August 22, 2013
Claude Debussy's 151st Birthday
- Today, August 22nd, is a very special day. ...my birthday! OK. Well, more than that, it's Claude Debussy's 151st birthday!
We sought out to create an animated doodle to commemorate Debussy as one of the most influential composers of all time. At the outstart, the task of creating and coding visual imagery that does justice to the spirit of his music seemed incredibly daunting. But, as it turned out, all I needed to do was to resurrect my trusty CD player and hit play, and the inspiration would start flooding in. I felt flickering lights, a quiet city and pouring rain set against the magical melody of Clair de Lune.
We started off with a rough prototype that was built with simple shapes synchronized to a MIDI file generated from sheet music. The prototype was well-received despite looking and sounding like something from the 80's:
Early HTML canvas prototype synchronized to a MIDI file.
Next, we needed a recording of Clair de Lune. I enlisted my sister to perform different variations of the piece on a keyboard that was hooked up to a computer. This gave me the data I needed to drive the animations and the final music that would be used to accompany the doodle.
Data from performance used to drive the animations.
Visually, I drew inspiration from cities of the late 1800's. Stylistically, I aimed for a pseudo-flat and graphic look, as influenced by an illustrator from Debussy's time, Andre Halle. And compositionally, my goal was to make a doodle that would look nice as a French wine label.
Thanks to Kris Hom and Mark Ivey for engineering support. Thanks to my sister, Sabrina Hong, for letting me record her performance for the doodle.
— Posted by Leon Hong, Doodler