CCC 2016: Round 2 Results
With only 51 days left until the con in Berlin, the pressure increases once again on our handful of Cardistry-Con Champion hopefuls.
This round presented the 5 of them with the challenge of filming their video completely uncut, in order to test their abilities as a cardist without relying on video editing and multiple takes to help them out.
So without further ado, the three cardists moving on to Round 3 are:
Here's a breakdown of how the judge's votes for the Top 3 went:
As per last time, our judges have done extensive write-ups for each of the 5 cardists' videos, which you can read below:
What we liked
Andrew: "Birger took a lot of risks with this move set. Or maybe he didn’t — they all looked pretty easy and flawless. Which is really impressive considering the video was uncut. Not actually an easy task by any mean.
"Speaking of its uncut-ness, one of the really unique aspects of the video, which differs from most other uncuts, is the pacing. The hoi polloi of uncut videos consist of a tightly-choreographed routine which must be executed to perfection, else exposing tears in the performance and the performer. Birger’s uncut had a unrushed, natural performance, which was incredibly refreshing and made the video very watchable. It made uncut videos look good and less daunting (apart from the move difficulty), and I can easily see more cardists branching into some “casual” looking uncuts like this because Birger makes the format look so good."
Chase: "I was hoping that in this round someone would find a compelling way to present an uncut video. Birger did just that, and in doing so set a new standard for uncuts. Just like in his round one video, in round two the music again didn't over-hype the moves and the moves were not over-performed in an effort to keep up with the music. Everything fit so well together. New material was not necessary to share in this round but what was important was that each move is done as well as it has been done in the past. This might be one of my favorite videos to date."
Jaspas: "Birger had a number of technical, ‘risky’, moves in the video and despite the presence of these moves, he was able to execute the performance of his routine without feeling like he was struggling at all! There were certain moments in the video that were obviously choreographed to the music used in the video which is also a nice touch. The variety of different genre of moves lived up to what i expected from a Birger video. All in all, a great video!"
The Virts: "Every doubt we had about Birger CCC’s capabilities in our Round 1 feedback was blown out of the water by this entry. Longer sequences? Check. More eye-popping moments? Check. Risk-taking? Check, check, and check. Perhaps what we loved the most about this video is the wonderful atmosphere that it created: from the choice of setting, the different angles that were choreographed so that Birger could present the moves to the camera in the best way, and the slow, deliberate style that synced together with the music in such a delicious round. Birger’s set a high bar with this video, and we’ve no doubt that in a few years’ time, this video will still hold up as one of the brilliant highlights of the CCC."
What could be better
Andrew: "The arm spread move had this unnecessary break in flow where you had to grab the pack from your hand to spread on top. It would have flowed better if you closed the packs together and did the spread. With that being said, I don’t know if it’s unreasonable to comment on unsquare packets in an uncut video."
Chase: "I found it hard to give many critiques of Birger's round one video because it seemed to have accomplished precisely what Birger intended for it to accomplish. This round is the same for me. If the point of these notes is to help guide each participant in the next round, I am compelled to not nit-pick. Birger seems to have a good pulse on what is expected out of the eventual champion."
Jaspas: "The pacing of the video was already slow to begin with, so the emphasis on the environment at the beginning of the video caused it to feel much slower than it really is. There was also a missed opportunity at 0.46 to go directly into a faro related move which would have lent weight to the armspread-toss-to-two-packets idea which I already liked."
The Virts: "If we had to nitpick, we’d point out the un-squaredness of the packet at 0:14, as well as the breaking of the caught fan toss at 0:55. We’re sure that Birger is as aware of these flaws as we are, but it’s important for us to mention them as any misalignment really stands out in such a stellar entry. As far as advice going forward, we just hope that Birger can continue to match the standard that he’s put forth with this video, otherwise anything less than this will pale in comparison to himself."
Andrew: "I didn’t even know that kind of fan flip was possible. I believe in Birger Karlsson."
Chase: "I loved the decision to deconstruct the first structure the way he did. The reaching and pinching grip was oddly satisfying for me."
Jaspas: "The closer at 0.15 resonated within me for reasons I don’t understand."
The Virts: "The double Revolution Cut to twin spin combo at 1:14 is dazzling to watch, and is a great capper for a video that puts so much emphasis on flow."
WHAT WE LIKED
Andrew: "My fears that Cong Le is a domestic captive in his room have been temporarily silenced. Great to see that he took the extra steps to get a camerabro and change locations. That being said, it’s uncanny to see Cong Le perform uncut because it’s something you wouldn’t expect to ever see (I don’t suppose you’d expect to see anyone uncut, but I digress). This video had some standout moments and breaks, which matter in uncuts since they give you time to appreciate moves better. Such moments like the seemingly “fuck it, why not” back-of-the-neck deck catch amused me to no end."
Chase: "It was nice to see that Cong took the extra step of finding a location to film to his loosely choreographed his routine. The moves that were chosen were distinct from one another which is a crucial in making a compelling uncut routine."
Jaspas: "This round’s rule of having all videos be uncut is a tough one, especially for Gaolock. Many of his moves are knacky in nature, and as such he has adapted his choices of Cardistry moves to suit the rules of the round. His mature decision of choosing a more manageable set of moves, rather than to force himself to perform near-impossible-to-get perfect moves paid off in his video as he is able to concentrate on performing the moves with more flair and showmanship. His usual style of mind-bending moves have been replaced with moves of clear and concise concepts while still maintaining their visual impact."
The Virts: "It’s great to see Gaolock outside, and to watch him flourish non-stop for a full minute, at that. There’s a lot of interesting technical moments in this, such as the Reverse Squeeze in the beginning, the upside-down deck reset at 0:12, and the flex-pop deck flip at 0:29. And while this isn’t a magic competition, the fact that the order of the aces was retained for the production at 0:53 does show that Gaolock chose his material and the order of it very specifically, so props to his thoughtfulness in that regard."
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Andrew: "There were a lot of weird transitions and breaks to riffle and reposition the deck, which didn’t flow very well and the time would have been better used for more moves. Contrast this with Birger’s video which had a similar make-up, in that it was less a routine and more separate moves and sequences — however, it used camera misdirection and other movement to lessen the breaks."
Chase: "Cong started his routine sitting down and then stood up after just one cut. The routine as a whole could have worked smoother had the routine progressed a little slower. Even though the moves were not performed particularly, fast the routine still managed to feel rushed and unsure."
Jaspas: "When Gaolock chose to start the video sitting and stood up at the 7-second mark, I expected Gaolock’s physical movement around his surroundings to be key to the video’s aesthetic. However, this wasn’t the case: two steps after standing, he is rooted to the spot and had no significant movement away from where he was standing. The movement and interaction with the surroundings could have brought this video from “good” to “mind blowing.”
The Virts: "There’s no doubt a lot of difficult stuff in this video; however, most of it seems to lack impact, and that comes down to the way that Gaolock performs the material. For example, there’s the upside-down packet flip that we referenced in the section above: if you weren’t paying attention, it’s easy to miss it, which is a real pity for what should be a very impressive flourish. Most noticeably, a lot of the video seems rushed when there’s no need for it to be, given that this round has a minimum time limit instead of a maximum one. Perhaps it’s the music choice, or perhaps it’s that Gaolock is used to performing his flourishes at maximum speed; however, in this case this ability can actually be detrimental, as it doesn’t give each move the proper space it needs to be fully appreciated by the viewer. Also, missing in this video are Gaolock’s trademark WTF moments of impossibility that made him a clear choice in Round 1, and we can’t help but wonder if it’s because those moves are often so risky/improbable that they need more takes than an uncut video can handle."
Andrew: "The flow and filming angle of :20 is so slick. Also I’ve got to steal that ace production scissor cut move."
Chase: "Coming in clutch with the neck catch at the end was a nice way to top off the routine."
Jaspas: "The abstract display at 0.54 was beautiful to look at."
The Virts: "True story: when the video started playing, Daren asked, “is the video reversed?” Puzzled, we asked him why he was wondering that since it wasn't, and it was only then that Daren pointed out to us that Gaolock did his move Squeeze backwards in the beginning. So there you have it, Gaolock: Senpai Daren noticed you!"
WHAT WE LIKED
Andrew: "Daniel’s style was unmistakably on full display. Obviously his style is very shape-heavy, which normally wouldn’t seem to translate well to this format. Shapes can be clunky and time-sapping beasts. Daniel circumvents this with interesting setups and sequences with the shapes to squeeze every bit of mileage out of them making the set up worth the time. The performance on the whole feels like a planned, well-rehearsed routine rather than a freestyle."
Chase: "Daniel's routine seemed to be carefully structured to minimize the amount of "set up time" between each sequence. That is the kind of thinking I was hoping to see a lot of in this round. The challenge this round was to present cardistry in a coherent flow, and Daneal took a mighty swing at that in his video."
Jaspas: "DANIIIELLLLLL!!! I loved so much in this video, from its location choice to Daniel’s purposeful musicality-driven choreography of his performance. The moves themselves were naturally stellar and confidently executed, but to top this awesomeness off, they were also choreographed with clear arcs and an impressive buildup from the beginning to the end. The moves were also chosen with the camera’s point-of-view in mind and this allowed his performance to shine."
The Virts: "Daniel’s follow-up to his Round 1 entry proves again that he’s one of the most creative competitors in the CCC. We loved not being able to anticipate what was going to happen next at each moment, and his tendency to take a flourish you think you’re familiar with and add something unexpected onto it is always such a pleasant surprise to see unfold. On top of that, there’s a great intensity with which Daniel performs his moves, and we appreciate his awareness of knowing how to best showcase his moves to the viewer."
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Andrew: "I would have preferred to see the rhombus Werm sequence morph in the following rhombus sequence, as re-setting up a rhombus felt repetitive. The two-card iso sequence I could have done without, since putting the deck back and then gathering it up was a break in the overall flow. Finally, I would have preferred to see the video end on the Hexagon (and/or a closer to bookend the opener), which is a stronger ending than the interlock cut."
Chase: "Perhaps Daniel's routine could have been a bit tighter. There could have been less dead time just before the drop and things like that, but that 'dead space' did allow the video to retain a convincing 'first try' vibe."
Jaspas: "Any criticism on my part of this video is merely nit-picking. Firstly, the long break before the isolation routine felt a few seconds too long, one could argue that this is to build up tension before the following arc, but I felt that the video lost a little momentum with the build up being that long. Secondly, when the video ended on a low-frame-rate slow motion, it felt like a rough ending to an otherwise polished performance."
The Virts: "We think that there could have been a better way to transition into and out of the two-card isolation sequence. Practicalities aside, there’s just some dead time created in what otherwise is an awesome routine, and turning one’s back to the viewer, unless it’s for effect, is generally unadvised. Given Daniel’s level of creativity, it would have been sweet to see him figure out a clever way to get into and out of the routine other than going ‘hold on, gimme a sec’ at two different points in the video."
Andrew: "Pretty sure I was saying “nnoooo” aloud before the Backdrop Pentagon combo. That plus Daniel’s Hexagon display was icing."
Chase: "Holy hexagon! I love that the hexagon was done as late in the routine as it was."
Jaspas: "When the 2 cards at 1.11 were able to move, despite the position they were gripped in, I yelped."
The Virts: "Whether intentional or not, we think that Daniel’s Backdrop-to-Pentagon at 1:30 is an awesome metaphorical middle finger to Birger’s Backdrop-to-Square from his Round 1 video, and is exactly the kind of one-upmanship that we wanna see happen in each subsequent round."
WHAT WE LIKED
Andrew: "Yang’s routine easily had the most flow and polish. Transitions were absent: instead, every move led into the next seamlessly, with no need for breaks and transitions. I make a mention in other sections that breaks are nice in uncuts; however, they wouldn’t have made sense with these moves. Every move was a neat puzzle piece that fit into the picture of the video. This is all to say that it takes a lot of planning and a hell of a performer to string together moves like Yang did."
Chase: "Duong's performance gave off the vibe that he was very familiar with his routine. If I were to guess, I would say that when Duong sits down to 'practice' he more or less does the material we saw in round two. The groove was definitely there."
Jaspas: "Yang’s natural flow in all his Cardistry was very prominent here. All the transitions between grips felt natural, smooth and intuitive. Seeing him autocorrect slight flaws in position of cards between the end of a move and beginning of another was extremely satisfying, and the overall energy of the video was really uplifting."
The Virts: "Yang’s flow is impeccable, and as far as transitions go his sequencing is probably the best out of the 5 in this competition, which is to be expected given his reputation for his one-take capabilities. There was never a point where the deck stayed square for too long, which is something that obviously took a lot of planning and practice. Also commendable is the upbeat energy of the video, inherent in everything from the music choice, his hat, and the cheeky dance moves at the end."
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Andrew: "Despite the way everything fit together, the move list needed more. The moves didn’t blend together —they were distinct— but not as distinct and memorable as I would have liked. A few new moves and/or something more visual would have been great."
Chase: "An interesting hat is fine but an interesting location for the video would have been better."
Jaspas: "The location choice could have been something visually more interesting. Also, because the performance doesn’t play with very specific moments in the song, it causes the video to feel like it was a freestyle performance, rather than a choreographed performance which can be a very dangerous trait to have in an uncut round. The camera work would also have benefited from more intentional movement, if the camera was just going to hold a single position, a tripod plus clever digital zooming would have been a better choice than to have someone hold the camera and adjust for framing purposes."
The Virts: "While it comes as no surprise that Yang can execute an uncut routine with great flow, two things we felt were missing was variety and risk. While everything was pleasant to watch, there weren’t many ‘wow’ moments in this video: this is firstly due to the fact that there are quite a few repeated flourishes from Yang’s Round 1, and secondly because a lot of moves felt very ‘safe’. Which is not to say that they’re easy - there’s no doubt that Yang is one of the most skilled cardists in the game. We just didn’t feel that Yang was pushing himself out of his own comfort zone and giving us his 110%, whereas some of the other entrants were clearly entering territory that was excitingly new for both themselves and the viewers. Lastly, we felt that the video could have ended on a stronger note, as the two springs at the end didn't fit the vibe and felt like filler content to meet the minimum time requirement."
Andrew: "No single move (although if I had to chose, it would be the Nebula combo at :26), but the flow and fit of the moves was better than anyone else."
Chase: "Love the sequence from 0:16-0:20. The tight and quick deck flip underneath the other packet looks great."
Jaspas: "0.11 till 0.19 was glorious smooth cardistry porn."
The Virts: "The double-flop + reverse at 0:26 was awesome and unexpected, and definitely one of the parts we enjoy re-watching in each repeat viewing of this video."
Nguyen Hoang Duy
WHAT WE LIKED
Andrew: "Duy is a beast. I knew this, but there’s always some doubt, “he can’t be that good/fast/spinny in real life.” At least that’s what you tell yourself to help you sleep. Well, Duy has left no more room for questions. Cardists aren’t conditioned to seeing uncuts, certainly not with such speed. Duy performed moves that require so much speed and finesse it’s assumed they can’t be done consistently. Seeing Duy do uncut what we’ve only seen cut is unreal, to put it simplest. The one card twirl seemed a bit fluky, but I’m okay with that — I almost hope was a mistake is so Duy can be credited with playing it off flawlessly."
Chase: "We have known for a long time that Duy can knock out his material on command. It's great to actually see it actually happening in a video, though. What we got in round two from Duy was just a nonstop, in-the-flow, knockout performance."
Jaspas: "Fast and furious extremely technical material! Duy shows off his signature style of moves with perfect choreography in the opening sequence as he matches the build up of the music with his performance to great effect. I particularly enjoyed the one-handed cuts in this video, the dose of classic moves like Pandora and the Waterfall, and the really off-beat move at 0.27 that made me question, did he just autocorrect a mistake of that magnitude almost immediately after it happened!?"
The Virts: "No one does Duy like Duy does. What this entry establishes is that Duy can indeed pull off his craziest material all in one go, which is exponentially more impressive than each already-incredible move on its own. In terms of design, each move is packed with a relentless energy that goes the extra mile beyond what is expected, leading to wave after wave of ‘what did I just witness?’ that stills holds up each time we watch this entry. Altogether, it feels like less of a routine and more of a ‘Duy: Live and Unplugged’ session, where we get to see the artist’s raw skill at work. From this video it’s clear that Duy can hold his own in person, which is something that we think is an important trait for a potential CCC finalist."
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Andrew: "The video starts out with a furious pace, but it starts to sputter near the end. It’s as if Duy needed to slow things down and take a breath. Waterfalls were noticeably off theme and unneeded, though they were likely just to upkeep the deck feel. Still I would have preferred some other way of doing this or more variety so they wouldn’t seem so out of place. Probably more variety. The lighting didn’t benefit the video, a better lit area would have done wonders for the look of this, especially since lighting and location are some of the few ways to improve the look and feel of an uncut video."
Chase: "Duy relied on his ability to race through his material to make a compelling uncut video. His performance is clearly masterful, but I found it hard to digest. I would have liked to have seen fewer cuts done at a slower pace. I think that approach would have allowed for the distinctions in each cut to be more pronounced."
Jaspas: "Choreography and a clear buildup in difficulty of moves performed would have benefitted Duy to a huge extent. Instead of starting the video with his 4 packet spinning moves, moving on to other moves, and then coming back to the spinning packet moves, he could have started slow, with simpler moves, slowly escalating, and when the song hit the climax, go into the fast moves. This would have conditioned the audience to a slower pace, which would then allow them to fully appreciate the fast moves. Finally, his weight shifting between his legs was slightly distracting."
The Virts: "Asides from the beginning, it felt like the moves in this video could have been in any other random order, which is to say that for the most part, the material didn’t seem deliberately sequenced. On top of that, the video seemed to end on a bit of an abrupt note, instead of having a definitive tone of finality like it should have. We would have liked to see Duy put some more thought into the ordering behind his flourishes, so that the video built in intensity towards a badass climax at the end. In addition to that, while Duy’s speed is undoubtedly impressive, it would have been nice to see him change it up a little bit, especially since some of the motions that he’s created are very beautiful and could use a more deliberate performance so that the viewer can appreciate it better. And on a final note, this is a bit of a nitpick but the bright laptop and Peelfresh carton have to go: they distract from the flourishes, when there’s really no reason for them to be there."
Andrew: "When Spinny comes in for back-up spins at :06 I may have gotten some chills."
Chase: "Holding out half of the deck during the one-handed cut at the beginning was great. The way it came into play to help make the giant Nimbus-like, crazy, spinny-looking thing was smart."
Jaspas: "The first move of the video, where he transitions form his 1 handed cuts, to both hands doing a flurry of spinning packet cuts, while at the same time matching the music was amazing."
The Virts: "The transition from the one-handed cuts in the beginning to the two-handed cuts was fantastically clever and unexpected, and the fact that it all lines up with the music as well gives it an extra punch."
(First time hearing about the CCC? Click here for a quick refresher on what it is and how it works!)