The death of Monty Oum catalyzed conversations about the animator’s work, and the recurring sentiment in every discussion was the same: Monty’s creative flair not only entertained but also influenced the fan culture-centric world of gaming.
Monty Oum’s beginnings and the animation technology of the early 90’s could be described in one word: ordinary. The Paint application on the Macintosh II only allowed the teenage Oum to illustrate stills and posters of his film idea.
In January of 2007 — fifteen years after creating his first illustrations — he inconspicuously released a ten minute action short film titled, Haloid. The avant-garde film amassed million of views and is considered to be Oum’s magnum opus.
Haloid thrust Oum into the spotlight and provided his career the attention it was yearning for. He soon scored jobs with the larger game development firms and was tasked with an unforeseen challenge. The once experimental concepts that helped him carve a comfortable niche in the animation world, were now a source of conflict.
“At other jobs, I’d be making cool things and then I would go home and make cool things. I made Dead Fantasy II and they said, “That is really cool, why is your cool stuff not in the game we’re making?”. Uh. You aren’t making it possible for me. You’re telling me that we’ll get to the cool stuff in three years but I want to do the cool stuff now.”
It was obvious to Oum that the work environment he was in did not foster innovation. The “cool” stuff he hoped to be doing in his post-Haloid career was being done after hours.
Luckily, the volatility of the gaming industry allowed him to pursue job opportunities at different companies. He bounced from company to company, from job to job, looking for his ideal fit. It wasn’t as though Oum was not creating excellent material during his search for the right fit, he was just operating within whatever parameters the job allowed him.
Oum eventually landed at Rooster Teeth and during an interview for Examiner.com, he explained how he knew Rooster Teeth was the best fit:
“It’ll be like 3 a.m and I am on a scene, and it just happens on its own. People will come in and they’re like, ‘How did this happen? What is this thing you have created?’ It happened because you let me make it happen, you know. I wouldn’t be able to make it any other way. This is my job. I can do it.”
Your responsibility to pay next month’s rent might prevent you from making a drastic decision that will alter your path. With only one life to live, see to it that the time you spend at work isn’t wasted doing something you don’t love. If you’re like Monty and looking for the right fit, don’t give into the pressures.
Time isn’t on your side. Make sure your creations leave a legacy.
Don’t Innovate. Create a Culture of Innovation.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons