Deja said technology has made animation easier but also taken a toll on creative freedom Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: UAE’s animation enthusiasts got a rare peek into the select works of Disney legend Andreas Deja as part of a masterclass at the Sharjah Animation Conference (SAC) on Saturday.

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The renowned Polish-born American animator-director, most noted for his 30-year career at Walt Disney Animation Studios, took to the stage for over an hour.

Deja is best known for his work with Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he served as a lead animator on classic films such as ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and ‘The Lion King.’ His iconic characters, including Scar, Jafar, and Gaston, have become beloved by audiences around the world.

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Technology vs creativity

“It would be nice if animators are given the chance to express themselves today. [The creative freedom] has slipped over the last few years with technology having taken over,” said Deja.

“With technology entering the field, a lot of things have changed forever.”

“What used to be impossible then is now super cheap,” he said when asked if the ‘old magic’ from today’s works was going away while referring to the multiplane camera, once used in the traditional animation process to move a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at various speeds and at various distances from one another to create a sense of depth.

Deja, who credits Disney’s The Jungle Book for inspiring him to become an animator, also spoke about his early days. “My parents secretly hoped that I would never go to America,” he said.

“They thought I would be an art teacher at best with a [secured] pension and once I told them about my one-way ticket to Los Angeles, they were in disbelief. But when I gave my first interview after being in Disney for two years and it aired on German TV, I realised I had made my mum proud, especially when the baker she visited told her that she saw me on TV. That made them finally change their opinion about animation.”