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Time for Change

by Mark Estdale

Anyone who has visited the studios at OMUK will have encountered the armoury of swords and guns. A collection built up over 30 years for actor training, props and sound design.  In developing the collection, I took time to study their evolution and learned to be proficient in their designed use. As a member of the Society for the Study of Swordsmanship I ended up duelling and speaking at the Royal Armouries on the sound and use of swords as portrayed on screen and on their use/misuse on stage.

Do I love weapons?  Anyone who has taken time to talk to me about them will know my answer is unequivocally no. I consider all weapons testament to human failure.  My father was a shell of a human being, broken by war. He served as a Royal Marine from 1936 through to 1947. He served in many theatres of WWII, wounded twice, and quit, disgusted after Palestine. He was locked in, bitter and died carrying his demons with him. My uncle suffered two years in a Japanese PoW camp. Both systemically dehumanised by their training and their experience.

My own experience with weapons and with spending time with ex-servicemen has lead me on a journey to explore the reasons behind both their creation and their use in causing harm. Specifically, looking at what is done psychologically in training to condition someone to become able use a weapon to intentionally wound or kill and to distance themselves from the harm they cause.

I am deeply grateful to the work of four writers that have helped me unpick this. Rutger Bregman and his seminal: “Humankind”, Gabor Maté: “The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture”, Lisa Feldman Barrett: “Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain” and Cognitive Linguist George Lakoff: co-author of “Metaphors We Live By” and his work on framing detailed in “Don’t Think of an Elephant”.   Every one of them dig into how we think and act and offer us skills for change.

Over the last 18 months whilst watching the world unravel, I chose to avoid the lunacy of bias press reporting, the ranting drivel of integrity void politicians, and the extremist agony on social media. I also chose to not engage with the pain caused by corporations raping the wealth and wellbeing of people and planet. I chose instead, to look for kindness.

My Ukrainian friends aren’t fascists, my Russian, Jewish and Israeli friends aren’t warmongers. My Palestinian ones are not murderous. All of them are human-kind, saddened, hurting, bewildered and grieving the madness of events. They are alike, irrespective of skin colour, race, or language. They are loving, caring, collaborative and supportive. What gets in the way of seeing and knowing this is our conditioning that is shaped by the narratives of education, the metaphors and frames that mould how we think and act.

Either choosing to hate and harm, or getting someone else to harm another is a matter of education that dehumanises. Natural curiosity and kindness is morphed into fear and ‘righteous’ action. Heart, happiness and humanity are anaesthetised and sacrificed for a ‘greater good’. The psychological injury is immense. We need healing, not hatred. Love needs to be central.

In my looking for kindness I decided to watch out for it in crowded places, the prime being my walk to work in London. As soon as I started, I immediately experienced how darn lovely people are. Simple things like giving up a seat on public transport, helping someone crossing the road, giving food or cash to a homeless person or taking time to chat with them, waving thanks to a motorist who stops for another road user, helping someone who stumbles or drops something. Kindness is everywhere, it actually far outweighed the opposite.

The big factor of being kind was that the kind are aware and sensitive to others. As a result I’ve evolved into being an optimist for humanity. I believe, in the long run, love will win. All forms of action that harm, whatever their justification are unacceptable. I think when we stop, we all know this. Moving towards making things better is a path I’m choosing.

The armoury will be a symbolic first step, a statement of that change.

This is an open invitation to anyone reading this to participate with me. I’m offering every weapon to be converted into either a creative tool or art for peace.  This process is about standing for humanity. I intend to document and record each weapon’s evolution to create an exhibition where we open up discussions about hope. Please come forward if you would like to support this.

Furthermore, the new performance capture building at OMUK is going to be opened up to the public as a theatre space, workshop, healing and meeting space that is dedicated to the work of healing wounds, compassion and dissolving divisions. I’m looking for volunteers, ideas and support.

My own work in this space will be around frame changing and healing. I believe compassion is the key to change. It was the compassion and generosity of others that helped me. My journey to safely release and be free of pain to become both self-compassionate and compassionate, as opposed to bitter and closed has been supported by a range of connecting and healing practises. Initially I’ll be focussing on supportive emotional release work that uses dance, voice and drumming.  This is experimental work so the sessions will be for small groups and free.

In addition, the mural outside the OMUK studios that was painted in celebration of Free Radical Design’s 2005 game Timesplitters: Future Perfect, honouring our journey that developed out of working with the team on the game will either be modified or changed.

Timesplitters: Future Perfect, Street Art by AbrahamO

The image is incongruent with the stance I’m taking. It doesn’t match with any vision for the world that I would want to build or live in. So, this wall and the walls of the whole yard will be opened up for a Street Art Jam with the theme of celebrating compassion.

Also the windmill in Portugal will be opened up as a retreat centre and escape for individuals, families and small groups either exploring healing work or in need of sanctuary.

Mill on the Hill – Portugal

Nudge me if you want to be involved or to find out more about any of this.

Towards a better world, with love,


The sword collection comprises practical replicas, stage weapons and historical weapons, some valuable, some not and some with dark histories. Each weapon is to be numbered and if someone wants to participate with the weapons project, if they get selected, the weapon(s) they get will be via a lottery by taking a number from a virtual hat.

Please share this. And if you want to comment on this article can you do it on LinkedIn as it is posted there too. I want to get as much exposure and support for this work as I can.

To clients and creatives who are making violent games, films and stories please be aware this is my personal commitment. It is outside of core OMUK business, I’m just using OMUK facilities outside of business hours to develop the work. In your support of OMUK you have simply helped facilitate this important work. There will of course be debate on the impact of violence in entertainment which I hope you join in with, with gusto. =M=

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Perhaps the videogame voice work of the year.

Clucking Chicken Police are on a roll… The idea, then the writing is where the magic lies and that credit goes to Balint Bank Varga and The Wild Gentlemen. The task of casting, recording and directing was our contribution. Mark Estdale discovered the game on the indie floor at Reboot Blue and helped the developer on the journey from dream, to publisher, to here. We’re very proud of the results.

” it’s perhaps the videogame voice work of the year.” fingerguns
“Superbly voice acted” TheXboxHub
“remarkable voice acting” Forbes
“… honestly. This shit is fantastic. ” Player2
“Exquisite voice acting.” GamingBoulevard
“brilliantly voiced” BonusStage
“The voiceacting is just superb.”

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Superhero fun!

We’re always delighted when the games we get dirty with are well received. Capes the debut game from Spitfire Interactive from Brisbane got a hearty 80 on both IGN and Checkpoint Gaming. Nice work guys! A superhero turn-based adventure that’s a “boisterous good time… Capes was a delight to play for the entire 30-odd-hour experience.” Thanks Charlie Kelly for the review.

We had a boisterous blast recording this with a fabulous cast. Hat’s off to everyone and thanks Morgan Jaffit and the Spitfire crew for trusting your baby with us. We had a seriously great time and wish everyone all the mook blasting best with this and future adventures.

William Roberts – Doctrine
Jay Rincon – Carlos
Harry Myers – Cruxus
Afolabi Alli – Facet
Christopher Ragland – Hyde
Dev Joshi – Rebound
Diana Bermudez – Ignis
Yasser Zadeh – Kinetic
Crystal Yu – Mercurial
Greg Jones – Crash Damage
Eric Meyers – Wildstar
Ashleigh Haddad – Grindstone
Glenn Wrage – Alpha
Rishi Manuel – Mindfire
Rachel Atkins – Seraph
Layna Sheppard – Various
Nicolette McKenzie – Primax
Radhika Aggarwal – Various
John Schwab – PMC
Joseph May – Agent
Wilson Benedito – Weathervane
Beth Adams – Civilian Female

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Best German Game 2023

Last week the mimimi game “Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew” won the German Developer Awards Best Game of the Year 2023. It also won Best Audio Design and Best Graphics. It is actually the ultimate going out with a bang moment for the mimimi team as they chose to disband, relax and take stock before any new ventures rise phoenix like from the fire.

We’ve had a long history working with the mimimi team, providing English script wrangling, VO casting, directing, recording and post for their Shadow Tactics games and their Desperados III. For Shadow Gambit, we took care of both the English and the German recordings. So one one level we are over the moon that the game took these crowns as it’s nice being a cog in the creative wheel, but the flip side is we have loved our role. Mimimi’s quality was embedded in their culture. They were a happy and uncompromising developer that were doing what they loved with passionate dedication and care and they were an utter joy to work with so seeing them disband is truly a heart rending.

But one thing is always true in the games industry is that good people don’t stay down for long. This week we heard the news that another of our favourite teams closed their doors: Free Radical Design. Steve Ellis, Karl Hilton, Graeme Norgate, and David Doak took us on back in 2,000 for Timesplitters 2 and for the follow up Timesplitters: Future Perfect – Both the gameplay and Future Perfect cutscenes, are testament to the creative awesomeness of the team. Just compare what the guys did then, with the tech they had, with the stuff done today and you’ll see how the power of great writing, performance and animation wins over fidelity. It may be RIP for both FRD and mimimi but one thing is for sure. Good things will follow.

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Horizon Forbidden West

It’s always a delight to get down and dirty with driven visionaries. Guerrilla Games are such a team. The way they’ve pulled out the stops to make this sequel shine is testament to their utter dedication to not compromise even under under the most trying of circumstances.

We’re deeply proud of our involvement casting, voice recording and face capturing the magic. It is always a dream come true when developers have a clear vision, are deeply committed to producing the best they possibly can, push the boundaries, have a passionate expert team with a great script. May Guerrilla’s success long continue. 🙂

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The Vale: Shadow of the Crown

We wanted to help Falling Squirrel with this ground breaking micro indie title that had a blind audience in mind so we were delighted when Dave Evans reached out wanting us to help them find and record a sight impaired actor for one of the roles.

Since the game came out it has rightly received accolades for its innovation and accessibility and we are delighted that it was in the final five for the 2021 Game Award for innovation in accessibility The placing is significant when you see that the other four contestants were all well known significant IPs with significant backing. The shadow of the crown being in the shadow of the crown is in no way in the shadows!

We’re deeply proud of you Falling Squirrel Well done! Thank you for inviting us to play a small part in your achievement. Onward and upward!

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“Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun – Aiko’s Choice” IGN Review

Another episode of Shadow Tactics gets a blinding review from IGN. Hat’s off to Mimimi for their stirling work and the tight well crafted script. It’s always heartening to get “great voice acting” mention but as always it is strong character design and writing that make casting and recording a delight. Big thanks to cast and crew for all the great work.

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Equity Deal for UK Voice Actors

We’re delighted to announce that after 25 years we have, at last, an Equity Agreement for voice actors working with video games. The agreement, which runs until April 2023, includes fees and commitments to providing information to voice actors prior to, or at the time of, the audition or offer.


Minimum fees are set according to the budget of the production, with a minimum of:
£300 per hour paid to voice artists when recording for a ‘Standard’ game (budget of over £5m),
£200 per hour for an ‘Indie’ game (£0.5m to £5m), and
£175 per hour for a ‘Micro’ game (under £0.5m). 

In addition, the first hour on any game will be paid at twice the hourly rate. For a standard game this would be £600, for an indie it would be £400, and for a micro £350.


Disclosure regarding content of a religious, sexual, racially sensitive, gender sensitive, or potentially violent nature.​
Disclosure regarding profanity or offensive language.
Disclosure regarding a role requiring vocal stress. A minimum of five-minute rest times per hour are mandated, to help protect the artists’ voice, and there will also be best practice employed to keep to a maximum of two hours of vocal stress per day.
Disclosure regarding any accent(s) that might be required.
Disclosure regarding the working title of the game, the publisher/developer, budget classification (see fees), hours of engagement, and recording dates.

Overtime to be paid at 30 minute pro rata increments.
Integration rights are the inclusion of material in one or more interactive programs for which the artist has not been specifically employed to render services. The studio can purchase integration rights and the artist will receive a payment of one two-hour session.
Rates within the agreement will be re-examined 2 years form the date of the signing of the agreement and any increase in the minimum fees will be measured by inflation. 
Within 6 months of the signing of the agreement the parties will endeavour to create a clause, which expressly deals with the recording of promotional material not contained within the game itself with accompanying compensation paid to the artist.​


Mark Estdale, Voice Director and Managing Director of OMUK, says: “I am deeply grateful for the dedication of the actors who took the initiative and did the legwork that kickstarted the necessary consultation between industry producers, Equity and the agents. Without their work this agreement would not exist. This agreement is significant for all those working within and for the games industry. Like the TV, Stage and Film agreements it gives clarity regarding pay and best practice. Without taking this step, the games industry would remain the ‘Wild West’ of media even though it’s now probably the biggest employer of talent.  

“I am hopeful that this agreement will now become broadly endorsed and adopted. The terms of the agreement will be publicly available as I believe that broader scrutiny and transparency regarding good practice and pay are beneficial for a healthy creative industry. UK game development, supported by BAFTA is renowned for leading creative innovation and nurturing new talent, so I am particularly delighted that we have an agreement that is tiered in a way that supports and encourages micro and indie budget game development.”

Tim Gale, Recorded Media Organiser at Equity, says: “We are very pleased to have agreed for the first time in the UK a simple agreement for the engagement of our members in voice work for video games. Despite the games industry having become one of the largest parts of the entertainment sector, it did not have a standard contract for the engagement of artists until Equity and OMUK agreed this ground-breaking contract. With the considerable help of Equity members working in the sector, Equity and OMUK have provided the games industry with an agreement that offers clarity and simplicity in contracting, which will be a great asset to the industry as a whole.”

Laurence Bouvard, voice actor and Chair of Equity’s Screen & New Media Committee, says: “We are delighted to share with our colleagues in the games industry the news that the long-awaited Equity UK Agreement for Voice Artists in Videogames is now official, with its first signatory Mark Estdale of OMUK, a leading studio in games audio. This ground-breaking agreement, drawn up as the result of months of consultations with UK-based actors, agents, and studios alike, reflects best practice and a mutual desire to achieve excellence in a safe and supportive working environment. This document has long been urgently needed to navigate the opportunities provided to performers in the rapidly expanding games industry, and we are grateful to everyone who has worked hard with us to make it happen. We have no doubt that other studios will soon follow Mark’s lead in signing up to this agreement, helping to further raise the profile of the already thriving UK games industry on the global stage.”


The UK is the leading video game market in Europe, the sixth largest gaming market worldwide and employs 27,000 people in the UK. 

It has grown rapidly from a gross added value (GVA) of £0.40bn in 2010, to £2.91bn in 2019. ​

The contribution of the video game industry to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is £2.2bn

Equity has been in negotiations with a number of Voice Production Studios for the last year to conclude an Agreement for Voice Actors Engaged in Video Game Recording. While Equity staff and a number of voice actors conducted the progress of the negotiations, the wider acting community and their agents have been kept appraised of the negotiations. 

The voice studios are effectively engaged by video game publishers and developers for casting and recording performances. In turn the studios are the contracting entity for the individual actors.

The negotiating team have also kept in regular contact with UKIE, the trade association for the UK games industry. Outsource Media Ltd (OMUK), who are part of the studio group negotiating with Equity, reached out to Equity and have taken the lead in signing the agreement. ​

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We’re Hiring – Senior Game Dialogue Engineer – London

We currently have an exciting Senior Game Dialogue Engineer vacancy at the central London studios.

We’re looking a for a talented, creative and self-motivated game audio engineer, with software development skills to join us at the frontier of dialogue and performance capture production for video games.

We are a voice and face capture production company with one focus: to make performance content in games magnificent. Our raison d’être is in the belief that acting in games should at least equal the very best we find elsewhere on screen and stage. Everyone and everything at OMUK are tuned to this goal.

We are looking for someone who is passionate and curious, with wide interests and hungry to learn, explore and grow. We are looking for someone who aspires to delight in adventure at the frontiers of creativity who has a deep love and understanding of games and game development, and has the courage and ability to question status quos with wisdom.

We are a close collaborative and supportive multidisciplinary team of experts from different fields. We know that our strength lies in our diversity, our united drive and our support of one another.

Our applied expertise and interests encompass film, radio, music, theatre, games, art, writing, audio and electrical engineering, systems and software design, programming, acoustics, coffee roasting, cognitive linguistics, philosophy, physiology, swords, neuroscience, statistics, a healthy future for humanity and baking bread.

Duties and Responsibilities include:

Preparing creative and technical briefs for production, post production, mastering, QA and delivery

Preparing studios, assets, software and equipment to production specifications

Testing and verifying production specifications with clients

Ensuring production processes and delivery are complied with

Provide client technical liaison and delivery sign off

Participate at a high level with systems and software development

Contribute to studio and technical R&D, keeping abreast of trends and developments in the industry

Keeping up to date with and reporting on all technical and practice advances in performance capture, post production and mastering for video games

Ensuring technical maintenance of the recording studios, their equipment, software and computers

Recording dialogue in the studios and on location

Briefing and managing engineers and Quality Assurance staff that report to you during production

Oversee, develop, and document project pipelines and onboard new team members

Manage production audio teams, providing guidance, training and feedback on audio quality, consistency, and implementation.

Collaborate with creative and technical directors, and other key stakeholders in the development of the studios, services and production software

Qualifications and Experience

Professional level experience with ProTools, Reaper, Audition, iZotope, Nuendo

Comprehensive understanding and practical experience in every facet of game audio production, including experience with Wwise, Fmod, Unity and Unreal with at least 6 published titles.

Knowledgeable of and familiar with the use and care of Class A audio outboard, Neve, RME etc

Experience managing game dialogue production teams

Flexible, resourceful and enjoy the creative realities and the challenges of production.

Educated to degree level

Other useful experience:
Interest in project management and pipelines
A love and knowledge of video games
Component level expertise with PCs, Apple Computers, networking and Microsoft Software suites
Knowledge of more than one language
Programming skills