The Multiplane Camera

The Mulitplane camera was a revolutionary break through for animation, it was a special motion picture camera used in the traditional animation process that moves a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at various speeds and at various distances from one another. This creates a three-dimensional effect, although not actually stereoscopic.

The predecessor to the multiplane camera was used by Lotte Reiniger for her animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). The first multiplane camera, using four layers of flat artwork before a horizontal camera, was invented by former Walt Disney Studios animator/director Ub Iwerks in 1933, using parts from an old Chevrolet automobile.[1] His multiplane camera was used in a number of the Iwerks Studio’s Willie Whopper and Comicolor cartoonsof the mid-1930s.

An interesting variation is to have the background and foreground move in opposite directions. This creates an effect of rotation. An early example is the scene in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where the evil Queen drinks her potion, and the surroundings appear to spin around her.

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