The art and craft of screen graphics – interview with Krista Lomax

May 18th, 2018

Continuing the ongoing series of interviews on fantasy user interfaces, it’s my pleasure to welcome Krista Lomax. In this interview she talks about the relationship between tools and ideas, the increased presence of screen graphics across all genres of movies and TV shows, working with limited color palettes, and the many hats she wears on her productions. We go back to Krista’s earlier work on “Stargate” and “Stargate: Atlantis”, and then step closer to her more recent productions such as “Dark Matter” and “Continuum”.

Screen graphics for “Stargate: Atlantis”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Please tell us about yourself and your path so far.

Krista: I started way back with drawing and I was doing little videos and really lo-fi stuff using VHS cameras we rented from the gun & video store. Graphic design was a natural progression from there, and I started working for a film company that was creating tons of movies. They needed everything, and they threw me into creating visual effects with them. The next step was creating title sequences, and that’s how I got into animation with Premiere and After Effects.

Kirill: Looking back at that time with what you know today, what was the state of tools back then?

Krista: I was mostly making stop-motion videos for animation. Ever since then I stuck with the basics, but definitely the technology today is amazing compared to what we had back then. You can make things look really gorgeous, and you can do it quick. It used to take two days to render something, and now two hours seems like a long time. It’s amazing what happened in just the last five years.

Kirill: Between the tools at your disposal and the ideas in your head, as a designer, do you think that one is more important than the other?

Krista: I don’t use tools to their extent. I mostly use the basics, because I like to keep things simple. This is why I like 2D animation. I like a more collage-y, scrapbook-y style.

Definitely there are two schools of people. The first is people who use the tools to get the ideas out of their head and onto the screen. And then there’s those who use the tools to create the ideas. Some people use every single tool they have, and everything looks flashy, and some people take simple ideas and use simple tools in more effective ways. I guess I’m less adventurous with filters and presets, I’m one of those for whom the ideas are more important.

Kirill: Without talking about specific productions, do you think there’s a certain overload recently in screen graphics that are a bit too flashy in how they use holograms, 3D and animations?

Krista: Some of them are over the top. I was reading an article that was showing before and after of some movie scenes. The before shows two actors and everything else is green screen. This is amazing, because it has its own audience and its own future. There are a lot of people who are sticking to the old-school way of doing it, kind of an indie, DIY look, but there’s definitely an explosion of CGI right now.

Screen graphics for “Continuum”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Does it matter in the end as long as what we see on the screen looks believable in that universe? “Life of Pi” was an amazing visual journey ever though I knew that most of it was done in CGI. As long as the story doesn’t break the rules that it sets, then perhaps both approaches are equally valid.

Krista: I guess it’s like when the first cartoons were aired. The effect of intense realistic CGI is the same for this day and age. When people first saw a completely fictitious world created from scratch, they must have felt the same way as we do with the newest CGI. It’s suspension of disbelief either way, but it’s not taking over or ruining film or anything. Cartoons were always a fantasy world that kids loved, and we knew that it wasn’t real. These productions are just the evolution of those early cartoons.

Kirill: How did you get to doing screen graphics?

Krista: I was doing graphic design, and somebody called me to ask if I knew how to design playback. I said “Sure”, not really knowing what that was. He asked if I could design a radar screen. It was back around 2005, and I figured out how to do that in Flash. He loved it and brought me back to do a whole show. I did a lot of spaceship screens, and more calls came after that, and I ended up designing playback full time learning as I went.

Kirill: What was, or perhaps still is, the most surprising or unexpected part of your workday in this field?

Krista: Screen interface design is sort of a new industry, even though it is now in everything from romantic comedies to dramas. You have your phones, your tablets, your laptops. And the most surprising thing for me is how easy people think it is to create those screens. It blows my mind that you get requests hours before shooting for huge intricate things. It’s as if people think there is an “app for that” and you just press a button to make revisions. Some small changes take hours of work. And then there’s rendering time!

When I’m doing an episodic TV series, I’m there on set every day with new graphics. People have no idea how much time it takes to animate something, export the pieces, program them for playback, load them onto the machines and then test them. I do the whole process from script to playback, and I’m amazed that people think there’s an automatic button [laughs] that you just press to make these things happen.

It’s one of the most intensive things I’ve ever done. That is always shocking to me.

Screen graphics for “Dark Matter”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Do you think it’s connected to how many screens we now have in our daily lives in the last few years? Perhaps people expect it to be easy because they are exposed to so much of it.

Krista: Absolutely. If there’s a problem with the playback, or if they want to change something on the fly, the first thing that people say is “But at home my phone / tablet does this when I press the button”. But what they don’t realize is that all of the interfaces are completely fictitious. They’ve been created from scratch, and they’ve been programmed to function in a scripted way.

It’s great that these interfaces are believable. But people on the set go “Well, just press that button” and I know that that button does nothing, because I did that whole interface. People are so used to interactive screens from ordering food to going to exhibitions. They are so used to interfaces being interactive and on-demand. They cannot comprehend the amount of time and pre-thought that has to go into any actions that need to be done in each interfaces.

Something may look similar to an Apple interface or to an Android interface, so they think that limitless options are available. But these are created on the daily basis for that one tiny specific piece of the script and don’t do anything else.

People expect everything to be fully functional. But these are different. These are pretend [laughs].

Kirill: Perhaps this is more relevant to the sci-fi genre, but I often find myself watching movies and shows to escape from reality for a few hours. So it would be pretty boring to see screens that are similar to what I have around me at home and at work. Do you find yourself competing against such contemporary interfaces, to make the story more interesting and compelling for the viewers?

Krista: Definitely, but that’s where we are lucky. We get to create things that look cool, but don’t actually have to be fully functional. That’s the fun part, to think about what would this character be using in a future universe. What would it look like? How would it function?

When I was working on Stargate Universe, they asked me to invent an interface that has never been seen before but would function in a new way if it did exist. They gave me two weeks to come up with it. So I flipped our usual interfaces inside out and rather than starting at one point and selecting larger and larger menus, I had every possible point accessible in a rotating sphere. That’s the fun – being able to invent something that has never been seen and think about how it would function differently from what we see in our daily lives. We are also cheating a tiny bit because we get to make cool-looking stuff that doesn’t have to have the back-end programming.

Screen graphics for “Stargate”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: What about your work on shows that are not sci-fi, shows that are set in the present day about everyday people?

Krista: For those it has to be simple and believable. That’s where the story points come in. You’re competing with the look of the standardized interfaces, because you want it to look the same, but there are copyrights on everything, so you need it to be different enough from Apple or Windows but similar enough that people don’t notice.

You are in a situation where you have to make it look recognizable because you can’t have it take the attention away from the message. That’s another interesting thing that I’m noticing about playback. They are relying on it more and more to tell the story. Instead of a last-second dialog change, they’ll add a text message, an email or a voicemail to tighten up the story. That’s a new thing – administrative playback.

Kirill: It wouldn’t be quite believable to see a story set in 2018 with regular people in it that don’t use screens to communicate.

Krista: I read scripts nowadays, and everybody is texting everybody. The whole script is texting, while before it was all dialog. That’s the way it is now.

Kirill: With so many screens in all types of productions, do you think that there’s a certain vocabulary that is being developed around how certain visual constructs are used to convey certain messages in those few seconds that you have? Do you feel there’s a box being placed on how different it can get?

Krista: There are definitely two types of projects. If you’re doing a creative sci-fi design, that’s the fun and interesting stuff. You can spend 16 hours and not even blink when you’re working on it for days on end. And the other type is carrying the story with emails and text messages, and making it realistic. Both serve a function, but of course spaceship interfaces are way more fun [laughs].

Screen graphics for “Nightmare Time”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Is it less rewarding to work on something that is not that flashy, when the work is much less visible and becomes almost a part of set decoration?

Krista: In that case, I usually coordinate the department and have a team making the interactive graphics. If it’s a show with phones and tablets that show news articles and emails, I coordinate and do the on-set playback. With that type of show I like to take on the role of more an administrative person. I’ll go to meetings, track schedules, gather feedback from the writers – sort of a middle-man between the designers and the show runners.

Kirill: When you meet somebody new at a party and they ask you what you do for a living, how do you explain what playback means?

Krista: If I ever try to explain it, people absolutely can not fathom that someone has to make every screen. When I say that I design screen graphics for TV and film, they don’t understand. They think that it’s already all on the device. You explain that you have to create everything from scratch – logos, article copy, photos, ads. You have to clear everything through legal. And people can not get that.

I don’t think people realize what a huge industry it is. When you make a mistake in one of your screens, it looks so obvious. We’re so use to fluid interfaces. If something looks a little off, it’s noticeable to the viewer’s eye. People have no idea that this stuff is made on demand [laughs].

Kirill: Sounds like you’re saying that if you do your job right, it’s invisible.

Krista: I guess so. If it blends in and looks real, that’s perfect. You don’t want any attention on a TV drama series. But then on a sci-fi show you want people to think that something is impossible. You want them to see something different from everything else they have ever seen.

Screen graphics for “Stargate”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Going back to the three years that you’ve spent on Stargate, how intense was it to work on that show?

Krista: The shooting schedule was intense. We had tons of screens, with new ships and shuttles invented all the time. Occasionally there would also be a new race with a new language that had to be created for interfaces as well. We also had to respect the Stargate canon. You want to respect what was done on Stargate before.

Every day there was a new thing, a shuttle exploding or a map of a lost universe. Every day had a super intense hero graphic that had to be approved by all the writers and producers. It was a huge process.

Kirill: Do you find that over the years the level of expectations on TV shows has become higher?

Krista: I think there’s more work. There are so many more screens. If a few years ago they would have 20, now they have 40. It increases the production value of each set and screens are so cheap now they just fill them right up.

I also think the expectations of the content has slightly mellowed though. A few years ago video had to be crisp and perfect. If it was pixelated in any way, people would see it as low value. Now people are so used to Snapchat and Youtube videos on their phones. The graphics around it have to be crisp of course, but people are more forgiving about the quality of the video so much that you are often asked to degrade it, even if you start with a high quality source.

Kirill: That’s quite interesting. As it went from SD to HD, then to 2K, 4K and beyond, I was expecting to hear about increased demand in the quality.

Krista: Technology is advancing, and render times have gone down. The machine that I have today is who knows how many times better than what I was using in 2005.

Kirill: Do you see that viewers expect more because we’re exposed to so much more technology in our daily lives compared to 10-15 years ago?

Krista: People want to see the same level, or higher, in the interfaces compared to what they have around them. The only time you want to see something old is when it’s a flashback to earlier days of DOS or something. For the sci-fi stuff people want to see something clean and fresh.

You have two sides to it. They want to be wowed by the sci-fi stuff, but they don’t want to be distracted at all by the informative ones. And that’s neat. They did popup overlays for text messaging in “Sherlock”, and that was great. Going back and forth between character faces and phone screens is so archaic and stunted in time. Now with the popup overlays you see the actor receiving the message and reacting to it, and then the story continues. People want better, faster, stronger, all the time.

Screen graphics for “Stargate: Atlantis”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: When you talk about those dozens of screens on the set, and graphics that evolve over the story arc of a show season, do you come up with some kind of a design system that allows you to scale the work to fill all those screens with varied content?

Krista: If you do, let’s say, 10 screens for a room, you can definitely repurpose things. That especially happens with screens that continue through the series. If it’s a spaceship, your side screens are going to be similar most of the time, depending on the script. You will have variations for emergencies when everything goes red, but that’s how you fill the space.

Kirill: I look at your IMDB profile, and there are so many different titles on your different productions. What does the word “playback” mean to you?

Krista: Playback for me means doing it practically on set. It can be on a phone or on a computer screen, but it’s about playing it live with someone triggering it based on the dialog or the script.

Nowadays people use greenscreen a lot, on phones or otherwise, so that they can create the content later. For me that is visual effects and done in post-production. Playback for me is a pre-approved, pre-designed bit that is in front of the actors during shooting.

Kirill: What is playback design?

Krista: Anything that gets played back on the day that interacts with the actors.

Screen graphics for “Dark Matter”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: What was your involvement with Dark Matter?

Krista: I got to work with Seth Molson on it. There was so much to do, and he brought me on for a few days to get the whole ship filled with graphics that they would use through the season. We worked on determining what each graphic would show, from oxygen levels to ship schematics. We made a few dozen graphics that formed the basis for the rest of the season. It was the look-and-feel of the ship that they would continue to use. It was a really fun few days and we made a bunch of cool looking stuff. I think Seth has a reel of some of it on his page.

Kirill: What about Mistresses and Somewhere Between?

Krista: Those were definitely more in the category of information-driven interfaces for text messages, emails and others to fill in holes in the script and to support the dialog.

Screen graphics for “Dark Matter”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Does that affect your interactions with other people in the production when you work on these two different types of screen graphics?

Krista: It’s roughly the same. I read every script, and I do a breakdown of each one based on what we need. Some are simple, like text messages. And some require meetings with the production designer, the directors and the writers. Sometimes they want to be heavily involved with the look of something. If it needs to blend in with the look of the set decoration, they want to be more involved.

Every show is different. Sometimes you’re on the phone with the writer at midnight, talking about how something should come across. Sometimes the director gets really involved. It even varies from episode to episode with different directors. Some directors are all about the dialog and the acting, and some are also all about the look and the set.

Kirill: Going back to those different titles, when I see the title of motion graphics designer, does that capture a different variation of what you do on that specific production?

Krista: With me it’s confusing because I am in two different unions. I’m doing visual effects and graphics in IATSE 891, and I’m also an on-set coordinator and operator for ICG 669 camera union. The title gets changed all across the board, because I end up doing 5 or 6 different jobs per show [laughs].

Kirill: Do the titles matter to you?

Krista: Not especially. I do like to get credit if I do design vs if I’m just the operator on set. But I’ve never really been too much about the titles or credits.

Screen graphics for “Stargate: Atlantis”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Would it be less interesting for you if you didn’t have as much variety on your productions?

Krista: I like variety. I love sitting down and spending a week focusing on just one set or one spaceship. But I also love getting out of the office, going on set and playing the graphics. I love going to the meetings and having the creative discussions. I couldn’t do just the designing, or just the meetings, or just being on set. I love the crossover, and it works well too, because the same person who is in the meetings with the director is also on set so nothing is lost in translation. The transfer of information is a bit more smooth and efficient. It’s also fun to work on the smaller shows, because you get to do a little bit of everything.

Kirill: How would you compare the worlds of episodic TV and feature films?

Krista: They are different ballgames entirely. Once you start on a TV show, you don’t do anything else until that show is wrapped up. It’s seven days a week, all day, all night for me. You’re reading scripts every night, and they are constantly changing. You’re making changes, and it never stops.

When you’re doing a movie, it’s one large arc. You go from prep to shooting to post. On TV shows you might be doing four episodes at once and everything is overlapping. You’re always in pre-production, you’re always in shooting, you’re always in post. It’s chaos [laughs].

With movies it’s nice. Everyone is one the same page. Everyone has the same script. Everyone is moving at the same time. It’s much smoother, and a much better process. Sometimes the chaos in the TV world is fun, but it’s a totally different world.

The experience of watching features and TV shows is becoming the same, but the production is still different, and is possibly getting more so. The expectations for TV series may have surpassed those for feature films, as they have become worlds that people can’t get enough of. But the big difference is that writers are writing during the production. They are reading tweets. They are reading blogs. They are following fans. And that feedback is taken into the writers’ room and affects the progression of the show.

The amount of change that happens on the fly for every episode is huge. Things are happening so quickly all the time. On Continuum the writers would follow a set of fans that would give great feedback. Instead of having a finished and approved story arc end-to-end, you have these open-ended stories that are changing every single day. If they want to change a story arc between two characters, they can wipe out the entire communication sequence and replace it with a new one.

Television has never been more exciting, but with this open-ended way of doing things it gets slightly more chaotic on the production side of things. But it’s worth it [laughs].

Screen graphics for “Continuum”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Between these two worlds of feature film and episodic television, do you have a preference?

Krista: I prefer doing a movie that has been set out, because I do enjoy the creative process. Instead of flat-out running into the chaos and trying to keep up, I do love to have the time to work on things, and make them really good instead of zigzagging back and forth. It’s the forward motion of the movies, rather than ping-ponging with TV series – which can also be great. Movies are a stronger creative process.

Kirill: When you have very little time to highlight a story point, perhaps that giant red blinking “Access Denied” dialog is unavoidable. How do you strike the balance between the moving the story forward and not falling into using too many cliches that we do not see on our real screens?

Krista: “Access Denied” is always a joke. When Mark Coleran came to Vancouver to do a talk on design and playback, the workshop was called Access Denied [laughs].

I find that designers are always pushing towards something more subtle that people would still understand. But then they want this big X, and they ask to make it bigger still. They want that red dialog to show things are bad, and then they ask to make it bigger and more red.

As a designer, I want to make things smaller and more subtle, because the viewers totally get it. But there is still a demand for “Access Denied” and “Access Granted” with a big red X and a big green checkmark. It might be a little longer before the directors and writers realize how savvy the viewers are. Until then we’re stuck with it [laughs].

Kirill: What about the colors? It seems to be stuck around teals, blues and aquas. Do you find that limiting?

Krista: I guess so, but honestly you just can’t get away from those colors. Stargate Atlantis was teal. That was the recognizable color. You can’t use yellow or purple. Anything other than blue tends to look “incorrect”. People might start thinking that it’s not a real spaceship if it’s something quirky.

I did one spaceship on Stargate with yellows, greys and blacks. That was fun, because it looked so cool and different. But if it’s a standard police station, it’s yellow or gold, blue and black. You can’t get away from that until Apple makes pink interfaces or Google goes yellow. Those colors just look incorrect. Blue looks like it’s a real sci-fi interface.

Screen graphics for “Stargate”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: That goes back to my earlier question on the vocabulary that is forming around these interfaces. The more blue we see in them, the more we expect them to be that way in all the productions. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle when the more shows look that way, the more we believe that it’s the only way.

Krista: So true. But until you have a really good reason to make a purple interface, it’ll stand out as weird. People want new and different, but they don’t want to be surprised by it [laughs]. That’s how every conversation starts – from the color blue. It is boring to say, but that’s how it is. I’ve taken interfaces and changed to different colors, but it just looks goofy. A NASA command station just can’t be hot pink.

Kirill: Perhaps it is back to not taking me as a viewer out of that story. If it is too different, I feel that it doesn’t belong in that set.

Krista: And it would take you out of that story. You would start thinking about why is everything hot pink and yellow. People want new and different, but they still want to have suspension of disbelief. You can have shape-shifting aliens and people flying through stargates at warp speed, but change the color of the interface and people would go crazy [laughs]. There’s a common understanding of what we think we know. Zombies behave and react in a certain way. We have to be this way around aliens. There’s a weird unspoken set of rules, and if you break out of it, people think that it doesn’t work.

Kirill: I wonder if we’re setting up the interface designers for real interstellar spaceships of the future with expectations of how their screens are “supposed” to look like. They would be looking back at all these productions and cursing them under their breath.

Krista: Yeah [laughs]. Mark Coleran started doing these interfaces and coined the term FUI [fantasy user interfaces]. And then he went to designing real-world interfaces because his stuff was so badass. It’s an interesting crossover between the real and the fictitious. Who knows? Maybe someday somebody will indeed sigh at having to make real things look like sci-fi movies in their real spaceships.

Kirill: Minority Report is still the best example of how technology portrayed in a movie got so many people excited to recreate that technology in the real world.

Krista: Minority Report was super killer. Everybody freaked out and everybody wanted to recreate that. And a few years later it became a mainstream effect in ads for groceries and the like. You have these moments where something new comes out, and everyone gets excited about it.

Kirill: What keeps you going in the industry? I’d imagine that you spend long stretches of time away from family and friends, working those crazy hours that you’ve mentioned, especially on episodic TV.

Krista: Definitely the excitement for the show. If I do a series, I want to be excited about the story. I want to be excited for it to air. You want to make a really great show. If you’re doing that, it doesn’t matter that you work all night and then you have an hour drive home. You’re excited about the project. If you’re passionate about it, the hours don’t matter.

Screen graphics for “ReBoot: The Guardian Code”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: Do you wish sometimes that you were a regular viewer? Perhaps you don’t get to enjoy the final cut of the show because you know the script so well.

Krista: That’s totally true. I thought about how fun it would have been to work on Altered Carbon, and then I thought that I’d rather just watch that [laughs]. You can’t work on something and then watch it as you would naturally. You can’t watch a show and get totally involved as a viewer when every little detail stands out and you remember shooting it and all the different takes.

Kirill: Is this what you think of when you watch one of your shows?

Krista: It depends on the show. They are all so different. I wouldn’t go back, for example, to Somewhere Between and watch all the text messages. But I did a few fun creative things on Lucifer, and I wanted to go back and see if they played it and how it looked. Although sometimes it’s not even there. You spend two weeks working on something, and the camera pans over it in a second and it’s gone.

And then I would be watching something, and forget that I’ve worked on it. I designed just some band posters for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and then I remembered that I did that when I was watching it. That’s kind of fun, to forget that you did something and then to rediscover it.

Kirill: How does it feel to see those long weeks and months of work compressed into such a short presence on the screen?

Krista: Sometimes it’s really cool, just to see that it’s a part of the larger thing. You read the script and you think that you would never be able to bring those lines to life. And you see the actors do that, and it’s amazing. You see all the pieces in place and how the story plays out. It’s nice to see something that you’ve worked hard on be important to the story. It’s fulfilling to see those hero screens. Emails and searches? Not so much [laughs].

Kirill: Going into the final part of the interview, what do you think about the world of real technology in our lives? It’s become quite pervasive in how much attention it demands, and it’s not clear how little or how much it enriches our lives.

Krista: I feel that it is getting a bit overwhelming. People sometimes expect that I’m an early adopter of technology. And I’m very much not that.

Kirill: I think that if I transported my younger self from 20 years ago into 2018, that would be a rather shocking transition. But we live through these gradual changes, week after month after year, and it’s insinuating itself in subtle ways. It’s not that one day we woke up and decided to be slaves to the glass rectangles and arrange our lunches for square-cropped perfections to share. The scene between Neo and the councillor on the symbiotic relationship between men and machine is quite apt here. It is almost inconceivable to think of a power outage and not being able to be online even for a few hours.

Krista: And before we had these devices, everyone knew where everyone was. We had a level of communication that was constant. There was no expectation to be able to find information after the fact. Information was given before it was needed. And now information is sought out right when it’s wanted. Rather than uniting people, it seems to be separating them, at least in my eyes. It’s too much to stay on top of. If the power goes out now, nobody knows anything about anyone. You don’t know anyone’s phone number. It’s quite strange. I would only be able to call my Grandma.

The other day I upgraded my phone, and now it has OK Google. My phone was on, and I guess I said “Where did I park my car?” because right now the parking situation around my house is crazy so it’s in a different spot every morning. You have to park for two hours and then move your car, and I can never remember where I parked it last. So I say that, and my phone says “I believe you parked here” and shows me the map of exactly where my car was. That was handy but so weird [laughs].

Screen graphics for “ReBoot: The Guardian Code”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

Kirill: My kids have been born into the world where you use GPS for navigation. I was trying to tell them the other day that if you drove some place new and there’s a traffic jam on the highway, you didn’t take a detour, because you didn’t know how to get back on if you didn’t print out the detailed map of the entire area around it.

Krista: And if you took a wrong turn, you had to pull over and talk to people to ask for directions [laughs].

Kirill: It reminds me sometimes of WALL-E where we lose the autonomy of being able to navigate the world around us without these technology aids.

Krista: I was promising myself that I would not be reliant on GPS, because I don’t want to put my trust into this little phone. Every morning I drive outside of Vancouver, and I used to plan my route beforehand. Then I realized that GPS always finds a better route real-time if there’s an accident or something, and now I use it for everything, everywhere I go. Even if I go somewhere I know. I’m slowly becoming 100% reliant on GPS [laughs], even though I told myself I wouldn’t. It’s crazy.

Kirill: In some cases you lose that autonomy, but then you gain something really good. Like being able to take pictures of the football practice, upload them to the cloud and then share with all the parents. What would I do 20 years ago? Buy rolls of film, judge if a shot is worth it, and then go to the photo store and print copies to distribute a week later?

Krista: I would always print doubles after I developed rolls of film and then give people photos of themselves. So now I have a huge box up on my shelf, full of photos. I tell myself that any day now I am going to go through them, scan and upload to Facebook. But it’s literally thousands.

Kirill: And I find it difficult to explain how different it used to be when I talk about that with my kids. I don’t think they realize it because they haven’t lived through it. And even for myself, the transition has been gradual, from early and expensive digital cameras, to something that got cheaper and better quality, to phones with terrible lenses, to pretty solid quality of phone photos these days.

Krista: I’ve always taken pictures. I had this flat camera that you put a little disc in for 12 or 24 pictures. I took pictures from when I was 12 until I went to college and then just shot this weird little VHS-C camera all the time. To think that you had to take it out of the camera, walk to the store and then wait a day or two? Or even mail it away! Younger people just can’t imagine. We had hard copies of everything.

Kirill: Well, now I am stuck with thousands of digital pictures that I don’t really look through – the same as we used to have heavy albums full of prints gathering dust on the shelf.

Krista: You don’t sit down and look at slides anymore. This is how it used to be with my grandma and grandpa. You pull out the projector, put it on the chair and start the show. Then you had the photo albums. And now no one gathers around to look at them. Now it’s on Facebook as a post of somebody who went on a vacation. There’s not group celebration around it.

Kirill: I do, however, feel a little bit closer when I see those photos on Facebook or Instagram. You don’t need to wait for that group gathering to see the snapshots of those experiences.

Krista: That’s so true. When I started with Facebook, I would post the photos straight away, now I do these massive annual posts of everything. I love taking photos, but I can’t post every day. Sometime I’ll do one of those, photo-a-day things, maybe when I’m retired!

Screen graphics for “Stargate: Atlantis”, courtesy of Krista Lomax.

And here I’d like to thank Krista Lomax for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about the art and craft of screen graphics, and for sharing the supporting images. If you’re interested to read additional interviews about the wonderful world of screen graphics and user interfaces for film and TV, click here for more.