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Pinnacle Review

Official Review

August 29th, 2003 2:39pm
Rating:
Reviewed by Brad Henderson
Well, I have good news and bad news. Ok, how about GREAT news and so-so news. The great news is that Pinnacle is a fabulous piece of ring and rubber band magic. It looks as good as, if not better, than previous offerings to the field; and it might even be easier to do than its predecessors.

The bad news is the quality of instruction during parts of the DVD. Now, don't get me wrong, Russ comes across as a very sincere and likable fellow. I'm sure he took great pains in the production of the DVD. It is professionally shot, but not professionally directed or scripted.

The routine is in 4 phases. The trickiest to learn being the second. On some of the forums Russ has said this is the most difficult of the phases, but I contend it doesn't have to be. Though Russ shows you the move again and again, and from different angles, NOT ONCE does he show the move from the angle which would reveal the actual action taking place. Had he done so, I don't think you would have found a quibble online from any of the purchasers. (Ok, maybe one quibble, but we'll get to that.)

Otherwise, the material is explained adequately. Again, I would have liked to have seen better blocking on the shots, and more cogently scripted explanations. I also think he could have taken advantage of DVD technology and instead of just doing the move over and over again, allowed one to choose a track shot from a particular angle and loop it. I do appreciate the repetitions, as I don't think one could have learned the routine without them, I just think there is a more efficient means for including them.

Can this phase be learned from the DVD? Yes, but you're going to need the rewind button and a LOT of patience for phase 2. (Alternatively, Russ could commission an artist to do 3 simple illustrations showing the move, before and after. Drop it in the package with the DVD and problem solved.) The rest of the moves should afford little problem.

My only other caveat with the production is a bit of meandering when it comes to discussing the types of rubberbands and rings to use. Yes, this is necessary material, but I take issue with material on DVDs that isn't required to be presented in a visual format. (I would also like to see many of the interview sections popular on DVD's reduced to printed formats.) This is that type of section. It would not been so noticeable, however, with a bit more thoughtful editing.

Now, to the aforementioned other quibble. The DVD is subtitled "The Crown Jewel of Impromptu Rubber Band Effects." However, the fourth phase is NOT impromptu. Now, I will confess that I was out of town all summer (2003) and did not see any advertising for this item. Consequently I had no expectations when it came to its impromptu nature. To me, I received a killer rubber band trick, and a kicker ending should I desire to explore it.

However, for those who may have seen a video clip with the expectation that the entirety of the effect was impromptu, I think you should know that the final phase is NOT impromptu. Discussion of the matter can be found both online and in Genii Magazine in particular. As I said, to me it was not an issue, but I do think items, particularly by new and up and coming creators, need to use caution with "over claims."

Finally, a personal and somewhat related note. I found Russ to be very likable, however in previewing a number of DVD's this week I've noticed just how many performers share the exact same gestures, vocal rhythms, and body postures. I found this particularly true at the beginning of Russ's DVD. It's a shame really, that someone so creative in mind has yet to carve a unique voice for himself in performance. But this, I think, is a negative side effect of a culture which is switching from primarily printed media to DVD's as the instructional method of choice. End of social commentary.

But Brad, what about the trick itself? In short, this is one of the best tricks I have seen to hit the marketplace in a long time. Yes, the above paragraphs do address issues and shortcomings I feel are worthy of notice, but that's because I'm a very critical person. That's my job. But in spite of any of the above commentary, let me reiterate, this is an amazing piece of impromptu magic which will serve you again and again. I highly recommend it and encourage all of those people interested to take the time and cultivate the patience required to work through the routine in its entirety.

You will be well rewarded.

If I were comparing this to other DVD's put out by "new names" in the magic scene, this would get 10 stars. In the bigger picture though, I'm going to give it a very strong 4 1/2. The material is top notch, but there is something lacking from being the perfect marriage of material AND instruction.

Product info for Pinnacle

Author: Niedzwiecki, Russ
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $19.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Billed as "The Crown Jewel of Rubber Band Effects". Two of the strongest components of powerful magical experience (a borrowed object - finger ring, and an everyday object - rubber band) combine in this four-phase presentation, whereby a rubber band penetrates on and off a finger ring-one strand at a time!

On this DVD Russ Niedzwiecki (Just Passin' Thru) finally explains his "Pinnacle Ring and Band" routine, revealing all the finesses sure to make this a modern-day classic that you'll immediately add to your performing repertoire. A truly impromptu miracle, you'll use this routine for the rest of your performing days.

Available from your favorite magic dealer.


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