A Fb engineer invented a brand new unit of time

Sheri Evans
January 23, 2018

Flicks are created to help measure individual frame duration for video frame rates.

One of the creators of Flicks is Christopher Horvath, a former architect with Facebook's Story Studio.

Each flick is just 1/705,600,000 of a second, and it has been designed specifically to help sync video frame rates.

It's short for "frame tick", hinting at its cinematic origins, writes original inventor Christopher Horvath on GitHub.

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Today, Facebook's virtual reality (VR) division announced it has invented a new unit of time called Flick. And for Horvath, formerly of the cinematic world at firms like Pixar, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic, it seems to have been something of a passion project. The nanoseconds don't equally divide common film & media framerates.

Movies, for instance, run at 24 frames per second, which means each frame is.04166666667 seconds long. In turn, that can make life hard for programmers and artists who are trying to work precisely at these scales.

"The humble flick joins the likes of 'a jiffy" which represents an indeterminable amount of time, a shake which comes in at 10 nanoseconds, and a microcentury, something that represents around 52 minutes. For example, a single frame at 1/30fps has an exact duration of 23,520,000 flicks, instead of 33,333,333.333.in nanoseconds. 60 FPS for video games is 11,760,000 flicks. It's a clean number that can easily be divided or added up, without worrying about decimal points. Flicks was never conceptualized to be a time unit you'll see on a watch anyway - nobody will ever say "it's 859,900 flicks until midnight".

In used by developers of open source software, the company described Flicks as "a unit of time, slightly larger than a nanosecond that exactly subdivides media frame rates and sampling frequencies".

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