Google’s first-ever VR Doodle pays homage to cinema special effects pioneer

Google Doodles, the one-off alterations of the logo on Google’s homepage, have been delighting users since way back in 1998. But there’s never been a Google Doodle like the current one: Google’s first-ever virtual reality, 360-degree interactive Doodle.

Appropriately enough, the charming Doodle pays tribute to Georges Méliès, the pioneering filmmaker and special effects artist behind memorable early films such as 1902’s A Trip to the Moon. What better way to pay homage to one of cinema’s greatest pioneers than by using a modern technology he would have undoubtedly appreciated?

“The Doodle team aims to highlight people, places, things, and events that have shaped culture and/or have had a positive impact on the world,” Doodler and project art lead Hélène Leroux told Digital Trends. “Given that Méliès pushed the boundaries of technology in film during his time, the Doodle team felt a fitting homage to his work should use the latest technology and medium we have available today — VR! Our goal was to create an original, entertaining story which explored all the wonderful tricks and visual effects Méliès came up with, as well as showcased his own personality.”

To produce their VR story, the Doodle team collaborated with both the Google Spotlight Stories team and the London-based production studio Nexus. Working together, they created multiple Doodles to be seen and enjoyed by users, regardless of which platform they view it on. While there’s a classic linear version available, there’s also a YouTube 360-degree video, and a fully interactive VR experience for anyone with a VR headset such as Google Cardboard. This is viewable using Google’s Spotlight Stories app.

“Méliès was a magician, filmmaker, poet, and creator,” Leroux said. “When he discovered the invention of the camera, and the first projections of films in the late 19th century, he realized he could push the medium to create magical stories audiences could immerse themselves in. Thanks to our partnership with Google Arts & Culture, we had access to the Cinémathèque Française, which houses the world’s largest collection of assets and sketches of Méliès’ films. [We also had access to] the world’s expert on the subject, Laurent Mannoni, who offered insight about Méliès’ work and legacy to our team as we developed the project.”

As to whether there will be other virtual reality Google Doodles in the future, Leroux is keeping quiet: “The Doodle team likes to keep all future plans top secret. But folks should stay tuned to the homepage moving forward to see!”

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