“Flick” Is A New Unit Of Time, And It’s Invented By Facebook

Facebook is known for coming up with new user-friendly features. Now, it will also be known for discovering a new unit of time – called Flick. This new unit of time measures the speed of digital audio and video.

Facebook Flick
geralt / Pixabay

Why the need of Flick?

Though we already have milliseconds, microseconds, and even nanoseconds, it appears none of this meets Facebook’s requirements. So, Facebook’s virtual reality division has found a brand new unit of time – called Flick. This new unit of time would help the social networking giant to better label media creations, such as visual effects, notes PC Mag.

A flick (frame-tick) is “a unit of time, slightly larger than a nanosecond that exactly subdivides media frame rates and sampling frequencies,” describes the Flicks GitHub page. Further, the Flicks GitHub page says it is “the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond.”

Talking of numbers, one flick equals 1/705,600,000 seconds, while a nanosecond is 1/1,000,000,000 seconds.

It is usual practice to define frame rates at per second intervals while creating visual effects for film, television, or other media formats. The nanosecond does not fully serve the purpose when defining the frame rates, but now, flicks will address that problem. Facebook Flicks gives an exact representation of the frame rate without any fractional unit, thus making it easier to understand.

For instance, movies run at 24 frames per second, meaning a single frame is .04166666667 seconds long. However, this number can be rounded like .04167 or 0.417 or 0.42. Now, with Flicks, 24 fps is 29,400,000 flicks, thus making it simple and the same for all. Further, a 60 fps frame is 11,760,000 flicks and a 30fps frame is 23,520,000 flicks.

“You can’t exactly represent a film frame (1/24) or a VR frame (1/90) as an integer number of nanoseconds. But, by definition, you can represent these based on an integer number of flicks,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to The Register.

Further, Flicks also fits well with common audio sample rates, such as 24kHz, 32kHz and more, notes PC Mag.

Engineer that invented Flick

The “flick” joins other new units of time like “jiffy,” a “shake” (10 nanoseconds), and a microcentury (representing around 52 minutes). Christopher Horvath, a former architect with Facebook’s Story Studio, is one of the creators of Flicks.

Horvath joined Facebook’s social virtual reality unit after leaving the earlier team in May, says CNBC, citing a representative from Oculus. Facebook closed the Story Studio last year, but not before it was nominated for an Emmy for the VR film Dear Angelica. Previously, Horvath won an Emmy for an Oculus film called Henry.

In separate news, Facebook has admitted that the social media is not always good for a democracy. On Monday, the social networking giant said it couldn’t assure of the good, but it is trying its best to make the platform useful for the users. The new stance comes after repeated criticism that the company is not doing enough to limit fake news and its impact.

In a post, Samidh Chakrabarti, a Facebook product manager, said “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t.”