Tor Robinson

Tor’s fascination with the movie-making industry has so far gotten her a Master’s degree in Design Innovation from Victoria University in Wellington and a coveted job at Weta Workshop in Wellington as well. Her studies at VUW had right from the start been geared toward finding applications for the film making industry, the prop making part in particular.

Every movie buff knows about the importance of immaculately crafted props, costumes and special effects for supporting and enhancing the storyline. While some films become famous – or rather infamous – for being exceptionally bad at something (acting/ special effects, etc), most film makers strive to become famous for having created an exceptional movie. Prop making has a tradition as old as movie making, and CGI to create those things that prop makers can’t make is the current tool for all those impossible ideas. But CGI, in its current forms, presents a whole different set of problems, in particular how actors are interacting in a credible way with the ‘props’ that will be added later. Rapidly developing new technologies are now expanding what CGI can be used for. Instead of staying wholly in the 2D realm of computer and movie screens, through cutting edge 3D printing technology from Stratasys, anything in the computer can become part of the movie set in real life.

During Tor’s studies at VUW she created a range of objects, which had been created specifically for a futuristic world and needed to convey a real sense of taste, scent and tactility. Tor was able to explore the ever-expanding capabilities of the J750 voxel printer by Stratasys, a world unique printer that can print in a multitude of colours and pliabilities. The research relationship and support between Stratasys and the Design School gave Tor and her fellow students the ability to truly go where no one had gone before.

After her graduation Tor secured R&D Career grant from Callaghan Innovation (to support industry and university collaborations) to undertake research at Weta Workshop, investigating how the J750 and voxel printing can be successfully used in the film making industry. The stunning outcome of that research were humongous eyeballs, which captured the prop making worlds’ eye and were featured on Adam Savage’s program. And as far as Stratasys and Weta Workshop were concerned, this research proved more than exciting and successful. In fact so successful, that Tor and William Furneaux (Weta Workshop) submitted the results to ACM SIGGRAPH in 2019 as well.