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Google's first VR doodle is a Georges Méliès mini movie

Grab your Cardboard: The famed magician-filmmaker-inventor is celebrated in a 360-degree animated VR film timed to the release date of one of his classics.


The dawn of virtual reality is a bit like the dawn of cinema. It's no accident that Google decided to make its VR-ready Google Doodle about one of film's pioneers: Georges Méliès, the French inventor and illusionist who directed A Trip To The Moon and was featured as a character in Martin Scorcese's film Hugo.

The animations are based on classic Méliès film techniques.


The release of the doodle, which appears on Google's home page Thursday, also lines up with Google's featuring of Georges Méliès films and memorabilia in an exhibit in Google's Arts & Culture app created with Paris' Cinémathèque Française. It's specifically timed to the anniversary of the 1912 Méliès film The Conquest of the Pole.

The entire Doodle, which is an animated film, is based on original art assets from Méliès. It even uses film techniques he applied in various movies. Art director Hélène Leroux says, "We approached it as if it were a ballet or play you watch at the theatre, where you get to choose where to look. In these situations, the spectator becomes the camera, editing their own film."

The whole 2-minute film feels as fantastic and well-crafted as a Pixar creation. It's also a clever idea to present these illusions in VR, in a stereoscopic viewer that feels like the little nickelodeons I first saw Méliès films in at Disneyland years ago.

It's available in the Google Spotlight Stories app on iOS or Android, and can be played back in VR on Cardboard or Daydream View. It can also be watched on Google's Spotlight Stories YouTube channel.