The basis for Baldy is a wire-framed 3-D model of a human head developed by Frederic Parke, a computer scientist who got his Ph.D. by finding out the bumps and hollows that made up his own face. Parke took hundreds of measurements of his face and stored the information for these measurements onto a computer head made up of roughly 900 triangles. He then developed simple facial animation sequences.

In the mid-1980s, Massaro's lab began improving on Parke's work. They borrowed the computer capabilities of the mathematics department and computer and information sciences department at the University of California, Santa Cruz to do so. To make the speech of Baldy seem human, Massaro took videos of people talking, and then used these as a model for the animated computer speech. The facial movement of Baldy were then spliced back toegether to form an animated video.

"To record five syllables would take a whole evening," Massaro said.

The hardware on the Silicon Graphics computer they used allowed "Baldy" to mouth words in slow motion, with each expression taking a minute. In 1992, his lab finally got the computer power to make Baldy talk like a veteran at a rate of 60 facial movements per second.

Link to oneor all of four mpeg movies at --the mpeg movies are the ones next to title that says Parke a la Cohen and Massaro)

Baldy was designed with facial flexibility in mind. Like an image stamped onto a piece of silly putty,TM the whole face can be stretched out sideways, or elongated from temple to chin in a computerized version of Jay Leno. Individual sections such as the nose can also be expanded or shrunk to go from the thinnest of noses to the widest nose imaginable.

More important for speech, different parts of the face can be moved up, down, sideways or rotated by simply asking the computer to move the corners of the triangles making up the head. Massaro's lab can adjust about 70 different facial features this way: Baldy's jaw can rotate down, his lips can protrude, his eyebrows can be raised, and he can stick his tongue out in a very human fashion. The entire head can also be made to nod, the eyes to blink, and Baldy can look around and avoid your eyes with something resembling the skill of a put-out teenager. Computer morphing software also lets Baldy curve his lips up in a rough translation of a smile.

To get from a moveable see-through wire-framed head to one of flesh-like appearance, Massoro's lab used a number of tricks. Once they settled on a tan facial color (Baldy also can be demon-red and many other colors), they shaded each triangle of the face to imitate the way a room light would strike that facial area. The shading of individual triangles was then blended together to give the 3-D head a more natural appearance.