The following article outlines the use of the Sony PMW-EX3 with an external sound recording device such as the Sound Devices 552 or 788T.
The PMW-EX3 is a widely used HD camera with a pair of standard XLRs connector for external sound input. The camera supports signal routing, MIC and LINE level inputs and phantom power (+48v) for mounted shotgun microphone use. The camera also has on-board stereo microphones.
The EX3 supports external timecode and genlock references, so it can be synchronized from an external timecode source such as an Ambient Lockit ACL-203.
Line up Procedure
Configure the camera to accept LINE level input on both channels using the switches positioned right below the XLR input connectors. Note that CH-1 input is on the left and CH-2 input is on the right. (Also note a very deep sigh when you realise that on some cameras the input connector positioning is reversed.)
Slide switches for both channels across to the left.
Configure the AUDIO SELECT switches for both channels to MANUAL
Configure the AUDIO IN switches for both channels to EXT
Press the MENU button and scroll to the AUDIO SET menu using the SEL/SET button. Access the AUDIO INPUT menu and configure EXT CH Select to read CH-1/CH-2. This will ensure that the camera accepts input from both external channels.
(NOTE – a value of CH-1 here will cause the camera to route CH-1 input to both recording tracks. You generally DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS when recording “separate sound”. Also note that this configuration element appears on other cameras however the function can sometimes be different which can lead to substantial confusion.)
Other settings to check while in the AUDIO SET/AUDIO INPUT menu page are:
- AGC Link – Separated
- 1KHz Tone – Off
- Wind Filter CH-1 – Off
- Wind Filter CH-2 – Off
Set your external mixer or recording device to output LINE level audio and connect the output of your mixer to the camera audio inputs.
Configure your external mixer or recording device to output a 1kHz test tone at a level of 0dBu. It is usual that a level of 0dBu will result in a meter display reading of –20dBFS. Ideally you will output a “stutter” tone that helps confirm which channel is the LEFT channel by periodically interrupting the tone level.
Access the “AUDIO” page on the viewfinder status display by pressing the STATUS button twice or until the correct page is displayed.
Adjust the AUDIO LEVEL (camera side panel) until each channel indicates -20 on the camera audio level meter as per the picture above. In tests, the value indicated on the AUDIO LEVEL rotary control ended up being approximately at the “7” position.
Once the levels have been correctly aligned, turn off the tone source and check that audio is being correctly routed from the external mixer to the camera.
External Timecode Reference Configuration
To configure an external timecode reference such as – for example – an ACL-203 Lockit box, connect the BNC cables from the ACL-203 to the TC-IN and GENLOCK ports on the EX3.
Press the “Menu” button and select the TC/UB SET page.
Select the “TIMECODE” menu and set:
- MODE to PRESET
- RUN to FREE RUN
Timecode reference will now follow the output of the ACL-203. If you have jammed the ACL-203 to your SD788T prior to operation, then you should maintain a fairly consistent timecode lock with your 788T, making the editor’s life a little easier in post.