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No Camera Tricks (3 DVD Set) Review

December 18th, 2007 8:02pm
Reviewed by James Sanden
In the past few years Richard Osterlind has released “Mind Mysteries” and “Easy to Master Mental Miracles,” which together comprise 11 DVD’s. His latest release, “No Camera Tricks,” brings this number to 14. Even the best of performers would be hard pressed to present 14 DVD’s worth of quality material in an intelligent, thorough and complete manner. Sadly, Richard Osterlind is no exception to this rule.

According to the ads, Richard Osterlind’s “No Camera Tricks” was created to prove that mentalism can be performed on television without camera tricks, editing, stooges, pre-show work or spectacle, and still be intriguing, amazing and entertaining. That’s a wonderful argument, and I think it has merit. However, it makes a better magic magazine editorial than it does a topic for a DVD set.

While I suppose it’s possible to prove this point in DVD format (and it might breathe a breath of fresh air into magical pedagogy), that’s not what this project does. Instead Richard uses the standard approach of performing an effect, then explaining it. At no point did he really address with any kind of depth the process he went through in choosing the material he presented, or what criteria he uses when performing on television. At best, he glossed over the idea a couple of times. I think the viewer would have gained much more value had Mr. Osterlind spent time discussing how to take advantage of and overcome the limitations of the medium of television without using camera tricks, editing, stooges, pre-show work or spectacle.

I also think it important to note that there is nothing inherently problematic with the subtle use of stooges, pre-show work or spectacle (editing is another matter) when performing. Magicians have successfully been using these techniques on stage for many years prior to the current spate of “street magic” on television. The techniques are merely tools. Tools by themselves are neither bad nor good; it’s the use of them that determines their effectiveness.

A big part of the problem, also seen in the L&L “Easy to Master” series, is that much of the material did not seem to come out of Richard’s actual working repertoire. In fact, in more than one case he mentioned having only performed the effect a couple of times during his career or having put the effect together just for the DVD project. This was very apparent in his performances. Most seemed unrehearsed, ill prepared and consisted most of the time of a demonstration of the effect, with little or nothing added in terms of presentation, theater or bits of business. Even the explanations were lacking. Similar to the performances, they rambled, seemed unrehearsed and were ill prepared. They lacked the touches and details so important in communicating how effectively to present a piece of mentalism.

Having failed to live up to the goal of the project, we must still look at the quality of the material on the DVD’s. Honestly it’s a mixed bag. The highlights for me were an amazing, straightforward calculator routine with an ungimmicked calculator and a difficult to describe, but very unusual effect where the contents of a box hidden by a spectator magically change. There was also some solid work on spoon bending, as well as an interesting mentalism effect using a version of the one ahead principle. Unfortunately, Mr. Osterlind also explained several routines belonging to other magicians (with permission) but with little to nothing added, as well as a number of routines that were either simply bad (the poker deal) or a waste of space (effect: solve a rubik’s cube blindfolded, method: learn how to solve a rubik’s cube, then get a trick blindfold).

Frankly, I was disappointed with “No Camera Tricks.” Unlike so many of the authors releasing DVD’s today, Richard Osterlind has decades of performing experience. Given that, I was hoping for a professional presentation with quality content. While there were a couple of items worth exploring, the lion’s share of what was presented was lackluster. I’m hoping that Richard puts more thought into what he releases to the public in the future.
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Product info for No Camera Tricks (3 DVD Set)

Author: Richard Osterlind
Publisher: L&L Publishing
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $99.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

What magic and mentalism on television should look like!

This incredible DVD set features Richard Osterlind as the star of three simulated television shows. Watch Richard dazzle the audience with real-time, mind-boggling mysteries and, as the title of the set implies, there are absolutely no camera tricks, stooges or pre-show work! What's more, this broadcast-quality material can also be used on stage and for close-up performances.

These are secrets of the highest quality with everything from the latest innovative ideas from the fertile mind of Richard Osterlind to some of the most cherished hidden mysteries from other masters. Not only will you receive a wealth of astonishing and usable material, but it is presented in one of the most entertaining formats ever attempted in the magic instructional DVD genre. This is Richard Osterlind at his highest performing level!

Additionally, you will see the commercial "bumpers" that feature Richard performing live in a restaurant and other public places - real-time performing under real-world conditions! See why Richard always shines in the numerous other "bonuses" contained on each disc!

Richard Osterlind has been a top corporate mentalist for over three decades. His travels have taken him from Beijing to Bermuda, Monte Carlo to Mexico City, Calgary to Kona. His level of sophistication, integrity and humor create an environment that has impressed audiences around the world. He is constantly invited for return engagements by the CEOs and event planners of the Fortune 500 companies he has amazed!

Jim Sisti is a successful East Coast magician specializing in both stage and close-up entertainment. He was the creator and editor of The Magic Menu periodical and has contributed columns and articles to a good number of magic's leading publications. He also has an extensive background in broadcasting.

Both Richard and Jim feel that all TV magic and mentalism should be free of camera and editing tricks. This was always the unbreakable rule during the Golden Age of Television. Together, they conceived the idea for this DVD series in order to demonstrate that a television performance can be intriguing, amazing and entertaining without outside help from the special effects crew!

Within these shows you will find no camera tricks, no strategic editing, no stooges and no pre-show work. In addition, all of the material was performed live without any retakes.

This is truly magic on TV - not TV magic!


ZODIAC REVOLUTION - Bob Farmer's classic zodiac sign revelation done in a new way that will startle you in its directness. Richard guesses the zodiac signs of six audience members using nothing but a pad and pencil!

SWAMI BIRTHDAY/STENO ESP - Richard correctly guesses a person's exact birthday and follows that by predicting the random thoughts of three audience members. In this second demonstration, no forcing is involved and all three choices are totally free!

LIQUID METAL - Richard continues his metal bending legacy with five (yes . . . five!) more demonstrations of spoon bending. In one, a spoon actually visibly bends in the spectator's hand!

DIGITAL FEEDBACK EXTRAORDINAIRE - A digital calculator effect that duplicates the gimmicked versions using a legitimate calculator right out of the package in a drug store! You can throw away your forcing calculators as this does the same thing!

PEGASUS PAGE - Richard considers this to be one of the greatest effects in magic! With the permission of Art Emerson, the original Pegasus Page is presented to a stunned group of spectators. A selected page vanishes from a book being held by one person and reappears between two pieces of cardboard held by another spectator!


RICHARDWAVE - Brainwave has always been considered one of magic's best effects. Here is Richard's version where any card named is the only red-backed card in a blue deck. To top it off, there's a "kicker" that adds another 100% to the effect - the deck is given away at the end! It is totally ordinary!

RUBIK'S CUBE - You won't believe your eyes as you watch Richard solve a legitimate Rubik's Cube - while totally blindfolded!

CLEARLY MIND READING - Another one of Richard's fabulous ideas for doing a complete thought reading act! This is a "new" idea that Richard published over 20 years ago and is basically unknown!

THE POKER DEAL - Watch Richard use his Breakthrough Card System to perform a poker demonstration that looks like it came out of the movie The Sting!

SEAFIRE SEQUENCE - For the first time, Richard presents his famous Seafire Sequence book test on video. Now you can see this classic effect performed with all the little nuances! There are over six separate climaxes!


DRACULA/ERRATA BOOKTEST - The Dracula book test by Alexander Black is fully explained and combined with Richard's now famous Errata ending. See how incredible this combination of effects is!

20 CARD TEST - This long-forgotten effect from The Jinx made Al Koran famous. Twenty people select cards and Richard finds them all while completely blindfolded! It's an anytime, any deck miracle!

THE ORIGINAL TCB ROUTINE - Richard performs a classic piece of mentalism that brings down the house! Seven people select objects from a transparent bag and everything is predicted! You will understand why Richard loves the classics!

VOODOO - This eerie and forgotten piece of magic is performed at midnight on the back deck of the L&L studios in a chilling demonstration different than anything you have seen before!

THE ACID TEST - Not for the weak of heart! Richard performs his classic Acid Test where, while totally blindfolded, he drinks the one glass of milk from among four others filled with Liquid Drano! See how Richard builds the suspense and shows how this type of "death-defying" mystery should look!

3-volume boxed set in fold-out keepsake packaging!

Disc One Running Time Approximately 2hr 10min
Disc Two Running Time Approximately 2hr 6min
Disc Three Running Time Approximately 1hr 41min

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