Creatures Under Construction - Atlas Obscura
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Glendale, California

Creatures Under Construction

These fascinating characters aren't born—they're built.

There's a special skill involved in animating the inanimate—to create the illusion of life in an object that is very much not living. And it's not just the way the object moves: it starts with how it's made.

Join Field Agent Benjamin Harmon on a visit behind the scenes at Swazzle, the visual effects studio where fantastical creatures and characters are constantly under construction. This is where the puppet versions of The Simpsons characters were designed, assembled, and brought to life. They've also created larger-than-life, elaborate fabrications for Little Shop of HorrorsAvenue QShrek: The Musical, and The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway. These guys can puppetize anyone and anything—from gingerbread men and blood-thirsty plants to animals of every shape and size.

During our visit, we'll discover the art of puppetry, which starts with a design and building process that uses a trove of colorful materials. You can even show off your own puppetry skills (or lack thereof) on camera! The masters behind Swazzle, brothers Patrick and Sean Johnson, will show us how the gift of life is in the palms of our own hands during an interactive green screen demonstration.

This is an Obscura Society adventure that makes fantasy a reality.


  • Exact meeting location will be emailed to confirmed ticket holders a day or two before the event.
  • No children under 12 years old. All minors must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Plenty of free 2-hour street parking (pay attention to signs)
  • Please be respectful of this active production facility. No food/drink, large bags, or touching. Please be careful around fabrication tools, paints, dyes, and glues.
  • Bring your cameras! Just be advised that there might be a couple of top-secret works-in-progress that we won't be allowed to photograph.

Questions? Email

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