The Messages Behind Dead Fantasy

With convention events, fan videos and a wiki dedicated to the subject, Dead Fantasy has become one of the hugest phenomenons in gaming fandom. If you don't know what Dead Fantasy is yet, you're 2007 and late. These CG movies started off as hyper-realistic fighting sequences between the heroines of Dead or Alive and Final Fantasy. Five installations later, the number of character appearances, design details and animation techniques have grown exponentially. The number of views and the amount of fan speculation is off the charts. On top of that, there's a story behind it all.

However, cute girls beating the crap out of each other isn't what left gamers mesmerized and inspired.

Note: Monty Oum passed away on February 1, 2015. He filled our lives with light and beauty, which is why we will keep this interview (from 2010) up as is, in memory of him and his brilliant mind.
Monty Oum's Profile
Monty Oum Nationality: American
Job: Director of Animation at RoosterTeeth
Hobby: Fashion, Dancing
Quote: The World Looks very different, when you're pushing yourself every second you've got.
Monty Oum

Monty Oum, the visionary behind Dead Fantasy, is one in a billion. His real life story as an underdog who finally gets into the industry is something that gamers of all walks of life can relate to. He went from having to stifle his creativity in corporate environments, to making his dreams come true at a company that realizes his potential. After making many sacrifices and taking many risks, he is finally exactly where he needs to be.

There are a few core messages in Dead Fantasy's storytelling and by sharing them with us, Monty hopes that everyone can learn from them...

1. It's fine for something to have meaning when it needs to.

Why not do a fight video for fun? Even if the internal purpose, the character motivations, are very light.

Originally, Dead Fantasy 1 was intended to be a short video and not entirely serious. By the time DF1 was out and Monty was working on DF2, the fan theories were so numerous that he had to begin honouring the characters' true intentions. When he realized that Dead Fantasy had to have some meaning behind the action, Rinoa was introduced. She's his favourite Final Fantasy character, after all.

I'm just a guy making videos.

People often wonder why creators never intended for their creations to have some meaning from the start. In reality, a lot of things are never planned that way. The expansion of Zack's character from a plot device in the original Final Fantasy VII game to a leading character in Crisis Core was a result of evolving business ideas, rather than a game development plan that had existed from the start. Although these products are being worshipped in a godly manner, fans forget that they were created by mortals.

2. You need to evolve.

If I don't evolve, then I'm just going to keep making the same thing over and over. You'll just forget about me.

If Monty continued to made mindless action videos, he wouldn't learn anything new. According to him, people didnt like the last three installments as much as the first two, even though he tried new things and learnt more about animation with each one.

With DF3, he improved at portraying secondary movements, the reactions after characters hitting each other. He also learnt to make hit contacts closer than in DF2.

With DF4, he began working with different scales. A horse was animated and several characters were on the screen at once. There was also more timing and storyboarding to music.

With DF5, he focused on emotions, dialogue and showing damage with blood or tattered clothing. He also learnt that animating the natural (jerky) movements of an injured character is more difficult than animating the skilled (smooth) movements of a character doing martial arts.

More than people like to see a hero, people like to see a hero fail.

While some fans may think that Dead Fantasy has risen so high that it needs to be chopped down, Monty doesn't believe in limitations. You can expect him to continue evolving each Dead Fantasy in some way, so that fans will never become numb to what he has to offer. Now that he as access to a motion capture studio, he can actually use his own body to reach new heights creatively.

3. The right to speech is something earned.

In the past, Monty didn't have any clout by simply sharing his ideas – although they were legit. Since he chose a difficult path for his life and earned his place as a creator, what he says now holds weight. Furthermore, he takes responsibility for it. Working hard in the present also earns him the right to make a real movie where he finally gets to speak.

There's nothing useless as long as you keep trying.

Few would believe that Monty spent years as a dancer before making movies. Six years of his life were spent dancing 8 hours a day. Those years of wanting to be a dancer serve his ability to choreograph and time things the way he does, like the fights (and the moonwalks). One can expect that the Dead Fantasy movies will eventually serve his ability to make a full movie in the distant future.

Dead Fantasy - Gee

Guess who's dancing?

4. Everyone is entitled to their own pain.

This is a message that Monty feels very strongly about. There's an assumption that beautiful people "have everything". Beautiful people must naturally be happy, and if they're sad, something must be wrong. All the characters in Dead Fantasy are beautiful, yet they have been elevated to a status where showing inner turmoil is now considered a fault.

The most important part about Dead Fantasy 5 was getting you to feel Tifa's pain.

Tifa is not a killer; she needed a reason to shove a pipe through someone's head. It can't be avoided that Tifa is a beautiful character, but she is not immune to everything and she has faults. Finding motivation and invoking emotion in DF5 was an important focus for Monty, who wants viewers to feel for her character.

5. There's more to strength than the ability to cause damage.

Monty believes that a character's value isn't determined by their physical appearance or their ability to fight. The women in his videos are strong but viewers have been quick to dismiss or scrutinize female characters who aren't performing at an impossible standard. Although FLAREgamer won't divulge the details on what is going to happen, expect Monty to subvert your expectations of characters in the upcoming installments.

Don't ever let anyone tell you it's impossible. They may have tried and failed, but they are not you.

Monty can go on forever with the messages behind his creations but these messages are out there, in all forms of fiction. There's always a story about people trying as hard as they can to achieve the impossible. But that's no story to Monty; that's reality. People used to tell him that what he planned to make was impossible, and he proved them all wrong. He believes that anyone can do the same by realizing that there is no such thing as a limit to what you can do.

Don't try to be the absolute best. There's a version of best for everyone. Best is a place in a life that's further ahead from where you are now.

Monty listens to the fans and hopes they listen back.

Why am I busting my ass? Because I have to.

You're probably wondering why Monty is working all day and making these videos all night. Simply put, if he didn't listen to the fans, Dead Fantasy wouldn't be where it is now. These videos belong to the fans. After reading their comments he always makes a comprimise between what they want to see and something they'll never expect. He plans to keep his momentum going and has no plans to slow down.

For some reason, some people believe that I don't exist. I could go into a forum, login as me, and people would say, "You're not the real Monty Oum!"

The real Monty is out there and he has the same physical limitations as a real person. He just happens to be a hard worker. Although he is fine with people reposting his videos, just look out for people actually impersonating him. If you want to be sure that you're talking to the real deal, contact him through his deviantART account, Twitter account or official YouTube channel. And if you look hard enough... you'll find that there are a lot of Dead Fantasy related videos and build screenshots that he puts up temporarily, only to take them down. Only the most hardcore fans can figure out what's going on in those images. The below videos are the only real look behind the scenes look at Dead Fantasy, and if you're paying attention, you'll notice my voice...

Monty Oum - 3D Film Making: part 1
Monty Oum's panel on 3D Film Making at Anime Boston, part 1.

Monty Oum - 3D Film Making: part 2
Monty Oum's panel on 3D Film Making at Anime Boston, part 2.

Despite Monty's efforts now being focused on his new anime project RWBY, Dead Fantasy is always in his heart. He hasn't given up on the projects he dreams of making; all he needs is time and everyone's continued support so that he can make projects that are bigger and better. So if you still need your fill of cute girls beating the crap out of each other, watching RWBY might help in your wait for the next Dead Fantasy episode!

More Information:
Monty Oum on deviantART
Dead Fantasy on Game Trailers
RWBY on RoosterTeeth

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