What does it take to impersonate the lines of the jolly old man with the long white beard and rosy red cheeks? Ask Guy Harris, the voice of Santa Claus on National BBC Radio 1. Harris is a UK-based voiceover artist who works on TV and radio commercials that are distributed all over the world.
Aside from being the voice of Santa, Harris uses his voice for hundreds of other projects each month – from web video and corporate voiceovers to on-hold and in-store voices. His impressive client list includes Apple, Coca-Cola, BBC Sport, Radio 1, ITV1, and Clarks (the shoe company). Harris does most of his work from the comfort of his own studio, connecting to clients via a variety of digital networks like ISDN, Source Connect, and Skype. After the session, he sends the WAV and mp3 files to his clients with Hightail.
Deadlines are tight, speed of delivery is important
Since deadlines are quick in his industry, Harris says he has to depend on reliable technology to keep great relationships with clients. “I’ve never had any issues with Hightail—it’s just so simple,” he says. “One of the great things about the desktop version is that it remembers my clients’ email addresses.”
Harris uses Hightail Express on his Mac to send large audio files of 80MB and more. “On busy days, speed of delivery is important,” Harris says. “I can send files all over the world with Hightail and I know it won’t be a problem.” We sat down with Harris to see what else “Santa” had in his sleigh.
Kathleen Crawford: How did you get into the voiceover business?
Guy Harris: Having been a radio presenter for many years and a keen impressionist and character creator, I thought I could maybe do it as a job. I got myself on the internet and soon after I was getting paid for something I did for fun. It was an amazing experience and still continues to be on a daily basis.
KC: What’s your favorite voice to do?
GH: That’s a tricky one. I love being given the chance to create a voice when someone asks for one. Normally I’m shown an image of the character and it’s often up to me to come up with what I think it might sound like. Over the years and since I voiced some iPhone 5 TV ads, I get asked more for my own natural conversational tone. I call it the ‘Apple Voice’.
KC: How does Hightail help you get your work done?
GH: I can hit “send” and know that Hightail will take care of things. In the past, when I sent an email with audio, it would often get rejected at the other end because of the file type or size. With Hightail, I just send a downloadable link and it always goes through. I know my client has the link and can download the file whenever they’re ready.
KC: What’s the most difficult voiceover project you’ve worked on?
GH: E-learning jobs can be tough. Not because the voicing is difficult, but because it can be thousands of words. I once voiced a job of 18,000 words, got right to the end and thought I could have done better, so… I started all over again. That was a long evening.
A bit of Christmas magic
KC: A lot of people wish they could be Santa. How would you describe your Santa voice?
GH: Ahhh, I love the Santa Voice. I think of my interpretation of the big man as a cheeky chappie, likes to have a laugh and a joke but adores chatting with the kids. It was kind of special to be asked to be Santa for BBC Radio 1 here in the UK. I also provide the voice to lots of radio stations around the UK and I have LIVE Santa Calls on FREE Radio. It’s a lot of fun.
KC: You worked on an app called Santa Voicemail. I’m intrigued—tell me more.
GH: My friend and I have worked on more than 100 apps together – a lot of them are free. Santa’s Voicemail allows parents to pretend to be ringing Santa’s phone. The phone rings and then goes to voicemail. After the beep, your child can leave a message for Santa. It’s just a nice bit of Christmas magic.
KC: Sounds perfect for the little ones and entertaining for the adults. Thanks for taking the time out during Santa’s busiest time of the year! Merry Christmas.