How to make a multiplane camera stand for stop motion animation

The multiplane camera is a special motion picture camera used in the traditional animation process that moves a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at various speeds and at various distances from one another. This creates a three-dimensional, stereoscopic and parallax effects. The first multiplane camera, using four layers of flat artwork before a horizontal camera, was invented by former Walt Disney Studios animator/director Ub Iwerks in 1933, using parts from an old Chevrolet automobile.

Since so much of my art involves layers of paper, I thought I should build a multiplane camera stand to help animate my drawings. Here’s how I did it. And I didn’t need a Chevrolet.

I had four old 2×2’s at the studio. I drilled holes spaced 1/2″ apart. They are about 42″ tall. I used a 1/4″ drill bit, because I knew Home Depot had pegs that size.


I went to Home Depot and picked up some 16″ x 20″ panes of glass. The label says “Be careful! Edges are sharp!” I’ve cut myself twice, so that’s no lie.


The size of the glass helped me determine the dimensions of the stand.


The braces at the top and bottom are cheap pine scraps. I can easily replace them to make the stand wider, which will accommodate bigger glass.

Here are the pegs I use:



Once the stand was complete, I set it on top of my camera platform (which you can read about here).



It works well with both paper cutouts and 3D objects.



I added tape to the outward facing glass edges.  It’s helped reduce the number of cuts I receive from the glass.



I painted the visible wood supports black, which helped with unwanted reflections:


Once I saw it was going to work, I painted the whole thing black.


If you make one, or have suggestions or different ideas, please email me at jim.doran@gmail.com.

How to make a simple stop motion camera platform

Here is a Bogen camera stand, which is used mostly for stop motion animation. It’s lovely. The nice thing about the Bogen is how easy it is to raise and lower the camera. The less good thing is, it’s expensive.


This is a simple camera stand which can be also used for stop motion animation. I designed this one for a DSLR camera, but you can easily convert it for use with an iPhone or a point-and-shoot camera.


I made a base with smooth spruce plywood attached to 2×2’s. I wanted it to be solid and sturdy, but not ridiculously heavy.

Underside of the base

I attached the flange to the far end of the base with wood screws.


I bought a 36″ galvanized steel pipe – it’s studier than plastic PVC pipes, and it’s essential that the camera not wiggle or shift on the pole.  I would like to try a longer piece, but this one works.


To hold the camera, I use a Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp with 2908 Standard Stud and a EXMAX Tripod Mini Ball Head for DSLR Camera Camcorder Light Bracket Swivel 1/4″ Screw.jointClamp

Which looks like this:clamp

One of the things I use this stand for is filming “flip” animation. I bought a peg bar from Light Foot limited.


I tape the bar to a light box and put a sheet of paper on the peg bar. I draw something on the sheet, and then put another blank sheet on top. I can draw a slightly different drawing, creating each frame of the animation by hand.


Then, I put the peg bar on the camera stand, and shoot each drawing individually.



I haven’t attached any lights to the side of this stand, because I also use it as the base of a multi-plane camera stand (instructions are here).

P.S. I put the apple stickers over two screw holes that were a little rough. Apple had nothing to do with the construction of this stand. :)

If you make one, or have suggestions or different ideas, please email me at jim.doran@gmail.com.

Acrylic Paint versus Oil Paint versus Watercolor

Since I’m not teaching this term, I’ve been exploring painting (more) and comparing oil painting to using acrylics to using watercolor. I’ve spent at least one evening a week using oils for the past six weeks or so. Which is to say, I still know very little about oil painting.

Oil Paint

  • Expensive
  • Takes FOREVER to dry. Because of this, I think it’s messy. No matter how careful I am, I always get it on my teeth
  • Toxic
  • Requires a lot of planning
  • Dries shiny, depending on how much medium is used

Acrylic Paint

  • Cheap
  • Dries VERY quickly
  • Plastic
  • Forgiving
  • Dries shiny, unless matte medium is added, or it’s watered down


  • Sorta Cheap
  • Dries quickly with a blow drier
  • Nice color saturation
  • Pain in the ass. Requires a lot of skill and patience
  • Dries flat, not shiny at all

(I’m still working on this one)

It can be nice that oil paint stays wet. I’ve noticed that I can spend a lot of time mixing colors with no penalty, and I tend to get closer to what I’m looking at with oil paint. On the other hand, I don’t have very much time to paint/make art/draw/mix colors, so I appreciate that acrylics dry quickly – I build layers super fast. And I can’t really build watercolor layers…it reactivates once wet and runs.

A value study


Some of my favorite things. Especially the book. Painted with iPhone.

In progress

I $%^& dropped it right after taking this picture. I haven’t swept the barn in weeks. So, there was a lot of schmuz stuck in the paint, which I worked out with a palette knife. If this was acrylic, there would have been no problem.

So far, I still prefer acrylic, then watercolor, then oil. As I become more skilled in what I’m trying to accomplish, I may appreciate oil  painting more. But, I doubt it. It gets on my teeth.