Monty Oum was born on June 22, 1981. He was the youngest member of a Rhode Island family. He had four older brothers and two older sisters. Monty dropped out of high school and self taught himself how to animate. He started to make fan animations including characters from video games with a similar animated format.
In 2007, Monty Oum discovered some new techniques for animation. He found models of characters from Halo 2 and Metroid. He made an animation of them fighting. He called it Haloid: The Ultimate Showdown. Monty made similar mashup videos with characters fighting.
A few months after Haloid was released, Monty was hired by Midway Games to be a Combat Designer. A year later, he was hired by Namco Bandai Games to be a Combat Designer. He also animated Afro Samurai. In 2009, everything changed for Monty. He met the co-founder of Rooster Teeth, Burnie Burns.
He met Burns at a panel at the San Diego International Comic Con. The pair talked about Monty possibly working for Rooster Teeth. It wasn’t until 2010 when Rooster Teeth announced that Monty would be an animated on their long-running webseries, Red vs. Blue. Monty made major changes to the show.
Red vs. Blue had a military science fiction setting. It didn’t have heavy combat; it focused on humor and storytelling. With Monty, that completely changed. Monty incorporated the elaborate and fast paced fighting of his fan videos. This continued until the completion of season 10 of Red vs. Blue in 2012.
Before the completion of Red vs. Blue, Monty Oum pitched an idea for his own series to Burnie Burns. After Red vs. Blue was finished, Monty was given his opportunity for his series. It was made public at a convention that the new series would be called RWBY, and Monty would be the leader animator and overall creative-director of the project. Unlike his other work, RWBY was made from original models and didn’t have themes from an already existing game franchise, but RWBY did have the fantastical combat between super-powered characters.
Monty Oum also created its own storylines which was based on Folklore and fairytales from western and eastern cultures. To create buzz, Monty made four trailers, one for each protagonist. The trailers showed off each character’s design and weapons. It also showcased the kind of combat expected from Oum. RWBY was a success with appraisal from fans and critics alike. Monty started receiving great recognition for RWBY.
RWBY’s success mostly came from Monty Oum’s incredible style of animation. He was noted for his character design and his fast paced combat. Monty claimed that he formed this style from classic action movies, martial arts films, and video game combat as well as many other animated works influenced him. RWBY has normal body proportions but usually features exaggerated body features for visual humor or comic effect, commonly found in anime.
RWBY wasn’t just an action series, it also had dramatic and relatable themes making it a coming of age story. Some of these themes were family deaths, obsessive determination, and unrequited love. Since the four protagonists were female, the show had a young female demographic, but the show had plenty of male fans. In short, RWBY wasn’t just liked for its awesome action, it was also liked because it was relatable. Most had been in the protagonist’s shoes before.
RWBY produced another season with less episodes but each episode was lengthened. A video game adaptation was even being made. As season 3 was in production, tragedy struck. On January 22, 2015, Monty Oum was hospitalized due to a severe allergic reaction during a routine medical procedure. He was rendered comatose.
He was in critical condition and it was not clear if he would recover. A donation page for his medical expenses was made, and it raised $50,000 dollars in only three hours. The page continued to receive donated money. It was incredible how many people rallied to their friend’s and hero’s side. Even with all the donated money, Monty Oum died February 1st due to the allergic reaction.
Millions were devastated. They had lost an idol, a friend, a brother, a son, a husband. Many other YouTube based companies paid homage to Monty. They made videos following his format and made podcasts in his name. The fate of his masterpiece, RWBY, was a major concern to fans. Luckily, Monty had shared his vision and ideas for RWBY with the other creative staff.
Rooster Teeth produced a third season, hailed to the be the best one yet. Rooster Teeth has no doubt that it was how Monty wanted it. Monty’s brother, Neath Oum, started voicing Lie Ren, a character Monty voiced. Monty Oum had inspired so many people in his seemingly short years. I was one of those people. I am certain he will never fade. He will never be forgotten.