Aura (Andi Gladwin)
An ingenious routine ending with a spectator drawing their own card from a shuffled deck
Once you have some experience with card magic, you'll quickly learn that the method of performing a trick is just a means to an end. What really matters is your presentation, performance, and showmanship. One thing I've learned from excellent books on the theory of magic like Darwin Ortiz's Strong Magic is how important it is to construct a magic trick, and think through every aspect of your performance, in order to strengthen the effect you're trying to create. Many instructional videos emphasize the method used to accomplish an effect, and will teach you the sleights and moves required, but give little attention to performance. Presentation is very much a personal matter, admittedly, but at the same time when you're looking for a new effect to include in your act or repertoire, it can be immensely helpful to have a teaching resource that doesn't just give you a clever method, but also teaches an excellent way to present the routine.
Andi Gladwin's "Aura" is one of those satisfying card tricks, that is not only a good effect in itself, but comes with a very gripping storyline and plot. Andi is a British magician, and together with Joshua Jay runs Vanishing Inc Magic. With this effect, he's created a very emotional hook that gets your spectators personally involved in a way that makes the outcome seem even more magical and surprising. The premise? A spectator finds their own card from a genuinely shuffled deck. Best of all, it's almost self-working. Let's find out more about this routine, which is available via instant digital download from Vanishing Inc.
Here's how the ad copy describes the effect: "One undisputed highlight from Andi Gladwin's shows and lectures is "Aura," in which a spectator finds her own card from a genuinely shuffled deck. The routine is three phases, each more impossible than the last ... Andi takes you through everything you need to know in this thirty-minute download, and even gives you multiple variations and ideas to make the effect your own. Whether you're performing in casual or formal situations, "Aura" is set to be your new closer."
Actually this just describes the final phase of the effect. What happens first is that three spectators each get a card, chosen apparently at random. Then the deck is genuinely and thoroughly shuffled by a spectator - and this is no stooge, the cards really are well and truly mixed! Now the magician proceeds to produce all three cards, each in a more surprising manner than the last. The most stunning revelation is the final one, when the third spectator reaches into the magician's pocket and selects a random card from the deck - and it proves to be his selection! At the end all the cards of the deck are spread face-up to show that they are all different. Andi's presentation deserves special mention here - he explains how sometimes people can feel vibrations and have a connection with an object, and it's this premise that is key to how he goes about finding the three chosen cards.
Before I say too much more about it, you really need to check out the effect for yourself, by watching a video of the official trailer, featuring a complete performance of the trick by Andi:
What you get for around $10 is an instant digital download of the video, which demonstrates and teaches the routine, with Andi explaining everything. I got the video from Vanishing Inc Magic (the site that Andi runs together with US magician Joshua Jay), where it is available here.
You can play the video via streaming, or download it in *.mp4 format to view on your computer with any video program. The entire video is just under 30 minutes long, and is filmed in high quality, so the downloaded file is about 215MB in total size.
The video begins with the four minute performance shown in the trailer, after which Andi briefly explains some of the ideas behind the effect before going into teaching the different phases of the routine. The bulk of the video features Andy on camera, talking and demonstrating how everything works.
Andi has a very conversational and natural style of speaking, and also organizes his explanation very carefully and precisely. There's tons of useful material here, and he'll give you far more information than you actually need. But that's terrific - for example in the process of his teaching he offered a useful tip about improving and disguising a break that I found very helpful for improving my technique generally. He also covers the handling of a basic f***e in a helpful way. In addition he gives a lot of extra ideas that you can consider and work with in order to customize the effect to make it your own, and even discusses different methods to accomplish aspects of the routine.
You'll be less than halfway into the video, and at that point Andi has pretty much explained the method already. But it's from this point that he starts making many useful comments about presentation, and tips about small elements of the method that will completely cover your tracks and hide your method from the spectator. Finally he covers some additional ideas, such as ways to incorporate this as part of a larger routine, and how to set-up the effect in the way you lead up to it. So the teaching is excellent, very thorough, and gives you a lot to work with.
The ad copy claims: "Due to some devious, yet simple, gimmickry, "Aura" is essentially self-working." Is this accurate? Part of it is, but that makes it sound easier than it actually is. The method Andi has come up with is very clever, and once you get to a certain stage of the trick, you are home free, and it's hard to go wrong from there. But that doesn't mean this is an easy trick to do, especially because you will need to master an important f***e early on, which Andi does explain carefully and in detail. Most magicians will already know this technique, although Andi's explanation may still prove helpful in improving technique to apply it to this particular effect.
Even though you can use a standard deck, and there are ways for a relatively impromptu performance, you do need to be quite set-up in order to perform this trick. This includes having a gimmicked deck, and even some optional clothing alterations that Andi explains at length. This shouldn't put you off - they're easily accomplished yourself, aren't anything major and can easily be restored. And in fact they are entirely optional, and Andi does go on to explain an alternate "alterationless" handling that makes them entirely unnecessary. In some ways this alternate handling is even easier, but you don't end up totally clean, and will need the help of a deck switch if you want a final convincer at the end. But doing it his recommended way does make the method more foolproof and in his opinion is worth the investment.
The method for finding the first card is ingenious; it's so simple, and yet something I'd never considered before. Brilliant and easy! The method of gradually eliminating cards is very clever, because this presentation supports the method and makes it easier, actually disguising the secret. Other methods are possible to achieve a similar result, and Andi does mention these, most of which will already be familiar to magicians, but I really love his idea. The method for finding the second card and third card is more or less what I expected, and other magicians were also quick to suspect the method used. Even while it may not be a magician fooler, it will definitely leave lay-people completely amazed, even though it is essentially self-working at that point.
So in terms of difficulty, I'd consider this at the "intermediate" level, mainly because of the set-up and gimmicks required, and the need to master a particular f***e. Some solid work on the presentation is also important.
Aura is more than just another card trick - it's a very well thought out and cleverly presented routine, where all aspects of method and presentation have been carefully tested by Andi over time. He's worked on this routine very intensely, and mentions that he must have tried ten different versions over the years. The final version that he teaches is something he's used himself for at least three years, and it's proven successful, and that's why he felt it was ready to be published. While his preferred method is perhaps the best and cleanest, he also discusses various other ideas that you could use as part of this routine, and various ways to achieve a similar result, so there is considerable flexibility built in if his way of doing parts of the routine isn't a good fit for you.
In his explanation, Andi explains several inspirations that were part of the genesis of this effect, including seeing an interesting moment where a magician friend touches a spectator's finger, and also a line from an Al Baker book: "One of the strongest things you can do is perform a trick for a lay person, and then have them perform the same trick for you without ever knowing how they did it." These are precisely the elements in how this effect is presented that make it so strong, personal, and baffling. The third spectator actually gets to reach into your pocket and select any card of their choice, and having your spectator do this themselves, and reveal their own card in this impossible way makes this all the more amazing.
The whole "aura" concept that Andi uses as the storyline also adds a great deal to the presentation and impact. He uses the idea of touching the spectator's finger in connection with the idea of feeling vibrations and making a connection, and this "touch" really helps add to the presentational value of the performance.
Another strength of this routine is how it builds up to the climax. Rather than doing three separate card tricks, Andi would rather build up a single routine involving three cards, thus having more magic operating in a smaller space of time. It helps strengthen the final phase in which the spectator is more involved.
Are there any downsides? Perhaps only that it requires some investment of time and resources - it's not something you can do at a moment's notice with a borrowed deck - although you certainly could lead into this from another trick. But some set-up and planning is definitely required, and you will need the right cards at your disposal to make things work.
This effect was only recently released a couple of months ago, and for the most part it seems to have gone under people's radar. As a result there hasn't been a lot of feedback so far, but here are some comments and reactions I've found about it:
"Download of the year! It's a very clever method, a great presentation and a really great construction. $10 for this is a real steal." - Emyr Davies
"I own this and like it a lot. Has a lot of really good things going for it in terms of involving specs, making the final spec a hero, and most importantly the potential of many interesting storylines." - videoman
"With the right patter/storyline this will play big. From beginning to end the trick is entertaining." - Ustaad
"I bought this trick for ten bucks...and its easily worth more than that." - Steve McCoy
"That last phase is nuts!" - John C
"This really is a fantastic download. A hidden gem! - Ed Baker
"Andi, when I saw your performance of this, I knew I had to put it in my act. Man, this routine is brilliant! I love magic that tells a story and this one can be changed in so many ways to fit the mood or occasion." - Alan Burdick
Andi is a skilled magician, who not only can come up with creative and ingenious ideas, but also excels in teaching them clearly and presenting them well. Aura is a fine example of a quality and compelling routine with card magic that working magicians will want to consider.
Want to learn more? See Aura at Vanishing Inc Magic:
https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic ... loads/aura