the conjuring 2 sound Asbjoern Andersen


James Wan’s spine-chilling horror movie ‘The Conjuring 2’ premiered just a few days ago, and it’s gone straight to number 1 at the box office already.

And, as regular readers of the A Sound Effect blog will know, I’m a huge horror fan – so I’m really excited to present this exclusive A Sound Effect feature on the sound for The Conjuring 2!

Here, supervising sound editor/sound designer Joe Dzuban shares the story behind the creative sound work, the value of temp mixes – and how the right talents (and tools) can take horror sound to the next level.


Written by Jennifer Walden, photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Warning: Contains spoilers (and horror!)



Video Thumbnail

 

Calling director James Wan’s film The Conjuring (2013) ‘creepy’ is like calling a puma a ‘pussy cat.’ Even if that warning that was released with the film — the one alerting the audience of the film’s disturbing content and offering spiritual support from a Priest, was just a clever marketing tool to fill theater seats, it was still a true warning! The film was indeed disturbing. And now, nearly three years later, The Conjuring 2 just opened in theaters.

Reuniting with Director Wan is supervising sound editor/sound designer Joe Dzuban of West Hollywood’s Formosa Group. Dzuban not only sounded The Conjuring, but he’s also worked with Wan on both Insidious films and Furious 7. “James [Wan] is an amazing filmmaker because he understands all the different components that go into making a film, from the script to editing and finally to the sound. He has a very intuitive sense of how best to make all of these disciplines work together,” says Dzuban.

Set in 1977, The Conjuring 2 once again follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, this time to Enfield, England, where they confront sinister spirits that possess the home of Peggy Hodgson (played by Frances O’Connor) and her daughter Janet (played by Madison Wolfe). Since the story centers on Janet, Dzuban notes that Wan wanted The Conjuring 2 to have an emotional element, in addition to being creepy of course. “He also wanted the sound to be dynamic while having a slow crescendo throughout. That was something we talked about in the temp mixes, the idea to slowly build the soundtrack so that it hits its climax at the end,” says Dzuban.
 

Refining the concepts

Dzuban and his post sound team at Formosa, including sound effects editor Peter Staubli, creature designer Eliot Connors, supervising dialogue/ADR editor Lauren Hadaway, dialogue editor Justin Dzuban, and assistant editor Pernell Salinas, first created sounds for a temp mix based on Wan’s initial emotional and conceptual direction.

The temp mixes serve as another spotting session and that is really where the creative fun begins

That temp track was the spring board for the film’s final sound; it’s where concepts were presented and refined, or completely scrapped. “As the film finds itself, more and more ideas come to the front. The temp mixes serve as another spotting session and that is really where the creative fun begins,” says Dzuban.

For example, in the initial approach to Janet’s possession by the spirit of an old man named Bill Wilkins, the plan was to have multiple layers of Bill’s dialogue speaking through Janet simultaneously. But, Dzuban reveals, “Conceptually, it was interesting to have many voices emanating from a single mouth, but the result looked like an error in sync. It just didn’t appear as though she was speaking. So we took the layers, put them in sync with each other, and articulated their pitch and timbre just a bit. We also pitched one layer an octave or two lower just to give the voice a more demonic, otherworldly feel.”

 

Pitch perfect

In addition to ADR breathing from actress Wolfe, the layers were sourced from multiple pre-recorded tracks of actor Robin Atkins Downes, who voiced old man Bill. Dzuban and Hadaway used Elastique Pitch, a real-time pitch shifting plug-in by zPlane, to alter the inflection of the selected layers on-the-fly. “We used Elastique Pitch quite a bit when Old Bill speaks through Janet. We dialed it in just until we had a pitch and tone that felt like it emotionally matched the scene. Elastique Pitch was fantastic because we could enhance the performance of the tracks as we went along,” says Dzuban.

conjuring 2 monsters in the basement

Elastique Pitch was also used for Crooked Man’s lines, performed by Atkin Downes as well. In the film, Crooked Man is an apparition that takes its form from a figure inside a zoetrope, a mechanical toy with a sequence of images printed on the inside wall. When the zoetrope is spinning, the subject inside appears to move.

Robin [Atkin Downes] is an extremely talented voice artist, and what he was able to do with his voice was really astonishing.

As with Janet, Crooked Man’s vocals were created by layering differently processed versions of his lines. Another plug-in Dzuban used for Crooked Man was Eventide’s Octavox. “Robin [Atkin Downes] is an extremely talented voice artist, and what he was able to do with his voice was really astonishing. We processed his voice slightly, here and there, to give it a supernatural quality,” he says.

The Crooked Man coming to life was the creepiest scene to design, Dzuban admits. Wan’s direction was that Crooked Man’s sound should have bone crunching, crackling, and wood-cracking elements. Dzuban and Formosa recordist Charlie Campagna recorded wood cracks, frozen fruit crunches, and even almonds. “We explored all kinds of things to give it an interesting quality,” he says. Dzuban loaded the sounds into Native Instruments Kontakt, and used a keyboard to play them to picture.
 

More resources for horror sound:

 
Feeling inspired to create your own horror sounds? There are several resources available here on A Sound Effect: Check out this special horror sound guide by Saro Sahihi on how to create everything from gore, ghost and jump-scares, to terrifying monsters. And if you’re looking for sounds to build from, an arsenal of scary sounds await right here.

 

The sound of demons

Dzuban and his team also needed to design the voice of the demon that emerges for a swirling vortex near the film’s end. Unlike Janet and Crooked Man, the end demon doesn’t have dialogue, so Dzuban performed vocalizations into Dehumaniser, a vocal processor by Krotos, LTD. “Everything you perform into Dehumaniser just sounds enormous and instantly otherworldly. It gives it this massive demonic feeling,” says Dzuban. He passed those tracks to sound effects editor Staubli, who layered them with various animal vocalizations to craft the demon’s sound.

Dzuban feels the end demon scene was one of the trickiest to design. There are the demon’s vocals, a swirling vortex made of Doppler-processed wind tracks, body impacts as characters are thrown across the room, thunder, and rain. “We have characters yelling, and the demon roaring.

You have to pick your moments and really clear out the other sounds without taking the energy away

To get all of these elements to play in a symphony, so to speak, you have to pick your moments and really clear out the other sounds without taking the energy away,” says Dzuban, who credits re-recording mixer Gregg Landaker for making that scene an impactful, visceral experience. “Gregg did an amazing job of weaving in and around these big moments. The scene definitely is bold, but is effective and fun.”
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • ‘Magic Elements’ is a detailed collection of designed & source sounds of organic elements, actions, characters, items, spells & atmospheres in the realm of Magic.


    DESIGNED:

    In the designed section you will find 326 carefully crafted sounds.
    Volume 1 of this magic saga is comprehensively focused on 6 elements:
    Earth, Ice, Fire, Air, Black, and Generic.

    Each element comes with a variety of spells, actions/movements such as whoosh, impacts, atmospheres, projectiles, along with many variations in intensity and speed.

    All these sounds are carefully designed, edited and meta-tagged.

    The ‘generic’ category contains handy neutral go-to sounds that are useful for any project.

    SOURCE:

    The source folder is packed with 444 useful sounds that cover a large spectrum; thoroughly edited and meta-tagged. They will support your creativity with materials such as choirs, dissonant metal, creatures, papers, debris, drones, cracks, textures, friction, LFE sub sweeteners,…

    What’s inside:

    • Impacts, Whoosh, Air Swirls,
    • Fireball, Deflagration, Flame Thrower, Deep Sub Whoosh
    • Aura, Energy Stone, Old Grimoire, Healing,
    • Earthquake, Constant Debris, Falling Rocks, Ground Friction,
    • Haunted Books,Laboratory, Magic Box, Potion
    • Huge Ground Opening, Eerie Drones,
    • Dark Choir, Ominous Creatures, Dark Dissonant Metal Scrape,
    • Iceberg Destruction, Ice Scrapes, LFE Sub Sweeteners,


    Choose how you want your sounds!
    2 DOWNLOAD OPTIONS INCLUDED:

    • GLUED (Multiple variations of the same sound glued in one file)

    • SEPARATED (Each variations of sound are separated in different files)

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1532469600
    Add to cart
  • Welcome to the sonic world of electromagnetic fields – sounds that are everywhere but rarely heard!

    This library consists of a collection of 82 sounds, with each sound ranging from 6 seconds in length up to almost 7 minutes, exploring the buzzing, clicking, and general weirdness that is found to be emitted in the electromagnetic fields of 21 devices. These include a washing machine, guitar effects pedal, Ford Focus, and a factory Security System.

    These recordings range from a variety of straight buzzes and hums to sounds the morph and change over time. They are be great for something as simple as adding a hum to a refrigerator, to creating more complex soundscapes for your sci-fi projects, or to use as samples for music. This collection has been put together using little-to-no processing so as to give you sounds that can be manipulated however you may need.

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1532296800
    Add to cart
  • Foley Tactical Backpack Play Track 72 sounds included $7.99 $5.99

    Tactical Backpack is a collection of 72 carefully recorded and mastered backpack sound effects.
    Zippers, straps, buckles, handling, drops, pick ups, velcro straps and more!

    All audio files have been recorded at superb 96KHZ 24BIT, multiple mic positions to capture all the wonderful sonic details.

    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Sennheiser MKH 8060
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: Pro Tools, iZotope RX (mildly).

    25 %
    OFF
    Ends 1532124000
    Add to cart
  • Environments Hong Kong Ambiences Play Track 18+ sounds included, 75 mins total $49

    Welcome to the Hong Kong Ambience sound effects library (1 hour and 15 minutes long, 1.6gb compressed .rar file, 2.4gb Uncompressed). This package contains sounds of what the Cantonese people hear during their daily commutes and can be used for common Asian scenes, China Town scenes, etc. All 18 ready to use and loop-able stereo wave files were captured in 24 Bit, 96 kHz (each in 3, 4, or 5 minutes long), and include metadata.

    Add to cart
  • Rock / Stone Rock Falls Play Track 42 sounds included $19 $15

    Echo Peak presents: Rock Falls: Recorded in the deserts of Southern California, this collection is perfect for anything from precarious cliffside action to superhero punches. Over 40 rock on rock impacts recorded with an MKH416 into a Sound Devices 788T.

    21 %
    OFF
    Ends 1531864800
    Add to cart

Sound Effects Sale

The Sound Effects Summer Sale is now live!

Land huge savings on 100s of excellent sound effects libraries here

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Horrors in the basement

One of Dzuban’s favorite scenes to design was when Ed (played by Patrick Wilson) heads into the flooded basement to shut off the water flow from a broken pipe. As he’s working, Peggy sees a shape forming behind him. Dzuban was able to build the basement atmosphere using water drips, and creaky pipes, sloshing sounds and water bubbling up from the pipe. “You have an interplay of those sounds to establish the creepy atmosphere. Also, a lot of the scene was shot from Peggy’s POV so we were able to play with tonal elements subjectively to highlight the apparition she’s seeing,” says Dzuban. “I like the scene because it’s atmospheric, there’s a nice texture to it, and it’s very immersive. It’s creepy, moody, and has a great set up to one of the biggest jump-scares in the film.”

The Conjuring 2 was mixed in 7.1 surround on Warner Bros. Stage 5 in Burbank, CA, by re-recording mixers Landaker (effects/backgrounds/Foley) and Steve Maslow (dialogue/music). The final 7.1 mix was the blueprint for the Dolby Atmos up-mix. Since the film was mixed in-the-box using Pro Tools 12 systems and an Avid D-Control surface, Landaker was able to pull effects elements from the tracks and spread them around the Atmos surround field.

Keeping everything in-the-box also meant that much of Dzuban’s temp mix, and all the choices and decisions made early on, were carried forward to the dub stage. “Steve and Gregg did a heck of a job mixing this film, and we had a phenomenal sound editorial crew. I think the end result is a movie soundtrack that will leave audiences with goosebumps for sure!” concludes Dzuban.

 

A big thanks to Joe Dzuban for sharing his insights on the sound for The Conjuring 2 – and to Jennifer Walden for writing this story!

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Animals & Creatures Animal Hyperrealism Vol I Play Track Over 1300 sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $170

    Animal Hyperrealism Vol I is a library containing sounds themed animal vocalisations, from real to designed creatures totaling more than 1300 individual sounds in 290 files.

    The sounds were partly recorded with animals trained for media production, partly recorded in zoos and wildlife centers. The asset list includes but is not limited to: african lions, bengal tigers, horses, donkeys, cows, exotic birds, owls, bobcats, pumas, dromedaries, wolves, dogs, geese, lemurs, gibbons and many more.

    All the content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K plus a Sennheiser 8050 for center image and a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 for stereo image. All files are delivered as stereo bounce of these for mics, though in some instances an additional couple of CO100K was added to the sides.

    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Sci-Fi Sci-Fi Mechanics Play Track 301 sounds included, 17 mins total $14.99 $7.99

    SCI FI MECHANICS is a construction kit that features 301 unique, pristine quality, sound effects.
    Perfect for crafting sound for all sorts of robotic sequences, mechanisms and transformations.

    47 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • The “Screams & Shouts 2 – Monsters” sound effects library brings you over 940 shouts of pain and death, disturbing roars plus grunts of anger, struggle and attack from several monsters and zombies.
    Additionally you get 250 clean untreated vocalized human monster sound to create your own designed monsters with it.

    This is the go-to sound effects library to give your monsters an unpleasantly threatening, disgustingly haunting and ferocious voice
    All sounds have been edited precisely and cut clean for instant use in your projects. These sounds fit very well in any scifi, horror, action, fighting or fantasy game, movie or any other audio-visual production.

    40 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here
 
Sound Effects Sale
Land huge savings on 100s of excellent sound effects libraries in the special Summer Sale - right here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • ‘Magic Elements’ is a detailed collection of designed & source sounds of organic elements, actions, characters, items, spells & atmospheres in the realm of Magic.


    DESIGNED:

    In the designed section you will find 326 carefully crafted sounds.
    Volume 1 of this magic saga is comprehensively focused on 6 elements:
    Earth, Ice, Fire, Air, Black, and Generic.

    Each element comes with a variety of spells, actions/movements such as whoosh, impacts, atmospheres, projectiles, along with many variations in intensity and speed.

    All these sounds are carefully designed, edited and meta-tagged.

    The ‘generic’ category contains handy neutral go-to sounds that are useful for any project.

    SOURCE:

    The source folder is packed with 444 useful sounds that cover a large spectrum; thoroughly edited and meta-tagged. They will support your creativity with materials such as choirs, dissonant metal, creatures, papers, debris, drones, cracks, textures, friction, LFE sub sweeteners,…

    What’s inside:

    • Impacts, Whoosh, Air Swirls,
    • Fireball, Deflagration, Flame Thrower, Deep Sub Whoosh
    • Aura, Energy Stone, Old Grimoire, Healing,
    • Earthquake, Constant Debris, Falling Rocks, Ground Friction,
    • Haunted Books,Laboratory, Magic Box, Potion
    • Huge Ground Opening, Eerie Drones,
    • Dark Choir, Ominous Creatures, Dark Dissonant Metal Scrape,
    • Iceberg Destruction, Ice Scrapes, LFE Sub Sweeteners,


    Choose how you want your sounds!
    2 DOWNLOAD OPTIONS INCLUDED:

    • GLUED (Multiple variations of the same sound glued in one file)

    • SEPARATED (Each variations of sound are separated in different files)

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1532469600
  • Welcome to the sonic world of electromagnetic fields – sounds that are everywhere but rarely heard!

    This library consists of a collection of 82 sounds, with each sound ranging from 6 seconds in length up to almost 7 minutes, exploring the buzzing, clicking, and general weirdness that is found to be emitted in the electromagnetic fields of 21 devices. These include a washing machine, guitar effects pedal, Ford Focus, and a factory Security System.

    These recordings range from a variety of straight buzzes and hums to sounds the morph and change over time. They are be great for something as simple as adding a hum to a refrigerator, to creating more complex soundscapes for your sci-fi projects, or to use as samples for music. This collection has been put together using little-to-no processing so as to give you sounds that can be manipulated however you may need.

    33 %
    OFF
    Ends 1532296800
  • Foley Tactical Backpack Play Track 72 sounds included $7.99 $5.99

    Tactical Backpack is a collection of 72 carefully recorded and mastered backpack sound effects.
    Zippers, straps, buckles, handling, drops, pick ups, velcro straps and more!

    All audio files have been recorded at superb 96KHZ 24BIT, multiple mic positions to capture all the wonderful sonic details.

    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + Sennheiser MKH 8060
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: Pro Tools, iZotope RX (mildly).

    25 %
    OFF
    Ends 1532124000
  • Environments Hong Kong Ambiences Play Track 18+ sounds included, 75 mins total $49

    Welcome to the Hong Kong Ambience sound effects library (1 hour and 15 minutes long, 1.6gb compressed .rar file, 2.4gb Uncompressed). This package contains sounds of what the Cantonese people hear during their daily commutes and can be used for common Asian scenes, China Town scenes, etc. All 18 ready to use and loop-able stereo wave files were captured in 24 Bit, 96 kHz (each in 3, 4, or 5 minutes long), and include metadata.

  • Rock / Stone Rock Falls Play Track 42 sounds included $19 $15

    Echo Peak presents: Rock Falls: Recorded in the deserts of Southern California, this collection is perfect for anything from precarious cliffside action to superhero punches. Over 40 rock on rock impacts recorded with an MKH416 into a Sound Devices 788T.

    21 %
    OFF
    Ends 1531864800
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.