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Carlos Saldanha on Dreams, Passion, Storytelling, Super Fancy Software

‘Ice Age’ director offered an interview-masterclass at Annecy's first Mifa Campus

ANNECY, France – The co-director of “Ice Age,” “Robots” – alongside Chris Wedge – and director of the “Ice Age” sequels, a creative impact honoree at Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch this May, was interviewed by Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge at Annecy MIFA Campus on June 13.

The event turned into a master-class on big meaningful issues –creativity, talent – from an articulate animator, given to a packed room of enthusiastic animation students. Below, some highlights:

STARTING OUT

I realized that I could pursue something that allowed me to be an artist. That’s when I discovered CG and I went to art school. I remember my parents saying: “Art school? painting… maybe you should try a real school.”  But I has seen a short from Pixar and thought: ”Oh, my God, this is real. It’s made with a computer and is kind of an art. I felt very excited with the possibilities.”

ART IN ANIMATION

“I can draw, but when compared with true artists that work around me – and I can see their drawings, their work with perspective, their craft – I am so jealous. What I do, I do it with an artistic mind. I think it’s my biggest resource. If you have a vision of what you want, maybe you’re lucky enough to do it yourself or to have somebody in your team that can achieve that vision or even more than that vision. And that’s what I think I found when I went to Blue Sky.”

COMPUTERS 

“For me, computers felt so natural. I gave up drawing. The computer was my tool, like pencils or brushes for painters. Computer became an easy and amazing canvas.”

DREAMS, OBJECTIVES

“You don’t really know how you’re going to get there but you [should] try as hard as you can. It’s important to know where you want to head, the small little dreams that you have to achieve.”

PHOTO-REALISM IN CARTOONS

Having the capability of doing photo-realistic things was great. But the true success story is having a better story and fun characters. At the end of the day, superb photo-realistic animated movies don’t matter.”

BUDGETS 

Lower-budgets don’t necessarily mean worse movies. They could be awesome in terms of storytelling, character development.”

PASSION, STORYTELLING 

You have to define your passion. If your passion is for rendering or photo-realistic stuff, then make a project that reflects it, but if your passion is storytelling or moviemaking, you don’t need super-fancy software. You can create things out of nothing.”

SUCCESS, EMOTIONS

“I work with my gut feelings, you trust your instincts. For me, the movies that worth the best are those that have the deepest most-honest emotions, that tap into the heart first.”

PROJECTS

“There are great opportunities for different formats –for animation, live-action, hybrids. I like challenges This is my seventh movie. I am not saying that I am tired OF making them but I would like to see if I can do other things as well, such as live action or hybrids.”

Saldanha’s next animated feature, ”Ferdinand,” will be released by 20th Century Fox on Dec. 15.

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