October 28

The Last ____________ on Earth (Part 7)


He points the camera at the articulated doll on the tabletop.  After making a barely perceptible adjustment to the head, arms, and legs of the figure, he clicks the computer mouse button, preserving a single-frame image.

The doll’s feet are bolted to a peg-board floor, so it doesn’t fall over during the range of its motion.  A bright solid-green cloth covers the back wall behind the tabletop, and several shapes painted the same color represent “furniture” on the miniature stage.

He makes another adjustment to the doll, unbolting one foot to lift a leg slightly in the air, nudging the arms to begin the simulation of a casual stride.

Another click, another frame of movement captured.

The man checks the monitor screen, clicking back and forth from the image with the green background to one that replaces the green areas with a full-sized room:  a door, decorated walls, sofa and chairs around a coffee table.  The combined scenes line up properly, so the man continues.

The next tiny increment continues the doll’s stride from right to left, and the man even makes a small adjustment to the realistic facial features, closing the eyes to make them blink.


More adjustments, more clicks.  After an hour, and 72 frames of recorded movement, the doll has “walked” six steps, half-way across the tabletop stage.

Now the man transitions to creating the doll’s next series of motions. He moves the head, adjusts the corners of the doll’s tiny mouth, then clicks the computer mouse to record each increment.

He works for hours.  Once he’s almost finished, he realizes the alignment is incorrect for one segment, and he has to do it over — another hour’s work.

Finally, the day nearly over, he’s certain the brief scene is completed.  He adjusts some of the filters, then finalizes the composite.

All day, and he barely has twenty seconds of completed film.

He clicks play on the viewer, and on the monitor screen he watches a pre-recorded sequence of himself, in his living room, standing to greet a new visitor.  The animated doll strolls across the room, arms swinging, then pauses.  The doll looks at him first, smiles, then raises his arm to shake hands with The Last Animator on Earth.

Since the apocalypse, it is the first time the Animator has received a visitor.

He clicks replay on the computer, watches the scene again and again.


[this entry presented to commemorate International Animation Day]