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.

peg-holes

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.

glass

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

measurements

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:

pegs

glass-on-mount

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

finished-stand

finshed-above

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

in-use-peanuts-vs-beans

trees

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

paper-cutouts

UPDATE

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

black

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

painted

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