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:

 
  • Materials & Texture Huge Hidden Passages Play Track Up to 1727+ sounds included From: $84.70

    Huge Hidden Passages takes you from the depths of the jungle, to the entrance of a temple, and behind the thick walls of a castle to discover a buried pyramid – and beyond. Some of passages will be hidden to your eyes, but we offer you the sonic keys of those closed passages. The library is the final installment in the World Of Secrets series.

    Available in two versions, and a bundle:

    Huge Hidden Passages – Designed

    A ready-made collection of elements designed for your mysterious access. All designed elements have separated layers (sorted by textures) to give you the possibility to construct your own.


    Specs: 187 .WAV files, 1.07 GB
    Recorded with: 744T + EAA Micromix • Schoeps MS Couple • KM 82i Neuman • 2 KM 184 Neuman • DPA 4060 • Barcus berry contact mic
    Huge Hidden Passages – Toolbox

    An incredible toolbox, issued from a year of recording and sound design. Versatile, dense, pitchable.


    Specs: 1540 .WAV files, 10.43 GB
    Recorded with: 744T + EAA Micromix • Schoeps MS Couple • KM 82i Neuman • 2 KM 184 Neuman • Sennheiser MD 441 • DPA 4060 • Barcus berry contact mic
    Huge Hidden Passages – Complete Bundle

    Get both the Toolbox and Designed packs, at a special price.


    Specs: 1727 .WAV files, 11.05 GB
    Recorded with: 744T + EAA Micromix • Schoeps MS Couple • KM 82i Neuman • 2 KM 184 Neuman • DPA 4060 • Sennheiser MD 441 • Barcus berry contact mic

    All packs contain stereo & mono, 192 / 96 kHz, 24 bit files.

  • Drones & Moods No Input Feedbacks Play Track 56 sounds included, 72 mins total $20.57 incl. vat

    No Input Feedbacks is a library of tones, drones, noises, and oddities generated with a matrix mixer and a series of guitar and bass stomp effects.

    Gear Used:

    Xiwi Electronics Passive Matrix Mixer, Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi and Holy Stain, TC Electronic Flashback Mini Delay, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, Jim Dunlop MXR Auto Q, Moog Minifooger MF Ring, BBE Sonic Stomp Sonic Maximizer, TASCAM DR100-MKII.
  • Mechanical Latchlocker Play Track 850+ sounds included, 14 mins total $41.14 incl. vat

    This sound effects library of latches, locks, switches, clips, slides, clasps, gears, bolts, and ratchets is a mechanical sonic powerhouse, offering the functional and mechanical sounds of a plethora of quirky contraptions that latch or lock together in some manner or another. Embellish a simple hand tool or build utterly complex mechanizations.

    Some source materials were discovered in old railway yards, others were random findings in an antique mall, while others still were dislodged components of even larger, more complex machines. Like little sonic building blocks, the sounds herein are primarily reduced to their smallest meaningful components, giving you the quick, accessible freedom to drop/move/stack them for fast production.  As with many of our libraries, we focused on providing sets of similar sounds so that you can create sequences and randomized groups for an event on the fly without having to commit extra editing time.

    We've also included 26 of our own designs to get your creative machine turning!


Introducing SOUNDLISTER - the place to find audio professionals:
 
Are you an audio professional? Or are you looking for audio pros for you project?
Be sure to check out Soundlister - you'll find 100s of audio professionals there already.
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:
 
  • Huge Hidden Passages takes you from the depths of the jungle, to the entrance of a temple, and behind the thick walls of a castle to discover a buried pyramid – and beyond. Some of passages will be hidden to your eyes, but we offer you the sonic keys of those closed passages. The library is the final installment in the World Of Secrets series.

    Available in two versions, and a bundle:

    Huge Hidden Passages – Designed

    A ready-made collection of elements designed for your mysterious access. All designed elements have separated layers (sorted by textures) to give you the possibility to construct your own.


    Specs: 187 .WAV files, 1.07 GB
    Recorded with: 744T + EAA Micromix • Schoeps MS Couple • KM 82i Neuman • 2 KM 184 Neuman • DPA 4060 • Barcus berry contact mic
    Huge Hidden Passages – Toolbox

    An incredible toolbox, issued from a year of recording and sound design. Versatile, dense, pitchable.


    Specs: 1540 .WAV files, 10.43 GB
    Recorded with: 744T + EAA Micromix • Schoeps MS Couple • KM 82i Neuman • 2 KM 184 Neuman • Sennheiser MD 441 • DPA 4060 • Barcus berry contact mic
    Huge Hidden Passages – Complete Bundle

    Get both the Toolbox and Designed packs, at a special price.


    Specs: 1727 .WAV files, 11.05 GB
    Recorded with: 744T + EAA Micromix • Schoeps MS Couple • KM 82i Neuman • 2 KM 184 Neuman • DPA 4060 • Sennheiser MD 441 • Barcus berry contact mic

    All packs contain stereo & mono, 192 / 96 kHz, 24 bit files.

  • Get the sounds of an authentic WW2 bomber plane: This library delivers a recording of the historic twin-engine World War II bomber, the B-25 Mitchell with the air-cooled 14 cylinder Wright R-2600 Cyclone radial engines. The recording cover two stationary ground runs and a flying session.

    The stationary runs cover startup, idle, steady rpms, throttle movement and shutdown, with 22 exterior tracks and 6 onboard tracks. The flying session covers startup, taxiing, takeoff, several flybys, landing and shutdown, with 15 exterior tracks and 8 onboard tracks.

    The library also includes some foley, such as bomb door opening and closing, flaps, horn, breaks and switches, and engine maintenance with mechanics pumping oil and electrically turning the propellers. Finally it includes the plane being towed.

  • Get the sounds of 12 authentic weapons from both World War 1 and World War 2, captured by recording specialist Watson Wu. A total of 587 files are included – 107 foley sounds and 480 firing sounds.
     

    Weapons included:
     
    Rifles:

    Enfield • M1 Carbine • M1 Garand • Mauser • Mosin Nagant – long • Mosin Nagant – short

    Pistols & revolvers:

    British Webley Revolver • Colt 1911 Pistol • German Luger Pistol • Smith & Wesson 1915 Revolver • Smith & Wesson 1917 Revolver • Walther PKK Pistol


     
    Each complete weapon set includes close, medium, far and incoming stereo perspectives.

    All the weapons are authentic, the gunpowder is real and 100s of rounds were sent downrange to get you these powerful weapon sounds from the World Wars.

Explore the full, unique collection here
 
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER + 40 FREE SFX:
Just enter your details below to get the newsletter and free sound effects (soundlist):

Leave a Reply

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

HTML tags are not allowed.