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Facebook invented the flick, a brilliant time unit you won’t get to actually use

Published Jan 23rd, 2018 6:45AM EST
Facebook Flick Time Unit
Image: Gombert/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

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When I first heard about the “flick” being a new time unit invented by Facebook, I immediately started to think about what sort of Facebook activity it’s intended to measure. And I linked to video consumption since we regularly use the same word to refer to full motion pictures.

It turns out that I was wrong in one regard. The flick will not measure something that you do while perusing the social network. But it is related to video and audio.

A flick is a a second divided to 705,600,000, TechCrunch reports, and that 1/705,600,000 number happens to divide evenly to a bunch of interesting numbers, including 8, 16, 22.05, 24, 25, 30, 32, 44.1, 48, 50, 60, 90, 100, and 120.

Why do those numbers look so familiar? That’s because we keep bumping into them whenever we talk about video and audio quality. Even if you don’t know what some of them mean, you’ve heard about 120 Hz TVs or about 44.1 KHz audio. 24 frames per second (fps) is an industry standard for the movie business.

But these numbers generate uneven numbers, which is hell for computers. TechCrunch offers us one great example related to that 24 fps standard.1/24th of a second is a number that looks like this: 0.0416666666666666…, with the “6” going on forever. That’s why it’s often abbreviated to 0.04167 which is convenient, but not precise.

With flicks, the same time frame is converted into something that’s a lot nicer: 29,400,000 flicks. The same goes for the previous examples. 1/120th is 5,880,000 flicks, while 1/44,100 is 16,000 flicks.

In other words, the flick is a brilliant time unit meant to fix time problems for people and computers who deal with video and audio content production and distribution on a regular basis. As for Facebook, the Oculus team developed the flick, so they’re probably using it for VR projects.

It’s a time unit that brings balance to the force if you will. That said, you’ll hardly measure the time in flicks going forward.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.