Olympic Reviews

Olympic Reviews

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Blank Night - John Archer - Review

What is it? 
This is a stand alone release of John Archer's routine 'Blank Night', it's called blank night because 'there is nothing to see', though blank is not the first thing i thought of when i saw his printed envelopes.  This is called 'The "Blank Night" complete package', and having both the PDF and the version on John's DVD I was buying this to see how my homemade envelopes would shape up against the provided ones.

If you don't know what this routine is, watch it on youtube for a demonstration by John performed on Penn & Teller's Fool Us, a great performance.  Watch that and come back for more...

Why this instead of similar products?
This is where this product shines.  Sometimes a product will streamline a method for those performing it but have very little effect on what the audience sees (if anything make it worse at times) but this is a step in the right direction.  You can have a number of bank notes (or other similar items) kept flat in an envelope to be removed, flat, from the envelope. This is a plus for me, and something which makes sense now from a performance point of view instead of tiny coin envelopes holding notes.

The only thing that would put me off making this one of my top routines is that John essentially owns this here in the UK.  Many people with a passing interest in the subject of magic or mentalism will have seen John's routine.  This only does one thing though, and that is make me want to come up with something even more original to me than i might have.  Once this all falls into place, this will be going everywhere with me.  Anytime I have used it so far, it has been the usual number job or simple words.

The envelopes used (were never that hard to find for me in the UK) do not need to be destroyed after each performance, which is a good thing if you are going to put printing on them and make them up.

Does it work?
Yes - never any doubt on that front.  It works very well.

How adaptable is it?
You can do this close up (you will need some participants obviously), stage, anywhere really and you can put anything in the envelope.  The envelopes are not printed so you can put whatever you want on them, very adaptable on that front.

How is it as a package?
Here is the sticking point on this for me.  'The "Blank Night" complete package' does not come ready to use out of the... eh... envelope booklet thing?  It comes in a strange but nice package which houses the envelopes with the routine printed.  It looks nice.

You have to add things to the package you receive to make them 100% performance ready, those of you who know what this is will agree with me that this is a small detail, but apparently this was the complete package?  Other products include similar items and don't boast about them.  I would very much have liked for it to have been included.  Apparently you can't ship it worldwide, say that to my row of 'said product' from a characteristically American manufacturer!

Also, having the PDF and DVD, and a good number of my own 'sets' of Blank Night envelopes I was looking forward to seeing the specially designed envelopes.  Compared to the normal ones i purchased in Staples or similar, they feel cheap and just like bits of folded paper (I know essentially that's what an envelope is, and who is going to touch them for that long) which i expected more from.  'Custom-manufactured' apparently, I don't doubt that, the sizes are perfect for this with respect to one part i always found a little difficult when preparing envelopes for this effect.  But they aren't the highest quality and will wear out after being in the hands of the dirty, dirty people who i might perform for.

As far as I can see, the booklet doesn't explicitly tell you how to make other 'sets' of envelopes.  This is a down side.  I had been told twice already, so apologies if i missed this instruction or have taken it as read.  I would not want to put these through a printer without a test run, which is not possible due to the lack of spares and a sensible source to purchase them.  You could make your own ones from the studying the provided items but just include the instruction.

While I don't advocate using another person's routine, I am sure that some people would assume that this contains preprinted envelopes.  It doesn't which, again, will make us think of our own ways to use it, and is a good thing for me, but consider this if you are looking for preprinted versions.

There are credits at the beginning where three different people apparently edited the booklet, one of whom it was 'Designed & laid out by'.  It is essentially NINE PAGES long with a few of those taken up by (very welcome) images.  The whole thing probably has less text than this review.

Will I use it?
Yes - I have, and once i get it into a nicer presentation, it will probably be a go-to routine.  You can't really fault the routine, it is good to watch John explain it on the DVD though, for handling purposes.

If I lost everything, would I get it again?
The routine itself is excellent (or the method to be specific).  I would like to know that again, however, I don't think i would buy THIS again.  If you buy the DVD, it doesn't really go into enough detail to confidently design your own, BUT the PDF that is on one of the DVD discs or available from John's site DOES tell you the specifics.

I am not sure what value this set adds to the family of Blank Night products.

If a stack of envelopes were to be produced for purchase, i think i would buy those for ease of not having to do the tricky bit myself.

Bit of a mixed review - I would definitely get the routine again, and would recommend it to anyone, just be conscious of which package suits you best.  I am sure this will suit some people, and all said and done, it is a nice product and I will use the envelopes provided.

Review written by Olympic Adam
Review edited by Olympic Adam, Olympic Adam's Dog and Olympic Adam's Mum
Designed and laid out by Olympic Adam

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