Creating "The Multiplane Camera"

"The Multiplane Camera" is a short motion graphics film on Walt Disney's use of the multiplane camera. Although Disney's name is on the patent, the multiplane camera's earliest history can traced back to Lotte Reiniger in 1926 Germany, for her color-tinted animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Since then, Walt Disney Studios' innovations of the multiplane camera have evolved through 80 years of Disney classics.

Production for "The Multiplane Camera" began with a lot of research. Once I narrowed my sources down to what seemed to be a cohesive timeline, I wrote the project's script. I found some really interesting footage of Walt Disney speaking about the camera and decided to use clips for the project's introduction and transitions. 

Next, I drew a storyboard for "The Multiplane Camera". I used a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 for the drawings. I cannot say enough how much I love the Surface Pen's precision. Included on my storyboard are the approximate lengths for each shot, helping to estimate the overall film's length.

Along with the storyboard, I also wrote a treatment and filming plan. The treatment was basically a typed version of the storyboard, including the sources for each statement and narrator's lines. The filming plan included a project timeline, with due dates for each step of production. I also went through the storyboard and wrote down each element/asset that needed to be created or found. This way, I was able to cross them off my list for a bit of self-motivation.


I drew all of the film's elements using Adobe Illustrator CC 2017. For the project, a lot of planning for the layers was required. I had to preemptively think of how the graphics would move in order to avoid problems with element interactions once I imported my assets into After Effects. I also decided to export all of my drawings as .PNGs to preserve transparency as well as "fitting to artboard" to keep the 1920 x 1080 object sizes consistent.

The graphics were animated with Adobe After Effects CC 2017. For the project, I wanted to focus on smooth transitions/movements and a cohesive feeling. Adding a simple texture layer with light opacity helped with the cohesiveness. Smooth transitions were achieved through a "bounce" effect, using keyframes and expressions.

The After Effects file ended up with over 60 layers of different moving graphics and recorded narration. One of my favorite animations is at approximately 02:20 - 02:49. I explain the parallax effect and demonstrate it through manipulating different layers of the same final image. Check out the completed motion graphics film below.

Until next time,