The National Film Board of Canada has created a free iPad app that allows users to discover the work and life of animation pioneer Norman McLaren and find out how their artistic skills compare to his, using his creative tools and techniques to make and share new works of their own. McLaren’s Workshop features features 51 films by McLaren, 11 short documentaries, an illustrated biography and an exclusive essay by Don McWilliams.

McLaren’s Workshop features the Paper Cut-Out workshop, so users can try out the techniques he pioneered. It also contains in-app purchases for the Scratch on Film and Synthetic Sound (below) workshops.

A number of animators have already tried their hands at the workshops: Koji Yamamura, Don Hertzfeldt, David OReilly and Patrick Doyon have explored the Scratch on Film workshop, Regina Pessoa took the Paper Cut-Out workshop and Renaud Hallée experimented with the Synthetic Sound workshop. Their films can be viewed on the NFB’s Vimeo channel.

Tthe designers of McLaren’s Workshop worked closely with animation experts and artists who had once worked alongside McLaren himself. Sustained effort went into designing an app that would reproduce the filmmaker’s creative spirit as faithfully as possible. The result highlights McLaren’s legacy while affording a more in-depth understanding of his work and films.

During the first two months of the app’s release, users of McLaren’s Workshop can share films made using one of its three workshops by uploading them directly from the app to Vimeo.

McLaren’s Workshop was created by the NFB's designers Mivil Deschênes and Jean-Sébastien Beaulieu, and platform development/digital distribution director Joël Pomerleau. They worked in partnership with Ottoblix. Programming was carried out by Para9/Matricis.