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What you're talking about is a Film Leader. Originally, a frame was inserted once every 16 frames (16 frames per foot for 35mm film) with numbers marked 11 to 3. At some point in the mid 1960's that was changed to a continuous countdown with a new number every second (time interval as opposed to length interval) that ran backwards from 8 to 2. If you ...


This is known as a film leader and as well as a countdown to the start of the movie itself, also often contains technical information for the projectionist including aspect-ratio, sound settings etc. The purpose of the leader is primarily to allow extra film for the projectionist to wind onto the projector. The countdown is just to show the projectionist ...


The countdown and beep are also used for audio/video synchronization. The beep must correspond exactly with the number transitions. Some leaders also had a flash at each second mark to help with adjusting the beep. This process was later automated with equipment that can detect the flash and beep and align them. See 2-Pop For related information.

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