Dancing Baby FAQ
- Questions & general info -
A: The familiar music has been added by other people (technically
illegally - that's why I usually don't use pre-recorded songs). The Ooga-Chaka song that
seems to be the most famous soundtrack (used on Ally McBeal) was "Hooked
on a feeling" originally written by B.J. Thomas. The
"Ooga-Choka" version is a 70's cover of that song by a group called Blue Swede.
A: I'm glad it bothers people. I think that's cool! :-) I fixed up the file because I thought it was really bothersome in a cool way, but also bothersome in a crappy unfinished way. I tried to, at least partially, finish it. That's my "enhanced" version you used to see on many web pages.
A: I usually use 3D Studio Max by Discreet for the 3D work, and sometimes Character Studio, with which the baby was originally done. I also use PhotoShop, After FX and Premiere for creating maps and for post work.
The appearances on Ally McBeal were (admittedly, by David Kelley) inspired by the original 'Ooga-chaka' internet dance file, but the Ally McBeal work was not done by me. It was done by Encore Video and Liquid Light from the original Viewpoint and Unreal Pictures files.
The "Baby Blockbuster" commercials were done by me. Blockbuster has taken the files offline now but I have a new QuickTime version around. I also did a version for the 1998 American Comedy Awards and 2 commercials for CMI Films.
A: I did not create the Drunken Baby file, it is another enhanced demo file combination. I don't know who created it.
Short Answer: Viewpoint DataLabs (the baby), Unreal Pictures (the choreography) and depending on the version, me (textures, lighting, and animation/skinning tweaks).
Long Answer: Character Studio is a plug-in product for 3D Studio Max that assists in creating character animation. It comes with a number of demo files, both figures and motion files. Characters that come with the R1 version of the product include an alien, a chimp, an harlequin, a woman, a "monster" (Olaf), and the baby (all built by Viewpoint). The motion files that originally shipped with R1 included a run and jump, a "plie", some ballet steps, the "drunk" walk, and a "cha-cha". Most or all of these animation files were originally done on the "skeleton" structure that controls body movement and later "loaded into" various characters.
So there was this cha-cha file (Animated by Michael Girard and Robert Lurye), and they put it on every darn model they had. But there was some technical problem with the shoulders when it was created (no motion)... Then for Kinetix' 1996 NAB reel, somebody put that animation on the baby model (this was one THE worst demo animations I have ever seen), and later a few people were talking about how disturbing this dance motion was on the baby... in an interesting way. It seems to really bug some people. But personally I thought it was annoying for a couple of reasons. One, it's inherent strangeness of impossibility, and two, the file was very unfinished - horrible textures, no lighting, that standard computer graphics "floaty" feel to the motion - it needed help. Here's the original version I started with.
So when I got the software, I loaded up their baby rig (with the deformation already basically set-up by John Chadwick), loaded the cha-cha animation and I tried to fix it up and make it look more "finished", I added some shoulder bounce, re-timed the hands, re-textured (colored) the surfaces, re-lit it, altered some skinning parameters, rendered it out, and brought it to work (LucasArts at the time) to show off Max's character animation abilities... that was Sept/October of 1996 (file date is 8/28/96 - here's an animated GIF of that file). I showed it to a few people and one of them asked me to forward it to them in e-mail. A week or so later I heard from fellow employees that the animation was traveling through the company via e-mail... then a bit later, I heard people say they had received it back again from people outside the company, across the country. From that it quickly traveled to the internet and became the strange phenomenon that it was. Much of the dancing baby artwork you used to see on the internet were (stolen!) based on my tweaks of that file, or my "BabyNoir" image.
A couple of months later I did a second demo file enhancement (BabDanc2.avi), and had done a few others in the years that followed. Unfortunately, lawyers have tried to take legal control of the poor little kid, but since you can't copyright or trademark the human form, I think they're pretty much out of luck.
- Ron Lussier
All images on this site created by Ron Lussier
The dancing baby was created with 3DStudio Max and Character Studio (from Discreet /Kinetix), with demo files that ship with the product.
Baby Dance 1 (The original net versions) - Animation by Michael Girard, Robert Lurye & Ron Lussier
New Dance (BabyGrvW.avi) - Animation by Ron Lussier and Michael Girard
Deformation/Enveloping by John Chadwick / Ron Lussier.
Olaf animation (OlafDanc.avi) - By Ron Lussier (with HyperMatter from Digimation)
Toddler (Baby) and Troll (Olaf) models by Viewpoint Digital -- AVIs Produced by Ron Lussier