Facebook Has Coined a New Unit of Time Called “the Flick”

A flick lasts 1/705,600,000 of a second.

1. 23. 18 by Brad Jones
Creative Commons

New Unit

Facebook has introduced a new unit of time that’s intended to make it easier for developers to sync up video and audio frames. It’s called the flick, which is a portmanteau that condenses the phrase “frame-tick.”

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When your devices play video, they show a particular number of frames every second. To give an example, the current standard for video games is 60 frames per second, which means that each individual frame is on the screen for 16.667 milliseconds.

That isn’t a particularly easy figure to work with, but awkward numbers are common when considering various frame rates. The flick aims to remove some of this complexity and room for error by eliminating the need to use rounded-up decimals or fractions.

A single flick is defined as 1/705,600,000 of a second, or the smallest unit of time that’s larger than a nanosecond, according to the project’s GitHub page. At 60 frames per second, each frame appears for 11,760,000 flicks, which is an easier figure to work with than 16.667 milliseconds.

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Flicks in Action

There are already tools that facilitate frame syncing in the C++ programming language, but the most exact timing that they offer is in nanoseconds, according to a report from The Verge, and those units don’t divide easily into most frame rates.

While the average person may never need to use a flick, the unit could improve their media experience by making it easier for programmers to ensure that the refresh rate of a device syncs appropriately with the content, be it video footage, a game, a website, or an audio clip.

It seems likely that Facebook will implement the flick across their ever-expanding range of products. The unit could potentially underpin everything from the way video ads display on the company’s social media platform to how their Oculus Rift headset renders virtual reality (VR) experiences.

The unit is completely open source, so other developers are free to implement the flick in their work however they see fit.

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