Idea Blog

PICK OF THE WEEK: The Hero’s Journey (an explainer of sorts)

Blake Harris 09.30.2015

With so much great work being done in the animation and explainer video spaces, every week we like to shine a spotlight on an outstanding piece of work. This week’s selection is a fun, well-crafted explanation of the classic “hero’s journey” that uses iconic film scenes and characters to enlighten viewers.

This video was created by Iskander Krayenbosch as his graduation project for the University HKU. It cleverly outlines the fundamental structure that lies beneath famous tales of fantasy and adventure based on the structure identified by Joseph Campbell. As Krayenbosch describes, “According to him there are 12 stages in which every hero has to walk through one way or the other. In the hero’s journey these stages are visualized by using iconic blockbuster movies that follow the same structure of storytelling.

  • Directed & Animated: Iskander Krayenbosch
  • Music: Boris Stipdonk
  • Sound Design: Boris Stipdonk & Arthur Bruinse
  • Voiceover: Bob Miller
  • Additional Illustrations: Mirjam Verhoog
  • Special Thanks: Lenno Verhoog, Martin van Rijn, Gertrude Krayenbosch

3 THINGS WE LOVED ABOUT THIS EXPLAINER:

1) Successfully Sets Expectations: When watching any story fold, it always helps to set the viewer’s expectations; this is what keeps them in their seat (and, at times, on the edge of that seat). After all, that’s exactly what the content of the video is about—that’s why the hero’s journey format is so frequently followed by Hollywood films; because it’s familiar with its own unique twist of character and story.

To this point, Krayenbosch’s video does a great job of setting the viewer’s expectations by framing the story around 12 Steps. And, similar to how the chapters in a book helpfully partition a narrative, this video harnesses that sensibility by, literally, coming to us through the opening of a book. Due to this framework, the reviewer remains eager as he is enlightened.

1. Set Expectations1. Set Expectations 2 1. Set Expectations 31. Set Expectations 4

As a result, the twelve steps (pasted below) are anticipated and relished by the viewer:

  • 1) Ordinary World (where our journey begins
  • 2) Call to Adventure
  • 3) Refusal of the Call
  • 4) Meeting the Mentor
  • 5) Crossing the Threshold
  • 6) Tests, Allies, Enemies
  • 7) Approach the Inmost Cave
  • 8) Supreme Ordeal
  • 9) Reward
  • 10) The Road Back
  • 11) Resurrection
  • 12) Return

2) Recognizable, but Distinct: Continuing to play off this idea of expectations revisited, Krayenbosch does a strong job of creating familiar-looking iconic characters who are still appear as artfully distinct. Not only distinct from their on-screen counterparts, but also distinctly similar to each other in a way that demonstrates a sense of style.

Here are a few favorites that stood out:

2.012.02 2.032.04 2.052.06 2.072.08

3) Clever (and Seamless) Transitions: Since almost every story–no matter the medium–consists of more than just a single scene, the art of transitioning from one to the next plays an underrated yet pivotal role. When done poorly, these transitions can lead to narrative clutter of confusion (and, in worst cases, risk losing the viewer), but when done right they are able to simultaneously keep the viewer engaged while also adding to the story. And, in this case, Krayenbosch does a wonderful job on both levels:

3.013.02 3.033.04 3.053.06

Not only does this transition successful move us from one scene to the next, but it also gets at the very thesis of what Krayenbosch is describing—the universal (and seemingly interchangeable) elements of the heroes journey.

credit

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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