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Blur Studio

How Blur Studio Supports a Prolific, Artist-Driven Organizational Culture

For almost three decades, Blur Studio has been pushing the boundaries of visual effects, animation, and storytelling. Most recently, this groundbreaking studio produced game cinematics for legendary titles like Halo, Valorant, League of Legends, and Call of Duty, in addition to helming the thirteen-time Emmy winning animation anthology on Netflix “Love Death & Robots.”

We met up with Greg Talmage, Blur’s Executive Producer, to learn how he and his team work together to produce some of the most engaging on-screen content in the world.

A Collaborative Collective

While the unparalleled work they do is inherently motivating on its own, another major factor stood out to Talmage throughout his 10 years with the team. “The people are a big part of it,” he began. “The personality types that come with this type of work—really talented, humble people—it’s nice to know you’re contributing to a team like that.”

That spark of creativity often helps to transcend the day-to-day politics and posturing of an office environment, giving way to the flow of inventiveness and imagination.

“I’ve always been attracted to working with artists,” Talmage continued, “When everyone has real skill and talent, their value to the company is apparent in their work, and there are less politics and personal conflicts involved.”

Harnessing Creativity at Scale

While creativity, camaraderie, and artistic vision provide plenty of intrinsic motivation for the Blur Studio team, they also embrace the pragmatic side of production in order to deliver reliably for clients and collaborators.

“The type of work we do can be a pressure cooker, so we have to work efficiently and effectively as a team. Good communication is essential,” Talmage explained.

To support that communication and provide a central point for everyone to connect with the people, knowledge, and resources they need to operate at their best, the Blur Studio team adopted Haystack.

“There’s a need for internal communication, and the platform you choose is important for culture building. We've got additional communication methodologies and channels like GChat, but Haystack has been one of the most important ones.”

As the team evaluated options, there were several key requirements they needed to fulfill.

“We needed a company homepage,” Talmage explained. “We had a set of internal tools that were really just bare functions of scheduling and tasks, but we needed something that could support more breadth of communication, and a repository for useful information.”

Many members of Blur’s creative team use a set of specialized tools for organizing individual projects, coordinating work, and managing deadlines. Their new home base needed to support and enhance those specialized workflows, rather than compete with or replace them.

“Depending on the nature of what needs to be communicated, we’ll gravitate towards certain channels,” Talmage began. “It's essential to have tools that support whatever frequencies we need to be broadcasting on. We have specialized production tracking tools that are tailored to efficiently getting that work done. Communications that are culture-based, about what's happening with the company, or new HR updates, we get from Haystack.”

A Springboard for New Members

Like many modern organizations, Blur Studio employs a remote workforce. While that methodology opens many doors for talent, it also requires some additional scaffolding—especially for new team members who are working to absorb organizational knowledge, culture, and their new responsibilities all at once.

From initial introductions to diving into essential resources, having a reliable, central space gives onboarding structure and connectedness that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

“How we interact with each other changed a lot when we switched to remote work,” Talmage said. “One of the places Haystack helps the most is onboarding new people, announcing to everyone that we have a new team member, and creating a forum for communication around that. It really helps welcome people.

Haystack supports and inspires more cultural conversation within the company—and that's crucial because Blur is a fast-paced production environment without a tour guide to help ease people into new positions.”

As new members join the team, they’re greeted with a wealth of company information and key resources; however, as Talmage pointed out, greetings from their new colleagues are also an exciting part of the onboarding journey. New employee, birthday, and anniversary notifications help build a sense of community and empower current members to become a memorable and positive component of the new employee experience.

“I just got a notification yesterday about a new hire and it was awesome, because I could just click through and leave a note that I was happy to see they’d joined, and then immediately jump into a chat to welcome them to the team.

For a person coming in, that's the window through which they're seeing everybody—through this one central hub. And that's one of the greatest values, because I know that person is not feeling lost or on their own in the weeks that they’re trying to ramp up. They can find resources, look through the directory, get to know people, experience some inter-company communication, and share in some of the fun.

It’s really helpful to be able to onboard people effectively, even when we can’t get together in the office.”

A Positive Response

Since the initial rollout, the team’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, both from administrators managing the platform and end users. “Haystack was smooth to roll out, and people find it easy to use,” Talmage said.

“It's our one-stop shop where people can quickly access anything they need, or learn who to contact with questions. For new announcements, we get updates in our emails from Haystack and click through to interact or respond.”

As a distributed team that still loves to gather occasionally, it didn’t take long before the team was able to test out Haystack’s event management toolkit. “We used it heavily during our last company retreat to plan and collect feedback from everyone on their schedule and needs. It worked out great.”

Moving Forward

As the Blur Studio team continues to bring more processes into Haystack, new possibilities emerge and evolve for both the platform and the team.

“Tools are crucial,” Talmage explained, “but it's really about how we use them as a company and a culture. One drives the other, it’s a back-and-forth of us improving as a company, and having the tools to support it. That was the impetus to move us off of some archaic tools that we had, and find something better, more customizable, and with professional support.”

We’re always excited to have the opportunity to work, grow, and learn with one-of-a-kind organizations like Blur Studio, and look forward to enjoying their next groundbreaking piece of moving art.

Pro Tips

As a long standing member of a team leading the way on visual storytelling and the employee experience, Talmage had a vital piece of advice to share.

“Make sure to realize that implementing a tool like Haystack is only part of building a great digital employee experience. It can provide great scaffolding, but the fundamental culture and experience that scaffolding supports is equally important.”

Animation & Post-Production
Company Headquarters
Culver City, CA

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