Obscura Society LA: The Whimsical World of Stop Motion Animation - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Los Angeles

Obscura Society LA: The Whimsical World of Stop Motion Animation

What if you could actually visit the Island of Misfit toys?

Sure, we all love CGI. But there was a time when animation wasn't just about computer graphics on a screen. Animation was real models you could tangibly hold in your hands, bend, and play with. Each piece, figure, and character handmade, painted, and constructed. A human touch in a increasingly computerized world. 

Join the Obscura Society LA and field agent Sandi Hemmerlein as we learn about the classic art of stop motion in a behind the scenes tour of an active stop motion animation production studio, Screen Novelties in Echo Park.   

Screen Novelties is known for embracing original techniques from Japanese puppet artists that haven’t changed since the 1960s. Come learn how the art has evolved to employ modern technologies like 3D printing. We’ll also get to see some super secret works-in-progress for upcoming productions, as well as some of their unique past works on display.

We will explore drawers of puppet heads and fabrics, sift through pounds of googly eyes, glitter, and feathers, as well as dozens of types of foam that have been used to make everything from Spongebob Squarepants to Krampus.

Additionally, Screen Novelties also recently restored the original and historic Rankin/Bass puppets of Rudolf and Santa Claus from Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Screen Novelties was formed in 2003 with the goal of bringing the whimsy and dynamism of classic cartoons into the realm of stop motion animation. It is home to a talented circle of freelance animators, sculptors, designers, photographers, and digital artists whose work can be seen on last year’s Oscars telecast (in the sock puppet parody of Flight), and in the end credits of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. Check out some videos of their work here.

Notes for this adventure:

- We will be visiting an active production studio that uses building materials, adhesives, paints, and lacquers, so please be mindful of any allergies or respiratory issues.

- Kid-friendly but please: no touching!

- Photos may not be allowed in some top secret areas. We will announce this on the tour when it's the case, but please be aware. 

- It's all street parking, so leave time to look for a spot. 

- Limited disabled access. Must be able to climb up and down stairs in order to view the entire facility.