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Monday, August 04, 2008

In Glorious Multiplane - 1

I'm back, and I just decided this week is Multiplane week!

For those of you for whom this is a first acquaintance: the Multiplane Camera was a 12 foot high device produced in the mid-to-late 1930's to enhance the depth in animated cartoons by separating the artwork to be shot into levels that were physically separated in space. The camera looked down through the levels which could move indepen-dently from each other. There was also a horizontal Multiplane rig, and some would say that the Fleishers also had made a similar device, but here I will concentrate on Disney's vertical setup.

To start this off, here is a wall decoration about the Multiplane Camera that hangs across the hall from the Disney Archives.
I photographed it quickly, with lots of glare, and I put several photos together for the composite, the first image. Still, I hope you'll enjoy it - be sure to read all the text: we'll go more in-depth soon...

Then there are two close-ups: the second image shows the original Snow White Multiplane rig on the right and the Fantasia rig on the left during the shooting of the Ave Maria sequence.
The last image shows the lamp house and lamps.

I believe that the gentleman top left may be camera operator, later head of ARI and ultimately president of Walt Disney Productions, Card Walker. He appears on several photos of the camera crew.

It would seem that this informational frame was put together just after Fantasia, in the early 40's, and the studio was proud of it...

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Anonymous David says...

The Walt Disney Museum, scheduled to open on the grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco in the fall of 2009, will feature a multiplane camera that will span two floors of the museum.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 12:22:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Oswald Iten says...

Thanks Hans! If only I'd had something like this when I first tried to construct a Lego multiplane for my father's Super8 camera as a kid.

David: I read on your profile that you are into vintage Disney items. I have a german Sleeping Beauty storybook from 1959, would you like me to send you some scans?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 4:52:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Michael Sporn says...

Priceless. Thank you.

When I was 14, my carpenter brother-in-law constructed a multiplane stand for me out of wood. It was for my regular 8mm camera. My father built in about 6000 watts of photoflood lighting and 12 planes of glass about 24x36". It made for some complex shooting and some entertaining memories. I ended up with about 2½ hours of animated film by the time I made it to college at 17. Some of it was actually good.

I was that enchanted with the multiplane work by the Disney studio. Obviously, I'm still enchanted with it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 5:19:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Joost Blox says...

Another interesting post on this great blog.

I always thought that the Ave Maria sequence was shot using the horizontal multiplane camera, but that seems not the one pictured here, or am I mistaken?

Does anyone know how many multiplane cameras there were eventually? There is one on display at the Disney Studios park in Paris and I have always wondered if it is original...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 2:57:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Hans Perk says...

Joost, I was getting to that! I have several postings lined up... But ok - I was told that there are three cameras: as far as I know, the one in Paris used to be on display in Florida. Then there is the one at the Archives and finally there is one supposed to be "usable as spare parts only." I do not (yet) know which one David speaks of, but it can very well be the one from the Archives, as they were thinking of possibly using the space for something else.

Thanks for commenting, everyone - more on the Multiplane camera is on its way!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 3:08:00 PM PDT  

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