It's not often that you hear the words "3D" and "conservative" in the same sentence, but Chris Wedge is using them as he discusses Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
"There's an art to using it, to designing the 3D aspects," says Wedge, executive producer of the third film in the Ice Age animated series (he directed the first one and still provides the squeaks, squeals and shrieks for the Skrat character), "In the future, I think people will be more thoughtful and conservative about 3D. I prefer not to be reacting to the sensation of something coming at my face."
Wedge, creative director of Blue Sky Studios, the production company behind the Ice Age series as well as last year's Horton Hears a Who, has been pushing for a 3D computer-animated feature for a long time: "I wanted to do Robots (2005) in 3D," he says. "But we didn't have time to get there. I think 3D is being advanced by filmmakers and by the entire industry, so you can go into theaters and have a more coherent, immersive experience. There's been a consortium of studios and filmmakers trying to get digital equipment installed in as many theaters as possible. At this point, there are 4,000-6,000 theaters with that capability."
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the second sequel to the hit 2002 film that introduced a trio of prehistoric heroes: Manny, the grumbling mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano); Diego, a saber-tooth tiger (Denis Leary); and Sid, a not-overly-bright sloth (John Leguizamo). In the first film, they banded together to help a human infant find its father; in the second film, Manny confronted extinction and found a mate, Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah). In this third installment, Manny and Ellie are expecting a baby - and wind up trying to save Sid when he's taken to a hidden tropical underground world where dinosaurs still roam.
"We won't go into making a sequel if there's not a good story to tell," Wedge, 52, says. "But people want to spend more time with these characters. This film is much different from the first sequel. We've added a lot more action and adventure. It's more fun to watch.
"The writing is fun to do. By the time we're done, so many people have added to the dialogue that it's just sparkly and fast."
Wedge and Blue Sky have been around since the early 1990s, working in Westchester County, just north of New York City. Initially a digital-effects house (they provided the Busby Berkeley-like cockroaches for Joe's Apartment in 1996), Blue Sky won an Oscar for Wedge's short, Bunny, a haunting little tale of reincarnation and love in 1998. They continued to provided digital animation for films such as Star Trek: Insurrection and Fight Club, even as they geared up for the first Ice Age, released in 2002.
Since the days of Joe's Apartment, Blue Sky Studios has had to move several times to accommodate the growing staff and expanding technology required for projects like the Ice Age films.
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