January 25, 2005


Wow. I just watched Belief’s presentation, Pollinate Chain Reaction, from Promax/BDA 2004 in New York (via Mr. Sutter), and I feel like staying up for a few days straight to create something. The video from the lecture, is 45 minutes long, but it will be some of the best 45 minutes you’ve spent lately. Watching this really hit home for me because it touches on many of the ideas I was trying to convey in my recent article for Design In-Flight, “Fighting Off Design Stagnation”. But, actually watching this served as a sort of creativity pep-talk. It wasn’t that they were talking about methods or ideas I haven’t heard before, but when it’s get packed together in such a concentrated form, it manages to smack you in the face. The same way when you witness something unlike anything you have seen before, be it a movie or a song or whatever, you are just urged to get up off your ass, create something.

The last time I remember feeling this—not that it doesn’t happen often, but I have a spotty memory—was the first time I saw Enemy at the Gates, a decent movie from 2001 set in Russia during WWII. I distinctly remember sitting through the credits at the end of the film while everyone else walked out. I sat there in shock, “How could they be leaving while this is happening”? The closing credits were beautiful, and unlike any I had seen before. They completely out-shined the film’s opening credits and I was the only one in the theater to see it. I won’t ruin it for you by trying to explain why I thought they were so good. Rent the movie sometime. What it did to me was make me want to create something. I saw something that had so simply spun my idea of what was acceptable, that I don’t even recall the drive home. I was too immersed in thought. That is what Belief’s Pollinate Chain Reaction deals with; that spark of inspiration, and that surge of creativity. Now then, I’ve got some work to do.

Commentary (20):

1. Kevin Tamura says… jan 25, 2005 | 7:53 pm

Wow, and I only watched the first couple on minutes of it. I’ll need to watch the rest at home.

2. Jordan says… jan 25, 2005 | 7:57 pm

Very well thought-out presentation; I’ll try to remember things from it. :)

3. Jeff Croft says… jan 25, 2005 | 7:59 pm

Thanks for pointing it out, jason! I’m anxious to watch it now. :)

4. Tom says… jan 25, 2005 | 8:34 pm

I’ve just watched all of it, I’m going to keep a copy on my drive to watch again.

I dont know what else to say but to spend 45min watching this, it might just change how you look at things.

5. Gilbert Lee says… jan 26, 2005 | 1:58 am

Wow. And thank you, Jason. That was very inspiring. The entire film was well done.

It seems like everything is boring now.

It’s time to create.

6. niff says… jan 26, 2005 | 9:15 am

I watched this last night when sutter emailed it to me, and it was awesome to actually think about how we all begin creating. the domino effect of ideas.

i felt the same way when i saw the lemony snicket movie. the end credits even kicked the movies ass. amazing stuff.

7. 3Bean says… jan 26, 2005 | 10:09 am

Nice - not to be an ass, but they have an error in the beginning of their show.

Edison was for DC current and the filmed electrocution of the Elephant was to show how dangerous AC current was. In the end AC won out anyway.

- - - quote - - -

Thomas Edison. At this time he was engaged in his own free-for-all, battling George Westinghouse for control of America’s electric infrastructure. Edison had declared that his direct current system was safe, but that Westinghouse’s alternating current was a deadly menace. To prove it, Edison had been publicly electrocuting cats and dogs (aswell as the occasional calf, horse and orangutan) for years.

It was Edison who convinced New York to use Westinghouse’s ‘deadly’ AC for the electric chair, and it was Westinghouse’s AC that Edison used to publicly execute Topsy.

A huge crowd gathered to witness the event. Using six thousand volts of electricity, she died twenty two seconds from the moment the electricity was turned on.

8. Carlos Porto says… jan 26, 2005 | 10:09 am

Saw the elephant getting killed can’t wait to see more, when I get a bit of time. Thanks for the inspiration Stan!

9. Jason Santa Maria says… jan 26, 2005 | 10:13 am

3Bean: Though the presenters don’t mention it, the AC/DC thing is addressed by on-screen text. Watch that part again and you’ll see.

10. 3Bean says… jan 26, 2005 | 10:46 am

Yeah - their onscreen text says:

- - -
Edison wanted to show the world his A/C power was safer than the competing D/C power.
- - -

- - -
So he incented a movie camera and filmed one large elephant being killed by D/C power.
- - -

- - -
This film was then taken on tour to show the world the dangers of D/C power.
- - -

They have the A/C and D/C backwards -

1) Edison was backing D/C current.

2) He was electrocuting animals with A/C current to show the public how “Dangerous” A/C current was. It was a scare tactic - meant to frighten people away from A/C.

Most importantly they say and show on screen:

- - -
We all use A/C power thanks to this first ever promo.
- - -

3) Edison’s “Promo” films did NOT work - It they had worked we all would be using D/C current because we would have been scared our elephants would be dying had we used A/C current. :)

11. 3Bean says… jan 26, 2005 | 11:47 am

Right - I’m an ass - I missed the further screen of text as I was “multi-tasking” while watching it.

Many Apologies - PLEASE IGNORE ME!


12. niff says… jan 26, 2005 | 4:17 pm

3BEAN—there was a point to their maddness. Nice to know someone knows their history though.

13. Dennis says… jan 26, 2005 | 5:59 pm

Excellent movie! This will help me alot for when I feel the need for inspiration and don’t know where to begin.

The funny thing is, everything they mention makes sence, it’s like you have always known it, but just couldn’t remember when you needed it.

again, excellent.…

14. Carlos Porto says… jan 27, 2005 | 12:21 am

Finally finished watching the movie. I couldn’t agree more with you, very inspiring.

15. Anton says… jan 27, 2005 | 11:19 am

This is dangerous to watch while at work! The distraction of spinning into some creative frenzy is very powerful.

Thanks for the link, Jason.

16. Merritt says… jan 27, 2005 | 6:21 pm

Yeah, no thanks to Edison we can all elecrocute elephants in the comfort of our own homes…

17. Jesse J. Anderson says… jan 27, 2005 | 8:58 pm

This is awesome… I took many notes in my handy Moleskine while watching this - quotes mostly. Thanks for the inspiration!

18. Jeff says… feb 4, 2005 | 6:20 pm

inspirado supreme. thanks there man.

19. JohnW says… feb 6, 2005 | 2:59 pm

I ♥ that presentation.

I often feel the same way Jason does whenever I see something so utterly creative and appealing (such as http://coudal.com/ws3.php ). I’ll sit in awe of beautiful credits, or after watching the Coudal video above, I feel a drive to create and design until I fall asleep at the monitor.

I’ve never seen a picture of Dali, what a truly unique person.

The Nike ‘freedom’ spot was amazing, how did I miss that one?

The ideas about daily rotine and breaking from it had a resounding effect on me. I can now seek to break it doing simple things (sleeping at the opposite end of the bed?), and make life and design more interesting.

Finally, a great piece of advice will always stick with me - Life’s too short, take risks. I’ll remember this on every project I undertake. There’s no reason to be bland anymore. Mediocrity is failure =)

Thanks for posting this very important video every designer should have on their HD.

20. Mike says… mar 7, 2005 | 6:16 pm

3Bean, you’re not an ass. Maybe they thought they were amusing, but I spotted the ‘error’ with Edison and DC vs AC too and it ruined whatever they were saying for me. If they’re gonna begin by being condescending to their audience then they’ve already lost a lot of credibility as far as I’m concerned.