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Animators who have made the live-action leap.

Animators who have made the live-action leap. (photo)

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It’s a pleasant surprise to see that Brad Bird is being considered as a possible director for “Mission Impossible IV,” a game of musical chairs that is said to include “Zombieland”‘s Ruben Fleischer and Edgar Wright.

Of course, “The Iron Giant” director has never helmed a live-action feature before, though that shouldn’t be a stumbling block if the action choreography in “The Incredibles” is any indication. (Bird’s already had been working on a $200-million plus live-action adaptation of James Dalessandro’s “1906,” a romance set against San Francisco’s most epic earthquake, which in turn pushed back a sequel featuring the superpowered Parr family.)

With computer-generated imagery of all types invading all the more into live-action films, it’s no wonder that Bird is up for the gig, just as “Horton Hears a Who!” director Jimmy Hayward is putting the finishing touches on this summer’s “Jonah Hex” and “WALL·E” helmer Andrew Stanton is starting to film “John Carter of Mars” as Pixar’s first foray into live-action for 2012. Meanwhile, “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge had planned to make his live-action debut on an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s adventure novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” before Martin Scorsese took the reins.

But the current crop of filmmakers who honed their chops in animation aren’t the first to make the jump from sketchboards to stage boards. “My Man Godfrey” (1936) director Gregory La Cava originally started out adapting comic strips from Hearst newspapers into animated shorts before becoming one of the premier directors of live-action comic two-reelers during the 1920s. Decades later, he was followed by the esteemed careers of Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton, whose live-action work has long been informed by the same painterly eye as their animation.

03252010_AndrewAdamson.jpgAlthough Rob Minkoff hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since transitioning from directing “The Lion King” to blending live-action and animation with “Stuart Little” and its sequel, he did carve out a career path for “Shrek” co-director Andrew Adamson to follow, with Adamson bringing his technical savvy to “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” (not to mention his contribution as an executive producer on Lance Hammer’s “Ballast”).

Then there’s Adamson’s “Shrek” co-director Vicky Jenson, who made her live-action debut on last year’s CG-free Alexis Bledel comedy “Post Grad.” When asked about what the difference was between the two mediums, Jenson said, “The main thing I learned was to treat shooting the scenes as gathering pieces to work with later with my editor. I didn’t go to film school so I had a tendency, from my animation background, to ‘edit in the camera.’ This bugged my boss and mentor Ivan Reitman to no end when he saw the dailies.”

Of course, in recent years, this has been a two-way street, with Wes Anderson entering into the animated ranks with “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and legendary director of photography Roger Deakins consulting on the cinematography of “WALL-E” and, more recently, “How to Train Your Dragon.” And perhaps it was “The Triplets of Belleville” director Sylvain Chomet who found the perfect balance between animation and live-action with “Tour Eiffel,” his contribution to 2006’s “Paris, je t’aime,” that is almost too cartoonish to be real:

[Photo: Brad Bird on the set of “Ratatouille,” Pixar/Disney, 2007; Andrew Adamson on the set of “Prince Caspian,” Disney/Walden Media, 2008]

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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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