Lotte Reiniger was the first female animator and animated feature director. Period. This German native was the foremost pioneer in silhouette animation, and made over 40 films using silhouette puppet figures. She anticipated Disney and Iwerks by ten years: taking on fairy tale-based stories, invented the first ever multiplane camera and co-founded her own company Primrose Productions in 1953.
A very important innovation and invention that facilitated the animation industry was the multi-plane camera, created by Walt Disney himself. This machine was patented on May 1, 1940. What this did was stack planes of glass on top of each other, each with a different drawn element of the animation. These elements could include backgrounds, foregrounds, or characters. This made it so certain parts of the drawing would not need to be done over and over again, thus saving time and energy.