The Voice of Santa Claus

The Voice of Santa

No, I’ve not grabbed an article from last Christmas and accidentally copied and pasted it on the wrong date. As I write this, it’s August 9th and whilst many people are rushing down to the shops for their last minute purchases of sun tan lotion and bug repellant, this voice over artist is turning his attention to Christmas, and more specifically, the voice of Santa Claus.

I love working with character voices and have had the pleasure of working on some wonderful children’s animation projects in the last year, but there’s one character that I love portraying more than anyone, and that is Father Christmas.

Short of living on a diet of mince pies, milk and cookies, it’s a role which I really throw myself into completely, and there’s something truly magical about the whole experience.

Live Calls with Santa

Several years ago, after recording the voice of Santa for various radio commercials and in store announcements, I decided to take things to another level.

I’d taken my own children to visit countless ‘helpers’ of Santa Claus at various shopping centres over the years and one thing struck me about the whole experience. It was all rather disappointing.

Families were herded in, got about a minute with Santa before having their photograph taken and escorted to a sales area by a friendly elf that would attempt to charge them around £10 for a fridge magnet.

But that really wasn’t the worst part. The worst part is that Santa would ask them their name! He’s Santa Claus – doesn’t he know? Why is he asking if they’ve been good boys and girls? He has the list – he checked it twice!

So I created Santacallz, and the concept is very simple. The grown ups organise a call from Santa at a specific date and time and are then interviewed about the child in question, so that when he does call, Santa knows everything about them.

He still asks them lots of questions, but the children become so much more open when they’re speaking with someone that they love, and that for me is the real magic of Santa Claus. I get to experience what it is to be Santa Claus – not some actor in a suit, but a voice actor who is embodying the true spirit of Santa, and there really isn’t a feeling like it in the world.

Do please drop me a line in the contact page if you’d like to organise a call from Santa this year. The main Santacallz site is going through a major update for Christmas 2019.

But Why talk about Christmas in August?

Radio commercial production companies are known for working to very tight deadlines – but not always. If a particular brand is thinking about their Christmas marketing campaign, then they’re thinking about it from round about now. After all, some productions can take months to put together, and if a marketing plan needs to go live on the 1st of December, then preparation needs to start now.

And in a lot of cases, that starts with the voice of santa. Even in the case of on screen Santas, the voice is often dubbed as the big beards and costume can make it tricky for the engineers to get a truly clean and clear vocal track, so an ADR actor is brought in to voice Santa in post production.

In fact, the whole make up of Santa Claus lends itself to some very clever audio trickery. Many parents will be familiar with a company which will deliver video messages from Santa to their children. Kids are blown away by how much Santa knows about them, but of course the adults usually see through it.

The on screen actor isn’t actually saying anything at all – he’s just moving his lips to make it appear that he is speaking. Meanwhile, a voice over artist providing the voice of Santa will have pre recorded a series of phrases and a long list of first names which the computer simply drops into the script.

Bear in mind that there can be tens of thousands of individual files for the Santa Voice Over to record, and once the whole editing and filing process is complete, that can turn into weeks of work for both the voice actor, and the voice over engineer too.

But returning to radio commercials – airtime in December can prove to be more expensive than at other, less busy periods, and for the obvious reason. Brands need to communicate with shoppers in a marketplace where everyone is scrambling to grab the attention of these shoppers – and not just any shoppers, but Christmas shoppers.

Christmas shopping is, for many people, a chore. People spend more money than they can afford, purely in the interests of maintaining the spirit of the season. But no, this is not a blog about the commercialisation of Christmas -there are far too many of those. You came hear to read about voice overs, and as a dedicated Voice of Santa, I’m happy to oblige.

As so many of these people are looking for gift ideas and many of them find themselves overwhelmed, a gentle introduction to a product by Santa Claus can often prompt them into action. And let’s face it, we’ve heard Santa put his voice to an array of products which, if we really thought about it, we’re not so sure Santa would want to endorse.

TV Promos for Santa

There are thousands of English speaking TV channels all around the world. Many of them will consider using the voice of Santa to promote their shows as being a little cliché, but there are an equal number of TV stations who relish in the idea.

TV programming schedules, especially Christmas programming schedules tend to be put together months in advance, and so there’s no reason why the process of recording their promos should take place at the last minute.

Granted, the voice of Santa is likely to be called in for some last minute alterations, but the bulk of his work can be done way in advance – once again, one reason why I am talking about myself as the Voice of Santa here in August, when the work is unlikely to have already begun.

The TV channels that are most likely to work with a voice of Santa are those outputting shows to a younger audience – generally pre school channels and perhaps those appealing to children around the age of 10-13.

These older children relate to Father Christmas as more of a character than a real person, and so the illusion isn’t really shattered, and that leads neatly on to one of the other magical aspects of being the voice of Santa – the frame of reference.

In many TV promos, the visuals on screen are those of the show or film that’s being promoted – the voice over is just that; a voice over. The person speaking is not an on screen presenter because that would just be unnecessary.

So how is it that the viewer knows that the person speaking is Santa Claus? After all, nobody really knows how he speaks, and discussions surrounding his accent have been going on for hundreds of years!

Actually, the accent issue is an easy one to solve – if you’re watching a TV promo in the UK, then Santa has a British accent. Switch on in the US and he comes from there too – he really is a magical being.

But then if nobody knows what he sounds like, how is it that we automatically know that the voice that we’re hearing over that TV promo belongs to Santa Claus? Certainly, some script writers will make a point of including a Ho Ho Ho but if the voice over artist is doing his job right, those really wouldn’t be necessary.

The voice actor needs to find an approximation – an elderly and jolly man who likes his sweets and spreads joy throughout the world. If the voice over can embody all of these traits then the viewers’ brains will fill in the blanks and they will hear Santa Claus.

Or you could just dismiss all of that science and play some sleigh bells in the background – that usually works too.

In Store Announcements

If Santa is making a special appearance a shopping centre near you, then there’s a good chance that he’s recorded an announcement to advertise that fact too.

The voice of Santa will be heard on PA systems throughout these shopping centres in the weeks running up to the installation of Santa’s Grotto. These grottos operate within a fairly small window in some of the smaller centres, and so it’s important to them that the public know exactly when they can come and visit Santa and his elves

Where can I hire a Voice of Santa?

If you’ve managed to read this entire article without figuring that out, then I fear it’s going to be a long winter for you. I would be delighted to be your voice of Santa this year. Whether it’s for a web video, commercial or simply changing the greeting on your phone to something a little more festive, please just let me know how my Voice of Santa can help you.