Walt Disney's Multi-Plane Camera

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Communications Report

"The Multiplane Camera"

23/04/12

The Multiplane Camera

Before the advent of the multiplane camera there were many different techniques used to create animations. One of the most common techniques at this time was to photograph individual frames of animation that have been inked onto transparent sheets of celluloid and placed onto a static or scrolling panoramic background, which is demonstrated in the documentary Walt Disney's MultiPlane Camera (1957). This technique was effective as it enables the character to simulate movement in all directions to create a three-dimensional effect and fluidly move throughout a scene. The downsides of this technique was that the illusion of movement and dimension in the background disappears along with the character when it leaves the scene, and also that it is impossible to create the effect of zooming towards or away from the scene.

To deal with these problems a new form of animation was developed using the multiplane camera. This system was comprised of a camera sitting on top of a large steel frame that contained mechanisms to hold multiple sheets of glass, with the camera pointing directly down through the glass towards the bottom of the device. Each of these sheets of glass would have a partial scene painted on them using oil paint and could be precisely moved towards and away from the camera, as well as in all other directions to create a much more complex and realistic effect of movement, the farther away from the camera a frame is, the slower it moves. The effect created by this technique is known as the parralax process. If the background and foreground move in the opposite direction, it creates a rotation affect that was used most prominently in the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) when the queen drinks her potion and the scenery seems to briefly rotate around her.

An early version of the multiplane camera system was used by Lotte Reiniger in 1926, but the system...
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