Making a New American Nutcracker


Designing a Spectacle

Production Designer Julian Crouch’s design concept and making the tree grow.

AIRED: November 07, 2017 | 0:02:19

- Scrim is lit full front, so you see this image, but then

the lights that are on that glow through to illuminate--

- [Narrator] Crouch's design ideas for the new Nutcracker

were inspired by cartoonist Winsor McCay.

His drawings are from the early 1900s.

- You look at Winsor McCay's drawings,

and you're seeing these fantastical buildings

that are sort of classical, and sort of theatrical.

And, of course, that's exactly what the World's Fair was.

Fantasy cities and utopias.

They were dreaming big.

It was never real, in a way.

This is actually just like a Winsor McCay thing.

Woke up and it was all a dream.

- [Narrator] The design team worked out a plan

to grow a tree the likes of which had not been seen before.

- If you're doing The Nutcracker,

the tree has to grow, no two ways about it.

"The little tree shakes and vibrates and begins to grow.

"With a puff of smoke, it grows to enormous proportions."

Do you want to talk about how this is gonna happen?

- It's like a multi-stage thing, how it grows.

- [Julian] It starts with we're seeing the shadow

of the tree.

(dramatic orchestral music)

It starts to grow within shadow.

- It's a puppeteered piece,

and the shadow screen gets pulled down,

and then the scenery opens.

- If you see my arms, you start to see a triangle.

That becomes the top of the tree.

- So as the tree grew, grew, grew, grew, grew,

a video projection can stay exactly with the tree

as it grows like that.

(dramatic orchestral music)

- We then overlay on to that, and try as best we can

to create a seamless transition

between his world and our animated world.

We started with filming Basil's puppeted tree,

and then animated that thing that we filmed.

(dramatic orchestral music)

- And my job is to not mess it up.

(dramatic orchestral music)


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