Monyreak "Monty" Oum (June 22, 1981 - February 1, 2015) was an American web-based animator* and writer. He was responsible for what has been deemed some of the most potently awesome Web Animation of his time, most of which relied on Rule of Cool.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Oum began making fan videos as early as 2002 after dropping out of high school. In 2007, he discovered reverse engineering techniques that allowed for the extraction of models from Halo 2, and using additional assets from Super Smash Bros. Melee, he made a video pitting a Spartan and Samus Aran together in an ultimate fight. The end result was Haloid, which gained significant attention online, as did Dead Fantasy, released the same year and revolving around a similarly epic fight premise that merged the worlds of Dead or Alive and Final Fantasy.
A mere two months after the release of Haloid, Oum was a highly sought-after name among game companies. While he did combat design and/or animation work for Midway Games and Bandai Namco Entertainment for several years (namely working on the latter's Afro Samurai game), he was ultimately frustrated by his experience in the industry. By 2010, Oum relocated to Texas to work for the Austin-based company Rooster Teeth. The crux of his work was animating Red vs. Blue on a level never before seen at the time, for which he worked tirelessly to make the character Tex even more awesome than previously thought possible.
After finishing up season 10 of RvB, Oum launched a new web series under the name of RWBY, something he said he'd always wanted to do since he got into animation. As the director and lead animator of the series, he enlisted employees and writers from all sections of Rooster Teeth, including fan favorites from Achievement Hunter, to assist in production. In between his movies, he also worked on an adaptation of Hatsune Miku for M.U.G.E.N.
One of Oum's long-term goals, besides making movies for his fans, was to make the most awesome fighting game ever. Some fans begged him to make a game based on RWBY, something he somewhat hinted at◊ before a RWBY game, Grimm Eclipse, was confirmed at RTX 2014.
Oum died on February 1, 2015 at the age of 33, after suffering an allergic reaction during a hospitalization ten days earlier. A fundraiser set up after news of his reaction broke to help with paying for related expenses ended up raising $210,000. In his memory, Rooster Teeth has challenged everyone whose lives were touched by Oum and his works to use their creativity to make the world a better place. That March, the RWBY creative team announced they had the required information to continue the series, with the third volume premiering on October 15. The series also recast Oum's role as Lie Ren with his older brother, Monyneath "Neath" Oum.
Oum's widow, Sheena Duquette, is an animator in her own right.
Works with animation by Monty Oum:
- Dead Fantasy
- Red vs. Blue (Seasons 8-10) (produced by Rooster Teeth)
- RWBY (produced by Rooster Teeth)
Voice Acting Roles:
- RWBY: Lie Ren (Volumes 1 + 2)
Monty Oum's works provide examples of:
- Action Girl: When it came to creating his own works such as RWBY, he became renowned for including prominent female fighters.
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: This is played for laughs when he appeared as a guest "martial arts instructor" in an episode of Immersion.
- Author Appeal: Action Girls and fluid fight scenes permeate his works. Even Haloid had Samus fight out of her armor, and it turns out the SPARTAN in the video was a woman all along.
- Awesome, Dear Boy: He mentioned at one point that he could have worked as an animator at another studio, given his impressive résumé, but he wanted to direct his own awesome projects rather than be stuck working on someone else's ideas.
- Doing It for the Art: This is why Oum worked for hours and hours longer than considered healthy every day; he was just that dedicated to seeing his vision come to fruition. Additionally, he learned that making a webseries yearly instead of a video game that takes three years (as he did so in the Afro Samurai game) was more artistically rewarding.
- Promoted Fanboy: Oum got inspired to pursue animation because he wanted to do cool things like what he saw on the internet. Then he became an animation director over at Rooster Teeth.
- Recoil Boost: His animations often have characters use the recoil from their guns to propel themselves at high speeds. Oum said his goal was to make fights fluid by conserving motion, which means integrating the recoil from firearms into combat maneuvers.
- Rule of Cool: The only rule he lived by. Oum's fight scenes are powered by "what would be awesome here". He freely admitted he was terrible at writing stories, and he often derailed story hooks or already-animated scenes by thinking of something incredibly cool that could be inserted at that part of the animation. This often meant that the animation team would be animating right up to publication deadlines to finalise scenes because of something awesome that he had thought of at the last minute.
- What Could Have Been: Freddie Wong of Rocket Jump had spoken to Oum beforehand about maybe collaborating on some projects, which they'd supposedly gotten far on. Because of Oum's sudden death, these plans were nixed.
- Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: Oum was very active on Facebook, often chatting with and exchanging ideas with fans, alongside posting character model turnabouts and information such as weapon names. However, this changed when he started getting bombarded with comments and messages demanding he finish Dead Fantasy. A photo of him and his family at his mother's wake getting these comments was the last straw, so he changed his Facebook page into a like page and rarely visited it afterwards. Twitter was the only social media outlet that he updated regularly until his death.