Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saldanha grew up knowing he wanted to be an artist. His parents would often find him strolling around the house, pen in hand, doodling in his trusty notebook. The desire to draw and create burned deep within the young Saldanha throughout his formative years; until his late teens, he had visions of becoming a professional animator, after having fallen in love with American cartoons. Once he hit his early 20s, however, reality had set in and Saldanha could not see a viable future in making art for a living. With that somewhat defeatist mentality set firmly in place, he moved to Manhattan at the age of 21 and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts. Saldanha studied computer science at the university, but after seeing a short film called "Tin Toy" (1988) made by future Pixar director John Lasseter, Saldanha saw the future of computer-generated animation and enrolled in the school's computer animation MFA program. During his time in the program, Saldanha made two acclaimed short animated films that caught the attention of his instructor, Chris Wedge. Wedge had just founded an animation company called Blue Sky Studios, and wanted the talented young artist to come work for him. Saldanha agreed, and spent the majority of the 1990s making commercials for Blue Sky. However, Saldanha always had greater ambitions to do more, including a desire to direct an animated feature film. Wedge shared his desire to move into features, and in 2002 the duo's debut release, "Ice Age," became one of the biggest hits of the year. Saldanha won an Oscar for Best Animated Short for "Gone Nutty" (2004), a short starring the popular "Ice Age" character Scrat. Saldanha and Wedge directed another film together, the sci-fi comedy "Robots" (2006), with Saldanha serving as sole director of 2006's "Ice Age: The Meltdown," as well as co-director of 2009's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." As a native of Rio de Janeiro, Saldanha had the idea of making an animated film about his hometown since the mid-'90s. In 2011 "Rio," which told the humorous story of macaws living in the tropical city, scored the director his biggest hit to date. In April 2014 Saldanha's follow-up "Rio 2" was released to positive reviews.