Spill Plug-in Accelerates Surround Mixing and Sound Design in Pro Tools

By in Audio Post, Pro Mixing

Spill Is A Huge Time-Saver

Spill is a feature found on digital consoles like the System 5 where you can quickly spill out channels of a multi-channel track or group. Now with the Spill AAX plug-in you can do this with any track in Pro Tools. For example, you need to take down just the surrounds, or the L, R channels, Spill makes this very fast and easy without having to create a new set of individual L, C, R, etc. tracks. Spill also makes it fast and easy by providing first-class hands on control with all Avid surfaces and the revolutionary new V-PlugIn app for iPad and iPhone. Just select the track and adjust the spilled channels. This article explains everything about Spill in depth.



Spill is available as a perpetual plug-in iLok licence from the Neyrinck store and it includes a year’s license for the V-Control Pro Bundle. You can also CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SPILL WITH A 7-DAY TRIAL


Surfing Outing Sparks The Idea For Spill

I have been developing Dolby surround plug-ins and control apps for Pro Tools for many years. I always enjoy talking to users to hear how they need to solve problems. Recently, I had just finished improving V-Panner to control the Dolby Atmos Panner Plug-in and took a day off when a friend invited me to go surfing in Santa Cruz. Little did I know that would spark the idea for Spill. But that is what happens when your surf buddy is re-recording mixer and CAS member Tom Marks who is currently mixing Season 2 of Sense8.

Tom and I were floating on our boards and talking about surround workflows. He mentioned that Pro Tools and the S6 were unable to spill out and control individual channels in multi-channel tracks and busses, such as a 7.1 stem, a feature that saved him huge amounts of time when using the System 5. Well, that got me thinking! Later, while eating lunch we used a napkin and sketched the user interface and the next day I started building Spill.


AAX DSP, Native, and Audiosuite – Low CPU/DSP Usage

Spill can be used in any Pro Tools session on inserts or Audiosuite and its CPU/DSP usage is very small. To get started, just place it on the last insert of any multi-channel Pro Tools track, aux or master, from stereo to 7.1 format.

Spill supports all Pro Tools multichannel formats from stereo to 7.1

Spill plug-in showing 8 faders of a 7.1 multichannel track

All channels are spilled to individual channel faders in the Spill plug-in window, the V-PlugIn remote control app, and Avid control surfaces. Spill channel faders can be adjusted individually or can be relative grouped for fast and easy adjustment of surround channel groups. Click on the channel designation at the top of each fader to add or remove that channel from the group. Holding down Cmd/Alt allows for fine adjustments to the fader. Input meters conveniently indicate signal activity. Spill fully integrates with Pro Tools plug-in automation modes providing a complete, professional surround mixing solution like that found on high-end film consoles.


Examples of How Spill Can Be Used – Tom Marks, CAS

Tom Marks, CAS, is currently mixing season 2 of Sense8, created by Lana & Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski. I asked Tom to explain how he uses Spill.

“Spill is applicable to both mixing & editing but is mainly geared towards the mixing side. During the final mix, the flexibility that Spill gives you with pre-dubs & food groups is huge (‘food groups’ is the film mixing term for similar elements such as ‘good guy guns’). I like to put it across the bus outputs while using the AAX DSP version to keep the latency low.

Spill has been really useful for mixing busy scenes with dialogue, music, and sound effects that are competing against one another. It’s all about clearing space in the mix. There’s a lot of ways to get there with volume, panning, balancing frequencies, and choices of sounds. But what Spill offers is the ability to control individual channels of premixed multi-channel groups.”

“As you’re mixing, certain elements will stick out. Sometimes those things happen in the surround channels, like backgrounds (insects, birds, etc) or 5.0 reverb returns. Using Spill, you can adjust the surround levels while keeping your overall volume the same.

There are other applications where Spill fills a need. For example, starting a mix in a smaller room and moving to a large dub stage to finish, you may need to make global adjustments to the surround or LFE levels. When creating home video versions of a theatrical mix, you’ll have to make adjustments to various stems. Spill allows you to dive a layer deeper and adjust individual channels. Also, if you get stereo files that are uneven in level, you can rebalance them.”

I was pleasantly surprised by Tom’s examples and enthusiasm for the plug-in and now he is using it on the ‘Sense8’ drama series I’ll get more feedback on the Spill features as he uses it on this project.


Controlling Spill on the S6, S3, Dock, and Artist Series

The Spill plug-in allows mixers to access Spill channels from any Avid surface, super fast and super easy saving huge amounts of time. Spill takes the S6 to the next level by letting you spill not just VCA groups, but any multi-channel track or bus. Channel control operates from the channelstrip knobs or across 8 channelstrips with Expand Mode. The ‘Sel’ button allows channels to be added or removed from the group. The first knob ‘In’ button acts as bypass.

Other Avid surfaces operate in a similar way. It gets even better with the Avid surfaces that let you flip the plug-in control to faders, such as the S3 and Artists Series. Here is a picture of the S3 flipping Spill to the faders.

Controlling Spill With V-PlugIn

V-PlugIn is our new iOS app in the V-Control Bundle that can directly select and control plug-ins that have been programmed to be compatible with V-PlugIn. Nothing like V-PlugIn has ever been made and once you try it with Spill you will wonder why nobody has done this before. V-PlugIn is easy to set up by simply connecting the device cable to USB on the Pro Tools computer. Or you can use WiFi for portability. On the left is a list of track names that have Spill inserted on them. Just tap the track name and now you are instantly controlling Spill with the same easy, intuitive interface. No need to open the plug-in window in Pro Tools. And you can run any number of V-PlugIn controllers simultaneously to control any combination of Spill plug-ins. Because V-PlugIn uses V-Control Pro protocol, it runs separate and parallel to EUCON for compatibility with any studio setup.

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Paul Neyrinck, founder of Neyrinck software, produces a line of software tools for empowering people to create music, movies, TV and live shows. V-Control Pro Bundle is an innovative control system allowing smartphone and tablet control of Pro Tools and includes control integration with the new Spill AAX plug-in. Neyrinck’s SoundCode plug-ins enable LtRt, Dolby E, and Dolby Digital, surround sound workflows in Pro Tools.