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Revisiting A Beautiful, Ancient World...
"If it's easy or obvious, it's not in the movie.”

This was the dictum put in place on the first "Kung Fu Panda” by producer Cobb and filmmakers, and that level of excellence was picked right back up when production on the sequel began. For several of those involved in both, it seemed like an formidable challenge to try and top the artistic accomplishment of the first.

Jack Black ponders, "The amazing sequences they had with Tai Lung in the first film, I just really didn't get how they would top those. They were mind-blowing. But that's what Jen and everybody set out to do, and that's what they did. Not only the kung fu got kicked up a notch, but so did the sets. The whole city, the big vistas, the gorgeous ancient Chinese landscapes and sunsets—and now, ker-ching, they're in 3D. I know I say it a lot but, c'mon, AWE-SOME. There's this enormous pagoda that is Lord Shen's headquarters, and just in renderings, it is breathtaking. And do I have to say it? The fighting, Po's coming at you, all his furry glory at lightning speed. In two dimensions, it'll blow you away. In 3D, well, it'll blow your whole family away with you, and they may not even be in the theater.”

Jennifer Yuh Nelson saw the opportunity to (literally) blow the film out of the water: "The effects that we can accomplish now are much more advanced than just a couple of years ago, particularly with the added layer of 3D. So we were able to go pretty much where we wanted to with the action. Since we wanted to build on the first movie—and the first movie's done in the relative safety of the Valley of Peace—we wanted to push Po out of his comfort zone into a much larger, more intimidating location. We wanted to explore that and get a sense of space and scale, and just the sheer vastness of some of the challenges that Po and the Five are up against.”

For returning editor Clare Knight, 3D offers challenges, yes, but it is an expansion of the canvas she welcomes: "The thing about 3D I find is that it's substantially more immersive. For me, editing in 3D, I have to look at so much more within the screen. Moviegoers will get to see a whole lot more. So now, even more care is taken. I have to really look at how the eye is informed across the cut. Too much, too fast, the classic headache and eye fatigue. It really is a much bigger challenge, but that makes it all the more exciting to work on. And in this world, it's beautiful, and it serves both the action and the incredible environments we've built. It's the ultimate, and very exciting for the storytelling process.”

Back to ‘oversee' the look of the film is production designer Raymond Zibach. His job, as he puts it: "Basically, I'm responsible for everything visually in the film—from character design, to location design, to color of the whole film, the lighting, all the artwork—basically, I'm the über art director, if that's an okay word to use.”

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