Started by a trio of cartoon buffs, LA’s Screen Novelties is an animation house that specializes in stop motion puppetry, creating weird and wonderful worlds full of expressive characters that hearken back to the heyday of Rankin/Bass holiday specials, some puppets of which they even helped to save.
Started in 2003 in an LA space nicknamed the “Giraffe Building” (thanks to the vintage neon giraffe hanging on the exterior), Screen Novelties has worked on projects ranging from Fruity Pebbles commercials to films by the stop-motion master himself, Ray Harryhausen. The company has turned 2D characters such as Spongebob Squarepants and his pals into 3D puppet figures and even recreated a number of celebrities in their work on MTV’s Celebrity Death Match and Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken. Above and beyond paying homage to their Rankin/Bass roots through their devotion to stop motion, the company even restored some of the original puppets from the 1964 classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Their workshop space is predictability a colorful collection of creative tools for their expanded team that continues to work to bring classic stop motion into the 21st century. From foam and wire to computers and even Legos, Screen Novelties employs a wide mix of tools to create their miniature worlds and characters, many of which can also be seen decorating the space.
With Screen Novelties’ upcoming Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas, the company has come full circle, mixing the modern Christmas classic, Elf, with the stop frame sensibility of their 60’s forebearers, creating a holiday special that should fit right in among the Rankin/Bass catalogue that inspired it in the first place.
Know Before You Go
Screen Novelties is not open to the public, but they may offer future tours through Atlas Obscura, so please watch this space!