Thursday, June 1, 2023

Meet Novaira Masood: The Pakistani Female Visual-Effects Genius Behind Thor & Maleficent

Novaira Masood is one of the top visual effect artists in the world. 

Known primarily for her work in Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent, Novaira has famously contributed to some of the biggest hits in Hollywood, including Thor (2011) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).

Novaira is a software engineer from Fast-NU in Islamabad.

A Pakistani software engineer now located in Seattle, Washington, Novaira got her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Fast-NU in Islamabad.

She then completed her master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. 

Photo Courtesy: Novaira Masood

She became interested in Computer Science near the end of her senior year and realized her passion for VFX.

She has worked as a Senior Software Development Engineer at Microsoft.

At Microsoft, Novaira worked on an object scanning experience for Microsoft’s “3D for Everyone” program. 

She also worked on the initial version of the HoloLens at Microsoft. Before working at Microsoft, she had a brief stint, working in R&D for animation and visual effects in Hollywood films.

Some of her graphics and animation works include Thor and Maleficent.

Photo Courtesy: Maleficent

Novaira and her crew are credited for the ground-breaking animation and visual effects used in Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Maleficent, as well as the three fairies that guarded Princess Aurora. 

Her other famous works include Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), Thor (2011), Mars Needs Moms (2011), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), TRON: Legacy (2010), and Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009).

She has 16 years of industry experience in computer graphics and computer vision.

Photo Courtesy: Novaira Masood

Her primary focus had always been on performance capture software – the technology used to apply real-time human body and facial expressions to animated characters. 

Novaira says that she and her team come up with answers to challenges as a group, but not all of their original ideas are employed in the end result, and many individuals are engaged behind the scenes in the final captures.

She is passionate about female entrepreneurship and mentorship.

 Fairies from the film 'Maleficent'. – Photo courtesy: Novaira Masood
Photo Courtesy: Novaira Masood

Novaira leads a Women in Graphics event at Siggraph every year and is an active member of Apple’s diversity groups.

She has proven herself through her incredible work over the years, and has given Pakistanis a reason (in fact, many reasons) to be proud.

Read More: Meet Ayesha Farooq: Pakistan’s First Female Fighter Pilot

Read More: Meet Namira Salim: First Pakistani To Travel In Space

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