Velodrool by Sander Joon

“Velodrool” is a short film by Sander Joon that follows a cigarette-addicted biker who, from the synopsis,“joins a race to get more [cigarettes], but has to take help from some peculiar people in the audience to stay in the competition”. It continually subverts the audience’s expectations to create a bizarre comedy that unfolds in a playfully chaotic universe.

One of “Velodrool”’s many strengths is its creative daring. The animator uses visual cues to lead the audience to suspect one thing—and then, of course, something completely different happens. Near the beginning, for instance, the bikers are lined up to race. As happens in most races, an official comes out with a gun to fire a blank that will signify the start. But when the gun goes off, the audience is surprised to see that it was fired not into the air, but at a competitor, killing them instantly. This take the viewer’s expectations and spins them on their heads. There are no rules in this bike race, nor in this video.

Just a typical bike race.

Another strength that prevails both in the above scene and throughout is movement in the piece. Take a look at the spray of blood, the flailing of the limbs, the toppling of the biker —these elements give the characters a sense of weight. The art style of the animation lends a sense of action to the video, which fits perfectly with its subject.

Horizontal lines create a sense of forward movement, which is reinforced by the hunched-over posing of the bikers. Nice.

“Velodrool” further plays with the reality that exists in an animated world. It begins with just enough realism for the audience to get invested and think of the universe as one similar to ours, but this never lasts long; the animation points to its own 2-dimensional nature with visual feats such as one pictured below. Two bikers are getting ahead in the race, and an audience member takes out a pair of scissors, holding the scissors in front of the bikers. In real life, one would assume that the boy is holding the scissors in front of his face, and the perspective makes it look like the scissors could cut the bikers. In this reality, however, the boy is able to cut the wheels off the two bikes.

The bikers later join their two unicycles into one joint bicycle, in case you were wondering.

In the end, the main character wins the race, and his cigarettes. But, as he crosses the finish line, his bike deflates. We cut to black. Then, out of the darkness, the video ends with the same scene as it began: the biker pumping up his tires, re-inflating his bike, and smoking cigarettes.

On the left: biker in the beginning. On the right: biker in the end.

This circling back continues with the strange humor and unpredictability of the film. Even when we think the race is over, the biker is back to the starting line, and back to the chase to feed his cigarette addiction.