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Theater Controls

X-keys for Real Time Event Triggering

Electronic Theater Controls and Ion

X-keys Pro controlling ETC ION on a tablet PC

"The X-Keys pad provides a keyboard layout that is similar to the Ion console so our users do not need to learn the QWERTY keyboard equivalents. This means they can spend their time lighting rather than learning another user interface."

- Karl Wagner

When we upgraded to the ETC Ion console we gained the ability to control it with any computer. This meant we could sit in the auditorium during rehearsals with a tablet PC for rehearsals and setup. The X-Keys pad provides a keyboard layout that is similar to the Ion console so our users do not need to learn the QWERTY keyboard equivalents. This means they can spend their time lighting rather than learning another user interface.

I took the default macros from ETC and tweaked them a bit to suit using the X-Keys Pro with our tablet PC as a remote client for ETC's Ion.

Another popular use for the X-Keys with ETC consoles is as extra handles for running macros or serving as direct selects for palettes, submasters, and cues. - Karl Wagner

X-keys Pro and Ion Console

Users on the ETC forums () tell us ETC support is kind enough to supply them with an Ion keycap set which fits the X-keys Pro if they ask nicely.

Many thanks to Karl for supplying the photographs and information.

Learn more about ETC and ION on their website:

X-keys Pro Controls QLab

X-keys Pro running QLab
  • Playback control suitable for volunteers
  • Improves speed and simplicity of operation
  • Provides simple and intuitive interface for sound playback
  • Vital keys promoted to big buttons
  • Eliminates accidental triggering

Submitted by Sean Smallman - Resident Lighting and Sound Designer, Kalamazoo Civic Theater

As the Sound Designer over at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, I have recently upgraded our sound playback system, and have greatly improved the speed, and simplicity of running our sound playback software for our volunteers with the use of X-keys.

While mixing audio for 24 wireless mics, and an orchestra pit full of mics, trying to also playback audio can require the need for a third hand. By incorporating an X-keys keyboard, it is possible to remove all unnecessary keys from the operator's work surface, and put the vital keystrokes right in front in big bold buttons. (An accidentally grazed key on a keyboard can mean that effects could trigger prematurely).

Qlab layout on X-keys Pro

Now, with the help of X-keys, our operators have a simple and intuitive interface with which to control QLab, our playback software of choice.

As you can see in the pictures, I have made use of the 1x2 and blank keys to really make the interface easy to use both at a distance, and quickly.... bigger surface, easier target. Now all I need is a gigantic 2x2 for the most important button, the GO button.

Thanks X-keys!

Now just need to find the budget to get another one for use with VectorWorks in my office so the Volunteers don't get all the fun toys. - Sean

Thanks to Sean for sharing his setup with us. Here's a link to the