation for Main Routine is quite messy. What explained is not what you saw on the trailer (though the reason is mentioned). In fact, there 2 main differences:
The effect is off-hands in trailer but Mr. Vallarino taught you an approach which you need to touch the notepad.
Audience filled all the numbers in trailer, but Mr. Vallarino tells you to fill a number yourself (even make the calculation) in tutorial.
There are 2 very serious problems if you follow what the instruction has told you.
First, if the performer ever touches the notepad once, he doesn’t need the gimmick at all! You can do it without gimmick and achieve the exact effect.
Second, if the performer filled in a number, it’s not the same effect which we may want to buy anymore. And I believe the same (gimmick-less) approach has been published before.
Therefore, I literally had a deep shock when I was watching the instruction. What was taught is not the routine described on the ad.
In ‘Advice’ section, a way was introduced to let you re-use the paper with the filled numbers. This advice is quite helpful because it’s really risky to refill the paper because of the structure of the spiral ring. For each performance, you need to refill once. And I don’t believe that the spiral ring or the gimmick will look the same after 20-30 performances. However, this advice will not solve the problem at once. You still need to refill the paper after several performances.
As for the Bonus Routine, it’s something I immediately thought of when I felt disappointed in the middle of the video. And no body will disagree that this bonus routine (or similar routines) must be the things that inspired this effect. Therefore, I am not particularly happy with this bonus routine unless the learners know almost nothing about mentalism.
To conclude, while the effect is promising, it seems that Mr. Vallarino has lost his direction on what he wanted to achieve with this effect. The strength which was promised is not what you get from the tutorial. After watching the tutorial, the viewers have to digest the whole effect again and think about the way to properly utilize the gimmick.
There is no sleight-of-hand involved at all. However, audience management is crucial because you don’t want the audience to be too amazed about the effect (yeah, I know this statement is kinda strange, but this is true). You want to avoid too much interaction between your spectators.
The notepad is not examinable but it can be handled casually by spectators.
It takes about 2-4 minutes to reset. However, if you use the advice in the tutorial, it takes about 1 minute. But it doesn’t work every time. If you use this for strolling, at some points you still need more time to reset.
The ideal ‘minimal’ audience is 3 persons. But the most ideal audience size is like 8-10 people. And you don’t want to have very close friends/family which will discuss your effect eagerly afterwards.
There is no angle restriction.
No special clothing is needed.
ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECT
I will include my analysis of the effect in my product review. In this analysis, I will present my view on the strength and weakness of the effect. And will also go deeper with magic theory in mind.
Letting spectators to write a card each, circle one, and locate the same card at the position which is derived from all spectators’ cards is in fact a very strong effect. Though the procedure taught cannot achieve this effect, but it can actually be done with alternative handling. You can ask 3-4 spectators to write a card first, and ask another spectator, who hasn’t written any card, to calculate the total. By doing this, you can achieve the exact same effect advertised.
However, as discussed above, audience management is important. Hence, it seems that this effect is more ideal in parlour performance rather than close-up environment.
* The gimmick is versatile, and low profile enough to be undetectable. Therefore, try to come up with other ideas. This is most ideal for effects which the performer doesn’t touch anything at all.
PROS ABOUT THE PRODUCT
Almost no sleight-of-hand is required.
The gimmick is well built and functions nicely.
The effect is very strong if done right.
CONS ABOUT THE PRODUCT
It’s easy to damage the gimmick accidentally during paper refiling.
The tutorial is quite messy. The routine taught on the video is not the exact routine on the trailer.
Audience management is difficult in close-up setting.
I want to like this product. But the execution of this project is not thoughtful enough for even Mr. Vallarino’s fan (I am) to love it.
In general, the effect is very strong, but it suffers from too many subtle restrictions which may eventually ruin the effect.
For experienced performers, you will surely find some uses of this gimmick. However, it’s not essentially an interesting gimmick. Probably you have already owned something very similar.
For beginners, it’s quite challenging to use well if their only resource is the instructional video provided.
At US$35, I am hesitated to recommend this to my readers. You may be able to get something much more promising elsewhere.
Video Quality: 4/10
Effectiveness of Tricks: 8/10
Cost Performance: 6/10
Final Score: 5/10
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