Google doodle honours revolutionary musical animator Oskar Fischinger

Google doodle honours revolutionary musical animator Oskar Fischinger

Google's homepage today honours the 117th birthday and pioneering work of the late Oskar Fischinger; a German-American artist, known for his work as a filmmaker and visual artist, who's animations transcended the technology of computer graphics and animated music videos years before they came into fruition.

 Google's "Oskar Fischinger's 117th Birthday" doodle

Google's "Oskar Fischinger's 117th Birthday" doodle

The Doodle serves to replicate the work of the animator using a Fischinger-style sequencer, which draws up a visual arrangement to a tune of your making. Simply click on one of the diamonds in the sequence to produce a short note and a colourful pattern is produced depending on the sound.

Fischinger began making visual animations back in the dawn of the 1920's, where his encounter with German filmmaker Walter Ruttmann inspired early experiments with coloured liquids and modelling materials like wax and clay. This subsequently pioneered the invention of his "Wax Slicing Machine": a device that simultaneously captured the slicing of wax and/or clay alongside the shutter of a movie camera. While Ruttmann exercised this technique for his 1926 film, Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed), the resulting images of Fischinger's own experiments are found in his 1927 series titled Wax Experiments (below).

By the end of the 1920's, at the time of Fischinger's move to Berlin, he began to experiment with a new animation technique using charcoal on paper; this style was assigned to popular and classical music pieces under the name Studies, of which there were 12 in total. During this period, German record label Electrola began commissioning Fischinger to provide visual accompaniments to their new record releases, demonstrating one of the earliest examples of what we know today as "music videos".

Following a fall-out with Paramount Pictures over the decision to include colour in one of Fischinger's short films titled Radio Dynamics in 1936, Fischinger left the film studios in Hollywood and successfully bought back the rights to his original film, re-coloured it, then re-named it Allegretto after the Italian musical term, instructed to perform music at a quick tempo.

  Allegretto (1936)

Allegretto (1936)

Fischinger's most famous works include An Optical Poem (1937), An American March (1941), Motion Painting No. 1 (1947), and, most notably, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor scene in Disney's Fantasia (1940) - the latter two of which both composed to the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The pioneering technique of Fischinger in the advancing age of motion graphics and animation made him a visionary during that period, so it comes as no surprise that Google's Doodle pays a playful homage to him on his birthday. 


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