Staff Profile – Daniel Houghton

In each issue of Keywords, we profile a staff member who works in the library or related department. This issue features Arts Technology Specialist and Middlebury alum Daniel Houghton.

What roles have you held at Middlebury ? Can you compare “then” and “now”?
I attended Middlebury as an undergrad student. And after some time in New York working in film and TV and doing animations for startups, I found my way back to Middlebury to teach Film Production and Animation for four years with the Film and Media Culture Department. Now I direct the Animation Studio, which is a mix of teaching intro to animation and upper-level collaborative animation along with project development, maintenance of the studio itself, outreach to faculty, and, most recently, mentorships between undergraduate students and younger kids in the Middlebury community.

How do you use the libraries?
The Animation Studio is in Davis Family Library 216, so I’m in the studio every day for work.  I check out books for research on new animation projects.  I check out production gear from the circulation desk, and movies and music.  I encourage students to spend a significant portion of their week in the studio, working on collaborative projects and building community in the space.

What do you like best about working at Midd?
The chance to engage the students is one of the best parts about working at Middlebury. They have such vitality and curiosity. They are adventuresome and funny and full of stories of their own that teach me something new about the world every time they share one. I really enjoy teaching and working with them.

What are your hopes/dreams/plans for the next few years?
As part of the Academic Technology Group and the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research, technology and pedagogy are often on my mind as we labor away in the studio on the day-to-day of animation production. How can technology inspire deeper engagement between students and their studies? How can digital tools lighten the load of teaching full semester courses? What uses of technology are uniquely and ideally suited to the liberal arts environment? How can animation serve as a bridge between animators who love the discipline itself and faculty who might see value in telling a visual story about some aspect of their scholarship? These sorts of questions go hand-in-hand with the more technical questions, such as: How do you rig 100,000 stands of computer generated hair to blow in the wind? What do the eyelids and cheeks do when a person smiles? Where on campus can we plug in 20 computers for the computationally intensive task of rendering computer animation?

What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now?
Outside of work, my life is spent on playgrounds, hikes, the snow bowl and the beach at Lake Dunmore with my wife and two little girls.