If you're wondering why your Google Doodle is making delightful music today, it's because Google is honoring filmmaker and visual artist Oskar Fischinger, who would have turned 117 today. You can create your own audio-visual composition in the abstract animator's style right on Google.com.
Fischinger was a revolutionary animator and painter, producing modern works that were decades ahead of his time. He made frame-by-frame, stop-animation short films long before we had access to computer-generated graphics or digital post-production, and long before music videos as we know them came on the scene. Notably, he contributed sequences to Walt Disney's Fantasia and Pinocchio.
"In the world of design, Fischinger is a towering figure, especially in the areas of motion graphics and animation," writes Leon Hong, the creative lead for the interactive Doodle. "He is best known for his ability to combine impeccably synchronized abstract visuals with musical accompaniment, each frame carefully drawn or photographed by hand. A master of motion and color, Fischinger spent months — sometimes years — planning and handcrafting his animations."
Fischinger fled Nazi Germany for the United States in 1936, along with many other artists and intellectuals who seeked to escape the regime; he had received an offer to work at MGM in Hollywood. He died in Los Angeles in 1967, at age 66.
"My father was incredibly dedicated to his art — some even called him stubborn," Angie Fischinger, his youngest child, told Google. "His passion and honesty were part of his brilliance, but they could also make him a bit difficult to work with. Sometimes our family struggled financially as a result, so everybody pitched in — the kids got paper routes or did babysitting. We were raised in a healthy, hard-working environment. We were happy, intellectually stimulated, and dedicated to education."