Remember in high school when you spent hours perfecting your flip b0ok skills? In (Notes on) Biology, winner of Best Animation at this year’s SXSW festival, we follow a student, Mr. Ellis, who zones out during a dull Biology class and escapes into his own imagination. Etoecology what? Who cares! Using the very pages of his Biology notes, Mr. Ellis spins an action adventure tale featuring an Elephant Robot who flies around serving justice to those foolish enough to challenge him. But can Mr. Ellis save himself when the Biology teacher notices that he’s not paying attention in class?
Danny Madden, Will Madden, and Jonathan Silva of Ornana Films have truly captured the timeless experience of daydreaming and sketching in class. (Notes on) Biology uses many different techniques to draw us into the story, and the use of actual classroom notes creates an authentic experience. Further displays of the filmmakers deftness, is that they don’t rely on just one style of animation. We see traditional hand-drawn animation, but also pixilation (the live-action form of stop-motion). Furthermore they are not content with the simple joy of the flip book motif, the real treat is when the speed of the pages actually increase and decrease to highlight the action. There are so many dimensions and textures in Mr. Ellis’ classroom animation that you may find yourself wondering why he is even in Biology class in the first place.
Overall, watching this short feels like you are really sitting next to your best friend in Biology class as they animate the story and you beatbox the soundtrack. Danny Madden, Will Madden, and Jonathan Silva deliver a fantastic piece of work that holds steady all the way to the thematic end credits. It’s amusing to see demands from viewers’ comments for Robot Elephant to be developed into an iPhone game. Looks like (Notes on) Biology is a film that has definitely made an impression.