First Day of School


This morning I walked along the dusty road with Bekele, the coordinator of the Masters of Film program. It’s quite different from my daily walks to The American University of Rome.


On the way to school

We got to campus and they have a lovely gallery and sculpture garden. Once there I got to meet the administrators, students, and some of the other professors. Bekele mentioned that students were excited to begin learning animation and that many were hanging out beforehand, some that he rarely ever sees.





He then brought me up to the auditorium. I thought it was funny how comfy their seats were. In fact , they are a bit dangerous for professors because they are so comfortable, a student could easily fall asleep.

It did make me laugh though that despite the cushy seats, there is actually no bathroom in that building at all.


So despite all the initial culture shock I went through, the moment I started teaching I went into a lovely state of flow and time went by like it didn’t exist. My main goal for today was to get the students excited about animation, show them various animation styles, go over a bit of animation history, and explain the frame by frame techniques used in traditional animation.

I then gave them each the little notebooks I had brought. My class has 25 students now and not the 17 I originally thought so I didn’t have enough for everyone but some people said it would be no problem to get their own. I then explained how to make flip-books which I feel are every good animator’s “right of passage.” So tomorrow they will present their first animations in flip-book form.

We also talked about the importance of ideas and the planning stages. I showed how to do storyboarding and tomorrow they will present their final project ideas for the animations they will present two weeks from today.

I enjoyed hearing their ideas ranging from creating traditional Ethiopian fables or proverbs to social commentary on poverty and corruption to quirky stories of jackets trying to save seats at the music dance hall.

Tomorrow we’ll start to play with some stop-motion techniques using Photoshop which they aim to bring on their own computers.

Well, I am a bit tired but had a wonderful dinner at an Armenian restaurant with some friends. Check out my Ethiopian beer. St. George’s is the local favorite here. Oddly enough, they don’t really say “cheers” or “cin cin” here, so I’ll just wish you a good night.



Read the next blog post in this series.