Draven Reviews: Ash & Ember by Zach Heath

approvedTitle: Ash & Ember
Artist: Zach Heath
Producers: Murphy’s Magic
Retail Price: $49.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: 1 hour 18 Minutes
Notes: Instructional video is a download off website.  Link included in product case.
Includes:
•    Gimmick Ring
•    Non Gimmicked Ring
•    Link to Video Download

Imagine being able to pull a ring off your finger, show it to your spectator and with just a wave of your hand instantly change the color of the ring from gold to black, and then hand them the ring to inspect for themselves.  Ash & Ember is color change unlike anything seen before!

I’ve waited patiently for a couple weeks for my Ash & Ember to finally get here, and I’m glad to say the wait was worth it.  The ring is exactly what I thought it would be, mechanics wise, and I’m kind of shocked that this idea hasn’t been explored by someone sooner.  It’s just one of those once you see it things you slap your forehead and exclaim “Why didn’t I think of this?”

The number one complaint people are going to give on this gaff is their concerns for it being angle sensitive.  Those concerns, while valid to an extent, I think are over done.  Yes, due to the nature of the gimmick, Ash & Ember is going to give some concerns but nothing that can’t be compensated for by practicing in front of a mirror, knowing what the gimmick is, and rehearsing how to handle it.  In other words, handling Ash & Ember is no worse than other magic tricks that will require the performer to have a developed sense of how they perform it.

With the proper time to rehearse, master, and become competent with the props Ash & Ember is poised to become a devastating close up effect that you’ll be able to take with you anywhere you go.  The video will teach you several different handlings, and not all of them will be ideal for all situations.  Some displays, like the thumb roll, will look very convincing for one or two people directly in front of you, but if you’re working for a larger group then you’ll need to use a different handling.  The on the finger display, which is the first one you learn, is probably the easiest to do, and one of my favorites to establish the props.

The instructional video is an online link you can download from a password protected portal embedded into Murphy’s website.  The switch to online instructional videos over included DVD’s seems to becoming more the fashion these days, and it leaves me with concerns for the safety of the IP.  I’m worried this won’t end up in disaster with these links, and their passwords, being freely traded about on underground forums, and online user groups.

The video itself is quite long for such a simple product.  Closing in on close to an hour and half worth of material the video aims to teach you all that you need to know about the product, the history, the handling, and various forms of convincing displays.  All in all it’s pretty well put together, but I miss having the option to chapter skip to specific sections like what I’d have with a DVD.  If the video were a quarter of the time in length playing strait through wouldn’t be such a process, but with it being so long there’s bound to be something in there I’ll eventually need to review again, for learning purposes, and trying to find the exact spot isn’t going to be as easy as “root menu”, “chapter select”, “play”.

I found that both rings are very well constructed, and should last a very long time even with moderate care.  They come in a variety of sizes, two colors (silver/black, and gold/black) and two options for shape.  You have the traditional flat band, like a wedding ring, and then a beveled band.  I chose the beveled band style in traditional gold color.  The rings are boxed up in this pretty nifty magnetically closing tuck case, with padded inlay to keep them safe.  The second ring is just a non gaffed ring of solid color that is intended to be switched out for at the end of your performance to allow the ring to be inspected by a spectator.

Overall I loved Ash & Ember.  I plan to add this into my usual close up material, and it’s one of those tricks that I can’t stop fiddling with when I’m in front of my mirror or webcam.  I’ve found that the concerns I’ve heard about the product to be largely based on personal preference rather than product defect, and that’s a very refreshing thing to realize.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 8
Good quality prop construction.  The gimmick should last a long time, and it’s fairly priced.

Teaching Quality: 8
The video is pretty long, and there are a lot of good ideas that is taught.  I didn’t like not having chapter skip options, but that I think is more a personal preference than a problem with the product itself.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
Great video and sound especially for a web video.

Overall Quality: 8
I loved this product, and I think it was well worth the wait to get it.  I think the concerns for angles are largely unnecessary.  This is going to be a fun little color change to play with.  I recommend it!

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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