VST Breakdown for Songs

Is there a way to find out vst's that are used on a song? Take for instance one of my favorite soundtracks is Thomas Newman's Skyfall.  An actual symphony would have probably been used for the recording and it has a slight tech sound to it. Is there a way to break down a song into corresponding vst's? It would be cool to find out more about the sound design a composer used as well.

This is out of my league at this point but where can I dip my toe into finding out how to craft some of these sounds? 


  • I'd suggest that this isn't a Spitfire Audio specific question. It's probable that all sorts of things were used. Your best solutions might be:

    1) Look for interviews with Newman or deconstructions of the work. YouTube might be a good place to start.

    2) I'm a 'noob' m'self - clueless last March and still pretty clueless now. However, one thing I've learnt, that can be useful, is - downloading MIDI files. You can get most things in MIDI format for free on t'internet. Load the MIDI into your DAW - and use the default instruments if you need or want. You can then evaluate what's going on - on a note by note basis, and experiment with differing instrument choices. You may find that the default MIDI instruments can be improved upon, and then work out the articulations needed to make things 'tick'.

    As an example: I was going to a meeting yesterday and a piece of Rossini played in the car. And as I was sitting at a traffic light I wondered, 'how did he do that'? Got home later, found the MIDI track online and then opened it in my DAW. I then found the section and instrument and - voilà - I knew how he did it.

    Hope this helps.

    • First let me say that Donkey_Oaty may be the single greatest user name on the internet. I believe you win sir.
    • My question was a hard one and I see it more as sound design I guess. A lot of modern day sountracks have a slight techno feel to them. I was wondering how that was done. Again I offer Skyfall as an example. You're right this isn't necessarily a Spitfire specific question. Your answer is a great way to learn compositionally what's happening in a song I don't think it's going help too much on the sound design though. Dunno I'll go looking for some MIDI could be the answer is there.
    • I'm going to mark NO on the bottom of the answer because I would like to hear other people chime in on this however I really enjoyed your answer D.O.

  • Donkey_Oaty
    edited February 16

    Thanks for the 'heads up' on my moniker :) .

    Pleased you are leaving this open, as I too would like to have some input from people far more experienced than me, and will be interested in what they have to say. Part of the 'feel' of Skyfall will be the mode it's written in. Another aspect is the reverb. Different reverbs add a different feel, and there's a lot of reverb being used, albeit subtley . A good (and cheap!) way to experiment with these is in some of the more recent Labs releases. Most labs products allow you to adjust the amount of reverb, but the later ones also allow you to change reverb types too. So if you were to write something in your DAW in MIDI then play it back, but vary the reverb types and amounts, you'd change the feel of the music - sometimes it can be quite a dramatic change.

    Different string articulations and section sizes also impact on feel massively. I found this by Christian Henson really informative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3apECX1VGgk It goes into Cinematic sounds and how the styles have changed through time - Newman is a master at exploiting these.