The "Dancing Baby" Gains Popularity on the Internet
The dancing baby aka "Baby Cha-Cha" refers to a 3D character and 3D-rendered animation of a baby dancing for several seconds.
The video, one of the earliest examples of an Internet phenomenon, became popular in 1996-1997 after circulating through email and picking up a soundtrack (the "Hooked On a Feeling" intro), and then being distributed widely over the Internet. The dancing baby originated with a model from Viewpoint Datalab's model bank (now sold exclusively by Digimation) and a collection of experimental testing data and files (skinning and motion). They were released in Fall/1996 as product sample source files with the 3D character animation software product Character Studio that is used with 3D Studio Max (both products from Autodesk). The original sample files were produced by the original Character Studio development team (Michael Girard, Susan Amkraut, John Chadwick, Robert Lurye, Paul Bloemink, John Hutchinson, Adam Felt) of Unreal Pictures and Kinetix (Autodesk). Part of the original Dancing Baby data consists of animation keyframes that were manually and automatically generated in the "Biped" portion of the Character Studio toolset. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the original Dancing Baby animation data (keyframes) were not created using any motion capture.
Subsequent to its release, animators in the commercial sector have used or modified the Dancing Baby source file using the Character Studio product to produce different versions of rendered visualizations for use in media. This helped develop the Dancing Baby animation into a meme or media and internet phenomenon. More stylized versions and parodies were created shortly thereafter, including a 'drunken baby', a 'rasta baby', 'samurai baby', and others, but none ever became as popular on the internet as the original file which still circulates. The dancing baby video and its variations have appeared in a broad array of mainstream media, including television dramas such Ally McBeal, commercial advertisements, and music videos.