A predecessor to the multiplane camera was used by Lotte Reiniger for her animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). Berthold Bartosch, who worked with her, used a similar setup in his 1930 film "The Idea". 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. His multiplane camera was used in a number of the Iwerks Studio's Willie Whopper and Comicolor cartoons of the mid-1930s.
The technicians at Fleischer Studios created a distantly related device, called the Stereoptical Camera or Setback, in 1934. Their apparatus used three-dimensional miniature sets built to the scale of the animation artwork. The animation cels were placed so that various objects could pass in front of and behind them, and the entire scene was shot using a horizontal camera. The Tabletop process was used to create distinctive results in Fleischer's Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, and Color Classics cartoons.
The most famous multiplane camera was invented by William Garity for the Walt Disney Studios to be used in the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The camera was completed in early 1937 and tested in a Silly Symphony called The Old Mill, which won the 1937 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. Disney's multiplane camera, which used up to seven layers of artwork (painted in oils on glass) shot under a vertical and moveable camera, allowed for more sophisticated uses than the Iwerks or Fleischer versions, and was used prominently in Disney films such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, and Peter Pan. Its final use was in 1989's The Little Mermaid, as the process was made obsolete by the implementation of a multiplane feature in the computerized CAPS process used for subsequent Disney films. There are only three original Disney Multiplane cameras left, one at The Walt Disney Animation Studios, Burbank - California, one at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and one in the Art of Disney Animation attraction at The Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Resort Paris.
Other forms of animation such as video games also use multiplane, or parallax scrolling, a related effect.