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Facebook says it has invented a new unit of time called Flicks


A Facebook engineer has invented a new time unit called Flicks.

The flick has been designed to help developers keep video effects in sync, according to a description on the GitHub page documenting Flicks. A Flick (frame-tick) is a very small unit of time. It is exactly 1/705600000 of a second.

1 flick = 1/705600000 second

This unit of time said to be the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond and defined as 1/705,600,000 of a second. (For comparison, a nanosecond is 1/1,000,000,000 of a second, making a Flick roughly 1.41723356 nanoseconds long.).

Right now, you may be wondering why Facebook had to come up with its own unit of time and what was wrong with the regular seconds, especially since the second is one of the few units that is universal across SI and imperial units.

Flicks are designed to help measure single frame duration for video frame rates. So whether your video is 24hz, 25hz, 30hz, 48hz, 50hz, 60hz, 90hz, 100hz, or 120hz, you’ll be able to use Flicks to ensure that everything is in sync while still using whole integers (instead of decimals).

This makes it suitable for use via std::Chrono::duration and std::ratio for doing timing work against the system high-resolution clock, which is in nanoseconds, but doesn’t get slightly out of sync when doing common frame rates.

 

Programmers already use built-in tools in C++ to manage these sorts of exact frame syncing, which is used to generate visual effects for film, television and other media. It gives programmers a way to measure the time between media frames without using fractions.

A flick is not the first unit of time designed by a major corporation. Swatch introduced Internet Time in 1998, which divides the day into 1,000 “.beats”.

The measurement – equal to one minute and 26.4 seconds – was designed to eliminate the need for time zones. It has not caught on globally.

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