Cinematic Orchestration

If you want to learn how to orchestrate for film, television or games using either samples or live players then look no further; this is the course for you! There are very few online orchestration courses and even fewer that show you the specific techniques required by the film and television industry. Cinematic Orchestration provides comprehensive training in sampled orchestration as well as over 30 hours of in depth tutorials with some of the world’s leading session musicians, orchestrators and composers in how to get the best out live players.

During the course, you will study numerous orchestral film scores with detailed, bar-by-bar analysis from top Hollywood orchestrators, including John Williams’ iconic music for Star Wars and many more. Just as valuable is our detailed guide to creating professional quality, realistic sampled mockups, including MIDI performance techniques, how to put together a balanced orchestral template, head-to-head comparisons of the major sample libraries and much more- in fact, we believe we have compiled the most thorough guide to sampled orchestration available anywhere!

  • Individual tuition from top professional film orchestrators.
  • Detailed instruction on strings, woodwind, brass, harp and percussion.
  • Instrumental tutorials with top film session musicians.
  • Video tutorials with a 50-piece live orchestra.
  • Work on inspiring real-world projects.
  • How to set up an orchestral templates.
  • How to get the best out of the leading sample libraries.

Want to try a free sample unit? Of course you do!

We’ll send you a nice shiny sample pack straight to your inbox.


Study with Our Online Campus

All of the materials for Cinematic Orchestration can be accessed through our online Student Campus. Here you can download all of the course materials to your computer, unit by unit (yes, ThinkSpace lets you keep all of the tuition content, unlike many other online music courses/colleges). You can also submit assignments to your tutors for marking and get access to unlimited support from our team of knowledgeable and experience professional composers via the support ticket system.


Your 500-page course text is a unique work of reference covering every section of the orchestra, available to download unit by unit via PDF. Unlike every other orchestration textbook, it is written by and from the perspective of a professional film composer. Consequently it discusses specific film orchestration styles and real-world considerations such as working to deadlines on film projects, creating mockups and often combining samples with live orchestra in the finished product. (Film scores to Star Wars & The Snowman are the only works not included and can be purchased separately).


With over 30 hours of video material, Cinematic Orchestration has considerably more content than other courses available. Included are interviews with some of the world’s top orchestrators, arrangers and composers, filmed live orchestral recordings with our live orchestra, and master classes with first call session musicians to give you the inside track on writing effectively for live players. Also featured throughout the course are multiple live orchestration examples in different styles, where you watch over the shoulder of James Bond orchestrator Nic Raine as he orchestrates film cues straight into Sibelius and later records his work with our live session orchestra!


When you become an Cinematic Orchestration student, our team of composers are here to support you through all stages of your career, and can offer help looking over contracts, advising on finding work and setting rates, assisting new purchases (ThinkSpace students also are eligible to receive student discounts on many pieces of music software, samples & hardware), assisting with technical problems & studio setup, and pretty much anything else you can think of!

Why wait? Get started today!

Enrol Now

“CO helped my composition skills at every level. The course notes and videos are comprehensive and the tutors are incredibly helpful. I have many years of music production experience in many types of music yet CO helped my sampled mock-ups enormously.”

-Rupert Gibb

Composer/Orchestrator & CO Student


There is no other course in the world that offers tutors & support staff as well connected in the media industry as ThinkSpace Education, and no offline campus can compete with our wealth of talent from around the globe.

Milton Nelson

Composer / Orchestrator

Milton Nelson

Milton has worked as a composer and orchestrator on dozens of credits, just a few include: Splinter Cell, Scrubs, Haunting in Connecticut, Pokemon, and She’s the Man. His clients include Warner Bros, Disney, Universal and many other major Hollywood studios.


Charles Fernandez

Composer / Orchestrator

Charles Fernandez

Charles Fernandez has composed and orchestrated music for many films and television series, including Disney’s Aladdin 3 and The Butterfly Effect.


Rachel James

Composer / Orchestrator

Rachel James

Rachel James graduated with a Masters in Composition for Screen from the Royal College of Music in London. She gained her first degree in Music at the University of Surrey and then took a Masters in Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.



Our students come from over 25 countries and many different musical backgrounds. Many of our students go on to orchestrate and compose for an extremely wide variety of media, and many of those people go on to work on very high profile projects. Some already have a foot on the ladder and want to give their career a boost, or want to brush up on their orchestral writing skills, but what they all share is a passion for writing and orchestrating cinematic music.

James Semple

Composer / Multi Instrumentalist

James Semple

James is a composer for media (TV, video games, websites and films) specializing in ultra-realistic digital orchestration. His latest project was scoring the feature film Jen.


Thiago Gobet Spada

Composer / Orchestrator

Thiago Gobet Spada

With clients in USA, Europe, Brazil and Philippines, Thiago Gobet Spada has been the composer and sound designer of choice for many award-winning film, television, game, and commercial productions, both nationally and internationally.


Charles Hedger

Composer / Session Guitarist

Charles Hedger

Charles Edward Alexander Hedger is a composer and guitarist with an extensive history in the music industry. After completing the course in 2010, Charles has gone on to work on some very high-profile projects.



An Introduction to Cinematic Orchestration

This unit explores, how to read orchestral scores (even if you have limited experience), video examples with our live orchestra, different approaches to sampled and live scoring and workflow, take-downs and how to orchestrate from audio files. At the end of this unit you’ll get the opportunity to submit a piece of your own orchestral music for feedback, so we can assign you to the best tutor based on your needs and goals.

Strings 1 – Instrument Guide

We provide you with a detailed look at the ranges, articulations, strengths and weaknesses of the individual string instruments. There are extensive video tutorials with top session players, including Perry Montague-Mason (leader of the string section on hundreds of major film scores including Iron Man, Kung Fu Panda, The Chronicles Of Narnia, Madagascar 2) and Tony Pleath (solo cello on Gladiator, Dark Knight, Hannibal, and lead the cello section on hundreds more). In sampled orchestration we look at how to build your string template and the library choices available to you.

Strings 2 –Composing Techniques

String writing tips, tricks, applications and secrets are revealed for the first time by top Hollywood orchestrators. The unit Includes detailed analysis of film score and string music case studies before watching over the shoulder of James Bond orchestrator Nic Raine, as he arranges a piece from scratch in Sibelius, then records his work with our live string orchestra. Later we look at live scoring examples and techniques for writing with sampled strings with Guy Michelmore.

Woodwind 1– Instrument Guide

You’ll take a detailed look at the ranges, articulations, strengths and weaknesses of the individual wind instruments, as well as extensive video tutorials with woodwind virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist, Jamie Talbot. James has not only performed with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, George Michael, Quincy Jones (and many more), but has also featured on a large number of film scores in many genres. In sampled orchestration we look at how to build your woodwind template and the library choices available to you.

Woodwind 2 – Composing Techniques

Woodwind writing tips, tricks, applications and secrets are revealed for the first time by top Hollywood orchestrators, which includes detailed analysis of film score and woodwind music case studies and dozens of different writing techniques and doubling options for each of the woodwind instruments. You’ll then get to watch Nic Raine as he arranges a piece for woodwind and strings from scratch in Sibelius, then records his work with our live orchestra. Later you’ll see a real-time sampled scoring demonstration of writing for woodwind and strings with Guy Michelmore.

Brass 1 – Instrument Guide

You’ll take a detailed look at the ranges, articulations, strengths and weaknesses of the individual brass instruments, as well as extensive video tutorials with top trumpet, trombone and French horn session players with credits from Harry Potter to Blood Diamond, and everything in between. In sampled orchestration we look at how to build your brass template and the library choices available to you.

Brass 2 – Composing Techniques

Brass writing tips, tricks, applications and secrets are revealed for the first time by top Hollywood orchestrators, which include detailed analysis of the brass writing in some major film scores and an exclusive master class in swing band writing with prolific arranger Steve Sidwell, the industry’s go-to man for the world’s biggest albums, television shows, advertising campaigns, theater productions, film scores and global events (such as the Olympic Games!) You’ll then get to watch Nic as he arranges a piece from scratch in Sibelius, then records his work with our live orchestra. We finish the unit with a detailed discussion, techniques and real-time scoring examples of writing for sampled brass with Guy Michelmore.

Writing for Harp and Percussion

This unit looks at the highly technical area of writing for both harp and percussion. There’s an extensive master class with acclaimed film session percussionist, Kevin Hathway, member of the Philharmonica since 1979 and former Head of Percussion at the Royal College of Music. We also closely examine the harp and percussion writing in both Star Wars and The Snowman, and guide you through the differences between traditional orchestral and modern cinematic percussion. We’ll then show you how to create that wall of sound percussion track with samples and real-time scoring demonstrations.

Writing for Small Orchestra

This unit starts bringing it all together, with specific techniques and considerations for getting the most out of smaller orchestras and ensembles, including a bar by bar analysis of The Snowman with the composer, Howard Blake. There are also more real-time scoring demonstrations, explanations of how to work with short score, and everything else you need to work with smaller sections.

Writing for Large Orchestra

A bar by bar analysis of the Main Titles of Star Wars with Hollywood orchestrator and composer Charles Fernandez followed by live orchestration demonstrations from piano score to final recording of film cues in different styles with Nic Raine. We then have an extensive interview on orchestration with Alan Parker, one of the most acclaimed orchestrators in the industry. He’s worked with everyone including John Williams, Howard Shore, Jerry Goldsmith and many more. We also get to take an exclusive look through some of the original scores in his archives including E.T. and Jaws. The unit concludes with a detailed guide on how to create that epic orchestral sound just by using samples.

Working with Live Musicians

From sequencer to score, we’ll show you how to take a MIDI demo and turn it into a performable piece of music. We’ll also explore the million and one things you need to know about preparing scores, parts, backing tracks, click tracks, running orders, mix minuses, Pro Tools session and a lot more besides. Watch the process as we take a score and record it with our live orchestra, and finally you’ll receive advice on mixing orchestral music from two top scoring mixers.

BONUS 1 – The Complete Guide To Sampled Orchestration

Everything you could possibly want to know about how sampling works, the technology, the libraries and the developers; it’s all included in this bonus unit. There are demonstrations and video tutorials of everything including: how to use multiple articulations and controllers, MIDI performance techniques, how to overcome various sample limitations to achieve a realistic sound, plus many more. The guide also includes a full guide on creating a balanced, versatile, and lifelike composing template. There are also video interviews from Vienna and LA with the men behind both VSL and the EWQL libraries and more!

BONUS 2 – String Fingering & Playability Charts

Avoid the embarrassing situation of writing unplayable string parts with our detailed fingering charts for each of the different string instruments. By using this valuable resource when writing for real players, you’ll be able to instantly determine how playable your string lines and double stops are on each of the different instruments, so you’ll never again end up writing a part that can’t be performed at the session.

“I’ve found that the Cinematic Orchestration course has guided and encouraged me to dissect every characteristic of individual instruments in detail and then to use them to their full potential. The material encouraged me to learn more and gave me the freedom to explore and find myself as a composer.”

-Marie-Anne Fischer

Cinematic Orchestration Student


Get started today with our accessible payment plans

Covered by our risk-free money back guarantee

Here at ThinkSpace, we want you to feel completely comfortable when investing in our courses, with the understanding that if you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, all you need to do is send us a quick email and we will instantly refund your entire course fee into your account. No questions asked, no loopholes- if you’re not convinced CO is the right decision for you within the first 30 days, it would go against the entire ethos of the company if we didn’t refund your money in full. You won’t even have to pay if you submitted a project for marking.

We want to make it as easy and risk-free as possible for you to get started with our courses.



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    You can pay in one go, or pay a deposit of £430, then 6 monthly installments of £120
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Full Payment
    You can pay in one go, or pay a deposit of $700, then 6 monthly installments of $175.
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    You can pay in one go, or pay a deposit of €550, then 6 monthly installments of €150.
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You should be able read music to take the course, and you must have at least a basic understanding of how to write music and be able to create a piece and record it with reasonable fluency. We do not exclude students who want to concentrate largely on sampled orchestration and have little or no music theory, however you won’t be able to follow the course scores, some of the video tutorials, and some tutors are not prepared to work with students who don’t meet the minimum music theory requirements.


As all of our materials are available through download only, a stable and reasonably fast Internet connection is also required. We cannot send out hard copies of the course materials.


You must also have a reasonable to top performance computer (Mac or PC) as well as at least a basic orchestral virtual instrument library (we can advise you if you’re not sure about your setup).


Minimum Spec:
Intel/AMD Quad Core Processor 2.6GHz, 8/16GB RAM,

However we would recommend:
Intel i7 Quad Core 3.2GHz (equivalent or higher), 32GB RAM


Minimum Spec:
Intel Processor Quad Core 2.6GHz, 8/16GB RAM

However we would recommend:
Intel i7 Quad Core 3.2GHz (equivalent or higher), 32GB RAM


The latest computer based score-writing program:


And the latest computer based sequencer, these include:

Cubase 7.5/8
Logic Pro X
Digital Performer 7/8
Pro Tools 11

At least some basic sample libraries are a must-have for the course as well in order to produce a convince sample mock-up. Just some of the websites we’d recommend include SoundsOnline, Spitfire Audio, 8Dio, Cinesamples, Sonviox, however there are far more to explore! (If you’re having trouble, we can always help you pick what’s best for you)


The course represents a significant commitment of time. Given a minimum of 4 hours a week, most students complete a unit every month. Some take much longer and others work very quickly. You have up to 12 months to complete the course, after that you can pay an extension fee to extend your course by either 6 or 12 months.


You will need to purchase the full orchestral score of: The Star Wars Suite by John Williams. A link to the correct version can be provided if required


Need to know something before you get enrolled? Check our FAQ section for the answers to any burning questions. If your questions aren’t covered here, please feel free to fill in our contact form at the bottom of the page.


Cinematic Orchestration is not for complete beginners. You need a good knowledge of Music Theory and basic Harmony and should be able to create a reasonable demo.

If you are unsure, please email us to talk to a member of the support team. They don’t bite and they will be able to give you lots of advice.

A: Have a look at out course requirements section, which is quite detailed. If you are still in any doubt at all, email or call us.

If you are planning to upgrade your equipment before doing the course, you must speak to us first. Enrolled students are entitled to substantial discounts on software in particular and we might be able to save you a lot of money.

A: Every orchestrator could benefit from the honest opinion of a more experienced colleague. If you are regularly pitching for work and not getting it then you are probably not writing the right music, or not pitching for the right jobs. You can hardly rely on potential clients to give you an honest assessment!

Our project work is extremely rich and varied. You will gain as much experience in a year with us as you would in 5 years in the outside world.

Listen to what our students have to say and judge for yourself.

A: The 11 projects require you to orchestrate and compose no more than 5 minutes of music for each, which could take you anywhere between 8 – 20 hours each. Therefore as a rough estimate, the course represents around 250 hours of study or 2 hours a week for two years..

It is a challenge combining course work with “life”, but if you can’t manage to fit the course in with your schedule then how are you ever going to manage when you get a real job?

A: There are lots of books on orchestration. This course gives you the hands on practical knowledge that you need for orchestrating for live players as well as building sampled mockups.
A: Yes, if you complete the course, you get a Completion Certificate.
A: Yes, but you will find it more difficult to upload assignments and download course updates. Realistically the vast majority of working media composers have broadband so it’s something you need to consider. Most client’s would expect it.

Every student must have a working email address so we can contact you.

A: No. You will need to use a sequencer for you sampled mock-ups and preferable a notation program like Sibelius for your scores.
A: Not as such. There are tutorials introducing you to a number of pieces of software and we are producing a series of quick start short courses in the most popular applications. Luckily all sequencers operate in a very similar way and although individual commands and menus are different the basic principals and functions are the same.
A: It depends on your specific skills. You will be required to understand both written and spoken English to a fairly high standard, as well as be able to communicate fluently your compositional intentions to your tutor.

“The course materials provided many helpful hints and having a tutor review my work resulted in improvements that would not have otherwise been possible.”

-Michael Schrattbauer

Cinematic Orchestration Student


My name is Bradley and I’m the student support manager here at ThinkSpace. If you have any questions that you’d like answering, please don’t hesitate to fill in the contact form below, or email me at

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