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Méliès, Magic and the Moon: Making Google’s VR Doodle

"George Méliès pioneered film techniques that immersed people in unfamiliar experiences—an early precursor to today's virtual reality."

For its VR-enabled Google Doodle, explains Danny Paez, “Google teamed up with the Cinémathèque Française to put a modern twist on the aesthetics and techniques that propelled [filmmaker George] Méliès to stardom.”

Created in collaboration with Google Spotlight Stories, Google Arts & Culture, and Cinémathèque Française teams, as well as production partners Nexus Studios, the Doodle represents some of the iconic techniques and styles found in Méliès’ films.

“George Méliès pioneered film techniques that immersed people in unfamiliar experiences—an early precursor to today’s virtual reality,” says project lead Helene Leroux.

Read more: The First-Ever VR Google Doodle Starring Illusionist and Film Director Georges Méliès

Read more: Georges Méliès: How Google Made the VR Doodle for the French Illusionis

“An illusionist before he was a filmmaker, Méliès discovered and exploited basic camera techniques to transport viewers into magical worlds. He saw film and cameras as more than just tools to capture images, he saw them as vehicles to transport and truly immerse people into a story. He played around with stop motion, slow motion, dissolves, fade-outs, superimpositions, and double exposures.”

Méliès’ contribution to cinema, says Laurent Mannoni, director of heritage at The Cinémathèque Française, “was revolutionary. In a time when cinematography was nascent and almost exclusively documentary-style, Méliès singlehandedly opened the doors of the dream, the magic, and the fiction.

“The entire body of Méliès’ work shines with dynamic fantasy, boundless imagination, and an irresistible jubilation. The worlds he created were explosive and a unique mixture of phantasmagoria, devilry, trompe-l’oeil, illusions, flames, fumes, and vapors.”

“Méliès was fascinated by new technologies and was constantly on the lookout for new inventions,” Mannoni concludes. “I imagine he would have been delighted to live in our era, which is so rich with immersive cinema, digital effects, and spectacular images on screen.”