Long before there were computers and software the world of animation was revolutionized by an apparatus called the Multiplane Camera. It allowed filmmakers to shoot images at four different levels, moving at different speeds and planes that allowed for a level of depth in the background that had never been possible before in the world of animation. Anyone that’s ever used Photoshop will recognize this principle and is already familiar with the importance of layers, which allow you to compartmentalize aspects of the image and work with the various levels separately. By capturing incremental changes to the different layers and adding movement to the whole, animators are able to create an optical illusion of a three dimensional environment that the viewer is moving through.
The Walt Disney company, which invested heavily in the development of new technology in the field of animation, developed the camera in 1933. In the clip below, Disney himself explains how the camera works, why it was created, and how it was used to shoot the opening sequence of the beloved film Bambi:
Last week the Brazilian collective Animatorio released two animated videos for Billboard, made using this same 70-year-old technique that’s long been displaced by new 3D rendering and motion graphics technologies. Each short below tells the story of an artist in a humorous way, using paper dolls. Check it out below, paying attention to the details. First, Michael Jackson, then 50 Cent:
We talked to one of the directors of Animatório, PG, who told us how the videos were made, produced at first only to compete in the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, but eventually added to the latest Billboard campaign.
“There was a heavy image search, which were then cut in Photoshop and made into paper dolls. We made a table top board with layers of glass (in the same scheme of Walt Disney’s Multiplane Camera) and created a 3D analog mode. The dolls were hung on strings and plywood and moved while we were recording with a Cannon 5D camera. Less than 10% of these videos resulted from post-production made on a computer.”