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Georges Méliès: Who was French illusionist honoured by Google in first VR Doodle

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Google Doodle, Google Spotlight Stories, Google Arts & Culture, Nexus Studios and Cinémathèque Française have teamed up to create the very first Virtual Reality (VR) Doodle.

If you click yourself onto the Google homepage you will be met with what looks like an ordinary Doodle film clip.

You will see a vintage-looking clip of a man in a suit, but soon enough you will see why its different.

The charming 360° interactive Doodle allows the watcher to use their mouse to look anywhere they want in the room.

For those with a VR headset or similar appliances, they can enjoy the full immersive experience.

The man in the clip is in fact Georges Méliès, a French filmmaker who pioneered the use of special effects.

Google has released the Doodle today, which marks 116 years since the release date of one of Méliès greatest masterpieces, À la conquête du pôle (The Conquest of the Pole).

The 1912 silent film was inspired by contemporary events and Jules Vernes Voyages Extraordinaires.

Georges Melies Google Doodle GOOGLE

GOOGLE DOODLE: This is the first VR clip on the homepage

The clip, called Back to the Moon, is part of the Spotlight Stories app, in which those with Cardboard and Daydream headsets or high-tech VR headsets can watch the clever clips in an immersive experience.

The unique video clip honours the French illusionist Méliès, who pioneered numerous technical and narrative film techniques in the early days of cinema.

He was especially famous for the early use of special effects and creating some of the earliest science fiction films.

The YouTube version of the video brings to life the various film techniques he used.

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Who was Georges Méliès?

Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, known simply as Georges Méliès, was born on December 8, 1861 in Paris.

He was the son of luxury shoemakers, and after attending the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand, finishing his military service and doing an apprenticeship as a clerk in London, he decided to work as an illusionist in Paris.

The French film-enthusiast was present in Paris in 1895 when the Lumière brothers showcased the first real movies.

At this time he was trained as a magician, and was the managing director of the Theatre Robert-Houdin.

The movie clips were taken from real life, but Méliès was inspired and his imagination saw further possibilities.

Georges Méliès GETTY

GEORGES MÉLIÈS: The French filmmaker pioneer special effects in early cinema

Geoges Melies A Trip To The Moon GETTY

CLASSIC: Georges Méliès classic A Trip To The Moon

The magician bought a camera and built a glass-enclosed studio near Paris.

He started to write scrips, design sets and used actors to films tories.

The Frenchman used his background as an illusionist to create tricks with the camera to go beyond the basic filming stye.

Méliès pioneered the use of special effects in the early days of cinema, and was one of the first filmmakers to use storyboards.

He is also credited to have populated film techniques such as multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves and hand-painted colour.

Georges Melies Google Doodle GOOGLE

VIRTUAL REALITY: The Google Doodle is called Back to the Moon

Throughout his impressive career he created more than 500 films, ranging in length from one to 40 minutes.

His quirky style combined illusion, comic burlesque and pantomime.

The films were often similar to the theatre magic shows that he would put on.

His most popular films include One-Man Band (1900), A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904).

Georges Méliès GOOGLE

CINEMATIC EFFECTS: Méliès used his skills as an illusionist and his imagination

The French magician would often star in his own films, and helped with almost every aspect of the production, including set designs and directing.

When the industry started growing he could not keep up with the commercial pressures, which meant he was forced out of business in 1913.

Méliès tragically went bankrupt upon the onset of the First World War, and was forced to sell his back catalogue.

The celebrated filmmaker died of cancer on January 21, 1938 at the age of 76.

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