"Since I was a child I'd watch shows and play games with the hope of one day creating something like them someday."
An Exclusive Interview with Threezero and Monty Oum
(Director of Animation with Roosterteeth and creator of RWBY)
Monty Oum is the Director of Animation for Rooster Teeth, and has been hailed as one of the most
original action choreographers and animators working today. Prior to creating the exciting and
elaborate fight sequences for Red vs. Blue, Monty created the online hit series Dead Fantasy and
Haloid. He is currently directing Rooster Teeth’s hit anime series RWBY.
Threezero: For collectors who may not be familiar with your work; how did the concept of RWBY come
to mind? What are some of your influences and inspirations?
Monty: RWBY is both something I came up with within the last few years, as well as something I've
wanted to do my whole life. I've been a lifelong anime and videogame fan. [Neon Genesis] Evangelion
was a big part of growing up for me, I’ve had lifelong theories about Eva that, true or not, I apply to my
show. Ghost in the Shell, I’ve watched multiple times; much of the philosophy about existence and
identity are things I’ve thought about constantly growing up. Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann is probably
my all time favorite anime. It just has a level of energy and enthusiasm I enjoy. There are subtle (and not
so subtle) lessons in Gurren Lagann about not giving up; energy that persists beyond oneself that I apply
Final Fantasy is also a major influence on me. Like many others, I started at Final Fantasy VII, and it’s had
a big impact [on me] since (I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV). Final Fantasy’s
themes about life and character development were always something very strong in this series, [and
they] transcend with each title.
Since I was a child I'd watch shows and play games with the hope of one day creating something like
them someday. Then I reached the point in my life with the opportunity to create something. It was my
chance to put all those ideas to use, be it weapons, characters, or monster [designs].
Threezero: One of the most notable qualities of RWBY is the great attention to detail in its fight (and
dance!) choreography; is there a particular element of your process that you feel makes RWBY's
choreography stand out from that of other animated series?
Monty: Being a 3D animated show does especially lend itself to having certain advantages when it
comes to animation. Firstly being the ability to use motion capture for many of the sequences. A lifetime
of kung-fu movies, as well as being a dancer myself, lets me pull from many influences; from Hong Kong
action movies, to over-the-top anime sequences, to dancing.
Very often, I keep a running queue of fight scenes from so many movies playing; ‘Once Upon a Time in
China,’ ‘Iron Monkey,’ ‘Police Story’… Anything Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan, Jet Li… A lot of what I’ve made,
I often mimick, then elaborate upon by combining influences. For example, a single move might come
from a Jackie Chan movie that is very real and very possible. But then I might continue that move with a character that can jump 50-feet in the air and fire a gun or swing an elaborate weapon while doing so.
Many of these sequences I do with a combination of motion capture and hand animation.
Threezero: What motivates you most to continue breathing life into this series?
Monty: The biggest motivation for [RWBY] is the need to tell a story much like those I needed when I
was growing up. The stories about not giving up that pushed me along, and the people I'd meet along
the way. Knowing how much all the shows and games I'd played all my life has influenced me, it is a
great honor to be able to bring something of my own to a generation of people who are also looking for
something to believe in. That is why the feedback from the fans only further strengthens the need to
make this show the best it can possibly be.
Threezero: Do you collect action figures or high-end collectibles yourself? (If so, please take a moment
to elaborate on which ones and what draws you into collecting)
Monty: As soon as I was able to afford collecting figures I started buying them. These pieces of art
which litter my desk and work areas are a constant inspiration for me. I have models ranging from Final
Fantasy figures and motorcycles to Goodsmile figures from various anime like Black Rock Shooter and
Evangelion, as well as many Figma and other figures from games and anime.
It is a surreal experience to witness a character I sketched out and modeled only a few years ago to be a
real and tangible figure in front of me. And to be made by Threezero, such a revered group of artists,
whom years ago I'd have never guess in a million years would be making figures of my characters.
Threezero: What would you like to see in the future of the Threezero x RWBY collectible figures line?
Monty: Knowing the incredible quality that Threezero provides has me, in the back of my mind now,
designing things with the possibility that they may utilize the talents of figure creators. I am (*cough
*cough) particularly awe-inspired by the Metal Gear Rex and Ray models by ThreeA, and may or may not
be designing things for the future of RWBY that will look just as impressive once realized.
Threezero: It is well known that Volume 3 of RWBY is well under way for release next year; do you have
any other projects you are working on that you'd like to tell us about?
Monty: My love for figures and miniatures actually has me doing research into projects that might
include such things as stop motion and miniatures in the production. That is all I can say about that for
now. Knowing how quickly we at Roosterteeth make moves on ideas we have faith in, you might see this
sooner than we even realize.
Threezero: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Monty: There's much to my life that holds value about all of this because I never thought all of this
would come into play. Early in my life, I was only concerned with creating, without destination or purpose, creating was the purpose itself. And as reality set in, and the need to survive came with the need to have an identity, I've tried many things in discovering who I am and all of them eventually became useful. For example there was that portion in my life I thought of becoming a dancer, and the physicality that dancing offered lends itself to the rhythm of my work. Each thing lends itself to who you are, and the hope is the person you become lends itself to what youcreate. And the trust texture of your experience lends texture and interest that people will find.
The RWBY series is a dream, come true. This small idea I'd dreamt up has become something so large
that I can only hope to fulfill on in the viewers eyes. We have a lot in store in the coming years, as it is so
young and has so much promise. I am pouring everything that I am and can into it and only hope that it
is the best I can offer. There are big things coming and as we get there together we can share this