OOGACHACKA OOGA OOGA
February 9, 2020 12:50 PM   Subscribe

After many years' mysterious absence, the original model and animation for the Dancing Baby has been found, and re-rendered at 60fps for modern display resolutions. Here is the story.

The updated and patched model is now downloadable via steam.
posted by jenkinsEar (47 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
The hero we deserve.
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on February 9


Is this our generation's Mona Lisa?
posted by greenhornet at 1:12 PM on February 9


No, it’s every generation’s ruin.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:16 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


It was such an innocent time...
posted by kimberussell at 1:26 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Sometimes they come back, but sometimes dead is better.
posted by lkc at 1:29 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


Still creepy.
posted by nevercalm at 1:30 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


The dancing baby would be 24, old enough to have fought in the Iraq war and have a baby of his own.
posted by bondcliff at 2:06 PM on February 9 [21 favorites]


UPDATE: The dancing baby has been re-rendered as a dancing adult and is now appearing in a Clorox commercial with the grown-up swimming-pool baby from the cover of Nevermind. The latter mistakes the former for Mr. Clean and then they dance together to "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Shares of The Clorox Company (CLX) are up 2% on grunge-nostalgia sales.
posted by compartment at 2:10 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


"Clorox! Wipes Away the Grunge!"
posted by suetanvil at 2:23 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


This is such a great talking point for explaining conservation of intangible cultural heritage. Here's this artefact that was intensely significant at a specific point in time and was symbolic of a particular moment in computing and internet history. It wasn't the artistic merit of it, because absurdist and meaning-challenging art is as old as modernism, it was the means of sharing it—on computers that pushed themselves to display it, having taken anywhere from hours to days to download the thing, and sharing by word of mouth in offices and schools and in groups of friends. Like kimberussell says it was a weirdly innocent time; here was this image that challenged people to ask why would someone make this? What does the future hold? What kind of internet is it going to be when someone can make a baby dance, and share it? What's a meme, anyway? Well, now we know.

Recreationism tries to make the thing accessible and shareable, in the same way that we conserve old buildings in a specific state, or put artefacts in museums, or reenact rituals and customs, or play-act as pretend soldiers in long-since-fought wars. But the context is gone and will never come back. What was disturbing and profoundly new about the dancing baby was the technical act of sharing it, which in its time had to be explained and considered, but which we now do as a matter of course, unthinkingly. For people with living memory it's an exercise in nostalgia, like former East Germans wistfully sharing Trabi memes, but for everyone else it's always an exercise in imagination—trying to un-know our knowledge of just how weird the internet was going to get, just how powerful computing would get, how disturbing the uses the whole thing would be put to.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:40 PM on February 9 [35 favorites]


I managed to live through the dancing baby era - earning a living in the field of computer software no less - without ever seeing the dancing baby. I had heard about it. I didn't understand what the fuss was.

Now I've seen it. But I understand no better.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:07 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


+1 for abandonware sites. If the copyright cops had taken that site down, we'd never have gotten this.
posted by SansPoint at 3:10 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


TIL that thing was not invented for Ally McBeal.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:28 PM on February 9 [13 favorites]


And somewhere, Calista Flockhart rolls over uncomfortably in her sleep.
posted by WCityMike at 3:30 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


I knew what I was going to see going into this. Like, I knew, OK, dancing baby? Got it. Stuck on a Feeling? Got it, yup. And 60 fps means that's going to look pretty crisp and all.

But I still wasn't adequately prepared.
posted by emelenjr at 3:36 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


our long national nightmare is finally over
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:03 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


So what happened to hamster dance?
posted by sammyo at 4:08 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


still here
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:18 PM on February 9 [10 favorites]


Hamster Dance was nothing more than a sped-up "Whistle Stop".
posted by WCityMike at 4:19 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Well, sure, but it also had hamsters (sic.)
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:21 PM on February 9


For some reason I'm reminded that there was a Simpsons album - "The Simpsons Sing The Blues" - released in 1990.

I can't say I really needed that reminder, to be honest.
posted by mhoye at 5:52 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


thanks i still hate it
posted by Automocar at 6:47 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


I remember being incensed that someone had sent a video file to my email account.

TEXT! EMAIL IS FOR TEXT. GET THAT HTML GARBAGE OUT OF THERE. WHAT'S NEXT ARE THEY GOING TO START EMAILING ME VIDEO FILES?!
posted by straight at 7:25 PM on February 9 [10 favorites]


I believe it was created for an Autodesk 3DS Max Character Studio technology demo and perhaps for a demo at SIGGRAPH in particular. I am almost sure that it where I first saw the piece.
posted by bz at 7:26 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


METAFILTER: it’s every generation’s ruin.
posted by philip-random at 7:37 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


So what happened to hamster dance?

I'm getting tired of this.
posted by rhizome at 10:03 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I remember coming across the dancing baby GIF and happening to be on a system that could display it (Netscape Navigator on a Sun workstation of some sort). I dutifully copied it across to my Slackware system that I'd just installed a Web Server onto, and added it to my sort of weblog that was a blatant ripoff of the old trench.com front page (run cal for a one-year calendar and put it in a <PRE^gt; block, and make links off the dates).

I vaguely remember it was called BABYCHA.GIF or BABYCHA.AVI when I found it. 1996 I think? By the time it was on Ally McBeal I was so eye-rollingly over it.

I kept to text-based interfaces for a long time after everyone else, but there was a certain period in the early to mid 90s when simply being able to display a photograph on a computer screen was new and novel. We'd had 8-bit and 16-bit graphics for ages, and the photorealistic cheat examples that came up a lot in paint programme demos (always overselling what the user could produce in the things), but you had to be proper rich to afford a computer that could do better than 256-colour VGA for a while.

And without ubiquitous digital cameras, it was only the big offices with flatbed scanners that could get you images from the real world. I remember Tristan Farnon's Leisuretown seemed like a multimedia tour-de-force to me when I first read it. Now the resolution is so small I keep wishing he'd re-issue it.

And here was an animated image you could display in Netscape without reliability problems, and it was thoroughly accessible. The motion capture was cute, the model was cute, and the whole thing conjured whimsy instead of tech or violence. All you had to do was forward this one moderately-sized file along and someone else could experience a semblance of full-motion video, and it was reasonably appealing to a broad set of tastes (at least for a while).

I wish the Destinyland podcast was still up somewhere (I tried the wayback machine, alas). David Cassel (formerly of AOL Sucks) did a great rundown on the Hampsterdance and why it succeeded for such a short time. I should reach out and see if he still has a copy of that.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:05 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


A lot of younger folks may be mystified by the popularity of Dancing Baby, but you have to understand, in 1996 we all were little more than green wireframes moving stiffly through a black void. For most of us, Dancing Baby was simply the hottest celebrity we'd ever seen.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:32 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


There is a hotel in Dallas that I pass any time I’m going home after a night out, and many is the time when I have looked up to see their digital billboard displaying the dancing baby.

No context, no accompanying text, no seeming reason for a twenty foot high digital baby to be grimly dancing away on a hotel billboard.

I just needed to share that.
posted by angeline at 5:34 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]




WAS THAT A PENIS?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:43 AM on February 10


It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.
posted by slogger at 8:35 AM on February 10


I'm pretty sure that particular animation is the Dancing Baby doing a "yee-hah" dance.
posted by WCityMike at 8:42 AM on February 10


Does it make me horrible to have 2 hampster dance remixes (undead and monkey) mix?
posted by zengargoyle at 10:30 AM on February 10


but you have to understand, in 1996 we all were little more than green wireframes moving stiffly through a black void

You see, we had 4K video at 120 fps back in the 1990s, but the videos from back then are showing what the world actually looked like. The world used to be much grainier. Used to be a person could only see about 320 x 240 pixels worth of detail in a typical field of view. And of course the Plank constant was different so nothing could change it's position more than 30 times a second.
posted by straight at 11:25 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Oral history of the hampsterdance

I sure am looking forward to a... oh I see it’s been done, sort of
posted by mwhybark at 12:16 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


meme rule is that once it's been featured on a broadcast tv show, it dies quickly and can only be resurrected after 20 years.
posted by numaner at 1:27 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: thanks i still hate it
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:46 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Does it make me horrible to have 2 hampster dance remixes (undead and monkey) mix?

You mean, like, on your hard drive? In your mp3 folder? I mean, not horrible, but butt-of-joke worthy for sure. Unless maybe you're a mobile DJ doing weddings (for 50 year olds).
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on February 10


Ah, but how many different versions of Bananaphone do you have
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:06 PM on February 10


What does zombo.com look like in 60 fps?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:15 PM on February 10


The only limit is yourself. Welcome.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:27 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


The ne plus ultra of bananaphone versions is the spoken-word version done in the style of George Takei.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:33 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


rum-soaked space hobo, I'm not so sure.
posted by WCityMike at 3:46 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


What does zombo.com look like in 60 fps?
You can do anything.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:02 PM on February 11


you really can
posted by numaner at 12:32 PM on February 12


Destiny got in touch with me, and handed over his oral history of the Hampsterdance (direct mp3 download).

He was also quoted in the oral history previously on the blue.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:36 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


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