hile attending the New York City Comic Convention on October 11th, 2013, I got to spend some time talking with three members of the Rooster Teeth Productions team about their latest project RWBY, a video series about a group of teenage girls training to become monster hunters. I sat down with Monty Oum, RWBY‘s creator and Rooster Teeth’s Director of Animation, writer and co-director Kerry Shawcross and writer and director of Red Vs. Blue Season 11, Miles Luna for a talk about their favorite creations, writing process and, of course, their feelings on shipping.
Q: You’ve worked with so many different types of media, what’s your favorite medium to work with?
Kerry: We’ve been in animation for awhile now and that’s really fun to do. It’s definitely very challenging just because so many things are locked in zones, like we decided we were going to do it this way four months ago, I guess we’re doing it this way even if we changed our mind a little bit.
Monty: But the return on that is great, because when you see something and you’re like “oh, that’s exactly how I pictured it would go,” that’s always great.
Miles: I’ve always been a huge fan of animation, I’m not talented enough to do it myself, but those that can are a huge inspiration. I just love the impossible things you can do in animation that you can’t do any other way.
Q: From any of the things you’ve worked on, what episode or series are you the most proud of?
Monty: It varies, lately, it’s RWBY (shown below) and as stressful as it is with the deadlines and the compromises we have to make, it’s still probably my favorite thing to work on because you get so much freedom to do what you want to do to the point where you’re like “the only thing that’s stopping me is time.” That’s obviously a great thing to have.
Miles: Right now, my absolutely favorite thing to work on is RWBY, but the thing that I’m most proud of? I think it would be episode 12 of season 10 of Red vs. Blue (shown below), it was an episode that no one thought could be done because every shot of it was a composite shot of essentially trying to find a map that would work as a green screen in Halo 3 and then rotoscoping and frame-by-frame stuff, it was incredibly…
Monty: It was incredibly challenging.
Miles: Yeah, and it was a dramatic episode of Red vs. Blue, a show that is widely known for its comedy.
Monty: That was me and Miles’ start on working today as animator and writer, essentially, and also a little bit director too -- I just said “hey Miles, wouldn’t it be great if we did this?” and then Miles wrote the scene.
Miles: It turned out really well, and a lot of people say it’s their favorite episode and that is the highest honor I could ever receive
Monty: To fulfill on these characters who, for so long had almost been missing each other and just to finally come to terms with this message… If you don’t know, it’s a scene where one person who is dead leaves a message from beyond the grave for another person who they were good comrades with. It had a lot of resonance, it was like a five or six year payoff for these two characters.
Kerry: Obviously RWBY, because it’s the thing I’ve had the most say in, but also Simple Walk, just because that was a dumb idea that I came up with that ended up into what I think is a really good series
Miles: A Simple Walk into Mordor (shown below) is one of my favorite things that our company has ever made. And I still can’t believe that you two idiots happened to do that without dying. I was so afraid you were going to get stabbed!
Monty: I was so glad you didn’t die.
Miles: yeah, honestly a lot of us were worried.
Kerry: We went to New Zealand for six days and we had no communication with anybody whatsoever because none of our phones worked because we were all American. I finally got to a wi-fi zone and I had 15 emails from people in the company that were like “Are you ok, I heard there was volcanoes. Is everything fine”? and we just sent out one email, “Yep we didn’t die, we’re fine.” I think the subject was “We’re alive.”
Q: How do you guys maintain a consistent voice with so many different contributors?
Miles: It’s tricky…reviews.
Monty: We do a lot of pickups and retakes. There have been times when we’re like “that sounds a little too Kara.”
Kerry: It’s a lot of being honest and blunt.
Monty: Believe me, the actors will all welcome that review and criticism, even our seasoned actors are very open to criticism and feedback.
Miles: And quality check -- there’s QC on everything.
Kerry: One of my favorite things about Rooster Teeth in general is that everyone there wants to make the best product they can possibly make so nobody is above criticism or doesn’t want to be told “hey this could look better or maybe we could do this.” We’re all big fans of criticism and trying to make things better.
Q: How do you feel about people shipping your characters?
Kerry: It’s fun!
Miles: It’s funny to read that stuff.
Monty: I mean, I like romance and now we’re giving people the tools for romance.
Miles: It’s been great as we introduce more characters, as we go on, people start to form the pairs that would maybe like, more realistically fit.
Monty: We’re looking forward to some new characters that would instantly make people go “Yup, it’s gonna happen.”
Miles: Ship ship ship! Set sail! Toot toot! It’s funny, one of the early comments I read was "I can literally ship everyone in RWBY with everyone, and it comes up every now and again, every few weeks I see comments like “Seriously, everybody works.”
Q: Do you have an OTP?
Miles: I feel like we can’t say,
Monty: Yeah, we can’t say, that would give too much fuel and ammunition.
Miles: We have an OTT, It’s Kerry, Miles and Monty.
Q: What’s next for RWBY?
Miles: Our DVD and Blu-ray (shown left) is going to be shipping out on November 12th -- 11/12/13 because we’re hilarious. You can preorder it now on the site. And we’ve got one hell of a finale to volume one coming up soon, and man, I cannot wait for it.
Monty: Also, it’s not called volume one for no reason! We’re thinking about volume plus.
Miles: We have literally years worth of story in our head. We’re just scratching the surface with Volume One.
Q: Is there a meme that spawned from a Rooster Teeth series that you guys enjoy?
Monty : Benevolent Burnie is pretty cool.
Miles: It’s not a Rooster Teeth meme, but I’m always a fan of Success Kid. He keeps me going at night.
Q: Are there any YouTube channels you can’t live without watching?
Monty: I like all the Let’s Play stuff.
Miles: It’s going to sound very self-promotional, but we honestly have almost nothing to do with the Let’s Plays on Rooster Teeth, and we really enjoy them
Monty: Rooster Teeth has its divisions and Achievement Hunter really has its own corner and I love everything they make. I don’t interact with them much, but I love everything they do.
Miles: It’s really funny because I’m a huge fan of the Let’s Plays, but, like you said, I don’t interact with them so Gavin (shown below) will walk in to the kitchen and I’ll say “Hey! You were really funny in that thing I just watched! K bye!”
Q What your favorite thing about coming to big conventions like this?
Miles: Dude! This is our first, well Kerry and I’s first time in New York. Oh my god, there’s pizza everywhere! I’m soooooooo fat.
Kerry: Oh yeah, if I lived in New York, I’d be broke.
Monty: Cons are great just for meeting the fans.
Kerry: We read comments all the time, every single week we’re all on Tumblr, we’re on our site, we’re on YouTube reading all the comments but to actually see the people and talk to them about the show is awesome
Miles: I can’t believe that the stuff that we do has an impact on people. But meeting someone and them telling you how much what we did impacted them is just really surreal and makes you feel really good. Feels good man.
Q: On that note, you guys have your own convention for your fans, RTX. How is that different?
Miles: To go along with your last question about cons, we’ll get to show off something that a lot of people have worked really hard on and we get to show it to a live audience and see that reaction in person and it’s great. RTX is like that to the Nth degree, because at a panel we can only afford to send so many people, so at NYCC this year, we’re really going to be focusing on RWBY, but Achievement Hunter has a million things and and Red vs Blue has things. At RTX, it’s everyone’s time to shine. Every person in the company gets to step out and say “This is what I made you, it’s fucking cool.”
Q: Any final thoughts?
Monty: We love the fans, everything you make and all the cosplay and the fan art is great. We see it all. Every time there’s a progress bar or render bar, we’re just like alright, go to Twitter, go to Tumblr, go to Reddit.
Kerry: It’s inspiring. it’s definitely one of those things where we’re working there late and night and we’re tired and we’ll take a break and we’ll go and look for comments and look for fan art and it keeps us going.