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Back in the 80s and I think also the 90s, on (German) TV, sometimes it happened that during recorded shows (I think only in TV series, but might also have been in movies) in one of the corners of the image (as far as I remember, it was always one of the upper corners, typically the upper right) shortly a simple geometric figure (triangle, square, circle) showed up and immediately disappeared again (I guess the length was just one frame). Often shortly afterwards (less than a second, if I remember correctly) another symbol shortly appeared at the same position. Typically those shapes were white, although I seem to remember that also black ones occasionally appeared; I don't remember any other colour.

Note that I'm not speaking about the station logo, which would normally displayed unchanged during the whole show. Those geometric figures would only appear rarely during a show, and immediately disappear again.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any example on YouTube. I also don't remember having seen those symbols later.

My guess is that those symbols are somehow related to the production process, and were left in either by accident, or because the specific production process required them to remain.

Does anyone know more about it?

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    Cue Dot – user7812 Dec 13 '15 at 14:17
  • @Richard: Thank you, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. First, it was not on live shows, but on recorded shows. Second, those shows/movies had no ad breaks, and back then the closing credits were shown in full in German TV, giving more than enough cue when the show was over. Also those cue dots seem to stay for quite a long time (and are animated), while those figures I'm speaking about immediately disappeared again. – celtschk Dec 13 '15 at 14:24
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I think you mean Cue Marks. They where used on movies when they where still delivered to cinemas on several reels.
For the person operating the projector to know when to switch between reels, cue marks where shown, signaling that the reel was coming to an end.

PS: So, Richards comment was on the right track: same style of mark to signal something to an operator.

  • Correct. There two cue marks in short succession near the end of the reel. The first tells the operator to start the other projector (there were two projectors, to allow seamlessly switch from one reel to the next one), the second one to actually switch from one projector to the other. The time between these two cue marks could be used to attain perfect sync between the projectors (they had convenient speed controls for that). There were simple flaps in front of the projectors which could block the light and allowed the operator to see the projection on them. Switching over was mechanical. – Klaws Feb 8 '18 at 10:07

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