The Multi-Plane Camera

When you enter the Art of Disney Animation the first room you enter is a “holding pen” with various exhibits to view while you wait. One of the most exciting pieces is an original Multi-plane camera complete with animation cells from what I believe to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Multi-Plane camera was used to create a three dimensional effect when filming flat animation. This was done with the use of several layers of cells. Sections on each layer were left transparent to allow the imagery behind to show through. By doing this the animators could move the various layers at different speeds and directions to each other.

In a standard motion where the viewer was in a vehicle, the background would move slower than the foreground. One of the most innovative uses of this was in the Feature animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the scene where the evil queen drinks her transformation potion, the foreground moves in the opposite direction to the background. This effect gives the illusion of the room spinning around.

Thanks to Ben Debnam for the use of these photographs.

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