The Multiplane Camera in Disney’s 1937 Snow White

Last week I read the book Show White and the Seven Dwarfs by Eric Smoodin, which gives a detailed look into the making of Disney’s 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Smoodin provides historical context of the Hollywood film industry during that time and the impact of Snow White in contributing to the ongoing development of color films in Hollywood. Smoodin describes the use of the multiplane camera in Snow White, which gave the animation a three-dimensional look, deviating from the flat two-dimensional look of animated films. In this process of using a multiplane camera, the camera is placed in front of a layer of multiple pieces of artwork, such as art pieces that depict the foreground and background. For each successive frame, each art piece is moved in various calculated directions and speeds. This technique gives the final image depth and thus a tree-dimensional look.

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