Dancing Baby cha-chas from the Internet to the networks
January 19, 1998
The Dancing Baby
Web posted at: 1:41 p.m. EDT (1341 GMT)
From San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Internet-savvy animation fans have
known about The Dancing Baby for years; he populates hundreds
of Web sites and has been the subject of untold numbers of
e-mail missives. Now the tiny tyke, strumming his air guitar
and dancing the bugaloo, has made it to the mass market via
"Ally McBeal," the Fox sitcom that won a Golden Globe award
Who is this toddler, who boogies to your favorite tunes
wearing nothing but his diaper? He is a figment of Michael
Girard's imagination. "The dancing baby," he said, "actually
goes back to an initial cha-cha motion that I created as a
demo file years ago." The baby was one of several sample
animation files he created to show off his animation software
product, Kinetix Character Studio.
The foot-loose infant's star rose soon after. Copies of the
diapered dancer now animate computer screens across the
Internet. CBS's "Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel" profiled the
baby on its show last week. And Hollywood recently seized on
the baby as a plot device on "Ally McBeal."
"Ally McBeal's" co-executive producer, Jeffrey Kramer, said
the show had been looking for ideas to explore Ally's
biological clock. "We use fantasy elements in the show, and
what better biological clock than to see this little baby who
comes in as an apparition and haunts her," he said.
The Dancing Baby has appeared on the Fox program "Ally
Animation, of course, is not new. The breakthrough in his
product is that Character Studio builds animations on a
standard home computer, making it possible for amateur
animators to play with sophisticated motions.
Janelle Brown, culture writer for Wired News, calls the
dancing baby a "meme," which Wired defines as "a contagious
idea" -- like the kids of the "South Park" comedy series, and
"Max Headroom" before them.
"These kinds of funny animations and jokes and little
projects have always proliferated on the Web, and they've
always been very much a 'Web thing,'" Brown said.
But the baby isn't just a Web thing anymore. The child has
been let out of cyberspace, and into the mainstream.