After four years of hard work creating the characters of Kung Fu Panda, the Spaniard Manuel Almela, one of 40 animators that worked on this project, says he’s satisfied with the final product and misses Po, the movie’s lead character.
What was it like working on Kung Fu Panda?
It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had, not only making the movie, but also working with the production crew. It’s been a perfect collaboration and we’re satisfied with the results, which couldn’t be more excellent.
How do you create a computer-animated character?
Unlike traditional animation, with a paper and pencil, where we’re assigned a specific character for a whole year, in computer animation we focus on sequences. This way we get the chance to work with all the characters. Like in a regular movie the actors talk to the director to know what they expect from the character, we as animators must keep in mind what the whole idea of the scene is before we unleash our creativity.
How long did it take to make the movie?
Generally an animated movie will have a very long process that can take about four years from the time it starts. Just animating the characters took us a year, during which we spent entire days seating in front of a computer.
Was there a specific character you felt a special affection for?
Each character has its special traits, but without a doubt Po, the panda bear, is the kind of character that you’re more drawn to because of the way he is and his noble soul. The connection with him was so strong, that we really miss him now and would love to have him back.
What do you like best about the story?
The best thing about it is the message, the characters’ attitude. It teaches us that we all want to do many things but sometimes we realize that we don’t have the capability, and that’s what happens to the panda. He discovers that the key to make your dreams come true is perseverance.
What did you think when you first saw the finished product?
Oh, it’s truly wonderful. Seeing the movie all done, with sound, music and everything is great. Besides the satisfaction it gives you, because we all put so much of our time, strength and spirit into it, it was like seeing our baby ready to take his first steps on his own.