“Pakistan has limited demand for animations and consequently there are a limited number of animation and VFX companies”
ZEENAT CHAUDHARY: What does being an animation and post-production specialist entail?
TAHIR MOOSA: Conceptualising and developing animations; creating storyboards and animatics to ensure that the final product meets a project’s specifications. Designing and animating characters, scenes and environments. Video editing, adding visual and sound effects and music scores and finally quality control and collaborating with directors, producers and sound engineers. Overall, a strong creative and technical skillset is required, along with proficiency in animation software tools, an eye for design and detail and the ability to work under pressure.
ZC: How did you develop an interest in this field?
TM: My background is in computer science, but my interest has always been in the graphics of video games and visual effects in movies. This fascination led me to explore the creation of these effects and how I could potentially achieve similar results. During my computer science studies, I would often write programming routines to produce computer graphics.
ZC: What are some of your most memorable career highlights so far?
TM: A few come to mind: One, when the Amiga computer launched, I was lucky enough to get my hands on it and it was a game-changer for my career. Two, as a student, I submitted an entry to the Sharjah Cricket Board for animations they would use during one of the biggest tournaments in cricket history, and I was selected over a major company. Three, when I co-founded Sharp Image with my partner, Amyn Farooqui, and we signed the official agreement. Four, attending the Annency Animation Film Festival in France and seeing the Pakistani flag on a high-rise platform (new countries’ entrants have their flags displayed on a certain platform). Five, becoming a member of Colourist Society International – an exclusive membership that is given to colourists after the society has comprehensively evaluated their work experience and portfolio.
ZC: What are some of your most recent accolades?
TM: Multiple commercials which I colour-graded and which won awards at the 2022 Effies – two golds, four silvers and one bronze. My job was to create a distinct look for each commercial to enhance their message. Further, this year I am serving as a judge on the panel of four different industry events; the 44th Telly Awards, AICP Awards, Promax Asia TV (India) and the World Trailer Awards.
ZC: How challenging was it to initiate a career as an animator/post-production specialist?
TM: When I started 30 years ago, there were no educational resources or guidance for animation and post-production. Luckily, I had enough passion to self-learn and support from friends and family when it came to attaining the hardware needed to enhance my skills. For instance, when the paradigm-changing Amiga computer by Commodore launched, it revolutionised the computer industry, due to its specialisation in computer graphics, colours, and sound. Before that, all PCs were monochromatic. I was fortunate enough to have the support of my brother to purchase the Amiga and began creating motion graphics and animations that were virtually non-existent at that time. Once my work eventually reached PTV and several production houses it led to my involvement in creating animations and special effects for TV commercials. This passion to create new and exciting content continued to grow, leading me to co-found Sharp Image.
ZC: Is it still challenging today?
TM: An obstacle that existed before, and when I was setting up Sharp Image and even today, is HR. There is a great lack of formal education and training in this field. We trained our own people and started an in-house training academy. Today, those resources are working locally and internationally. Another issue is limited animation projects – most are advertising-related. For instance, we have worked on animated branded content for Tetra Pak (a 3D cartoon animated series called Milkateers), Bisconni’s Cocomo (animated ads) and Candyland’s Fanty. Pakistan has limited demand for animations and consequently there is a limited number of animation and VFX companies and even fewer jobs. Of course, animation projects require significant funding and time to produce, which is scarce in Pakistan. However, the challenges fuel my passion to learn and create more. My passion for the field remains as strong as ever.
ZC: How has the landscape of Pakistan’s film industry has evolved?
TM: Today, the landscape is vastly different from what it was a few decades ago. In the past, Pakistani cinema was dominated by low-budget productions that featured dramatic storylines. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in Pakistani cinema, and filmmakers have been experimenting with new genres and storytelling techniques; with films such as Waar, Na Maloom Afraad, Teefa in Trouble, London Nahi Jaungi, Moor and Cake contributing significantly to this resurgence. There is growing emphasis on quality production values and visual effects and post-production quality has improved significantly. Pakistani filmmakers now have access to state-of-the-art post-production facilities and this allows them to produce films with higher production values and greater visual impact. It has resulted in greater attention to detail in areas such as colour grading, editing, visual effects and digital mastering, helping Pakistani films compete on a global level.
ZC: What are some of your favourite projects?
TM: Within films, I would say Na Maloom Afraad. Not because it was the first feature film we worked on, but because of its overall look and feel in terms of the colour grading, etc. that went with the narrative. Another is Saqib Malik’s film Baaji; from a technical perspective, it is one of my favourite colour grading jobs. Within animation projects, I would say the branded content for Tetra Pak, Milkateers was a special project for me, because it carved a niche in the market – advertisers found out that ads could go beyond the 30-second mark and be well-executed too.
ZC: What’s next for Sharp image?
TM: We are the only production company that does everything from shoots to cinematic films. We are working on further improving and introducing technologies for our field, enhancing workflows for filmmaking and shoots (for example, during Covid-19, I introduced a technology that allowed clients and different teams to virtually be present at shoots) and we also aim to work on an animated feature film.
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