The world of amateur animation recently suffered a loss. Following medical complications during surgery, web-based animator Monty Oum died on February 1 . Oum was a maverick in his field, first gaining notoriety for his work on the popular web series “Red vs. Blue” which used footage taken from gameplay of the Halo video games. The series covered the aspects of video game culture and the limitations in game design in a comedic way. In 2013, Oum began what would be his final project, RWBY.
RWBY was a web series Oum created using computer generated animation in a style resembling Japanese anime. It told the story of a future where mankind is waging a war with the Grimm, a race of creatures that can only be fought using “dust,” which gives individuals magical powers. The main plot revolves around the actions of four girls, Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long, who use dust to combat the Grimm.
RWBY was an enormous project that took an entire team of animators, actors and engineers to create, and from the very beginning the quality showed through. Volume 3 of the series was scheduled to begin soon after the conclusion of Volume 2, but the tragic death of Oum has halted production. Even though the future of the series is currently unknown, many people involved with the production as well as Oum’s wife Sheena Duquette have been bombarded with questions by fans on social networks and forums within the last few weeks.
The death of any kind of artist can create ripples in the fabric of culture, but when the artist has left something popular unfinished, the focus could, in a small way, move away from the tragic loss of the artist. However, that does not make it right to repeatedly ask their widow if there’s still going to be a third season.
These actions taken by fans are unseemly, but they speak to a shift in the way the arts are appreciated. The past few years have shown an extreme push in almost all areas of art and entertainment, but it remains very much a community of young creators. We do not consider what the world would be like without these creators because in our minds, they’re too young to die. The distance between the artist and the viewer is becoming smaller and smaller, but even with this new closeness, the consideration of the artist as a content machine rather than a human being still prevails.
The loss of Monty Oum comes at a strange and tragic time. He was a brilliant creator who helped forge a new kind of animation that still has potential to grow. Whether or not there will be a Volume 3 to RWBY or not is not the point. The art world has suffered a loss of a great talent.