Liam Kemp: Breaking Ground In Realism

Liam Kemp: The Normals
There has been a bit of deliberation among a few of us regarding posting based purely on technical and aesthetic merits. However, I think the work of Liam Kemp transcends the parameters of the average critique.

Some of you may remember when Liam hit the 3D scene in 2003 with his film “This Wonderful Life.” His latest project picks up right where he left off. Four years into production,“The Normals” is an observational short film that follows the banality of three middle-aged men in a public toilet. This convincing animation test is perhaps an indication that we are on the verge of crossing that final hurdle in achieving perfect human realism in CG.

You can read more about Liam’s in his interview with CG Society.

Thanks to Harm for the nudge!

About the author

Matt Lambert

NYC / London



in terms of detail but not render quality and appearance


It is truly amazing, the detail and photorealism. But whats the point?

I rather see real people and all the complex personalities and idiosyncracies that real actors bring to a role than to divide the work up between a team of animators slaving at computers, trying but never really getting at anything more than a cliched one dimensional personality. Example: 99.5% of the animated films we see.

THe most overlooked part of character animation is actually the characters personality and acting. The performance,and i don’t mean the movement and gesture. Because unless the animators (or actually team of assembly line animators) are actors themselves, they never really truly get great performances.

When you have more flat or caricatured animated characters, its more forgiving and fun to watch, simply because they aren’t “photorealistic” and we can project more of ourselves onto them.


tits makes a good nipple… I mean point.


There will be a time when it will be more cost effective to use CG people than real people… Or times when you want to use CG people in situations where you can’t put real people..

Oh wait.. this is already happening…

Just getting better…


You’re right on, tits, and I agree, you’re able to associate with things that are a little more ambiguous visually (i.e. books) – I like that too. But as dieLAMB was pointing out, this is a post purely for it’s technical merits, and rightly so – Liam has produced amazing work.

I think the point here is that this (3D photorealism)is becoming a more viable option for directors to use if they need it. You can be a great conceptual artist, but if you don’t have all the tools you need to complete your task, what’s the point?


Scares me. That new Orson Welles moment is coming closer all the time. Someone will fake a crime or tragedy (using animation) and we all will not know the truth.


I’m gonna have to get in my time machine and tell Michelangelo to forget about it. Just paint some hot sexy dude white and make him stand there on that there pedestal. We’ll call him David.

Dr. Jones

nope. still creepy as hell.

we’re trapped in the valley.


AWESOME. i was waiting for this comment.


Amazingly, it tops “This Wonderful Life” for highest level of ceepyness…ever.


I found myself mimicking his motions subconsciously with my own face… something I never did viewing any other CG clip.

kenneth Lee

I think they could’ve saved a lot of time by filming me.
I do see the value in getting to this level of realism though. Just not much.


Yeah, they could have filmed you but when a spike went through your head, you would die. Mr. 3d man would just laugh and ask for another!

What a bunch of jealous, negative “art-punks”.

Amazing work indeed!


very well done, but it still looks toonish, detail is great, but for me its obvious it’s CG


… you say whats the point? Yet tits makes the point hes also criticising.
The point is that when we watch something 2D and a ball with no nose and one leg, we suspend disbelief and concentrate on the narrative/humour/whatever.
Our difficulties in ‘accepting’ more realistic animation is that we instead note, either subconsciously or otherwise, that something isnt right. If that ‘something’ can be broached – and while this work aint perfect its clearly making progress – then we’ll break that barrier and again be involved in the narrative/humour/whatever thats depicted.
To say you dont see the point could be said about anything, and is indeed as pointless as the thing you criticise.

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