Walter E. Disney received patent #2,201,689 for the art of animation on May 21, 1940. In 2002, USPTO recognized Walt Disney and his advancement in animation on the 62nd anniversary of this patent.
The patent was for a multi-plane camera that allowed for a more realistic three-dimensional image as well as depth and richness to the animation. The multiplane camera used stacked planes of glass each painted with different elements of a cell animation. The multiplane allowed the animator to re-use the same background, foreground, or any elements not in motion, saving hours of labor. The exposure differences for each plane of glass was calculated.
Disney’s invention enabled him to move from the standard animated short films he made famous, such as “Steamboat Willie” featuring Mickey Mouse® (trademark registration #0247156) in 1928, to the feature-length animation seen in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs®,” released in 1937 and his first film to use the multi-plane camera.
The multiplane camera was used in the Walt Disney Studios during the thirties and forties to create countless animated pictures.
Walt Disney was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
Another version of the patented multi-plane camera
Disney’s original multi-plane camera
Publication number: US2201689 A
Patent Title: Art of animation
Publication type: Grant
Publication date: May 21, 1940
Filing date: Sep 1, 1936
Priority date: Sep 1, 1936
Inventors: Disney Walter E
Original Assignee: Walt Disney Prod