Idea Blog

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

Blake Harris 10.14.2015

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 stylish and informative whiteboard animation about the courageous Harlem Hellfighters, who spent more time in combat than any other American unit during World War I. 

The whiteboard video was created by an animation and cartoon design company called Heredia Designs, LLC. Founded by New Yorker David Heredia, the company’s mission is to create “entertaining animation and family friendly designs.” This video (below) is the first in an instructional video series that highlights the outstanding achievements of people of color in and out of the military.

Credits:

  • Narrator:  J. Aaron Boykin
  • Write/Illustrator: David Heredia
  • Script Editor: Michael Hagerman

3 Things We Love About This Whiteboard Animation: 

1. Colors? Colors!: Rarely is whiteboard animation infused with much color—after all, it is called whiteboard animation—and the reason for this is simple: it usually looks bad. There’s a high degree of difficulty for a variety of reasons: timing, pacing, figuring out how much could (and should) be shaded in without betraying the format. So how are they able to pull this off? By doing things like this:

Changing the background from white to tan. This (along with the filters used throughout) creates a more filmic look and also something that blends better with colors.

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Cleverly pacing how color is deployed. As you can see below, the characters aren’t immediately introduced in color. Instead, they are brought forth first as outlines and then gradually shaded in. Not only is this effective with regards to the color itself, but the way this process is paced also imbues the viewer with a sense of excitement as the progression occurs.

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Intelligently selecting the color shades that are used. As anyone who’s ever painted their home knows: there’s no such thing as just “blue.” There are hundreds of various shades along the spectrum and Heredia Designs does a great job of selecting colors that pair well with the background and with each other.

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2) Balance and Fearlessness: Let’s face it, behind the skillful artwork and impressive color choices, this video is ultimately about a sensitive subject matter: the horrible way that African-Americans were treated during the First World War. And given the sensitivity of this issue, it would be easy to imagine that a video like this might come across as either too harsh or too soft. Luckily, though, this video manages to strike a great balance between celebration and criticism thanks to a well-worded script, a dignified tone and a fearlessness to depict the sad-but-true reality when necessary.

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3) Edu-Tainment that actually Educates (and Entertains): Combining education and entertainment is a goal that’s often discussed, but rarely does content reach this elusive end goal. This video, however, manages to successfully straddle both worlds; a feat that’s even more impressive when you consider how few people are initially familiar with Harlem Hellfighters. But once again this video rises to the challenges in a variety of ways.

With Well-Spaced Informational Title Cards…

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By skillfully capturing emotion…

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And by telling a compelling narratives that, while self-contained, gets us excited for the next installment…

Header- Heroes of Color

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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