Facebook forges new nanosecond-variant unit of time

Facebook doesn’t usually make technical headlines unless the social site is being criticised over the implementation of its algorithm structure and questioned over whether it is unfairly promoting certain aspects of content to its users.

Unusually then, Facebook appears to have bucked that trend with a new development designed to define a precise moment of time.

A ‘flick’ (short for frame-tick) is precisely 1/705,600,000 of a second.

We have hours, minutes and seconds — and we even have nanoseconds, which if you need a reminder is 1/1,000,000,000 of a second – so why do we need flicks?

In simple terms, this measure is purported to be useful in video and audio production where time segments are defined and spliced down to this scale.

According to the Facebook Oculus GitHub page, This unit of time is the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond, and can in integer quantities exactly represent a single frame duration for [various Hz values]. 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 1-frame and 1-second intervals, for a variety of reasons.”

The flick is open source technology and is defined in the C++ programming language — as suggested above, its use will enable video production engineers to sync video materials using whole integers.

At the highest usable resolution, nanoseconds fail to evenly divide common film & media ‘framerates’ and so now we have the flick.