"Well, it should be obvious to even the most dim-witted individual, who holds an advanced degree in hyperbolic topology, that Homer Simpson has stumbled into... the third dimension!"
—Frink, The Simpsons
Similar to Art Shift, but instead of styles blending it's the blending of animation/filming techniques used to tell a story.
This can come in a lot of flavors like live-action in cartoons, animated segment, or animation warping.
Live-action in cartoons is pretty straightforward; it just means there's a filmed part in a cartoon with live actors. An animated segment is the exact opposite, where a live-action show or movie gets a part that's given some traditional 2D, 3D, or stop-motion part. Animation warping technically keeps an animated show animated, but with a different style than the norm, like traditional 2D animation into 3D. It's probably easier to just list them all as Medium Blending for the moment, as some examples can get tricky with multiple different varieties.
This is the exact opposite of how traditional special effects are used. Instead of supplementing a medium with material of a different source that is meant to blend in, this is meant to stand out. Proper examples of Medium Blending make it blatantly obvious it is different, and it sticks out on purpose.
This can happen with a dose of Medium Awareness sometimes, as well.
Anime & Manga
- There's a whole live-action sequence used in the credits in which Haruko's yellow Vespa moped is seen riding itself around a city. (It actually belonged to character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.)
- There also two short scenes in which the animation reverts to manga.
- And a shift to South Park-style cutouts when Amarao gets a haircut.
- Amaro's eyebrows aren't drawn like everything else, they're made by scanning processes seaweed and digitally adding them to his face.
- The End of Evangelion features bits and pieces of live-action where the camera is supposed to follow around real versions of some of the characters around a city, but it just ends up being broken up without much narrative to it. That is because the actual narrative was cut. There's a Director's Cut version where you can see the live-action section in all its melodramatic glory. Apparently, Asuka lives with Toji, Rei is a normal Office Girl who's possibly sleeping with her boss, and so on.
- Honey and Clover's first intro is composed entirely of real food.
- Ergo Proxy's intro has little live-action pigeons flying about in it.
- Macademi Wasshoi has claymation Censor Boxes.
- Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan has the photograph-headed monkey and dog characters.
- Desert Punk has a bizarre live-action opening wherein some guy cosplaying as the title character cavorts about a sandy landscape with apparent glee.
- The Gravitation television series begins its first episode with a live-action sequence following the main character as he runs somewhere. It lasts for only about ten seconds before switching to the anime version of the scene, and is never used again.
- Kare Kano is notable for this. One episode showed everyone as puppets.
- A School Rumble episode had Harima turn 3D when he parodied The Matrix.
- Practically a Signature Style of Studio Shaft. Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei has several live-action pictures in the background, and Bakemonogatari has both this as well as Conspicuous CGI. As does Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
- Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt is done almost entirely in Thick Line Animation, but when the Monster of the Week blows up, the show cuts to a blatantly obvious live-action model on an equally obvious city set, possibly as a reference to Super Sentai. Then explodes it (the monster, not the set).
- Dinosaur War Aizenborg was a collaboration between Tsuburaya Productions and Sunrise, utilizing both anime and suitmations/models. Same goes for Dinosaur Squadron Bornfree.
- The Venus Wars animated movie has a few outdoor landscape scenes where the landscape is actual live action landscape with the animated characters driving through it.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is probably the most famous example of this (Hence why the Roger Rabbit Effect trope is named as such). The entire plot focuses around living cartoons being filmed in the real world instead of being animated.
- Cool World is kind of the poor man's perverted Roger Rabbit, which featured a cartoon character who wanted to become real and succeeded by having sex with a real person to do it.
- The Pagemaster is all about a real boy who got seemingly trapped in an animated storybook world where he not only experiences common fantasy elements of childrens' stories, but has GENRES follow him around in the embodiment of living books.
- In The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy movie, this happens during the Improbability Drive shift, ending in Claymation.
- Space Jam has the Looney Tunes line up come to the real world to ask for Michael Jordan's help in a basketball game versus monsters.
- The third-person narratives in the Kung Fu Panda universe are hand-drawn in contrast to the CGI used for the rest of the films.
- Anchors Aweigh has Gene Kelly dancing alongside Jerry the mouse from Tom and Jerry. They wanted to use Mickey Mouse but Disney wouldn't go for it.
- Dangerous When Wet also has a scene where Esther Williams swims alongside Tom and Jerry.
- Mary Poppins has the main characters interact with animated characters inside Bert's paintings.
- Pete's Dragon has the Dragon animated while the rest of the movie is live-action.
- The Phantom Tollbooth begins as real-life footage, then switches entirely to an animated movie, only returning to real life all the way at the end.
- Shinya Ohira's anime sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1, that details the violent Backstory of O-Ren Ishii.
- Horton Hears a Who!! shifts from CGI to Dr. Seuss-style cel animation when Horton imagines the people living on the speck, and then to Animesque (or, more accurately, Teen Titans-esque) when Horton imagines that he's a heroic ninja.
- WALL-E is another variation. The videos we see of humanity's past are in straight live-action. The future humans of the Axiom, obese and with barely any bone mass due to a completely sedentary lifestyle, are CGI.
- A rare live-action example is "Zilla" (a.k.a. "GINO") who was officially put into Godzilla canon in Godzilla: Final Wars, faithfully rendered in full CGI unlike the other monsters. The sheer cost of rendering him might explain why it's also one of the shortest battles in the series, though cynical fans loved the idea of Godzilla taking him down within a minute.
- It's also worth noting that the CGI used in the above scene is of lesser quality than the 1998 film. Take that as you will.
- The film version of James and the Giant Peach starts out as live action, then switches to stop-motion when James goes inside the peach. It returns to live action in the end, with only the bug characters done in stop-motion. Furthermore, there are hand-drawn effects animation, and a Dream Sequence done in cut-out animation.
- Osmosis Jones features live-action humans with animated inner space cells and viruses, Fantastic Voyage style.
- Hedwig and The Angry Inch has an animated segment for the song "The Origins of Love", and some of the flashback scenes of Hansel growing up.
- Annie Hall has a brief animated Imagine Spot with Alvy and the Wicked Queen from Snow White, after he says that he always goes for the wrong woman.
- Song of the South has the animated segments for "Brer Rabbit Runs Away", "The Tar Baby", "Brer Rabbit's Laughing place", and the end of the film.
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks involves
the lead witch characterthe youngest of the little kids transporting the main characters into a cartoon fantasy world where they were still live-action. The effects in this film won the Oscar that year for Special Visial Effects.
- The Happiness of the Katakuris is a live-action film that switches to claymation during at least one action sequence.
- Revolver, from Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch fame, has one scene in which the events and aftermath of a heist are shown in cartoon form, on a TV, during the heist!
- Run Lola Run has a recurring motif(?) of showing the title character's actions in an animated form.
- UHF features a dream sequence where Weird Al imagines a CG version of himself playing a psychedelic rock cover version of the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies.
- In Nine to Five, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton get stoned and fantasize about killing their boss. All three fit the Art Shift trope, as the fantasies are filmed in distinctly different styles from the rest of the movie, but Lily Tomlin's features adorable animated wildlife surrounding her in the office kitchen as she poisons his coffee.
- In Waltz with Bashir, the majority of the film is in two-tone, dreamlike animation until the protagonist remembers encountering a procession of women lamenting their slain husbands and children. At that point, the film switches to real footage of the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, making it all too real for both the protagonist and the audience.
- An unusual example in the French movie The Brain (Le Cerveau, 1969). The eponymous Brain (played by David Niven) is exposing to his henchmen his plan for a future train heist... with the projection of a short animated film, starring himself. The real heist go much less smoothly that the one shown in animation, of course.
- In the film of the musical for Reefer Madness, there was an animated sequence where Jimmy sings about how special his brownie is.
- The very first case of a movie blending live action with CGI is, of course, Disney's Tron. Note that, given the limitation of computers at the time, a good part of said animation was still hand-drawn or hand-colored.
- The Kick-Ass movie references its origins by integrating some comic book aesthetics. There are occasional caption boxes on the screen saying stuff like "Meanwhile..." and Macready's backstory is told entirely in drawings, which is framed as a character reading a comic-book adaptation of the tale.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 has an animated segment for "The Tale of the Three Brothers", the legendary story of the Deathly Hallows. It's CGI that looks like The Muppets meets The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello meets The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- The Wall by Pink Floyd switch back and forth between live-action and Deranged Animation.
- Dinosaur, Disney's first non-Pixar CGI-animated film, actually used CGI for mostly characters and props, and live action for the backgrounds (though with some CGI objects added).
- Ghatothkach is usually in 2D but some musical numbers in the movie is rendered with CGI.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just like Flying Circus, has a few segments animated by Terry Gilliam. Sometimes the animated elements interact with the live action, as with God or the Legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh.
- In Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Bear, after the bear cub eats some dubious mushrooms, the ensuing Mushroom Samba is a Dream Sequence in stop-motion animation.
- Happy Feet is mostly CGI, but near the end, live-action humans are superimposed into the scenes.
- The animated Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977) includes a live-action wraparound featuring Marcella.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus roughly alternates between animated and live segments. On average, there's probably more continuity between adjacent segments when they're of different media than when they're not.
- Life On Mars has a Claymation sequence where Sam and Gene appear in the '70s children's show Camberwick Green.
- In an episode of Red Dwarf, the characters were temporarily done in Claymation-style.
- This also happened in an episode of My Name Is Earl, where Randy accidentally took a hallucinogenic substance and started seeing everybody in claymation style.
- In the Power Rangers Dino Thunder episode "Drawn into Danger", the Dino Thunder Rangers were trapped in a comic book, which was actually rotoscoped Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger footage.
- Stargate SG-1
- Season 8 episode "Avatar" has the characters inside a virtual reality showing up as video-game CGI on the screens.
- Season 10 episode "200" has a whole segment re-imagining the show with marionettes.
- Angel also has a Puppet Angel sequence.
- This was also done a lot in episodes of Big Bad Beetleborgs. Most nobably the some of transformation sequences from the first season and Metalix. Also done whenever Flabber brings one of Art Fortune's drawings to life.
- Moonlighting has a claymation sequence.
- The Farscape episode "Revenging Angel" not only has several Warner Brothers-esque full animation sequences, it also mixes animated characters with live action (e.g. the Genie-like morphing Aeryn).
- The Nanny has a whole animated Christmas Episode in the same style as its usual Animated Credits Opening.
- House season 6 episode 3, "Epic Fail", has a 3D-video-games designer as Patient of the Week, and thus features several sequences animated in full CGI. Notably a Deep-Immersion Gaming moment between Thirteen and Taub, with their in-game avatars seen discussing the diagnostic while blasting monsters. Later, the patient also hallucinates the decors and characters of his game supplanting the hospital and staff, respectively.
- In the Fringe episode "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide", Walter, Peter and William Bell enter Olivia's mind. The world switches from live-action to a rotoscoped, cel-shaded cartoon as soon as Walter and Peter reunite with William Bell.
- One episode of Home Improvement has a dream sequence done in stop-motion with wooden figures.
- Much of the premise of Lizzie McGuire centered around Lizzie's cartoon self (voiced by Hilary Duff) commenting offscreen on the live-action happenings of Lizzie's life.
- In the That '70s Show episode "Afterglow", the scene in the circle is animated in the style of 70's Scooby Doo after Fez says that he wishes that he was like Scooby-Doo.
- Zoboomafoo is typically a live-action wildlife show, however, the segments where Zoboo describes his adventures in Zobooland are stop-motion animated with clay models, and the "Who Could It Be" segments are in hand-drawn animation.
- Played with a few times in 30 Rock. Every once in awhile, we'll see the world through the eyes of various characters, with Kenneth seeing everyone as a happy puppet. He also appeared as a puppet in a HD camera, playing with his overly happy to an inhuman level attitude.
- The Gorillaz video clips make heavy use of Medium Blending from the very beginning.
- The first one, "Tomorrow Comes Today", uses real backgrounds behind the 2D characters.
- Later clips, starting with "Clint Eastwood", mix traditional animation with many CG elements. In "19-2000", the Gorillaz themselves are in 3D for wide shots, though still 2D for close-ups.
- Likewise, "Rock the House" has several CG-animated characters, including Del the Ghost Rapper and the inflatable gorilla cheerleaders.
- "Feel Good Inc.", "Dare" and "Dirty Harry" add live-action to the mix (with guest stars De La Soul, Shaun Ryder and Bootie Brown, respectively).
- Later clips have the characters more and more often in 3D, including for "live" performances. The MTV European Music Awards 2005 in Lisbon had the three-dimensional Gorillaz on stage, thanks to an updated version of the old Victorian parlour trick named "Pepper's Ghost". Repeated for the Grammy Awards 2006 in Los Angeles, this time alongside Madonna as guest-star.
- In the latest phase, the clip for "Stylo" is almost entirely live-action with just three of the Gorillaz in quasi-realistic 3D (and Bruce Willis as the antagonist).
- "On Melacholly Hill" returns the characters to 2D (save for Cyborg-Noodle who stay CG-rendered, to keep her appart from the real Noodle) amongst plenty 3D vehicles, creatures and backgrounds.
- In Prototype, the Web of Intrigue videos are mainly stylised live-action with a bit of game footage here and there.
- Mirror's Edge makes use of 2D Flash animation in its cutscenes, which also serve as loading screens, just before each level, which tends to come across as a sharp contrast to the actual in-game character designs and first-person cinematics.
- Max Payne uses graphic novel panels for between-level cutscenes.
- Command & Conquer is famous for sticking with using live-action cutscenes when other companies gave up on it years ago.
- Brutal Legend's pre-title screen (and title screen-slash-menu) are live-action starring Jack Black (presumably as himself in this case) showing you the Brutal Legend album. The rest of the game uses a stylized style.
- The upcoming NBA Jam revival for the Wii by EA Sports will use digitized heads on 3D bodies and will look like this.
- Metal Gear Solid will often make use of live-action clips due to its storyline's engagement with political history.
- Painkiller makes use of a graphic novel-style intro.
- Homestar Runner uses several different variaties of Art Shift meant to resemble different techniques, but most of them are all still just animated in Flash and don't count. The most notable genuine example of Medium Blending would have to be the puppet segments. Also, the Peasant's Quest Movie Trailer.
- Homestuck is usually a normal comic (at least in terms of art), but often shifts into animated GIFs, Flash animations, and the occasional RPG-like interactive sequence. The latter two have "[S]" before the page name; seeing [S] in an update usually indicates an inbound Wham! Episode.
- If a webcomic occasionally making use of animated gifs can count, then Gastrophobia is an example with this strip and the following one.
- One episode of Mountain Time has 2D, black-and-white stick figures turning into 3D, full-color clay models. (Their speech is still in 2D text bubbles, but it's Japanese.)
- This Is Not Fiction uses digitally painted panels for its pages, but the chapter covers are all photographs of hand-drawn paper cut-outs of the characters.
- The Amazing World of Gumball (pictured above) has this as a founding artistic element: Some characters are traditional hand-drawn, some are CGI, some are stop motion, some are Paper People, and there's even a couple people that are in some way live action (one character is a chinface, for example), etc. And the backgrounds are photos, albeit they've been edited so certain parts blend together better.
- The Simpsons
- The famous "Homer3" segment on the Halloween Episode "Treehouse of Horrors VI", where Homer winds up in the "third dimension" where he's animated differently in 3D CGI. The episode ended in Homer getting teleported to the real world, while still being computer-animated. It should be noted "Homer3" aired before Toy Story came out.
- One of the Couch Gags in a later season was the normal title sequence filmed in live action, which was originally a commercial made for the syndicated broadcast on the U.K. channel Sky1 (the parts with the car were flipped so they were in line with the way cars and roads are in America).
- Another was Maggie's dream in the 2010 Christmas episode, with the Simpson family and Mr. Burns as muppets, and Katy Perry appearing live-action.
- Out of the Inkwell from Fleischer Studios was one of the first, if not THE first example of medium blending. It involved a live-action artist (Max Fleischer) drawing animated characters as they leak out from an inkwell in the silent era of film.
- Fleischer Studios also invented the "Stereoptic Process" in the 1930s to allow panning across 3-dimensional backgrounds in their cartoons—they constructed physical models on a rotating table, which was photographed with cels held in front of it one frame at a time. For an example of the effect, watch Popeye the Sailor meets Sindbad[sic] the Sailor.
- Chowder has examples of this in every episode with puppets, traditional stop motion, and stop motion with food for scene changes.
- Not to mention there's an episode that featured the voice cast getting filmed going from the sound studio to a car wash so they could make enough money to afford being animated again.
- There's also an episode with a constantly-dancing 3D CGI character that all the other characters found really creepy. Making Chowder have an example of animation and filming from nearly every major technique.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has the same production company as Chowder and follows its example with a lot of stop-motion segments. There's one in the opening credits, even!
- Family Guy has used live-action on numerous episodes like with Conway Twitty; Peter freaking out at the sight of himself in live-action, Alyssa Milano telling her lawyer to sue the show for a "cheap shot", and a live-action man repeating what Brian said to Meg while shouting. Also, at the end of the Y2K episode -- "What's Family Guy?"
- They also took the dancing Jerry scene directly from Anchors Aweigh and replaced Jerry with Stewie.
- Peter also once met Scrat the squirrel from Ice Age, rendered in 3D as usual.
- "Road To The Multiverse" featured scenes in a stop-motion universe based on Robot Chicken, one done in hyper-animated Disney style, as well as one of a live-action Brian and Stewie.
- Superjail has a dream sequence where Jailbot and The Warden were seen fishing together while animated in 3D CGI. This episode and another ended with The Warden as a hobo in the real world.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force has a live-action episode that held open tryouts for a Carl lookalike in a contest. The winner of said contest: here.
- The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest has the main characters venturing into "Quest World", a place where their traditionally 2D animated selves became 3D.
- Code Lyoko follows the same formula, from 2D animation in the "real world" to CGI animation in the Cyberspace of Lyoko and the Digital Sea.
- South Park
- The Emmy-winning World of Warcraft episode "Make Love Not Warcraft" has some sequences actually taking place within the game; these were animated using a modified version of the WoW engine.
- While South Park uses real photographs of people every now and again (like Saddam), one could argue it's still in the same pseudo paper cut-out technique as the rest of the show.
- There was a two-part episode that featured live-action guinea pigs attacking cities in an obvious Cloverfield parody.
- In the episode where Tweek fights Craig, the shop teacher's late girlfriend is seen in flashbacks as a live-action actress.
- "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining" has the last segment done as a Dramatization by live actors.
- The main gimmick of The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour and its sequels: Given that The Fairly OddParents uses Thick Line Animation and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron is CGI, characters are Medium Blended when crossing into the "other" show's universe. This is referenced through Timmy's usage of the adjective "bulgy" in Jimmy's world (itself a Shout-Out to the above-mentioned "Homer3") and Jimmy and Sheen falling like cardboard pop-ups upon arriving in the FOP world.
- This culminates in the third Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, where the Big Bad of the movie creates "Retrodimmsdaleville", which is depicted as a bizarre mix of both animation styles; that is, the FOP art style in a papery 2.5D void.
- The Fairly OddParents: Channel Chasers features scenes made with cel animation (the show is made with Flash), paper cut-outs, anime, cel-shaded stop motion, and puppetry.
- SpongeBob SquarePants uses live action from time to time as a gag. Basically, anything that takes place in, or comes from, the surface world is live-action, while everything underwater is animated.
- In the episode "Pressure", for instance, all the characters become live-action puppets when they come out of the water and step onto land.
- In The Movie, SpongeBob and Patrick are still animated when they venture on land, but only become "real" when they are dried out under a souvenir maker's heat lamp. Conversely, they and all the other dried-up fish turn back into cartoon characters when the sprinklers go off in the stand.
- In both "Sandy's Rocket", "Bubble Troubles" and "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost", the characters remained animated when they emerged from the ocean's surface.
- In "Lifeguard on Duty", SpongeBob goes to the beach, where he get's jealous of the lifeguard there. He imagines what it would be like if he were a lifeguard, cutting to live-action footage of someone in a SpongeBob mascot suit in a lifeguard tower.
SpongeBob: That would be SO COOL!!
- "Truth or Square" has a new, very trippy opening sequence, remade in stop-motion, and with a new rendition of the theme by Cee-Lo.
- Another episode, "New Student Starfish," ended with a live action baby chick hatching out of an animated egg.
- In "Frozen Face-Off" the characters are pursued by a stop-motion monster.
- Let us not forget Spongebob and Patrick's escape through the perfume department in "Shanghaied."
- Jackie Chan Adventures has an intro with a live-action Jackie Chan getting spliced into the animation. Not to mention each episode ended with Jackie answering questions in the flesh.
- Robot Chicken has a very bouncy live-action woman act alongside the show's traditional stop motion. The Excitebike, parts of the Pacman/Matrix, and Space Invaders parodies were all done in ways that looked close, if not identical to their video game counterparts.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog has an episode where Muriel get sucked into a computer, and when Courage goes in to save her, the first segment of the computer world has Courage animated in 3D CGI.
- Drawn Together had an inversion of the typical "live-action show enters magical cartoon kingdom" thing, with Wooldor finding a cow in "The Live-Action Forest". The cow then proceeds to wreak havoc all over the cartoon world, eventually getting into a "fight" with the "Live-Action Squirrel with Big Balls".
- In the KaBlam! episode, "The Best of Both Worlds!", Henry and June want to go into the real world (a.k.a. "The Legendary Third Dimension"), and when they make it there, the show becomes live-action, with Henry and June being played by actual kids (their voice actors did them speaking to avoid viewer confusion).
- An episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law has the staff being seen through surveillance footage, which was all live-action footage. Some other episodes also have short live-action sequences, mostly featuring Birdman.
- An American Dad episode has a shift from 2D to 3D after Roger the Alien ate a bird (which sent him on a drug trip).
- The 2003 incarnation of Strawberry Shortcake, for the Sweet Dreams Movie, shifted the series from 2D animation to 3D CGI.
- Each episode of Popetown has a live-action introduction featuring some catholic school class before the animated part. Theoretically tied-in with the episode content, but rather pointless.
- The cartoon version of Paddington has the title character animated using a stop motion puppet, the other characters were coloured paper dolls, and the backgrounds were black and white static drawings.
- The Pixar Short Day and Night uses hand-drawn animation for the two title characters and CGI for the landscapes visible inside them.
- Your Friend the Rat, from the Ratatouille DVD, has CGI for the framing scenes of Rémy and Émile and traditional animation for the rest, with a stop-motion scene and a couple of live-action Stock Footage shots.
- Robert Mandell was a pioneer of this back in the early and mid 1980's, mixing CGI in with cel animation in both Thunderbirds 2086 and Galaxy Rangers. The CGI was justified by having it be on computer terminals and as the avatar of A.I. units.
- The Nick Jr.'s show Bubble Guppies have characters with CGI bodies and Flash animated facial features. It also has some segments with Flash characters and backdrops.
- The HBO Family show "A Little Curious" had many CGI, 2D, and clay animation segments plus live-action shorts and "outside animation" (mixed-media) segments.
- The episode "A Friend in Deed" of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic features a segment of Pinkie's imagination, animated in felt. In the very next (normally animated) scene, she holds up a piece of felt from the animation.
- Arthur had some instances of this play into effect. For example, the episode where D.W. manages to trick Arthur into taking her to a science museum had her and The Brain watching a TV educational documentary that had live action sequences on the animated TV screen.