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Making people feel warm and cuddly about a time when earth was draped in polar ice sheets is not a problem for top character development artist Michael Defeo, who transformed Peter De Sève’s character designs into the celebrated, animated stars of Ice Age, sequels Ice Age 2, Ice Age 3 and the upcoming Ice Age 4. Defeo’s knack for transformation also benefited Blue Sky Studios itself; Defeo personally created and supervised the company’s modeling and sculpting departments, honing a structured pipeline which would allow the company to overlap films and increase quality and productivity. When Horton Hears a Who was approved for development as an animated feature, Defeo, meltingly hot off his Ice Age success, was entrusted with the challenge of transforming Seuss’ iconic drawings into living 3D characters. He captured the Seuss’ spirit so well, he was subsequently commissioned by Illumination Entertainment to do it again for Seuss’ The Lorax, scheduled for release in 2012.
Defeo began his career pursuing his passion for special effects and makeup, later making sophisticated stop-motion puppets for commercials, television, theatre and film. Parlaying this expertise into the world of feature animation, Defeo’s versatility and unique use of traditional and digital mediums give life to a wide array of characters, from teddy bears to creatures for the film Alien Resurrection. As a complement to his commercial work, Defeo continues to create personal art in terra cotta, bronze and marble, combining his extensive expertise in state-of-the-art software with traditional materials and classical techniques. This creative experimentation gives his work an increasingly deep range of expression and emotion. Defeo’s additional credits include the upcoming Leaf Men, Rio and Hop, as well as Robots, Star Trek Insurrection, A Simple Wish and the Academy Award-winning short Bunny.