How Google Created Its Epic(-ish) Valentine’s Day Doodle

For Valentine’s Day, Google has created one of its most ambitious Doodles yet. When you click on the Google logo today, you get to watch a one-minute animation showing the highs and lows of young love — and illustrating that Google can’t solve everything.

I’ve embedded a video of the Doodle below, and if you like it, much of the credit goes to Michael Lipman, an animator whose past work includes Happy Tree Friends, and who was hired by the Doodle team to turn their animatic storyboard into a full-length animation. Lipman told me that it was definitely an intense project — an animation of this length would normally him take nine or 10 weeks, but when Google approached him in mid-January, they gave him three.

“When Google calls and says, ‘Drop everything, we want you to create somethign that’s going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people,’ you heed that call,” Lipman said.

The idea of weekends, or of a 9-5 workday, went out the window. Instead, it was constant animating. Lipman said that while Google’s artists (specifically Willie Real) had already come up with the designs and the story, they were also collaborative, allowing him to add his own flourishes. For example, the moment when the balloon animal pops about 30 seconds in? That’s Lipman.

He also pointed out that the song playing underneath the animation is Tony Bennett’s cover of “Cold, Cold Heart” — a nice touch, because Bennett is supposedly a fan of the Doodles and wanted to get involved.

Long-form Doodles from the past include those celebrating John Lennon’s, Freddie Mercury’s, and Charlie Chaplin’s birthdays. (Of course, “long form” is relative, but a 1- or 2-minute video is certainly more ambitious than a standard Doodle.) Lipman said he hopes Google does more like this in the future — and, of course, that they hire him to do the animating. In some ways, he said the job reminded him of the tech scene a decade ago, when there were more companies willing to show “patronage” for digital animators.

“The coolest thing, after having worked in online games for the last 10 years, is it was a wonderful return to storytelling,” Lipman said. “It felt like a Valentine for me.”