The DIRT for July 23-27, 2018

Welcome to Summer Animation Student Worker, Ammar Almahdy!


Ammar Almahdy is a rising junior at Middlebury College from Cairo, Egypt. On his way to the United States, Ammar had a two-year long transit in Trieste, Italy where he received his high school diploma. Throughout this time and as far as Ammar can recall, his two biggest driving passions have always been football (soccer) and anything that works with 1s and 0s.

During Ammar’s freshman Spring semester, he overheard a student talking about a 3D Computer Animation class. Ammar grew interested in this course, enrolled the subsequent semester and has been hanging around the studio since then. The animation studio at Middlebury is undoubtedly his favorite place on campus. Ammar explains that not only does it combine his passion for digital art and programming, but it also represents a great academic and social hub. Every day at the animation studio is a new experience, ranging from visits to undocumented dairy farmers in Vermont to having conversations about abortions. He is always excited to learn something or make a new acquaintance with a new addition to the team at the studio.

This summer, Ammar is working on implementing a powerful tool for Middlebury artists: The Render Farm. The biggest problem facing artists in the studio is usually the expense of rendering images and visualizing artistic decisions. Presently, in order for an artist to see their work in full detail, they need to wait for hours until a computer processes all the necessary information. The Render Farm utilizes computers on campus to do the rendering collectively for artists by dividing the rendering process over more than 90 computers instead of a single computer. The Render Farm will exponentially speed up the artistic process and facilitate the decision making process without compromising the quality of the work.

Ammar is looking forward to this implementation and in the meanwhile is enjoying the beautiful Summer in Vermont.

Estrellita Animation

Written by Daniel Houghton

Seven Days recently covered the Middlebury College Animation Studio’s recently production “Estrellita (Little Star)”. “What if the day that you grew up was the day your parents got taken away because they were undocumented?” That question comes from Daniel Houghton, an animation and video production instructor at Middlebury College and director of the school’s Animation Studio. It’s the heart of a newly released animated short that grapples with deportation and family separation in the U.S., framed in the context of undocumented migrant farmworkers in Vermont.

Two years in the making, the eight-minute wordless animation called “Estrellita” (“Little Star”) was initially slated to travel the film-fest circuit later this year and into 2019. Recent news changed the filmmakers’ minds.

“There are pretty horrific things happening right now with family separation on the border,” said Houghton. “The decision to put [“Estrellita”] online now definitely followed where the news stories were going. [We wanted] to participate in some way in the bigger dialogue.” On June 20, the film was uploaded to Vimeo, where it already has more than 4,500 views.

Estrellita (Little Star) from Daniel Houghton on Vimeo.

Read the rest of the story here.

Launch of Portuguese at Middlebury Digital Hub

Written by Nadani Dixon

In collaboration with the Spanish & Portuguese program at the College, the Portuguese summer Language School, the Schools Abroad in Brazil, and the Portuguese Translation and Localization Management program at the Institute, our office, led by Instructional Designer Sonja Burrows, has developed a digital hub for students and alumni who study Portuguese in any of Middlebury’s Portuguese language programs. With initial meetings that brought them together in July 2017, Portuguese at Middlebury was launched on July 1st! A Nossa Comunidade: Portuguese at Middlebury is a digital community space where students, teachers, translators and speakers of Portuguese at Middlebury and beyond can join together. The hub provides information on how students can participate in Middlebury’s diverse Portuguese programs and offers a place for Middlebury students across those programs to connect around their shared interest in the language. In this digital space, you can find Portuguese study opportunities, join the Middlebury Portuguese community, access self-study learning resources to grow your Portuguese language abilities and stay up-to-date with the Portuguese/Brazilian culture and news.

The community language learning site, created using WordPress on MiddCreate, includes a modular path of language study that crosses the programs, a student blog area, a self-study language learning area (Create Your Path) and a list of resources featuring books, films and music. Create Your Path allows users to map their journey through the Portuguese learning opportunities and explore options to design a unique learning experience. Another fun part of the site is the connection area called Bate-papo. It allows members of the community to interact, regardless of level and speakers of all languages are welcome!

Dig Deeper:

“Flower will not grow, if the stem doesn’t allow.”
– Nayreil

Featured Image by Théo Roland on Unsplash

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