A Look Behind the Stunning Visuals of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

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NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMSSince it’s inception, Disney has strived to be a leader in cinematography. From the moment Mickey first sailed in his steamboat, to the moment when Belle took to the dance floor with her beast, and now to a Sugarplum Fairy gliding across fantastical worlds, Disney has delivered the most stunning visuals that technology would allow.

The captivating visuals of Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, (which opened in U.S. theaters on Friday, November 2 is certainly no different. Moviegoers are complete imma wonderous and fantastical world teeming with visual delights.  The detail and dimension in the film far exceed l any adaptatiT.A. Hoffmann’s story that has come before.

Academy Award®-nominated and BAFTA-winning production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas (Inception) began his filmmaking career at Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked in visual effects. Though well-versed in the most current technology, he performs to brainstorm old school and “think with a pencil”,  to sketch ideas by hand rather than render theme earls of The Nutcracker the Four Realms, Dyas filled several notebooks with sketches as he studied Ashleigh Powell’s screenplay for the film. When he was ready to get to work he had over 200 pencil drawings that would form the basis for the film’s richly detailed sets and amazing visual effects.

“There was absolute freedom just to dream,” Dyas says of his creative partnership with Disney, which began before the film was given the green light. He adds that in this film he was able to stick to what he originally had in mind, “I’ve been able to hold on to that image from the pencil drawing, which was my gut reaction to reading that written word, right through to what you see on screen,” he says.

Though he may brainstorm old school, he certainly gets to work new school style. The sets Dyas conceived were designed using 3-D imaging which became the blueprint for the world that the visual effects team would eventually build. This made it much easier on the team because, of course, on a film of this scale—and with a fantastical story that includes a Nutcracker soldier and a land that is essentially an enormous melting glacier—there were simply some things that could only be created digitally. The Mouse King is one of them. He is comprised of 60,000 mice- a completely CG character emerged from Dyas’ sketchbook, inspired by his memories of reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a young boy in England.

Though whenever possible they, Dyas and his team built actual, tangible sets that the actors could inhabit and lands they could be immersed in along with moviegoers, who will see Mackenzie Foy, as Clara, run through a forest of trees that stood tall on the soundstage, and who will be amazed right alongside the Stahlbaum family when the enigmatic Drosselmeyer throws open the doors to his spectacular Christmas celebration. “We had the advantage of being in the U.K., where there are a lot of great craftsmen who still exist from the golden age of cinema,” Dyas says, sharing that the film’s extended ballet sequence starring Misty Copeland features flowers that actually open like origami, trees that grow before our eyes and an artisan-made curiosity box from which the prima ballerina emerges, among other visual delights. “All of that happened because we came at this project from a very old-fashioned standpoint,” Dyas explains, noting that he looked to Disney classics such as Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks for creative inspiration.


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a movie experience unlike any other. The colors, the effects, the creative rendering of ordinary things- we think it this new film is a Cinematic masterpiece! Have you seen it yet? Let us know what you thought.


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