Special Effects Cine Camera

This icon celebrates Brighton and Hove's pioneering contributions to film making and is a copy of a camera in the Hove Museum collections.


The 35mm camera was designed and built by Brighton-based engineer Alfred Darling (1862-1931), to create special effects in early films. It has two removable plates with apertures, which produce the effect of looking through a telescope, magnifying glass or binoculars. In 1897 Darling came into contact with a group of filmmakers, including George Albert Smith, James Williamson and Esme Collings, known as the Brighton School of filmmakers. This led to him to specialise in the design and manufacture of cinema apparatus He worked closely with filmmakers, offering expertise in the development of new cameras to produce particular effects. His apparatus was very successful, with makers across the world buying equipment from him. In 1899, Hove filmmaker George Albert Smith (1864 – 1959) bought a similar camera from Darling and soon afterwards shot Grandma’s Reading Glass, which pioneered film editing techniques. GA Smith had developed the old pump house in St Ann’s Wells into a film production studio, which he called his ‘Film Factory’. He created some of the earliest close-up shots in film history.

The cine-camera can be seen at Hove Museum's Pioneers' Gallery which shows the huge impact these pioneering local film-makers had on the international development of the moving image.