Raqi Syed

Lecturer School of Design


Teaching in 2017

Raqi Syed profile picture


MA Victoria University of Wellington

MFA University of Southern Califorina

BA University of Southern Califiornia


Raqi Syed began her career in feature animation as an Assistant Technical Director for Disney Feature Animation on films such as Meet the Robinsons and later as a Lighting Artist on Tangled. She then went on to work as a Senior Technical Director with Weta Digital on films like Avatar, The Planet of the Apes films, and The Hobbit Trilogy. A full list of her film credits can be found over at IMDB.

As a film student at the University of Southern California, Raqi was a Mary Pickford Scholar. While completing her MA In Creative Writing at Victoria’s Institute for Modern Letters, she was awarded the Dominion Post Fellowship for her thesis. More recently, The Los Angeles Times pegged Raqi for its list of 100 Industry professionals who can help fix Hollywood’s Diversity Problem. She is a member of Women in VR and is actively involved in the Wellington VR community.


As a Lecturer at the School of Design, Raqi's research is primarily focused on the relationship between digital technology and narrativity. Her work as a Visual Effects Artist informs her critical writing about cinema and how new technologies continue to shape our contemporary understanding of storytelling. Her current research pivots around the idea that new mediums like virtual reality must draw upon and extend the tradition of established media such as literature, theater, and film. She also writes about film, film technology, and the business of visual effects. Her essays have appeared in TechCrunch, Vice: Motherboard, Quartz, and Avidly: A LA Review of Books Channel. 

A full list of Raqi's publications can be found here


Currently, Raqi teaches DSDN 383 and 489: Introduction to Professional Practice. The course seeks to engage students in the practices that will propel them during their transition from academic life to professional careers as artists. Students are encouraged to answer the central question, “What is my story as an artist?” and use this to construct an industry-focused portfolio, along with strategies for sustaining long-term engagement with their artistic practice. In 2017, Raqi is slated to teach MDDN 311: Postproduction and Special Effects.

Raqi is also a Coordinator in the Virtual Worlds DRIL Stream. In 2016 she received a grant from Victoria University’s Digital Futures initiative to investigate the relationship between cinema and virtual reality narrative strategies. The project, titled “Circle versus square: VR as the Third Experience,” seeks to produce a short VR experience for exhibition early in 2017. The project aims to incorporate 3D printing, spherical camera construction, 3D sound, and image stitching — all technologies which will feed back into graduate and undergraduate post-production curriculums. “Circle versus Square” relies heavily on relationships between the Design, Film, and Theater programs, encouraging a cross-disciplinary approach to research and exhibition.