3DTotal: Hi Liam, could you tell us a bit about yourself please? Liam: I am a 35 year old 3D artist presently living in Derby, UK. I have been using 3D software for around 9 years, and up until 2004 I worked for Team17 as an animator and Core Design as a modeller. For the past 3 years I have been working full-time on my next animated project ‘The Normals’.
3DTotal: ‘This Wonderful Life’ was a very impressive animation, could you tell us what is was like producing it?
Liam: This Wonderful Life is now quite a distant memory, but my recollection of that 2 year experience doesn’t bring back too many fond memories, unfortunately. My time on the project was punctuated with problems to solve throughout the production - software crashes, hardware burn-out, pipeline issues, render structuring etc. I was working until 3 - 4 am every night in a tiny room which in summer reached temperatures of up to 100f (thanks to the heat generated by my monitors/PC’s). I had 4 noisy PC’s running constantly with their side panels removed to stop them overheating as well as a desk fan blowing air into the most troublesome PC. It sounded like being in a generator room, and the day I completed the project I switched all my machines off for the first time in a year - the sudden sound of stillness in that room was actually quite eerie.
The self-imposed pressure to complete the project was something that was a constant weight upon my shoulders, as it was the first time I’d put substantial amounts of money into making a movie. Because I knew that I wasn’t able to quit the project, I did feel somewhat imprisoned by the project I had embarked upon
3DTotal: So, what was it that made you do such a momentous task? Liam: The project was never meant to take so much out of my life (I had planned for it to take 6 months - the same with ‘The Normals’, actually), but I have a tendency keep pushing at whatever I’m working on until I exceed my own expectations - only then am I sufficiently satisfied enough to let go.
3DTotal: Looking at your portfolio you have created a host of very realistic looking women, and I think the one think that is most noticeable about them is their skin. Is this something that you have worked on to perfect? Liam: With rendered skin, I think people like to see all the little imperfections as it helps to push away that ‘computer-generated’ look that we all strive to avoid. With the bump map, for example, I created all the wrinkles and pores by hand and paid particular attention to the different patterns of skin creases across the face, taking care to avoid any repetition.
3DTotal: Have you ever considered creating a training DVD to teach people about the importance of creating perfect looking skin or would you rather keep it to yourself? Liam: I admit to being a secretive person when it comes to techniques, as I do get a small sense of loss when I let people know how I created a particular effect. Though after ‘The Normals’ is finished, it might be time to loosen up a little...
3DTotal: Who did the whole ‘Maxim Cyberbabe’ thing come about? Liam: The magazine had come up with the idea to find out what the ideal woman would look like, based upon the results of a survey filled in by its readers. They contacted me to ask if I could create a cyberbabe who’s appearance would conform to the results that came in. I got sent a list of the preferred physical attributes that I had to adhere to, such as hair being blonde, wavy and long; eyes to be blue and almond-shaped; lips full and wide etc. I then made all the necessary adjustments to my existing Wonderful Life girl in order to create the new Maxim Cyberbabe.