Draven Reviews: Cross by Agus Tjiu

approved Title: Cross
Artist: Agus Tjiu
Producers: Tjiu Magic
Retail Price: $39.95
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Notes:  Includes Gimmicks
Includes:
•    Instructional DVD
•    Gimmicks

Features:
•    Play
•    Routine
•    Tutorial

I’ve reviewed a couple moving ink plots in recent months, and I’ve owned a couple more that I’ve not reviewed so when I saw the trailer for Cross splash the web I  knew this was going to be something I’d be interested in.  Moving ink plots offer such a primal opportunity to blow people’s minds because it offers you a chance to alter their reality in a way they don’t expect.  Everyone knows that permanent ink doesn’t or shouldn’t move.  Otherwise why would they call it “permanent” right?  So when you can cause the ink to animate, move, or teleport, especially in a visual way, it just nukes people.  The problem is finding a method that is not only reliable, but practical for walk around close up situations.  Cross promises to not only be practical, and reliable, but it also promises to blow away the minds of those you perform for.  No magnets, no flaps, no chemicals, no strings, using any marker you want, Cross maybe the effect to set the bar for moving ink plots at a near unobtainable height.

First let me discuss the DVD, because this has to be the weakest part of the entire package.  There is no verbal explanation at all on the DVD.  No patter, no presentations.  You get this repetitive, and thus eventually annoying, dramatic music that just repeats over and over while words flash across the bottom of the screen detailing either what you are seeing done, if you are watching the performance portion, or what you need to learn should you be watching the tutorial.  I’m not sure if this was a decision that was made because of a language barrier with the artist and an English release, or if this was an artistic direction chosen by the producers.  Either way I find this approach to be annoying at best.  I’m seeing this approach to instructional DVD’s becoming more and more popular these days with some of the younger crowd.

As for the gimmick, and yes there is a gimmick, my jaw hit the table the first time I handled it.  I didn’t quite know what I was looking at, because I hadn’t watched the video yet, and somehow I saw the markings on the card quickly appear, and then snap to a different location on the card even though I wasn’t quite sure how I made the change occur yet.

The gimmicks are made from Bicycle cards, and you get two of them when you purchase the effect.  You get a red and blue backed gimmick.  Between the two colors I find that the blue backed gimmick hides the mechanics much better than the red.  I’d probably use the blue one for performance, and the red one either to practice with or to deconstruct to figure out how to make more gimmicks.  And that is a down side to this product; you don’t really get an option to replace or learn how to build your own once you wear out your gimmick.  Depending on how much you use it could be really fast or really slow.

True to advertising this moving ink plot does not use strings, magnets, or chemicals to achieve its magic.  The method is self contained and somewhat mechanical to a degree.  While the changes are very visual indeed to watch there is a noticeable rattle sound from the gimmick which is just a byproduct of how the mechanics operate.  It’s entirely possible that the sound is only audible to me because I’m sitting in a quiet room, with no other distractions, including ambient noise, patter, or other forms of misdirection to mask it, but it is there none the less.  Those little clicking sounds the gimmick makes maybe something of an annoyance for some consumers.

At the end of the day you have a visual moving ink plot that requires next to no skill to master.  The gimmick does all the hard work for you, and as far as gimmicks go, it’s easy to load or unload onto a deck of cards.  It’s an easy trick to pick up and an attractive option for people looking for a simple solution to doing a moving ink illusion.  For the price of the product, it’s not a bad way to go.

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: 7
The gimmicks are well constructed, though I feel the blue backed card hides the method better than the red.

Teaching Quality: 4
You don’t really need the video.  The second you handle the gimmick you’ll know what to do.  The lack of vocal instruction and only having text appear at the bottom of the screen makes for a very annoying learning curve.

Video & Sound Quality: 4
Annoying “epic” sounding music just repeats over and over.

Overall Quality: 5
The teaching score combined with the video and sound score really dragged the overall grade down quite a bit.  This product barely passed my seal of approval with an overall ranking of five.  I feel that isn’t exactly fair so I’d like to say that I’d personally consider this to be more of a six and half or maybe seven on strength of the trick.  Either way it’s something I’d recommend if you want to do a routine with moving ink.

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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