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I was recently watching some old Tom and Jerry episodes (40s-50s) and noticed the end of the episodes have a star shape symbol in the top right for only a few frames. I couldn't find a term for what it was, I'm thinking it may be an visual artifact or a stamp of some sort. I haven't checked but I'm guessing these probably appear on similar cartoons like Looney Toons as well.

What is the cause/purpose of it?

Here's an example from a few episodes:

unidentified purplr/black star shapes

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    A minor plot point in Fight Club. – Jacob Krall Feb 1 at 20:52
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I guess it's a cue mark:

A cue mark, also known as a cue dot, a cue blip, a changeover cue or simply a cue is a visual indicator used with motion picture film prints, usually placed on the right-hand upper corner of a frame of the film. Cue dots are also used as a visual form of signalling on television broadcasts.

A pair of cue marks is used to signal the projectionist that a particular reel of a movie is ending, as most movies presented on film come to theaters on several reels of film lasting about 14 to 20 minutes each [...]. The marks appear in the last seconds of each reel; the first mark, known as the motor cue, is placed about 8 seconds before the end of the picture section of the reel. The second mark, known as the changeover cue, is placed about 1 second before the end.

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    Thanks, that sounds exactly right. In addition: "The projectionist would start the incoming projector with the changeover douser (shutter) closed as the first mark (the motor cue) appeared; the second projector would be threaded with the incoming reel parked 8 seconds (12 feet) of countdown ahead of the start of the picture section. The second mark (changeover cue) would alert the projectionist that the changeover was imminent, and one full second after the mark he would trigger a solenoid that would open the incoming projector and another solenoid that would close the outgoing projector." – anon Feb 1 at 1:14
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    @anon Just for fun, for a wholly different form of "cue" view a recording of an old "Mork and Mindy" program and watch the end of item credits for a visual "flash" as something a frame or few long passes by. Rewind and step forward to find what it is. Enjoy :-). – Russell McMahon Feb 2 at 14:23
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    A related, albeit less ..."family friendly"...explanation can be found in Fight Club – BruceWayne Feb 3 at 4:25
  • @RussellMcMahon I'm going to have to do that now – SiHa Feb 3 at 9:03
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    @DarrelHoffman The short is about to end, and the projectionist needs to start up the next thing to project. – Yakk Feb 3 at 15:30

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