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Behind the Scenes of Kung Fu Panda 4 with DreamWorks Animation's Director Mike Mitchell and Team

How innovative animation techniques placed Po and his friends into a cinematic world like no other.


April 03, 2024

Since its theatrical debut on March 8, Kung Fu Panda 4 has seen global success with its growing fandom driving more than $300 million at the box office. Marking the fourth installment in the franchise, Kung Fu Panda 4 was brought to life by an incredible creative team that upped the ante for the beloved Dragon Warrior Po. From camera work development, character and landscape creation, meet the team behind-the-scenes of the animated hit. 

Creating Kung Fu Panda 4’s Unique Visual Language

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Mitchell incorporated groundbreaking camera work throughout the film that had never been used in animation before. Mitchell adapted the Go-Pro style, which the team rightfully dubbed the “Go-Po” style, to bring the audience into Po’s POV while capturing action-packed movement. Production designer Paul Duncan used digital paint brush strokes and artful textures to help bring dynamic visual aspects into the action-packed fight scenes. By combining the unique painterly style with “Go-Po” camera movement Kung Fu Panda 4 is a movie that looks like no other.

Bringing New Kung Fu Panda 4 Characters to Life

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The Chameleon (Voiced by Viola Davis) 

The concept behind the villainous shapeshifter was born out of the want for a “supernatural” character to join the cast. The Chameleon’s transformation process depicts her anger from feeling invisible to others as intensely painful and bone-breaking. According to Sean Sexton, Head of Character Animation at DreamWorks, The Chameleon is the most technologically advanced character ever created at the animation studio. To animate her shapeshifting, the team built her character a rig (CGI puppet) of more than 8,130 controls, giving them the ability to move every single piece of her, including the flaps of her dress. The animators then moved these individual parts at different rates to make The Chameleon an unsettling yet visually compelling character. 

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Zhen (Voiced by Awkwafina)

To bring Zhen the corsac fox to life, DreamWorks animators studied the movement of foxes and created thousands of drawings to help visualize Zhen’s movement. In her design, the animators added some sharp edges to her fluffy features to give a touch of edge to Zhen’s seemingly cute exterior.  

The Bunny Children

For the bunny children, the animators put a twist on the seemingly adorable, fluffy characters by completely changing their expression when they became angry. Instead of sweet and cuddly, the Bunny Children become monstrous and terrifying as they rampage and attack anyone in sight.

Entering Juniper City, A New Ancient Fantasy World

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Production designers created Juniper City, a large city on the coast of China that is one of the most significant locations featured in Kung Fu Panda 4. Stylized after New York’s Times Square but set in as a fantasy world in ancient China, the richness of Juniper City is displayed throughout the film with stunning detail.  

The team wanted Po to be seen as a “country mouse” in a big city, and to emphasize this, they showed the audience how Po and Zhen awkwardly traversed the densely packed metropolis. Through their journey, they find themselves in large crowds that have rich layers of movement and distinctly different character size ratios. The visual contrast created by these techniques exemplifies Po and Zhen’s contrast to the characters of Juniper City.  

Want to Watch Kung Fu Panda 4

Watch the trailer and get tickets for Kung Fu Panda 4 in theaters now.