Offices in Belfast, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh and Johannesburg will all use the equipment from next month. Sky News in London already has the kit where it is being used to speed up news production. No financial details were revealed.
The Sony XDcam kit will be used by roving news crews, equipped with laptop Avids, using Firewire to transfer footage from the camera directly to the portable edit station. Chief editor of Sky News David Cooper said: 'This is a huge benefit and timesaving device. We can now do this faster than real time and there are no extra boxes or cables.'
Cooper added: 'The way we work is that a crew will go out with 10 tapes a day and may give a tape to a journalist who then returns to base, or another truck, and the crew might not see [the tapes] again that day.
'With the new equipment, crews can get working on proxy or high-res edits on location as it's all battery-operated - it will speed things up a hell of a lot.'
The order is for 10 Sony XDcam camcorders, seven playback XDcam mobile decks and eight XDcam compact decks.
XDcam products can store up to 85 minutes of DVcam footage or 45 minutes of 50 Mbps MPeg IMX signals - comparable to Digital Betacam quality. Sky News is currently recording in DVcam. XDcam production equipment, and its automated robotic playout system, has already been bought for BSkyB's new technology and transmission centre in Chilworth ( Broadcast , 29.4.04).
The centre will supplement BSkyB's Isleworth facility and will provide backup in case of technical fault or terrorist activity.
The transmission centre is due for completion by the spring.