For what would have been the 65th birthday of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, Google created a fluid animated Doodle, which sat for a day on Google’s homepages. All Doodles are suggested by Google's creative team, lead by Ryan Germick -- and this piece was suggested, directed and animated by 'unabashed Queen fan' Jennifer Hom. Crafted in After Effects, the video is set to Don’t Stop Me Now, and showcases Freddie’s ever-changing looks, exuberance and emotional depth across a mix of clean vectors and pixel art.
Watch the Google Doodle for Freddie Mercury's 65th birthday above
We caught up with Jennifer, fresh from a well-deserved holiday, to find out more about the project.
DA: What about Freddie Mercury's life and career did you most want to celebrate?
JH: "Freddie was notorious for being musically diverse, but he was also incredibly visually diverse. Considering his vivid costumes, we wanted to create a doodle that chronicled his career through his eccentric style."
DA: Was it a conscious choice to focus on his musical work and creative persona on his birthday, rather than also including him as a symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness?
JH: "We wanted to celebrate Freddie for his exceptional contributions to the world of music and as a legendary performer, artistic visionary, and one of the most powerful voices in rock history."
DA: How did you combine Freddie Mercury's many looks over the years into a cohesive piece?
Like all of our other doodles, I had to do a lot of research before drawing a single thing. After flipping through Queen books, videos, and websites, I came up with a catalogue of dozens of Freddie's looks over the years. From there, it was actually pretty easy since I was working with the lyrics of Don't Stop Me Now.
It was no coincidence that I chose a song that contains a lot of visual cues. Since the second verse contains references to stars, a tiger, and a race car, the first third of the animation seemed to write itself. The song and his costumes are adventurous, so I drew how I thought those elements intersect.
DA: What creative techniques did you use to represent his energy and exuberance?
JH: "In terms of colour, I knew that a range of palettes was key to representing his persona. He was not always high energy, his performances had a lot of contrast in terms of mood -- he would open a song softly, then launch into a melody with a locomotive beat. I had to, therefore, compose the palettes to account for both subtlety and exuberance.
"The motion, also, naturally follows the cues set up in the palette. Objects in the darker scenes tend to move in an ambient fashion while those in bright scenes scroll by quickly.
DA: Why did you decide on a mix of clean vector and pixel art?
JH: "I knew that one visual world could not contain the energy of Don't Stop Me Now. The song has a mellow start and climbs to an explosion. It wasn't enough for just the scene in the animation to change, the world in which it exists had to transform as well.
"I used the pixel art as a nod to video games and take the user into a world that is naturally tied to adventure. As crazy as it is to see a tiger fly into space and eat a bolt of lightning, it is more acceptable and playful if this happens through the filter of a video-game aesthetic."
DA: How did you get Brian May to contribute?
JH: "We had the great fortune of working with Brian May because we were already working with Queen's manager, Jim Beach. Jim was making sure that the animation was true to Freddie's life and style. Through Jim, we were able to get in touch with Brian for a heartfelt blog post. We knew that no one could write a more authentic tribute to Freddie than someone who knew him personally and professionally."