CCC 2016: Round 3 Results
There's no need for a long pre-amble from us; you know exactly why you're here. Like, are you even reading this paragraph? After all, the only thing you're interested in right now is finding out which two cardists made it into the final round, and they are:
Here's a breakdown of how the judge's votes for the two finalists went:
In this semi-final round, we asked our contestants to include 'covers' of both of their opponents' moves in their video, to test their ability to adapt to new material.
As per the last two rounds, our judges have done extensive write-ups for each of the 3 cardists' videos, which you can read below:
But remember: there's still one final video round to go, and it's going to be screened LIVE on Day 2 of Cardistry-Con in Berlin, July 10th, and both Daniel and Duy are going to be in Germany for all the attendees to jam with and learn from.
And if you didn't manage to get a ticket for the con, don't fret - you can still tune into the livestream, which will cover the CCC finals and so much more:
What we liked
Andrew: "Right from the get-go this video put a smile on my face with the "Train" throwback. This had the casual Birger vibe that just begs to be replayed. As usual, there was a wide mix of moves and cover moves, which added even more to the variety. Birger can be successful in any genre of moves he chooses."
Chase: "Like all of Birger's videos, this one is clean and simple. Just jump on a train and jam. I love it. The song choice and editing worked well together, making this video one that has a fair amount of re-watch value."
Jaspas: "Birger’s video, while having a very simple shooting process, doesn't cease to be visually interesting and engaging thanks to his diverse move set. His cameraman has also made up for the potentially boring setting of a single seat on a train by utilising non-distracting camera movements. The choice of a low key song made the video very smooth to watch."
The Virts: "Birger’s videos have always provided us with an easy watching experience, and this was no different. The train setting seemed to be a nice throwback to his ‘Plane’ and ‘Train’ videos, and that added a lot to the ultra-chill vibe of the video: great, catchy flourishes performed with a classy sense of comfort that’s become Birger’s signature style. There’s a lot going on here: two-handed cuts, one-handed cuts, bodywork, farowork, springs, displays, fans, and even an ingenious piece of cardestroy(?) near the end. Birger can do it all, and if there’s one thing this competition has shown it’s that regardless of whether Birger makes it to the finals, he’s definitely a world-class cardist in all the Big Three areas: creativity, showmanship, and technique."
What could be better
Andrew: "Despite the variety of moves, some of them were repeats (which is a bit of an ironic complaint given the round requirement). Despite the repeat moves still being impressive, it subtracts from the impressiveness and impact that a video could have. There was a large variety of decks used, which in itself isn't a complaint, but given that, I'd expect the perfect deck for Fy Fanning to be used for an immaculate Fy Fan. Also, I wish that Birger had offered a more personal take on the cover moves."
Chase: "Because the rest of the material was something we have seen before (except for the toothpick spinning top) I'll only focus my critique to Birger's performance of Duy's move 'Jowsob' which I felt left some obvious space for improvement. Obviously learning and perfecting another cardist's move is difficult, especially when the move relies so much on a specific timing and rhythm."
Jaspas: "The smooth song of Birger’s video makes me feel really at ease. In a competition such as CCC, where the stakes are high and the goal of each single round is not necessarily to ‘be the best’, but ‘not be the worst’, an understated song like this one can be a very dangerous move, as it runs the risk of leaving no strong impression. Luckily for Birger, the final toothpick-card top hybrid idea left a huge impact on me, but I wonder if it would for the other judges as well. Note that the move took up almost 25 seconds of the video, which wasn’t the wisest of decisions."
The Virts: "Considering how far Birger raised the bar with his Round 2 Uncut video, it felt like he was kind of taking it easy for this round: part of that might be due to how comfortable he seems with a deck of cards, which is one of his strong suits, but at the same time we’re given the impression that Birger isn’t doing much this round to push his own limits and present us stuff beyond what we’ve already come to expect. A lot of the material: Fy Fan, Spring Spin, Birger’s Double Flower Fan variation, etc, are definitely classic Birger, but given that it’s been almost two years since many of us have seen these in World Domination (or earlier), it would have helped Birger if he could have brought more refreshing things to the table, especially given the novelty of his opponents’ material in their respective Round 3 videos. Comparisons to past work aside, the video on its own merits feels a bit fluffy, in the sense that many of the flourishes are shown over and over again from different angles, to the point where we wondered if Birger might have been stretching these moves to meet the time requirement for this round. Also, Birger’s performance of Jowsob wasn’t up to par with Duy’s presentation of it, and while it was cool to see Birger present a version of Daniel’s Brusque that didn’t require him to split the faro’d packets up before the rhombus formation, it did come across as a bit sloppy, which we took issue with."
Andrew: "Big fan of the move at :30. It's a simple move that could lend itself to lot of variations and combos."
Chase: "I loved the toothpick-top at the end of the video. I immediately stood up and tried to make one and I must say it is very fun to do."
Jaspas: "1.08 onwards was simply sublime."
The Virts: "The spinning Virtuoso top at the end of the video definitely caught us off guard, and we hope that Birger continues to gift us with more of these pleasant, ingenious concoctions in the future."
WHAT WE LIKED
Andrew: "I've come to expect innovation from Daniel. There's only a small number of other cardists that occupy that bubble of expectation. This is because most cardists can't produce such quality work in this volume on this monthly basis— material takes a long time to develop and practice. It's clear that Daniel has been waiting patiently to push the big red button on this work. True, maybe Daniel won't have much to show for a while after exhausting this treasure trove of moves, but it's been an amazing show.
The video had a great structure that fit perfectly with the slowly swelling music— the moves just kept getting sweeter. The use of his competitors' moves was spot on: they weren't carbon copies, but a use of the ideas and mechanics. And yeah, the structures were big time."
Chase: "Daniels's round three video is the strongest of the competition so far. With only one more round to go, I am very curious what Daniel has left in his bag of tricks."
Jaspas: "Daniel’s variety of moves has always been one of the highlights of my judging experience. Every video is filled with new material, or variations of material that we’ve been exposed to. Camera movement is simple yet effective, and color grading is on point in making the action clearly visible. The way the video has been edited to the music is also on point in terms of the tempo at which it’s edited and the timing of the cuts."
The Virts: "Daniel’s proven himself to be a technical wunderkind, and in this round we got to see plenty of difficult and eye-catching material from him, pretty much all of it new except for the 3 ‘covers’: which is to say, not only did Daniel improve on both of his opponents’ cover moves, he even went ahead and improved on his own performance of Brusque from Round 1, cleaning it up and adding another variation to it at the end. As other judges have mentioned, it’s a testament to Daniel’s creativity that the moves - or concepts, rather - that he’s adapted from his opponents have been so radically modified that they’re almost unrecognisable until you read the YouTube description and see what he’s artfully pilfered. It was a lot of fun watching this round and not being able to foresee any of what came next: both in terms of variety and ambition."
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Andrew: "Interlock moves are a bit of a double-edged sword: the mechanics behind them are tantalizing, but they often look a bit overworked and tortured. Brusque is sweet, but since we've seen it before, I'd rather nix the Ong-Bak edit and skip to the new variation. The final sequence is sweet, but since it's such a small move compared to the rest of the larger moves, it seems a bit underwhelming as the closer."
Chase: "I am finding it difficult to find something to critique in Daniel's video. The pacing of the video was good, the moves were fantastic, and the music didn't get in the way."
Jaspas: "The slow build-up felt a little boring, while Daniel has performed some really technical moves at the beginning of the video, it is visually less stimulating than I would have liked it to be. Perhaps some location shots, posing shots, or having the title card at the front would have been more appropriate for the video."
The Virts: "One of the downsides to some of Daniel’s material is that the handlings that he’s devised for a few moves often leave him, the performer, in awkward orientations. Take the Interlock sequence from 0:19-0:23, for instance: while it’s cool that he’s figured a way to get a lot of motion out of the restraints that come with interlocked packets, he ends in what looks to be a fairly uncomfortable situation. Going forward, Daniel needs to be aware that the overall image of the performer plays a big part in the ‘framing’ of a flourish as well: it’s why a lot of the old XCM style is so laughable now, and it’s easy to go down that route when one begins to value difficulty over aesthetics. Asides from that, another thing we’d like Daniel to work on is having a stronger ending for his videos: Round 1 ended on a pan up after an interlock cut, Round 2 with a slo-mo after another interlock cut, and Round 3 ended with a cut to black after the triangle isolation sequence. The problem with ending on these moments is that these flourishes are very ‘hand-oriented, but not very 'gut’-oriented: cardists who have a proclivity to doing this type of material might be able to relate to the technical creativity and marvel at Daniel’s brilliance, but for all of the visual wonder that Daniel’s capable of, it often seems that his videos just kind of end rather abruptly based on the music or time constraint: rarely are we left with a satisfying aftertaste of absolute finality that takes our breath away. In other words, Daniel needs to learn how to build up his video to a climax, and a visceral one at that. We hope that this video isn’t the last of Daniel’s surprises, and so we’re fully expecting him to give us a finale to end all finales, should he make it to the next round."
Andrew: "The large hexagon is so brilliant, I tried it right after seeing the video. Also Aethera is a bomb. It was a ballsy move to use it now (but it's practically a Birger cover move, so I really appreciated it in this context)."
Chase: "Daniel was the only competitor who chose to create a variation of moves that Duy and Birger had done previously rounds. I wasn't able to spot the variations at first and was worried that Daniel had forgotten to incorporate his competitor's ideas into his video. This was a sign of just how well Daniel incorporated his competitor's ideas into his own work which is precisely what I wanted to see."
Jaspas: "At 1.13, the Aperture -> Pentagon -> Asterisk display was ridiculous."
The Virts: "The double-spin arm spread turnover at 0:54 was so clever that we didn’t even realised it was a take on Birger’s things-spinning-things trademark at first. Huge props on that one."
Nguyen Hoang Duy
WHAT WE LIKED
Andrew: "Duy (at last) took our advice and ran with it. I've seen flashes of these moves on Tinychat previously and had been wishing Duy would showcase his fuller potential. It would have been great to see them earlier, but saving them for a well-produced video (shouts out to the producers) was the right call. Upon the initial viewing I wasn't a fan of the pace, given the established bat-out-of-hell fury of the previous rounds. However, I think it's more fitting for these moves, which struck more of a balance between flashiness and mechanical intrigue (and will make stealing easier). That being said, I was able to appreciate the moves a lot more and think the move list is the best of any of Duy's videos thus far."
Chase: "I was very pleased to see Duy in a new location. His round 3 video is by far his strongest of the competition. It showcased his range much more clearly which is precisely what we judges were hoping for."
Jaspas: "FINALLY! Finally Duy stepped out of his house to shoot something and thank god for the change. The setting used in this video created a much more engaging video, in addition to the really odd lighting/color grading choice of pure orange lights, it really made me sit up in my seat and pay attention. The move choices in this video are also a huge improvement over the move choices in the previous two rounds, in that they are far more varied and stimulating. Camera angles are also much more dynamic and interesting to watch! Good!"
The Virts: "Someone call the police: Duy discovered that there’s other moves beside 'spin'. All kidding aside, it’s fantastic to see Duy in a non-cramped up environment, and with lavish camerawork and editing by Ben You, Ambrose, and Ryuji. Our worries from the last round that Duy was running dry on material were assuaged with this killer entry. Most notable is how Duy really took our advice about varying the speed of his moves to heart, with some sexily slow and rhythmic stuff like the double L-cuts and that wrist thing at 0:40 giving contrast to moves like SpinGod at 0:45. Branching out into isolations was also a great choice, as it allowed Duy to show off both his technical and creative genius with less packets and non-diagonal grips. This is Duy’s best video in the competition yet."
WHAT COULD BE BETTER
Andrew: "The isolations weren't quite isolations. I would have preferred more finesse. The fiddly-four card portion of the sequence starting at :54 was weaker compared to the fluid three-card section. Editing-wise, I wish some of the moves had been shown to completion or held for a bit longer."
Chase: "If I tried to find something that I did not like in this video, it would be the use of speed ramps. However, even that is easy for me to dismiss, as the speed ramps seemed to only be used to keep the rhythm of the video alive. They acted more as punctuations than a crutch."
Jaspas: "Nothing much to complain about other than the flash at 0.34. That effect has always been a pet peeve of mine, but this boils down to a matter of taste."
The Virts: "There are a few things in the video that strike us as problems in the editing and camerawork department, so while these aren’t criticisms of Duy per se, we do want to make sure he’s aware of them so that he can prevent these from happening again in future videos; after all, every little detail matters. The first is that there are some editing choices that seem quite unnecessary: the speeding up at 0:59 and 1:03 make us wonder why there wasn’t just a cut between the repositioning at 0:59, which would allow some extra time for the move at 1:03 to be shown at normal speed, because the way it’s sped-up currently makes it so incomprehensible that it might as well not be in the video at all. Secondly, white balance: we know that the lights in that environment were probably to blame for the video looking like a desert scene from Breaking Bad, but even if the cameramen had forgotten to white balance during production, it’s still fixable in post — and this doesn’t look like us to be the kind of yellow tint that’s a stylistic choice: it just looks very, very, very, very yellow.
So — videowork aside, let’s talk about what Duy actually did that we felt could be improved on. To start, some of his isolations needed to be more, well, isolated. For someone who’s shown to be so technically proficient and clean with his cuts, we would have been even more impressed if his isolation work had less microshakes, which detract from the overall impact of this genre of cardistry. Also, the squinting at 0:49 onwards seem to indicate a large amount of concentration, but as we mentioned with Daniel above: everything that you do and communicate as a cardist either adds or detracts from the overall image, and in this case we felt that it was a distracting element. Lastly, this feels like nitpicking but it didn’t seem like Duy’s cover of Birger’s move at 0:27 was as good as how Birger does it, and a lot of that comes down to stylistic differences: it was very noticeable that this was a non-Duy move when it showed up in the video."
Andrew: "The cut at :29 had an opener that I've got to play with. Also two L-cuts in one hand is beastly."
Chase: "Duy's performances of Birger and Daniel's moves were great, and blended in seamlessly with Duy's style. "
Jaspas: "The shot at 0.44 was beautiful, and the move at 0.39 was stunning."
The Virts: "The aforementioned wrist-turn move at 0:40 demonstrated a beautiful understanding of aesthetics over difficulty, in that while the left hand motion isn’t the most difficult of moves, we’re glad that Duy has the capacity to create and showcase material like this, because it isn’t always about what’s hard: it’s about what looks good. And man does that combo look good. Also, props to either Ben You + Ambrose or Ryuji for the pan-up at 0:47 matching the packet lift at the end of SpinGod. Such a fantastic creative choice, and it looks so good that we honestly can’t tell if the effect was in-camera or post-produced."