Facebook unveils 'flick', a new unit of time

Joanna Estrada
January 23, 2018

This all might seem like a bit of technical willy-waving from Facebook, but flicks are intended to be used as a means to sync video frame rates.

The "flick" as it is called - derived from "frame-tick" - represents 1/705,600,000 of a second in C++. It's slightly longer than a nanosecond, which is 1/1,000,000,000 of a second.

Now you can measure how much time you've spent on Facebook using their unit!

Making it larger than a nanosecond, but is more capable of representing the amount of time a single frame takes up.

When creating "visual effects for film, television, and other media, it is common to run simulations or other time-integrating processes which subdivide a single frame of time into a fixed, integer number of subdivisions". In other words, 1/705600000 divides these framerates for encoding frequencies evenly.

"The NTSC variations (~29.97, etc) are actually defined as 24 * 1000/1001 and 30 * 1000/1001, which are impossible to represent exactly in a way where 1 second is exact, so we don't bother - they'll be inexact in any circumstance", according to Facebook.

Facebook released documentation for the creation and use of the "flick" in open source. For example, a twenty-fourth of a second can be measured as 29,400,000 flicks, and one-hundred-twentieth of a second equals 5,880,000 flicks. Similarly, 60FPS is 11,760,000 flicks long.

Interestingly, while Facebook might be celebrating the official introduction of a new unit of time, one of the main proponents of the same - Christopher Horvath is no more associated with the social media company.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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