Royal Road to Card Magic DVD (Rudy Hunter)
A teaching companion to the classic book, and the ideal course for learning all the fundamentals of card magic
"The Royal Road to Card Magic" by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue is a classic text book that continues to be recommended by many as the place to begin a serious journey into card magic, as an ideal course for learning all the fundamentals of card magic. But the problem is that this book is somewhat dated. Furthermore, sometimes it can be difficult to learn something from printed text alone, and it can really be of benefit to see a trick being performed and taught on video.
I grew up in an era when videos weren't as readily available or affordable as what they are today, and I struggled my way through parts of the Royal Road to Card Magic book, trying to visualize the moves that were being described and pictured, and not always getting things right. In contrast my son is a young magician of the new generation, and he has the benefit of being able to easily access videos, and as a result he has been developing much more rapidly with his card magic than I ever could have done in my time. This DVD is a fine addition to the modern repository of video materials that can serve as very helpful companions to classic written works, and in some cases can even replace them, and is an excellent place for relatively newcomers to magic to learn the essentials of card magic.
Why this review? It's true that this product has been out for a while, but there's a new generation of young magicians who aren't familiar with classic works like The Royal Road to Card Magic, and are relying on youtube videos to get them started with card magic, often developing poor techniques in the process. I'm hoping that a review like this will be a resource that others can point them to, and make them interested in a classic work that is one of the best ways to learn the fundamentals of card magic. Furthermore, I'm passionate about card magic and about writing reviews, so when I come across a great product like this that has been very helpful to me, I love to write about it and to share with others. After all, this isn't an out-of-print product that is hard to get, but is something that is still readily available and on the market. I'm hoping that I can provide a useful service to others here by contributing some detailed information that goes beyond a short review which doesn't say much more than that the reviewer liked something and thought it was good; while this DVD set is sometimes referred to, you'll battle to find a good and detailed current review of it. So in what follows, I'll show you what you get, and give you a good overview of the contents of this DVD set, and tell you what's good about it.
What you get
This product is a set of four DVDs that was first published in 2005. It comes in a single DVD case that houses all four DVDs. With many hours of run time, the videos go through all the chapters of Hugard & Braue's book, with magician Rudy Hunter carefully explaining all the sleights and moves, and the effects that can be performed with them. The video features baroque music with the menus, which heightens the overall feel of the classic magic within.
See the official video trailer here:
The DVD is arranged according to the book, and the main topics covered are as follows:
DVD 1: Overhand Shuffle, Riffle Shuffle, Flourishes, The Glide, The Glimpse
DVD 2: The Key Card, The Palm, The Backslip, OverHand Shuffle 2
DVD 3: False Shuffles & Cuts, Double Lift & Turnover, The Pass, Misc. Flourishes, The Reverses
DVD 4: Hindu Shuffle & Controls, Classic Force, Top & Bottom Changes, Arrangements, Platform Tricks
The DVD has a very good index for each chapter, which allows you to browse to the chapter of your choice, and from there to the effect in question. Rudy Hunter's style might be considered a little dry by some, and he doesn't have the dynamic or lively persona of the typical overly-exuberant in-your-face street magician. But he is a professional, and this is a great demonstration of classic close-up card magic that is performed very smoothly and cleanly. For example, he mentions that in his own magic career, he must have performed the Ambitious Card Routine about 250,000 times while doing restaurant and similar work, so he has a wealth of experience. His friendly and personable style works well for teaching, and he does a good job in explaining how things work, and he does have his own sense of humour which helps keep things interesting. Multiple camera angles are used to ensure that it's easy to follow-along. The instruction is concise, and Rudy doesn't waste his words, so a lot is packed in a short amount of time; you can always re-watch sections if you need to, and there's no sense things are dragging.
While books are excellent, being able to see the effect being performed is tremendously helpful, and this works very well either in combination with the book, or even independently from it. Certainly if you have the DVD but not the book, you won't feel the need to get the book as well unless you want everything, because there are a few effects not included on the video. But if you have the book and are struggling to make sense of how some effects should work, this DVD will be the ideal companion that you're looking for. Rudy also gives his own take on the sleights that he teaches, and there's a number of personal tips and ideas that he shares based on his own experience with magic, which I found helpful. For example, in the section on flourishes, he adds in a few ideas of his own in relation to ruffles and fans, and how he uses noises with the cards to add a small impact to his own routine. In short, Rudy is a good teacher who speaks clearly and carefully, and if you're looking for a good teaching resource to use, this is certainly a great place to start.
Rudy Hunter has also created a 2 DVD set which teaches selected card tricks from Jean Hugard's Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. That was published in 2006, and while the style is similar, it is more oriented to magicians who have mastered the fundamentals already, and are looking to enhance their reportoire with new tricks. I can also recommend it, but the Royal Road to Card Magic is definitely the place to start if you are relatively new to magic.
Some people may find it helpful to know exactly what is included, so here is a complete listing of what is on the DVDs:
Overhand Shuffle: Controlling A Selected Card, Controlling The Top Card, Controlling The Bottom Card, Retaining The Top & Bottom Cards, Top Card Next to Bottom & Back, The Injog, Retaining Top Stock, Topsy-Turvy Cards, Poker Player's Picnic, Pinkie Does It
Riffle Shuffle: Retaining Cards At The Top, Retaining Cards At The Bottom, Riffle Shuffle In The Air, An Instinct For Cards, Ultra Card Divination
Flourishes: Displaying The Top Card, The Ruffle, The Click Spread & Turnover, Ribbon Spread, Ribbon Spread On A Bare Table, Thumb Fan, One Handed Fan, Pressure Fan, Springing The Cards, Waterfall Shuffle, Throwing The Cards
The Glide: Design For Laughter, Observation Test
The Glimpse: Bottom Glimpse I, Bottom Glimpse II, Bottom Glimpse III, Top Card Glimpse/Fan Peek
The Key Card: Key Undercut, Key Undercut Shuffle, Marking The Cards, Sneaky Overhand Shuffle, Key Card Marks, Do As I Do, The 26th Card, Sliding Key Card
The Palm: Top Palming A Single Card, Palming Multiple Cards, Replacing Multiple Cards, Palm Peek, Grab Bag Card, Piano Trick
The Backslip: Backslip Force, Backslip #2, Spring Catch
OverHand Shuffle 2: Injog & Break, Holding A Break, Overhand Break Control, Overhand Lift Shuffle, Spread & Break Control, The Sevens, Getting The Sevens To The Top
False Shuffles & Cuts: Optical Shuffle, Charlier Shuffle, False Cut Retaining Top Stock, Retaining Bottom Stock, Palm Cut, Willis Kenny’s False Shuffle
Double Lift & Turnover: Double Lift, Ambitious Card, Dr. Fu Liu Tu
The Pass: Mechanics Of The Pass, Rudy's Handling Of The Pass, Riffle Pass, Spread Pass, Spring Pass, Righting A Wrong, Kangaroo Card
Misc. Flourishes: Color Changes, Side Steal, Side Steal In Depth, Double Color Change, The Changing Card, Self Cutting Deck, A Pretty Little Cut, Pop Up Card, Charlier Cut
The Reverses: First Method, Palm Reverse, Third Method Double Reverse
Hindu Shuffle & Controls: Hindu Shuffle Control, Hindu Shuffle Force, Hindu Force, Natural Jog, Ewephindit
Classic Force: One Hand Force, Sliding Key Force, Slide Out Force, Cut Force, Pulse Trick
Top & Bottom Changes: Top Change, Top Change Byplay & Card To Pocket, Bottom Change, Top To Bottom Change
Arrangements: The Selective Touch, Think Stop, Reds & Blacks
Platform Tricks: Everywhere & Nowhere, Enlarging & Diminishing Cards, Everybody’s Card, Three Cards Across
For convenience, all the material contained on the DVD is listed on the back of the case, which is a very helpful reference and overview.
Many new magicians make the mistake of wanting to progress to difficult tricks or routines, and it is important to lay the foundation by grasping the basic mechanics and fundamentals of card magic, which will hold you in good stead life long. The Royal Road to Card Magic covers all the basics, like card controls with the overhand shuffle, riffle shuffle, and hindu shufle; flourishes, false shuffles and cuts; important and versatile sleights like the double lift, the glide, and the palm; plus important concepts like the key card, arrangements, classic forces, and much more. As such it provides a more thorough education in the fundamentals of card magic than the crash course videos by Ellusionist, which are more focused on street magic and learning a small selection of tricks.
The Royal Road to Card Magic is geared to complete beginners, and what I like about how it is set up is that it first explains the techniques need for mastering a sleight, but then goes on to include one or more routines that employ that sleight. So it is set up to focus on teaching the techniques and skills that card magicians need, but at the same time it provides immediate practical application with tricks you can perform using the newly mastered sleight. As such, not only new magicians can benefit from this course, but intermediate magicians will find a lot of good material and routines that they can use. The fact that you can easily navigate to whichever part of the DVD you want is a real plus in that regard.
This isn't the only video version of Royal Road to Card Magic - also very popular is the version produced by L&L Publishing featuring R. Paul Wilson, which is a 5-DVD set that typically costs at least twice as much as the Rudy Hunter version. The Rudy Hunter DVD set reviewed here can be purchased online for as little as $15 on Amazon right now, which is an outstanding deal. Other popular places to begin a journey into card magic is Oz Pearlman's "Born to Perform Card Magic" from Penguin Magic or Brad Christian's "Crash Course in Sleight of Hand Card Tricks" from Ellusionist. But working your way through the Royal Road course will give you a more systematic and complete education, and give you far more tricks to work with. Rudy Hunter certainly does an excellent job in this particular version, and his slow and deliberate explanation makes his teaching easy to follow, especially for beginners. This is an excellent learning tool for people starting out in card magic, and wanting to get a solid foundation with all the basics. For novices looking to get a good start in card magic, definitely check this out, because it is a DVD-set of time-tested material at a relatively low cost - terrific value, and a royal introduction to card magic!
Want to learn more? See:
- Publisher's page