Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: Heroes of Color- Gaspar Yanga (Whiteboard Animation)

Blake Harris 07.12.2016

Last year, we raved about a wonderful (and educational!) example of whiteboard animation called Heroes of Color, which highlighted the Harlem Hellfighters. The Harlem Hellfighters were an African-American infantry unit in WWI who spent more time in combat than any other American unit. In that video, animator David Heredia (of Heredia Designs) did a terrific job of introducing these heroes in an explainer video that was both compelling and captivating and compelling from start to finish. And in the newest episode of this groundbreaking series–this week’s PICK OF THE WEEK–we’re pleased to say Heredia’s done it again.

In this video, David Heredia introduces the audience to a new hero: Gaspar Yanga. Before we get into what we loved about this whiteboard animation, let’s first outline a few intriguing facts about this explainer’s protagonist:

  • Known as “The First Liberator of the Americas,” Gaspar Yanga led one of colonial Mexico’s first successful slave uprisings and went on to establish one of the Americas earliest free black settlements
  • Yanga and his comrades (known as cimarrónes) disrupted trade and looted goods  along the Camino Real (Royal Road) between Veracruz and Mexico City.
  • Yanga formed a settlement that grew to over 500 people and was able to elude capture for over 30 years.

Credits:

  • Narrated by J. Aaron Boykin
  • Written & Illustrated by David Heredia
  • Script Editor: Michael Hagerman
  • Music Composed by Carlos Heredia

3 Things We Loved About This Whiteboard Animation:

1. Channeling Anger

Typically, when heroes are depicted, they are presented with a strong sense of stoicism. They are cool and calm–almost emotionless at times–as they face the difficulties of their situation.

But how realistic is that? Maybe in a comic book (or comic book movie!), but in real-life, emotions like anger, frustration or even sadness are often what fuel change.

To that end, Heredia does a wonderful job of showing us a different type of hero. a more realistic type of hero. An hero who’s not afraid to get a little angry.

Heredia does this by placing power and emotion into the eyes of his characters…

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Through their expressions…

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And through their poses…

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Also, impressively, Heredia doesn’t completely shy away from the more typical depiction of a hero. He just knows how and where to use it…

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2. Ambient Noise

When we think about explainer videos in terms of their sounds, we tend to only think about the voice-over narration and any music choices. But Heroes of Color makes a great case that we should at least consider adding ambient side to help build the realism (and occasionally intensity) of our video as a whole.

A few of the noises used in this explainer include:

  • the snap of a whip (and ensuing cry)
  • the squawk of a bird and assorted jungle noises
  • the march of footsteps
  • grunts from the battlefield

Each are clever additions that enhance the overall quality of the explainer.

3. Heredia’s Creative Choice at the End…

This Heroes of Color episode ends with tourists snapping selfies in front of a Gaspar Yanga monument. Interestingly–and accurately, I might add–Heredia makes these moments as much about the modern day photographer as about Yanga himself.

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Again, this goes back to what we talked about in one: a more honest depiction of heroism (and hero worship). One hopes that, at some point, those modern photographers will look up Yanga and learn about his achievements. But even if they don’t, even if they never even quite realize who Gaspar Yanga is, it’s somewhat comforting to know that forever, in a small way, Yanga will always be with them.

To learn more about the Heroes of Color series or its creator David Heredia, visit http://www.herediadesigns.com/

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Questions? Comments? Contact IdeaBlog@idearocketanimation.com

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris
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  • Wow, this was an incredible review. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your constant support. In reading this, you gave me some things to be aware of on the next episode (which will feature a puerto rican female hero). I am extremely honored to have your support. I sincerely thank you for this article. It motivates me each day. Thank you.

    • Claude Harrington

      Our pleasure. Your great work motivates us as well!

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