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Brad Bird took chances with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” gadgets

Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"

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Tom Cruise’s blockbuster spy-fest, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” arrives on Blu-ray and DVD today, and its technical mystique involved more than an occasional exploding message. Director Brad Bird made his feature-length jump to live action for the film after winning Oscars for Disney and Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles.”

Bird knew going in that the “M: I” franchise thrives on wacky technology, and together with Cruise’s self-performed stunts, those gadgets attract audiences. Nevertheless, Bird first had to ask his own crew to suspend belief while filming the Kremlin scene.

“I think the [gadget] that took the biggest leap—meaning that some of the people in the crew came up to me later and said, ‘To be honest with you, I don’t think this is gonna work’—was the e-screen in the Kremlin,” Bird told IFC at a tech-heavy pre-launch event at Washington DC’s Spy Museum. “When we were making it the projected image was not there, and things didn’t fit as tightly.”

Although much of what made the final cut in theaters is real in “Ghost Protocol” was accomplished without extensive CGI effects, the e-screen, which renders a hologram of a fake hallway, had to be fully integrated after shooting.

“It was a little more wonky, and everyone was having to suspend disbelief and believe that we were going to pull this off,” Bird explained. “So they were very gratified when the sequence was finally done.”

Meanwhile, Cruise and his co-star for the scene, Simon Pegg, have had plenty of professional experience performing with animated props and set pieces.

“The actors are a little more willing to go there,” Bird said. “They don’t want to look foolish, but they’re playing pretend, which is essentially what a director does; he’s got his little toys, and he’s going [makes pistol-shooting sounds].”

Dale Shelton, a technical consultant on the film, helped Bird to keep things believable. Even when they were playing around with remote-control vehicles and bio-metric scanning devices, they tried to make Cruise’s espionage arsenal seem like it could exist sometime in the next few years—that is, if it doesn’t already.

“That’s what’s great about this film—there is that basis in reality, and you leave thinking, ‘Maybe that does exist,’” Shelton said.

“I was kind of shocked that some of these crazy ideas that we had were actually not too far from happening—like the camera in the contact lens is something that they’re close to having,” Bird confessed. “It was that these outlandish ideas weren’t 20 years off—they were like two years off.”

The ideas that came out of the script resulted in gloves for climbing scrapers and magnetic hover-suits, though, so not everything will be available on in the next decade.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether it’s going to exist or not,” Bird admitted. “[We just decided] it would be cool in the movie, so we’re going to do it.”

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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