Getty's "Big Idea"

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For a new film series called "The Big Idea," Getty Images harnessed the vision of seven international design and directing talents and charged them with nothing less than interpreting and translating the titular notion to moving images. The initiative and the resulting films were intended less as a demonstration of the depths of Getty's image resources than of a new way of looking at idea and image creation and manipulation. "We wanted to explore how creative concepts come about," says Getty SVP-creative director Lewis Blackwell. "We decided to do this by collaborating with some of the best of the new breed of filmmakers. We wanted to stimulate and challenge creatives to see that the way we think and the resources that we work with determine just how big our ideas can get." Getty sought out imagemakers from across the U.S., Europe and Asia and invited them to create short films based on "the big idea," but the brief was left enticingly, and challengingly, open-the only stipulations were that the films be comprised of at least half Getty content (though most of the filmmakers used more), and all materials sourced and downloaded in hi-res from

Big Idea filmmakers include: L.A.-based design team Logan; designer/director Jeremy Hollister and his design shop Plus et Plus; Australian directing team The Glue Society; French design collective Pleix; London-based production and design shop Intro; German director Marc Raymond Wilkins; and Japan's Koichiro Tsujikawa. "We wanted a range of filmmakers, all working in new ways, but varied visually and in narrative style as well as in nationality and culture," says Blackwell, who points to the changes in the way creative concepts and execution have evolved in general-from music to photography and now in film. "There is a new plasticity that has come to the medium."

The film from New York's Plus et Plus, entitled What If, is a surreal and detailed assembly of images that director Hollister describes as the journey of an idea from conception to realization. In the language of the film, ideas are babies, seen first rolling off a conveyor and then traveling through a montage of archival, original, live action, animated and graphic elements with tone and backdrop changing from industrial to lush before ending up by a fireside hearth. Hollister's team used over 80 percent Getty material and also created a clay-animated character and hand-drawn animation. Hollister says the process of creating the piece was more akin to making music than the traditional spot or short-film method. "We started off with the traditional process of doing boards, but then we let that go," he adds, in favor of a more free-form progression whereby the shop's artists sourced large amounts of content and the story unfolded in more of an "exquisite corpse" fashion.

London's Intro created a similarly skewed piece that blends whimsy and menace, as a time-warped small town experiences a porcine paranormal phenomenon. The film, created using all Getty material, presents altered images of an all-American town that has just received a visitor-a large pig that has crashed into Main Street, leaving smoke, ruined streets, crumbling buildings, policemen and military ordnance gathered in its wake. Intro's Julian Gibbs found his inspiration from the phrase "the big idea," which in turn led to the contemplation of achieving the impossible, which in turn, of course, brought to mind another phrase-one about flying pigs. Intro created whole "sets" or street scenes from layered clips and stills from Getty sources, which were built up in After Effects; similarly, an animated pig was built from "slices" of pig images sourced from the site. The '50s-style footage in the film, including a shot of a milkman, was actually Getty material that was shot recently by director Tim Bieber, based on a mandate to recreate material from that era to feed the creative need for retro imagery.

Blackwell says the highlights of the project came as the first film was completed. "It was from Pleix in Paris, and it was unlike anything I had seen before, unlike even their previous work," he says. Known for conceptually and graphically provocative music videos, the multifaceted Pleix group created an abstract piece in which images are seen beneath a mercury-like veneer before bursting into blossom. Other "Big Idea" highlights include a kaleidoscope of blinking eyes, created by Japanese director Tsujikawa, and Logan's pastiche of worldly wonders, inspired by Carl Sagan's Voyager Golden Record, and the idea of communicating with other worlds using a visual language.

The Glue Society's effort takes a more basic approach, with a Creation theme applied literally, as a couple is seen in what is apparently an all too routine bout of nookie, with archived imagery appearing in the form of their mid-act fantasies-starring everyone from your garden variety fireman to more niche fantasy figures (Mother Teresa, anyone?) as things move toward a conclusion.

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