Big news on the theatre sound front: Autograph Sound has incorporated a new company in the international theatre capitals of London and New York to develop and promote the sales of selected digital products specifically aimed at the theatre market. Named Autograph A2D, it aims to advance the acceptance of digital mixers and infrastructure in the predominantly analog world of theatre.

In the UK, the company will draw on the combined experience of Andrew Bruce, Duncan Bell of Autograph and Nigel Olliff, co-founder of BSS Audio. The US company will be led by Lew Mead, former owner of ProMix, a New York based rental company whose association with Bruce and Autograph spans 15 years.

It has secured the exclusive distribution rights for the DiGiCo D5T, the theatre version of the D5 Live, in the United States and will be working very closely with DiGiCo to promote the D5T in the UK and the rest of the world. Autograph A2D has been working on the development of the D5T with DiGiCo for almost a year and the specialised software package together with a dedicated add-on theatre operator's console is set to be unveiled at the AES in New York in October.

The software package comprises a two-part enhancement consisting of dedicated "theatre" software running on the console as well as an external data-entry programme to assist and shortcut the programming of cues.

Autograph has been active in the field of mixer control software since 1989 when it commissioned its own designer and software writer, Matt McKenzie, to produce alternative software for the Cadac E-Type. Subsequent collaborations with both Soundcraft and Cadac, building on the practical experience of its in-house designers, has uniquely established Autograph as a specialist on the theatre console user interface.

At the D5 Live's launch at last year's PLASA show, Autograph director and sound designer Andrew Bruce saw its potential in the theatre, and was keen to channel Autograph's previous development work. Fortunately, it transpired that DiGiCo was equally keen to move on to the next stage in the expansion of the D5 family.

"Since it can simultaneously display any 24 of its input channels in three banks of eight, it is entirely intuitive for any engineer brought up on analog to grasp," says Bruce. "As a consequence it goes a long way toward allaying the fears of operators for whom, hitherto, the predictable criticism of all assignable consoles has been that 99% of the console is always hidden. Frankly it's a wonder nobody came up with it before. What's more, it incorporates several features from previous projects that we'd been hoping would see the light of day again. We have been working with DiGiCo to merge in some of the more esoteric features that we have come to rely on in a theatre console.

"We all share a sense of real excitement at making a significant contribution to the digital mainstream in the theatre," Bruce concludes.