Multiplane Cameras

Drawing is a very important aspect in traditional animation, but what about the machines that help animate characters to life? 2D can have a little bit of 3D with the help of the multiplane camera (some assembly required, 3D glasses are not included).

The multiplane camera was a special camera that helped record the movement of multiple layers of art work  that would move past the camera at various speeds and distances. It was very popular for establishing background shots. Above is a diagram of how the multiplane camera was used. The different layers of transparent art work would be placed below and the camera was placed vertically on top as it would shoot down to record the images. The different layers combined with the calculated distance and speed helped create more depth and dimension. The first vertical multiplane camera was invented in 1933 by Ub Iwerks, former Walt Disney Studios animator and director. He used old car parts from a Chevrolet to help build it. If you are still confused about how a multiplane camera works, watch the video below to see how Walt Disney himself explains it.

Watch the video below to see how the multiplane camera was used in several Disney films.

After the late 1980s, the multiplane camera was becoming obsolete with the digital multiplane camera becoming popular in computer animation programs. Even though they are not used anymore, there are three original Disney multiplane cameras that still exist. One is at The Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California; another is at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, France. Can you guess where the third one may be? Hint: It is located in the same place where seven miniature dwarf sized Oscars are displayed.

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