Home' The Wellingtonian : June 30th 2011 Contents 20 THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 30, 2011
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ROB and SUE
Model magic: Rob Uivel and Sue Dorrington of Human Dynamo in their Miramar workshop. They founded the company in 1998. Photo: EMMA BEER
By EMMA BEER
CModel couple Rob Uivel and Sue
Dorrington have exploded into the
Wellington's creative industry.
Their company, Human Dynamo, is
nestled away in the back of Miramar, just
along the road from Weta Workshop, and is
thriving in the national and international
Uivel has a background in industrial
design, and after leaving Wellington Poly-
technic he got into professional model-
He said if you wanted to stay in Welling-
ton at that time, when the advertising
industry was big, television commercials
and shoots were the way to go.
I like the challenge and then the finish
of a job. You overcome an obstacle, then it
gets filmed,'' Uivel said.
Dorrington studied visual communi-
cation design and worked as an art director.
Since the husband-and-wife team started
working they have noticed huge changes to
the industry, particularly with the intro-
duction of digital media.
We started with a telephone on the wall
and that's it. [The changes] have been
huge,'' Uivel said.
It's been reasonably tough to keep up
with it. But you have to.''
Dorrington, who is also a painter, said
one painting she did for her husband incor-
porated the motto Be like the waves''.
We have had to be like that. You keep
having to adapt. Any business has to adapt
to its surroundings, the kind of work, and
the way you handle the work.
These days, we've been very conscious to
embrace technology, to not just stay as a
While the digital medium had been a
learning curve, the background knowledge
of how things worked was invaluable.
Situated in Park Rd, Human Dynamo is
in the centre of creative Miramar.
You might expect heavy competition with
companies such as Weta, but Uivel and
Dorrington said that was not so.
They said it was a good thing having
Weta so close, because it meant there was
a huge pool of talented people around who
were all willing to help out.
[The industry] is collaborative, not com-
petitive,'' said Uivel.
While running a business and being
involved in projects from film to museum
exhibitions to architecture, the couple have
also raised four children.
When her children were younger,
Dorrington began to explore more creative
outlets, including sculpture.
Rob would get contracting sculptors. I
said, I think I can sculpt'. He'd say, Well,
you might think you can, but I've gotta
know you can'. I had to prove myself to him,
but I think I've done that.
It was quite a nice discovery for me.
I'd gone from a 2-D training background
to come into the 3-D realm and find that it
suited me as well.''
Dorrington said two of his favourite
projects were the 2005 movie Stealth , and
the award-winning Avatar.
His work on Avatar was mainly design-
ing set pieces, including switchboards,
doors, parts of the laboratories and guns.
[It was similar to] US Military detailing
really, that's just the sort of thing I like to
make, that sort of believable detail,'' he
Dorrington described her work as more
soft line, curved line stuff'' and said her
museum and exhibition work stood out.
The whales exhibition [at Te Papa], the
big whale heart. That work moved into a lot
of sea creatures, for Kelly Tarlton's, even
MAF. It was quite a nice fit for me, with the
national history science and ecology side.''
The Kelly Tarlton's work included a
megalodon shark's jaw and head and a
specially designed floor piece, which had to
be completed in four weeks.
Another piece of work that might be rec-
ognisable is the Big V Can mounted on a
monster truck for some of V's advertising.
More recently, they worked with
Whittaker's to create the world's first pure
They took the design for a special website
chocolate block and created a 3-D prototype
and mould. The mould was then used to
make real chocolate, which was photo-
graphed and is what features on Whitta-
ker's decadent new website.
Being able to do work in areas such as
digital and exhibitions was helpful when
the film industry was slow, they said.
Sue said she enjoyed the creative indus-
I love being in the creative environment.
It's really nice to have creative people
around you and have different challenges.''
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