How Creative Teams Are Creating and Collaborating without Project Rooms
Briana Harper | May 03, 2021
Product and Design6 min read
Creative teams are collaborators.
Idea incubators. Sounding boards. They lean on each other and their surroundings for inspiration and they believe in the power of collective creativity – knowing that ideas, like Legos, snap together to become much more than the sum of their parts.
If you’ve been in “the room where it happens,” you’ve felt the energy of creative minds at work. You’ve seen the excitement of an idea catching fire, and the magic of a team locking step to bring it to life.
But take away the room, and what happens to the creative process? Teams found out the hard way when offices and project rooms suddenly closed in 2020.
Can teams re-create what happens in the room without the room?
Before COVID, collaborating on a creative project meant huddling together in a room. Brainstorming, pointing at sketches and storyboards, sticking Post-Its on the wall. The physical and tactical elements of the room were important; that’s why so much of the creative process took place there.
The Zoom/PowerPoint workaround
Suddenly isolated in home offices, teams turned to Zoom and PowerPoint. While they could see each other and share screens, they quickly realized these were poor substitutes for in-room collaboration.
Without the room, teams not only lost their creative atmosphere. They lost the ability to see everything – inspiration images, the evolution of ideas, and other teams’ creative work – at a glance.
Creative work went from this:
Everything from the three-dimensional room had to be condensed to a 13-inch screen.
Working virtually, one big-label fashion design team saw productivity drop:
“What used to be done in one 5-hour meeting now takes 10 hours over two weeks.”
Creative teams everywhere felt this pain. Review cycles took longer, projects were delayed, and deadlines were missed. One team’s manager noted their time spent reviewing sketches had increased by 250%. Another said that work had to be redone three or four times to get the same outcome.
Collaboration that used to be organic and efficient had become a frustrating back-and-forth process. Here’s how one team did their design review.
Design review with printed sketches and sticky notes:
Upload sketches and send to reviewers.
Download sketches, print, and pin on the wall.
Write comments on sticky notes for each sketch.
Take a photo of the marked-up sketches.
Add photos to a PowerPoint deck with additional comments.
Get on a video call with designers to review comments.
Exhausting? Absolutely. Monotonous? You bet. If you forego physical assets, the design process might look like this.
Design review done 100% digitally:
Share sketches in PowerPoint or Illustrator.
Add comments, which might end up covering the image.
Save a version of the file and upload to a shared location.
Hope designers open the right file.
It’s better than the first example, but certainly not ideal.
At this point in the pandemic, business leaders and media were saying employee productivity was up. Better than ever, some said. True for independent work, maybe, but creative teamwork was suffering.
No more workarounds. Time for a real solution
If creative teams couldn’t be in a physical room together, they needed a virtual room. Not a Zoom call where someone flips through a PowerPoint deck. Not a location where you pop in occasionally to upload or download files. A virtual room that’s as much like a real room as possible.
“Bluescape is the next best thing to being in person.”
– Jon Bokenkamp, Executive Producer at NBC
Imagine an infinite canvas where your team can whiteboard, plan and track projects, and iterate while on a video call. Best of all, everything is visual. You’re not fumbling with file names or blurry thumbnails. You’re seeing the big picture with all your raw materials in front you: inspiration images, storyboards, sticky notes, creative direction… everything you’d have in a real room.
This big-picture view provides the “art and boards everywhere” feel of a project room, giving creative teams the context and inspiration they need to do their best work. Moving around the room, you can zoom in for detail – enough to see the stitching on a piece of fabric – which teams say isn’t possible in other tools.
Bluescape integrates with Adobe to make creative work seamless. Export images of your working documents and send them directly into Bluescape. Then, pull comments from Bluescape into an Adobe application and respond as you make revisions.
Bluescape, remote and in the room
Because teams can create, review, and approve all their work in Bluescape, it’s a one-stop shop. Teams using Bluescape before the pandemic didn’t miss a beat.
One customer called it “absolutely indispensable.”
“When we first went remote, it only took two days to get my in-person teams into a virtual collaborative environment. I was blown away by the ease and speed of the transition.”
Bluescape isn’t only a remote work solution. Before the pandemic, teams used Bluescape in meeting rooms on large, connected touchscreens.
For teams planning to return to the office, Bluescape digitizes the analog process of prepping and tearing down physical assets in a room. This is a perk for hybrid teams, too, where the production work would fall to onsite teams while remote teams watched from afar, feeling disconnected from what’s happening in the room.
The analog design process = hours of extra work:
Crop, print, and mount images neatly on the wall before the meeting.
Manually translate everything to a digital format after the meeting.
Tear down. Repeat.
Bluescape’s digital design process = no extra work:
Add images (and any other assets you want) to the workspace.
Comment, mark-up, and sticky note; everything is captured in real time.
Return anytime to see assets, notes, and decisions; nothing is ‘torn down.’
Teams that have moved away from the analog process can’t imagine going back. The writer’s assistant for a hit TV show said,
“I’m thankful to not have Sharpies and a stack of notecards on my desk. Bluescape speeds up the creative process. The flow never stops. When someone pitches an idea, I can have it on the board pretty much instantly.”
To summarize, here’s why creative teams love Bluescape:
Capture the “art and boards everywhere” feel of a physical room.
Zoom in on image assets – close enough to see the stitching on fabric.
Re-create a writer’s room or project room with your team’s ideas, reference materials, work, and feedback all in one place.
Communicate visually, in a way that appeals to designers and non-designers.
Enjoy the freedom to work across time zones without losing productivity.
Save hours of production time by uploading art into Bluescape vs. preparing physical boards.
Shorten review and production cycles.
Reduce errors that result from misinterpreting feedback.
Do more work during meetings and less work after hours.
Impress customers and stakeholders with the wow factor.
“Bluescape has made the planning and design process more engaging, and made the details easier to communicate to people outside the design process.”