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When debating the icons of Germany’s early animation scene (as one is wont to do), you always hear the same names: ol’ Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter, Bartosch, and Walter Ruttmann.

So, today’s “unfortunately-and-unfairly-overlooked-women-in-history” lesson is about Lotte Reiniger, the brilliant designer who invented the multi-plane camera and created the first full length color animation.

And good news, her brilliant bio is also a wellspring of practical inspiration, like:

Don’t box yourself in

While pioneering some of the most inventive filming techniques of the 20th century, Reiniger also dabbled in puppetry. And in her film The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), she combined these two passions to make one earth-shattering, history-making piece of work.

Let this be a reminder to let your outside interests inform your output. Because the more frames of reference you feed your brain, the more you’ll be able to make unique creative connections AKA great big ideas.

Set yourself up to succeed

Snow White is oft believed to be the first full-length color animated film—and it was…in America. But the world over, the aforementioned TAoPA (as us fangirls should definitely start calling it) was the first. And it was created solely by Reiniger, in an apartment that doubled as her studio.

Rolling out of bed, taking a step, arriving at your drafting table, and getting Disney-sized results is what us present-day folks might call #WFHgoals. And let it guide your own setup, whether that’s in your broom closet or your cubicle. Keep your most-needed objects close at hand so that once you get into that sweet flow state, you don’t need to break to find a pen.

Innovate as needed

Reiniger’s multi-plane camera was inspired by a need to convey depth. She solved this by cutting a hole into a table, setting a camera above, and angling it down to capture the puppets she had placed on stacked panes and moved as needed.

The House of Mouse would later patent a more complex version (rude), but her rougher setup paved the way—and proved that you don’t need the most cutting-edge tech to blaze a new trail.

Be awarded the Filmband in Gold from the Deutscher Film Press

This is not a mandatory, but it is a cool-as-heck achievement if you, like Lotte, can swing it.

In the meantime, try to imbue your brand (and overall work) with an inventive, ground-breaking spirit—it’s what your new favorite filmmaker would have wanted.

Have an avant-garde weekend, everybody!

—Your history-loving, future-looking friends at Brokaw

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