Work by Imtithal Rafi 2

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Imtithal Rafi animates for BBC series ‘Beyond Paradise’

Second-year BA (Hons) Animation & Games student Imtithal Rafi recently completed her first professional animation commission, which featured in the second series of the popular BBC crime drama ‘Beyond Paradise’.
<p dir="ltr">Second-year <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/ba-hons-animation-games">BA (Hons) Animation &amp; Games</a> student Imtithal Rafi recently completed her first professional animation commission, which featured in the second series of the popular BBC crime drama ‘Beyond Paradise’.<br /><br />19-year-old Imtithal, who was born in London and went to school in the United States before her family moved to Lahore in Pakistan, answered a call for submissions shared by Lecturer Mike Ford to work with TV production company Red Planet Pictures on the animation for the BBC series.</p> <p dir="ltr">We sat down with Imtithal to find out more about how it felt having her first professional animated work featured in one of the UK’s most popular dramas since its debut last year, with episode one of series two being watched by over 7.5 million viewers so far. She also shared what attracted her to move from Pakistan to study at Arts University Plymouth, and how she’s using her time in the city to raise awareness of South Asian Art.<br /></p>
Imtithal Rafi

Imtithal Rafi

<p dir="ltr"><strong>How did you get a commission to work on a popular BBC show?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">It was August 2023 before the start of my second year studying BA (Hons) Animation &amp; Games when my Lecturer, Mike Ford, emailed our cohort asking for showreel submissions from any students who were interested in a paid commission for a well-known BBC television show. It wasn’t something that I’d expected to do but I shared my showreel and on YouTube and they selected me for the project.</p> <p dir="ltr">By September the production company, Red Planet Pictures, sent me the brief, which involved creating a one-minute silhouette animation to set the backstory for a case involving a priest at a Catholic boarding school going missing in episode four of the second series. The animation needed to convey the local tale of a fisherman being lured away by the devil at sea.<br /></p>
Work by Imtithal Rafi for BBC Red Planet Pictures series Beyond Paradise 3
Work by Imtithal Rafi for BBC Red Planet Pictures series Beyond Paradise 4

Imtithal's work on the BBC/Red Planet Pictures series 'Beyond Paradise

<p dir="ltr"><strong>Having never worked on something like this before, how did you find the project?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The whole process went very smoothly. I was most confident about the strength of my 2D animation skills, so I submitted thumbnails for what I thought could be achieved in the minute of animation and the production company asked me to go ahead.</p> <p dir="ltr">From start to finish they were on hand to answer any questions that I had, providing audio files and transcripts from the show so that I could meet the brief. I was also able to speak to Mike, my Lecturer, whenever I needed any additional advice, which helped me to keep things on track and meet the deadline.</p> <p dir="ltr">Working with Red Planet Pictures was a fantastic experience. I’d definitely work with them again if the opportunity arose. I’ve loved drawing since I was young, so being paid to create an animation like this for a hit BBC show was a dream job.</p>
Work by Imtithal Rafi for BBC Red Planet Pictures series Beyond Paradise 2
Work by Imtithal Rafi for BBC Red Planet Pictures series Beyond Paradise 1

Imtithal's work on the BBC/Red Planet Pictures series 'Beyond Paradise

<p dir="ltr"><strong>Why did you choose to travel from Pakistan to study at Arts University Plymouth?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The short answer is that I was looking for a university in the UK that would recognise my existing qualifications and I spotted Arts University Plymouth. After speaking to Professor Stephen Felmingham (Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Arts University Plymouth) at an Open Day, I felt like this was the best option for me. Studying BA (Hons) Animation &amp; Games gives me a lot of freedom to incorporate my own story elements and work on personal projects, which lets me focus on my own ideas.</p> <p dir="ltr">The longer answer is that I was born in London but my family were originally from Pakistan. I was raised in America and attended Piscataway High School in New Jersey, on the east coast. When the pandemic hit, my schooling moved online, and during that period we relocated to Lahore in Pakistan to be closer to my extended family. I studied online there for a while but the schools wouldn’t accept the documentation that I needed to demonstrate my educational achievements. I have dual citizenship, from being born in the UK, so I looked at English universities to continue my studies, and that was how I found Arts University Plymouth.<br /></p>
Work by Imtithal Rafi

Work by Imtithal Rafi

<p dir="ltr"><strong>What inspires you as an animator?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I’m keeping a close eye on <a href="https://manoanimationstudios.com/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Mano Animation Studios</a>. The animation industry in Pakistan is much smaller than in the UK or US but I feel like it’s going to be a growing market. Mano Animation Studios are releasing Pakistan’s first traditional hand-painted animation in the style of Studio Ghibli this year and I find their work very exciting. </p> <p dir="ltr">I love projects that delve into the psychology of characters and tie them together with beautiful animation. Stories that you have to sit in silence after you’ve finished watching them. I can’t wait to see ‘The Glassworker’ by Mano Animation. I also love classic Studio Ghibli films like ‘Whisper of the Heart’ and ‘Ponyo’, as well as Cartoon Saloon films like ‘Song of the Sea’ and ‘Wolfwalkers’.<br /></p>
Work by Imtithal Rafi 2

Work by Imtithal Rafi

<p dir="ltr"><strong>Can you also tell me a little about the work you’re doing with The Box?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Alongside a love of animation, I’m also interested in working with museums and the preservation and restoration of works of art and culture. When I grew up in America, I didn’t feel very connected to the culture there, but that all changed when I moved to Pakistan. My dad took me to Lahore Walled City and when we went inside there were people restoring residential streets and historical buildings such as Masjid Wazir Khan and the Shahi Hammam. The completed parts were so bright and vibrant, visiting felt like stepping back in time. Ever since then I’ve wanted to be a part of something like that.<br /></p>
Imtithal Rafi rooftop

Work by Imtithal Rafi

<p>Arts University Plymouth is next door to a leading museum called The Box and I found out about an opportunity to volunteer there. When I chatted to one of the curators, she told me about an exhibition of South Asian art, ‘<a href="https://www.theboxplymouth.com/events/exhibitions/beyond-the-page-south-asian-miniature-painting-and-britain-1600-to-now">Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain</a>’. I was able to help with some of the descriptions and titles for the paintings, as well as visiting the archives and helping to select what works would be displayed.</p> <p dir="ltr">I’m continuing to volunteer with The Box and there have been opportunities to join meetings for another upcoming exhibition that’s being planned. Being able to work with curators in The Box and develop my professional skills in collaboration with a museum like this has been fascinating and I’m happy that in Plymouth there have been opportunities to hone my animation skills and take forward my interest in museum studies.<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">BA (Hons) Animation &amp; Games at Arts University Plymouth prepares students for today’s highly competitive market and rapidly expanding environment in the entertainment industry, which is forecast to be worth £200 billion globally by 2025.</p> <p dir="ltr">Whether your interest is in film, television, video games, online content, VFX, motion graphics or VR, we’ll help you enter the market with the knowledge and skills necessary for a leading role in the industry.</p> <p dir="ltr">In our state-of-the-art multimedia studio environment, you can explore the full range of the drawing, modelling, editing, rendering, and scripting techniques, giving you an unrivalled opportunity to take a multi-faceted view of the animation and games world.<br /><br />To find out more, visit the next <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/events/open-day-undergraduate-and-postgraduate-june-24">Open Day</a> on Saturday 22 June 2024, from 10am until 2pm. The Open Day coincides with our <a href="https://www.aup.ac.uk/graduate-shows-2024">Graduate Shows 2024</a>, a once-a-year opportunity to look around the University of the Year for South West England, as voted for by students, and see examples of the very best work created by graduating students who are completing a wide range of creative qualifications.<br /></p>