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Tina Fey Also Moves Like Sarah Palin, NYU Researchers Find

October 31, 2008
N-131, 2008-09

Tina Fey has been widely praised for imitating Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s voice and appearance. Now, researchers at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences have found that the actress also effectively imitates the Alaska governor’s body language.

A research team, headed by NYU Computer Science Professor Chris Bregler, has developed a technique to detect human body language in video. Titled “GreenDot,” the project employs motion capture, pattern recognition, and “Intrinsic Biometrics” techniques. The tool shows that Fey successfully captures her body language (the clip used to measure Palin is from the Alaska governor’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live”). The moving bar chart in the below videos shows a comparison of the motion signatures of the subjects as the computer is collecting data. The deep blue bar represents Barack Obama’s body language, or “Obama-ness”; light blue is “Biden-ness”; red is “McCain-ness”; and the pink is “Palin-ness”:

The goal of the project is to train a computer to recognize a person based on his or her motions and to identify the person’s emotional state, cultural background, and other attributes. The researchers have also developed a method to compare the body language of different speakers, which has yielded both unsurprising and surprising results.

While Obama fever runs high across Europe, passion for the Democratic nominee is especially evident in France-an Oct. 24 Harris Interactive Survey shows only 1 percent of the French public wants Obama’s opponent, John McCain, to win the Nov. 4 election. The researchers’ analysis suggests Obama has returned the favor-in least in terms of body language: his body language is similar to that of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The link below shows speeches of four politicians: Sarzoky, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, and Obama. The Yellow Bar is “Hillary-ness” of input motion; the Blue Bar is “Obama-ness” of input motion; Red Bar is “Sarkozy-ness” of input motion; and Violet Bar is “Merkel-ness” of input motion. In the Obama video, notice how both the Yellow (Hillary) and Red (Sarzoky) bars remain relatively high, suggesting Obama adopts much of the body language of Clinton and Sarkozy:

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Research

Type: Press Release

"GreenDot" Project

"GreenDot" Project

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