Oskar Fischinger Google doodle honoring the filmmaker & visual artist doubles as musical instrument

Today’s Google doodle is a tribute to German-born filmmaker and visual artist Oskar Fischinger, on what would have been his 117th birthday.

According to Fischinger’s daughter, he and his wife immigrated to America from Germany in 1936.

“They were forced to leave Germany in 1936 when it became clear that my father could not pursue his work as a filmmaker there (avant-garde was considered degenerate by Hitler and his administration),” says Angie Fischinger, “But many people who had already seen his films recognized his greatness. He received an offer to work at MGM and stayed in Hollywood after the war.”

The doodle’s creative lead Leon Hong calls Fischinger a “towering figure” in the world of motion graphics and animation.

“He is best known for his ability to combine impeccably synchronized abstract visuals with musical accompaniment, each frame carefully drawn or photographed by hand,” writes Hong on the Google Doodle Blog, “A master of motion and color, Fischinger spent months — sometimes years — planning and handcrafting his animations.”

Today’s doodle is, on its own, a masterful creation of motion, music and color. Displaying on almost all of Google’s home pages — both here in the US and internationally — the doodle launches a digital musical instrument that lets users compose their own tunes, and then plays them back paired with a visual reflection of the notes.

The interactive music composition tool has various controls to change the key, the tempo and the instrument sound. Works by three separate professional composers have been included as well — Nick Zammuto, TOKiMONSTA and the band Local Natives.

There is a share icon to post your compositions on social pages, and the option to search “Oskar Fischinger” at the bottom of the screen.

“His colors and motion are so carefully planned yet naturally playful, his timing so precise yet human,” writes Hong. “Today’s Doodle aims to pay homage to him, while allowing you to compose your own visual music. I hope it inspires you to seek out the magic of Fischinger for yourself.”

In addition to Hong, the doodle’s production team included engineers Kris Hom and Brian Murray, producer My-Linh Le, project support by Perla Compos, and Marci Windsheimer served as blog editor for the doodle.

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