This coming Friday, Disney is releasing a new “Cut Paper” version of the “Arendelle Castle Yule Log”, which has been hand-crafted from paper with custom designs by Walt Disney Animation Studios’ acclaimed visual development artist Brittney Lee (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2” and production designer on “Myth: A Frozen Tale”), the Arendelle Castle Yule Log: Cut Paper Edition brings a festive spirit to the holiday season.

Using stylized cut-out art for the shapes of the fire combined with traditionally drawn and digital visual effects, and a hearthside tableau with silhouettes of “Frozen” favorites Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven, the scene is set for an inviting and warm holiday gathering, with just a touch of snow provided by Elsa. Fire, lighting and other visual effects complete the picture and bring some holiday magic direct from Arendelle to your living room.

Brittney was inspired by the charade scene in “Frozen 2” and her experimental work on “Myth: A Frozen Tale,” along with a desire to create the feeling of looking into a homemade diorama, as part of her process in designing this unique holiday treat.

Veteran Disney Animation effects animator Dan Lund, and visual effects supervisor Darin Hollings from the Studio’s Creative Legacy team (who first suggested Brittney as the right artist for this new Yule Log installment) worked closely with Brittney (in her role here as creator and production designer) to help her achieve the look and style that she wanted for the Yule Log.

Amy Astley, Senior Vice President of Publicity and Communications, Creative Legacy and Brand Strategy, Walt Disney Animation Studios, executive produced the project, with Angela D’Anna serving as associate producer. Thomas Rickert was the editor and Gabe Guy oversaw
the re-recording mixing. “Frozen” veterans Peter Del Vecho (producer) and Michael Giaimo (production designer), also lent their expertise.

Brittney Lee was just wrapping up art direction assignments on the 2021 Disney features, “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Encanto,” when she was approached about bringing her unique talents to this year’s Disney+ Yule Log edition. She explained:

“The original concept was to make everything from cut paper, but things morphed and evolved a bit from that as we brought in our visual effects experts. The starting point for me was building an actual diorama with five main structural layers including a hearth. The dimensions were approximately 32 x 20 inches, and my husband helped me rig it with real LED lights. Each layer was then photographed individually and digital files were created to get it ready for animation, ambient effects and compositing by Darin and Dan.

For the final Yule Log, I cut out three levels of flames inspired by the beautiful digitally animated fire demos that Dan Lund had created. Using that as a template, I cut out negative and positive shapes and photographed them in a variety of experimental ways. I backlit the negative pieces so that it would feel like light was projecting through them. The end result was a stylized effect
that had a texture and ambient glow to it, and felt a bit more tactile than a real fire. It’s a literal representation of what we were going for. It feels like you are looking into something that is homemade and flickers like a candlelight.

“Dan has been a part of the ‘Frozen’ team for as long as I have and knows my aesthetic language. We’ve been on the same journey of figuring out Elsa’s magic and all kinds of things. For the fire in the Yule Log, he noticed that my cut paper flames had a split in the middle. He really liked that design element and the kind of mid-century feel that it evoked, so he made sure to maintain that with his animated effects. He used different colors and values to preserve and reinforce it. The end result is my original paper cutouts with Dan’s visual effects melded together in a magical way. It’s a joint loving team effort. I gave Dan and Darin something to start with, but I think it’s magic because of them.

Working with paper is something that I really love. It’s a weird passion of mine. I enjoy it because it’s tangible and I like to be away from the computer sometimes. “Christmas is my major holiday. In my tiny little house, I have at least two Christmas trees every year. We don’t have our own fireplace so I always end up putting a yule log on TV to have a fire burning. I’m very excited that I get to have a unique yule log this year based on my creations. I think the best compliment for our work came from Amy (Astley) during a review session on Zoom where she said that it felt so cozy, she just wanted to get a blanket and snuggle up. I share that sentiment, and hope that everyone finds it warm and inviting and a nice little piece to have on during the holidays.”

Here are some images of how Brittney Lee made this new edition:

Arendelle Castle Yule Log: Cut Paper Edition will debut exclusively on Disney+, December 17th, 2021.

Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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  1. DisappointedMamaBear December 25, 2021

    A cute idea that is ruined by eerie high pitched background noises. My ears are bleeding. I expected the cozy sounds of crackling logs with this pretty cut paper scenery. Instead the unnerving screeching noises made me wonder if poor Tinkerbell fell into the flames. Hopefully Disney fixes this by next Yule.