• Alex Hui

TRICK REVIEW - Snaps by Dan Harlan & David Jonathan

Updated: May 14



Here is my in-depth review of Snaps by Dan Harlan & David Jonathan.


REVIEW PHILOSOPHY


The philosophy is simple: to give you the truth.


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YOUTUBE REVIEW


If you want to watch the review, here is the YouTube version.



WHAT YOU GET?

You will receive two gimmick decks with 56 cards each. All the cards are printed with high-res photos which look like stock photos.

A link to the password protected online instruction is also provided.


QUALITY OF THE CARDS


There are 2 types of decks in the package: 1. Focus Deck 2. Iconic Deck.


The cards in Focus Deck comes with images which look like alphabet letters. The letters are disguised very well, and thus the audience won’t recognise them at casual look. One card is a double backer. And there is a double facer with the letter ‘O’ images on both sides. The letter distribution is thoughtful with more cards (3) for some common letters. While for letter ‘V’, ’X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’, it only comes with 1 image card for each. 

The cards in Iconic Deck comprises several types of images: 1. ESP symbol 2. Number 3. Animal 4. Card Suit 5. Miscellaneous Cards


For each ESP symbol and Number, there are 2 image cards. There are 7 animal cards and 13 miscellaneous cards which can be used for various effects. 

The printing of the cards is top-notch. The image quality is good and most of them look like authentic stock photos. 


Both decks are also marked on the back so that you can divine the card by just looking at the back. The markings are very well disguised with good readability. They are marked at 4 positions and can be read while the cards are spread. However, there is memorization involved if you want to know the full context of the cards (e.g. the exact image). 


Besides the marking for individual cards, both decks are one-way deck so that you know the orientation of the cards. And back design of both deck is slightly different, so that you know which deck the card comes from.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the quality of the cards. They are versatile, nicely printed, and very professionally made.

EFFECT OVERVIEW 


Photo Sensory Perception

  • 2 spectators each shuffles a packet of cards and select one. They exchange the selection and shuffle it into their packets. The performer takes both decks and reveal the selection. 


The Stop Speller

  • A spectator deal some cards on the table and stop anywhere he likes. The stopped card has the ’STOP’ image on it. Then that card is inserted into the deck anywhere, and the 4 cards next to it spell the word ’STOP’.

Photo Prophecy

  • A card is freely selected by Spectator A and put into an envelope. Spectator B selects another card and put it anywhere in the deck. Both cards are found to match exactly. And the 4 cards next to the selection by Spectator B spell the word of the image.

A Picture’s Worth

  • A bunch of cards are picked and shuffled by audience. The cards are then inserted randomly into different pages just like a bookmark. Then a spectator on the stage helps to remove one card at a time until two cards remain in the book. Then she can pick either card freely so that there is only one card remain in the book. The volunteer opens the book at that page and think of a word which she can visualize in the first sentence. Then the card which bookmarked that page is found to have the exact image. The remaining cards are then revealed to spell the exact image.

The Animals

  • A packet of cards containing image of animal are shuffled with the instruction of spectator. The spectator picks any animal mentally. And he spells the name of the animal by dealing cards one by one, and end with the mentally selected animal.  

Will the Photos Match?

  • A spectator cut a packet of 10 cards a few times. Then he separate the cards into 2 equal piles. After some random dealing procedures with the words in ‘Will The Photos Match?’, 5 pairs of cards on the table match exactly. 


Psy Force

  • A routine using some miscellaneous cards for force an image to spectator. There are 6 images used in this routine.


What’s For Dinner? 

  • This effect uses only 1 card. There are couples of food in the image and a spectator mentally selects one. Then the performer point to each food one at a time and asks spectator to mentally spell the food. When spectator stops spelling, the performer is pointing at the selected food.


What’s My Name?

  • A dozens of pairs of cards are distributed on the table. A spectator randomly picks them up and form a pile. Then he can freely cut and randomly turn some cards over. Despite this chaotic situation, the performer is able to tell how many cards are face-up. And those face-up cards are revealed to spell the spectator’s name. 


Where’s George?

  • A dollar bill is borrowed from a spectator. Then a few image cards are selected by spectator and shuffled. Despite the fair procedure, the selected reveals the serial number of the bill in an astonishing fashion. 


Photo Finish

  • A spectator shuffle a deck of cards and randomly pulls one card out. Then the spectator deals the image card into a packet and later separate them into two. The top two cards are turned over to reveal the selection.


Push

  • A card (let’s say baseball) is randomly selected by a spectator and remembered. This is held between the palms of the spectator. Then another card (let’s say knife) is selected by the rest of the audience. The performer announced that he will push the image into the first spectator’s mind. Now the first spectator is asked to name the image selected, it is the second card selected by the rest of the audience!

Multiple Exposure 

  • 4 spectators select an image card for their own. Then the performer is able to reveal all the cards. As kicker, it is revealed the cards spell the word ‘CAR’ with the final image being a car. 


QUALITY OF THE TUTORIAL

The explanation comes as online tutorial on Penguin Magic website. It is downloadable on your device, though it’s only limited to 540p. 

The effect is well explained in a 2 hrs and 41 minutes and 38 seconds long video. The explanation is hosted by Dan Harlan & David Jonathan. The video  is shot in studio with multiple angles. The explanation is extremely clear and effects are demonstrated in great details. There are also live performance in Penguin Studio for each effect. It’s good to see live audience reaction.  

Length (in minutes) of the main parts (I literally counted): 

  • Trailer - 1:25

  • Introduction - 11:42

  • Photo Sensory Perception - 17:07

  • The Stop Speller - 7;12

  • Photo Prophecy - 9:46

  • A Picture’s Worth - 19:44

  • The Animals - 6:13 Spelling 

  • Will the Photos Match? - 7:27

  • What’s My Name? - 11:24 

  • Where’s George? - 23:38

  • Photo Finish - 8:46

  • Push - 10:36 

  • Multiple Exposure - 12:14


There are 12 tricks comes with this product. While most tricks are done with either of the decks, there are 4 tricks which need cards from both decks. 

Interesting, though the cards are marked, there is only 1 effect which uses the marking in the whole tutorial. Therefore, you don’t have to concern about the readability of the marking for most of the tricks here. As for the trick using the marking (Photo Sensory Perception), there is a lot of time for performer to read the marks. Besides, it only involves the easiest mark on the card, thus there is nothing to remember in this case. 

An advantage of tricks taught of this video is that most can be done in with parlour or close-up setting. Except 3 tricks which need more than 1 audience, other effects can be done for a single spectator if you wish. 


As you may expect, many tricks involved revealing the letters at the end as the effect. Take ‘A Picture’s Worth’ as example, it is a book test with the revelation of mentally selected word revealed by a bunch of cards randomly picked by audience. The first revelation of the word uses the picture card as it is, then there comes the kicker revelation. This is the type of effects you will see often in this tutorial, and I think it is the strongest application. There are 6 effects like this and most of them are excellent. However, ’The Stop Speller’ and ‘Photo Prophecy’ look very similar though they are good. I just wonder why they are taught back-to-back while both creators do not aware the extreme similarity of both tricks. 



There are 3 tricks involve spelling. They are 'The Animals’, 'Will the Photos Match?’, and 'What’s For Dinner?’. They are all excellent. 'What’s For Dinner?’ is especially interesting because it can be done with a single card. But for non-English speaking audience, it’s hard to use these tricks because it’s just awkward to ’spell’ cards. Also, for the effect ’The Animals’, I don’t think revealing the animal in advance by spectator is necessary because he will stop at the thought-of animal after all. The same approach used in 'What’s For Dinner?’ should be used.

Lastly, the moves for most tricks are manageable. But for the strongest trick (‘Push’) in this tutorial, it involves a move which may be difficult for some performers.


To conclude, the tutorial is supremely done in many aspects. Both Dan Harlan & David Jonathan have done a great job demonstrating the effects in front of real audience. They also made the learning process pleasant by giving you all the details of the effects. Selection of effects is also nice. I don’t see any obvious fillers among these 12 tricks. There will be something for you to use for sure. 

DIFFICULTY

Almost all the tricks are quite easy though they are not meant for total beginners (except for a few tricks). All effects start and end clean. Some are even semi-automatic. However, some of the strongest tricks involves longer procedures which may need better presentation to make them work nicely.


EXAMINABLE?


All the cards can be examined without issue. Since the markings are well hidden, there is nothing for audience to find even if they compare the cards side by side. 

PROS ABOUT THE PRODUCT

  • Decks are nicely printed with a lot of features.

  • The tutorial is crystal clear. And the effects are very well constructed. 

  • The decks are very versatile. Many card effects can be done with them. 

  • Very reasonable prices


CONS ABOUT THE PRODUCT


  • Memorization is needed to read the marks. 

  • Though the decks are very versatile, but it’s also challenging to come up with tricks for these decks.


FINAL VERDICT


Snaps by Dan Harlan & David Jonathan gives me many surprises in terms of the creativity and possibilities. For card magicians who want refreshing elements in performances, Snaps provides a nice alternative to many classic card effects. If you have a good repertoire, it is not hard to translate some impressive effects into something ’new’ with these decks. 


Dan Harlan & David Jonathan have provided many nice ideas for you to kick start your creative process. And I think even if you only perform the tricks in the tutorial, it totally worth the price of the product. 


At current price of  $39.95, it has my highest recommendation to any magicians, professional and hobbyist.


  • Video Quality: 10/10

  • Effectiveness of Tricks: 10/10

  • Practical: 9/10

  • Creativity: 9/10

  • Cost Performance: 10/10

  • Final Score: 10/10

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