Become a Figma Ninja: Introducing Figma Shortcuts

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Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon a presentation entitled “Become a Figma Ninja.” While the presentation did nothing to improve my martial arts skills, it did provide incredibly beneficial keyboard shortcuts to improve your Figma efficiency. So, if you are interested in upping your Figma game, this post is for you.  

Story is King: Storyboarding for Short Form Videos

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In this age of smartphones and digital cameras, anyone can capture photos and videos. However, for most people, the content is then left in the device’s memory to gather dust. When they eventually look back at the images, they no longer remember the little details that made that event so special. 

This is why I originally became interested in videos and short-form content. By taking the footage I capture and putting it into a video with a story arc, I’m not just benefiting the audience I share it with; I am also capturing the details of the moment. By putting the content into a video while it’s fresh in my mind, I have the opportunity to relive my experiences forever. 

Why is Story Important

Story is King.

Stories let us share an experience in a way that creates an emotional connection with the audience. The goal of a story is to convey a message in a relatable way. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what equipment you’re using or what shots you get, as long as you’re able to tell the compelling story that you want to tell. 

Story Blocks

When you think of a story, even a 30-second one, you want to follow a typical story arc:

Essentially, any story you create, no matter how short, should invoke a rollercoaster-like feeling in the viewer. The Hook and the Payoff, colored red above, are the most compelling moments of your story. The Hook should entice people to continue paying attention, while the Payoff resolves the tension that builds throughout the narrative. The Scene Setting should be calm, with the Build Up creating tension that leads to the eventual release at the Payoff. Finally, the Conclusion provides a calm moment so that the viewer can reflect on what they have watched. 

All of these elements can be seen in the video I filmed of my five-day road trip along Highway 395 through the Sierra Mountains: 

Hook

The Hook will vary based on the content and platform of your video. For example, if you are using YouTube, the thumbnail for your video is your initial Hook. 

For my video, because I was focusing on traveling through the mountains, I wanted to use wide shots of the Sierras as my initial Hook: 

Scene Setting

When setting the scene, it’s best to use wide-angle lenses, drones, or a Go Pro to capture wide shots of the scenery. In my video, I used these wide angles to showcase the mountain range, the weather, and all of the things the audience will experience as the story progresses. 

Build up

The Build Up is where you begin to change the type of shots you’re using. Rather than using wide-angle shots, I now switched to mid-to-detail shots, action shots, and b-roll. This helps to dictate the specific actions of the story and close in on smaller details.

As you can see, I wanted to create the tension of the journey by using shots of climbing and hiking, and encourage the audience to picture the challenge of reaching the top of the cliff. 

To capture these Build Up shots, I used mid-angle and long lenses (24-70mm), a GoPro, and my phone camera. 

Payoff

The Payoff is the climax of your story and should release the tension that was created during the Build Up. To highlight the Payoff moment, I used mid-angle and long lenses (24-70mm), a GoPro, my phone camera, and 120+ FPS for slow-motion shots.

The Payoff moment of my video was when I jumped from the cliff and embraced freedom. I wanted to showcase the ecstasy of jumping, and then the joy and weightlessness I felt while making my way back down the mountain. 

Conclusion

The Conclusion is your way of winding down the video and leaving your audience with a final thought. For my Conclusion, I returned to the mid and wide shots, action shots, setting shots, and landscape shots. I captured the Conclusion using a drone, mid-angle and long lenses (24-70mm), a GoPro, and my phone camera. 

Though the shots in my Conclusion were similar to those seen at the beginning of the movie, I was fundamentally different. I used this parallelism to leave the audience with a feeling of introspection. 

Workflow

When you begin creating your own videos, you can use whichever editing tool you are most comfortable with. I use Premier because that’s my preferred editing tool; however, all of the editing tools have shared workflow elements that work similarly.  

Essentially, any editing tool you use will have:

  • A section for your source material
  • A way to view the video
  • A timeline

The timeline is arguably the most important section of the editing tool, and also the most daunting. However, once you break it down, it is a simple and efficient feature. 

The timeline contains multiple layers for both video and sound. In Premier, whatever you build upwards in your timeline is what will be overlayed on the video. It’s important to not only add music to embody the emotions you are trying to depict, but also additional sounds to help connect the entire story. For example, in the Payoff of the video, I added specific music that portrayed freedom, as well as bird calls to magnify the feelings of weightlessness. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you are filming with expensive equipment or a cellphone, creating the story is the same. This narrative style and workflow can be applied to most forms of short-form video storytelling, from 3-second reels to 5+ minute travel videos. No matter how long your story is or what message you are trying to convey, it’s possible to create a visual timeline of shots that a viewer can immerse themselves in. 

Rails Conference 2022 and the Dual Boot Upgrade Strategy

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RailsConf, which took place in Portland, Oregon in May, is arguably the biggest and best Ruby on Rails conference in the world. It is the best place to go for newcomers and first-time conference goers, as the sessions tend to be geared towards more general approaches and strategies. By comparison, the Ruby Conference, which took place in Denver last November, has a more technical deep dive into the language and frameworks. This year, RailsConf 2022 focused on tips and tricks for upgrading Rails, and introduced a new upgrade strategy to elevate your Rails experience.

Developing Workflows in Group Side Projects

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In 2019, when my friends and I found ourselves with extra free time, we decided to invest the time into making something that we could all enjoy. After sharing our interests and brainstorming ideas, ten of us decided to work together to create a video game. However, the time and effort needed to create a game far exceed the time and effort it takes to play it. In this blog post, I will use our video game creation to highlight the processes we utilized to stay organized and make our vision a reality.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

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A human sits across from a robot having a deep conversation. From the outside, it’s impossible to tell which is the human and which is the machine. This scenario is the theme of many a sci-fi story and the dream of many artificial intelligence (AI) engineers. 

Kotlin Multiplatform for Cross-Platform Mobile Development

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Mobile Cross-platform app development has become an important alternative to traditional native development. With cross-platform app development, developers can design an app once, and then launch it on both Android and iOS simultaneously. It has become especially popular among startups, as it represents a rapid, cost-effective way to reach a wide range of users. 

One of the newest cross-platform frameworks to hit the market is Kotlin Multiplatform. As you can see in the table below from Statista, Kotlin Multiplatform is not among the largest market shareholders. However, while it is still new to the market, I believe it contains promising features that may attract more developers in the upcoming year. 

Introduction to Programming for RFIDs

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RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a form of wireless technology that uses radio waves to uniquely identify an object. It usually consists of a tag, a reader, and an antenna.  In this post I’ll introduce you to RFID technology and some of the interesting things that you can do with them as a programmer. 

Load Testing with K6

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On a recent project I’ve been experimenting with using K6 for load testing.  In this post I’ll discuss how to get started with K6 and some of the benefits of running load testing in using this tool. 

Speedrunning Super Mario 64

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Speedrunning is when you play through a video game or a section of a video game as quickly as possible. To perfect a speedrun, players will dedicate hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands of hours to playing a game over and over again. To beat previous times, players will have to continually optimize their gameplay, master fancy movement, and perform sometimes difficult glitches.