British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

H. Grindell-Matthews, inventor of the new speaking and musical film


Series Name
Around The Town


Issue No.
Date Released
1 Dec 1921
Length of issue (in feet)
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1At Home with Gregory Brown, the famous poster artist
  2. 2The Jolly Dutch Girl
  3. 3H. Grindell-Matthews, inventor of the new speaking and musical film
  4. 4Fashions of All Nations
  5. 5Sir John Martin-Harvey now appearing in "The Only Way"
  6. 6We are all trying to economise these days, even the fair-sex have gone as far as to go without stockings, and now paint their legs instead ...


Story No. within this Issue
3 / 6
Summary - The new sound photography system is demonstrated
NoS synopsis: ‘The latest achievement in the Kinematograph world. H. Grindell-Matthews, inventor of the new speaking and musical film.' Close up of Grindell Matthews in a suit and tie cuddling and petting a black kitten before a house fronted with plants. ‘The Camera showing recording apparatus on top.' Close up of the camera stood in front of the house. A man’s hands remove the box to show the recording apparatus. He removes another small casing. He turns the camera so that the lens faces our camera, and round so that the other side can be seen. The hands withdraw so that we can see the mechanism. ‘The Recording Diaphragm. Note the pin-head mirror. This reflects a beam of light on the side of the film representing the sound waves -'. Extreme close up of the diaphragm held vertical by a metal frame. The camera is now inside the house - there is a curtain in the background. A man’s hand, holding a large nail, points out the mirror and the path of the beam of light. ‘The camera in motion’. Extreme close up of the lens and diaphragm in use, although there is no discernible movement. ‘Recording a singing picture of Joyce Barbour, Roy Royston and Company.' Roy and Joyce, dressed in Elizabethan costume stand in front of five or six other actors in assorted historical costumes. They are outside the house. Arthur Kingston operates the tripod-mounted camera to the left, whilst a tripod supporting two microphone funnels is on the right. The actors sing and sway as Kingston looks through the viewfinder. There seems to be a box connected to both tripods by wires on the floor. Close up of Roy and Joyce sing in front of the funnels. He kisses her hand. ' A reproduction of the film showing the sound waves recorded on the side -'. Extreme close up of a frame of film featuring a picture of Roy singing. On the right hand side there is a grey area with the lines of the optical sound recording horizontally printed. Another frame is shown with ‘loud’ graphics on the right hand side and a corresponding shot of Roy Royston.
Researcher Comments
In 1919, the English inventor H. Grindell Matthews devised a sound on film system not unlike that of Lauste. With the help of engineer Arthur Kingston, and B. J. Lynes, who developed the electronics, a functioning sound recording camera was made in 1921. It used a galvanometer movement to produce a variable area sound track beside the picture on the film. Several demonstration films were made and in September 1921 Arthur Kingston filmed an interview with Sir Ernest Shackleton just before he left on his last voyage. The results were promising, but the money ran out and the project ceased in April 1922.
Cinema; Photography; Inventions and discoveries
Written sources
Kinematograph Weekly   8 December 1921, p58.
Viewing Copy - bfi   Used for Synopsis
B. Coe, ‘The History of Movie Photography’ (London, 1981)   p107. Used for comments
Production Co.
Around the Town Ltd.
Length of story (in feet)

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