Facebook invents ‘flick,’ a new unit of time to measure digital audio & video

Facebook invents ‘flick,’ a new unit of time to measure digital audio & video
Facebook has created its own unit of time called the “flick,” aimed at helping those who work in the digital audio and video fields to divide frames in an easier manner.

Flick was created by Christopher Horvath, who began working at Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality subsidiary in May. He explained the unit on GitHub, an online repository and hosting service used by developers of open source software.

There are a lot of numbers in Horvath’s explanation, but here’s the takeaway: a flick is equal to 705,600,000th of a second. That’s larger than a nanosecond and smaller than a microsecond.

Horvath said it is aimed to conveniently measure the duration of digital audio and video, as it exactly subdivides all popular media frame rates and sampling frequencies.

The new unit may greatly help people in the digital audio and video industries because it does away with messy math. For amateurs it is enough to know that the motion you see happening in your favorite film in an old school movie theater is the result of around 24 still images being displayed every second, in a rapid sequence.

But when the professionals need to work with those frames, one at a time, the math can become a bit scary. Lots of decimals, and lots of nanoseconds. Flick does away with all that, making the numbers cleaner and less of a headache.

“When working 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. It is handy to be able to accumulate these subdivisions to create exact one-frame and one-second intervals, for a variety of reasons,” Horvath wrote.

Facebook has released its documentation for flicks as open source, meaning that anyone can download it and use it to make their lives easier. Having it available to the masses could mean big things for Horvath’s creation, potentially making it the standard unit of time within the digital audio and video industries.

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