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Video clip synopsis – Ray Edmondson provides a history of Cinesound. Liz Jacka talks abut the differences between newsreels and today's TV news.
Year of production - 1932
Duration - 2min 20sec
Tags - media production, newsreels, sound, see all tags


Cinesound Review

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About the Video Clip


The interviews with Ray Edmondson and Liz Jacka were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Ray Edmondson is the Former Deputy Director of the National Film and Sound Archive and is now honorary Curator Emeritus. Liz Jacka is an Author and Professor in Communications Studies for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Background Information


In the 1920s new sound technologies increased the cost of film production, putting Australia’s small-scale 'silent picture’ newsreel producers out of business. For a time, cinema newsreels were imported. Instead of viewing news about Australia, local audiences watched foreign newsreels, mostly from Britain and the United States of America.

Spotting an opportunity, in January 1931 the US-based Fox Movietone News began its weekly Australian edition newsreel. Later that year, the Melbourne Herald newspaper joined with Herschell’s Films to produce The Herald Newsreel.

The other major newsreel was the Cinesound Review, part of Cinesound Productions which 'was associated with Greater Union Theatres Limited’. Cinesound rushed into newsreel production in time to cover the 1931 Melbourne Cup. Within a year Cinesound absorbed The Herald Newsreel, to form the Herald Cinesound News Review. (Bertrand 159)

There were 2031 editions of the Herald Cinesound News Review (commonly known as the Cinesound Review) produced in Australia over a 40 year period, prior to its merger with Fox Movietone News in 1970.

Classroom Activities


Making and Producing

  1. The Power of the Voice
    Ask the students to record a story from a current affairs program and bring it into the classroom. This is to be downloaded onto their computer and the audio track is to be removed. Students are to construct a new soundtrack and narration that completely changes the story. Each student is to show the original clip and their new narrated work.

Critical and Historical Study

  1. Listen to the interview with Ray Edmondson about the origin of Cinesound answer the following questions.
    1. Who developed Cinesound and why?
    2. When was Cinesound invented and how long was it used for in the production of newsreels?
    3. How is sound laid onto film?
  2. In film and video work there are two identifiable modes of sound – diegetic and non-diegetic sound. Diegetic sound is the natural sound that comes from the scene being shot, e.g. the roar of engines at a car race. Non-diegetic sound is the added sound such as the narrator, special effects sounds or music. All these add to the atmosphere of the video or film. Try to locate and look at a clip of a newsreel make a list of the identifiable sounds in terms of diegetic and non-diegetic sound constructions.
  3. Newsreels constructed personal and meaningful accounts of social and historical experiences. Cinesound and other newsreels kept Australians abreast of world events and social happenings. They provided the audience with a greater connection to the world.
  4. Where are newsreels from Cinesound and other production houses kept for archival purposes? (Hint: you need to look at The End of the Newsreel on the From Wireless to Web website)
  5. Compare and contrast the delivery of information and how the audience reacted to newsreels as opposed to the news broadcast on the television.
  6. The Australasian Gazette provided a dynamic voice and image of Australia. What were the main stories and personalities selected for these newsreels?
  7. How did newsreels contribute to the establishment of a national identity? Discuss how the broadcast media effectively influences the way a country such as Australia views itself.
  8. Who was Ken Hall and why was Australian cultural identity so important to him in the newsreels he made?
    Explain how newsreels explore and enrich the cultural knowledge of the audience. In your answer you could talk about:
    1. Values and beliefs of the time (think about the social and economical circumstances of the 1930s)
    2. The government of the time
    3. Historic events
    4. The impact of technology on society

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.