LEGO Animation – A world of creative stop motion at Hand
Lego Animation is the reason I got in to stop motion animation in the first place. It is sometimes called Brickfilming or legomation. Simply described as the animation of LEGO ( minifigures usually ) using the technique of stop motion to bring life in to inanimate objects. There is no doubt that it is the easiest way to introduce anyone to stopmotion. There are a number of reasons for this namely:
- You can build sets easily with bricks.
- You have peg or plug boards to secure your characters.
- It is relatively inexpensive.
- You have unlimited characters already available.
- Characters are easily manipulated in to framing positions.
- There is a very active lego animation community on hand to help and with whom to share your animations.
- Colors are vibrant and clear
- Lego is loved worldwide.
The only downside if there are any is that minifig characters are sometimes too small. Thus it can be difficult to work with them in tight sets. But this can be overcome with experience and a little patience. After all you would not be in to lego animation without patience right? Also Minifigs are smooth and highly colored. This can be a little tricky to light without getting unwanted reflections. But again this can be mitigated sufficiently by using the right method of lighting.
If you are very new to lego animation then I would advise you start by learning how to make your minifig walk. This is a basic step worth spending some time on mastering first. There are lots of youtube video tutorials on this topic. Google “LEGO Animation – STOP MOTION TUTORIAL – Walking” and you will find some excellent examples. Once you have mastered walking move on to running. Once you can do walking and running then consider a more advanced technique called “ease in and ease out”. This is a more advanced technique but a must for those ambitious lego animators. In summary it creates a more realistic movement for your characters.
Lastly lets mention frame rate. Sometimes called FPS , frame rate refers to the number of images that are played back per second to give the illusion of movement. The more frames you take however for each movement will dictate how fast you can play the sequence back to the viewer. If you for example create a walk cycle with only 3 positions and try to play it back at 24 fps then it will be too fast. You will need to take more snaps for each movement in order to have a smooth playback / animation rate. I would advise beginners to use 10 frames per second. Then once you master animation move on to 15 frames per second.
Lastly make sure you use a good webcam or DSLR camera. And always ensure you have control of focus.
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How stop motion animation can be useful in Homeschooling.
We would like you to consider stop motion animation for education in the homeschool environment. Homeschooling is now becoming a popular education alternative for children and teens who are not able to attend regular schooling either because of their physical limitations, lack of opportunities, difference in culture or tradition, mismatch in schedule, or simply as a choice of parents who want to strictly monitor the progress of their child’s learning. In most countries, this type of schooling is also known as distance learning.
Traditionally, homeschooling materials are limited to printed modules and lessons where the manner of learning for the student is only limited to reading and analyzing. But because of technological advancement, several unique homeschooling ideas were developed. Audio-visual presentations, computer programs, and other high-tech instructional materials eventually came into existence. One of the most recent innovations in this form of learning is the integration of animation in education. This idea is simple, instead of professional looking videos and instructional materials, a colorful and livelier animation is used.
How stop motion animation can be useful in homeschooling
Integrating stop motion animation in education can be the best idea to further improve the quality of distant learning. It is primarily beneficial for children and teens because of the following reasons.
- Stop Motion Animation can maintain the interest and attention of students. Psychologists and teachers alike know the fact that students generally have a very limited attention span. Interest in reading, studying, or listening to a particular lesson can eventually be lost in just a matter of minutes. With homeschooling, several distractions such as toys and the television would further make the learning process even more challenging. And there’s nothing more effective in counteracting this risk or possibility than using children’s favorite, cartoons or animation.
- Stop motion Animation can provide that lacking school interaction. Among the perceived drawbacks of a home study program is the lack or absence of social interaction especially with kids of their same age range. Animation has been one of the best homeschooling ideas because the characters in an animated module can act as children or students themselves who can endure or encourage interaction with the student. If you are observing the behavior of children when watching cartoons or animated films, you must have noticed that kids usually interact and oftentimes converse with the characters.
- Making homeschooling more fun and exciting. There are now several television programs aired that integrate animation in education. And these programs are very much successful in teaching the kids. Animation is one of the best homeschooling ideas because it adds that fun and excitement factor of learning for children. Making the learning environment or tone of teaching fun and exciting is also a proven method in improving the learning curve or capacity of students.
Choosing an ideal stop motion animation software for homeschooling
After getting to know the potential and benefits of animation in home study programs or to education and learning in general, it is now a must to search and look for the best software that would do the animated lesson plan. The program should specifically be designed for creating homeschooling modules or lessons, it should be easy to use, and should possess all the right tools to make a high-quality educational animation. iKITMovie is one of the best software specifically designed for creating stop motion clay animation films which can be used for homeschooling. It is very easy to use and comes with a huge library of sound effects which are essential in building animated lessons. The software’s full list of features and capabilities can be read in here http://www.ikitmovie.com.
It can be difficult at times to decide the best approach to teach stop motion. Those new to the art of animation may prefer to follow written step by step guides whereas others much prefer video tutorials. Most people prefer to watch a video tutorial. ” A picture paints a thousand words” as they say to come up with good stop motion ideas.This leads to a bit of dilemma for a website owner trying to promote stop motion. And as Google does not reward you for good video tutorials simply because it cannot see or understand the quality of a video content. On the other hand google very much likes written content. Thus you are sometimes forced to create a written tutorial in order that google pushes those interested in learning about stop motion to your site!
So the only solution to ensure that both your budding stop motion animators and search engines are happy I guess is to have a balance of both? I have seen some instances where a video promoting the topic in question has a transcription tagged underneath. Thus if you wish you can choose to read what was said or described and also watch the video on the same page.
There – I have got that rant off my chest! From now on we promise to put up more videos on stop motion and transcribe the content on the page also so that you can check on what has been said in writing. That should keep our stop motion animators happy and all search engines happy.
Of even easier still visit our stop motion tutorial page and browse at you ease to pick out what you like.
Bye for now guys. Happy Animating.
Wallace and Gromit ( Nick Park ) are supporting the National Trust Charity in the UK with a short stop motion animation.
Its a summer of celebration ( Queen Elizabeth 60 years reign )to bring an exclusive new mini animation, A Jubilee Bunt-a-thon.
The animation shows the much-loved duo preparing for their Jubilee celebrations and we’ll be showing it on big screens at our tea party events this summer.
Visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallaceandgromit to find out more.
Here is a short interview with Nick Park and Merlin Crossingham about the mini animation…..
Merlin Crossingham: Hello! Welcome to Aardman! This is where we’re making our film.
Nick Park: I think it’s a great marriage for Wallace and Gromit in the National Trust to get together like this because they’re both very British institutions. It’s a great privilege and honor for Wallace and Gromit to be chosen to be involved in all the things British this year because they are often described as a British institution.
Merlin Crossingham: We take the script and we create a story board, a graphic representation, a little bit like a comic strip of the action that then leads us up into the production where we get the sets built, we start bringing the puppets in. Everything in Wallace and Gromit’s world is handmade. So for production of this size, the run up in preparation to shooting was about 6 weeks. That’s really quite tight for us. Once everything is ready, the animation crew steps on to the floor to complete a minute of film, we have 3 animators working flat out for 3 weeks. Wallace and Gromit are a challenge. Gromit because he doesn’t have any dialogue to hide behind, his performance needs to be surprisingly subtle. And with Wallace, he’s pretty bald and he’s pretty hammy in the way that he delivers his performance and that’s largely a lot of his comedy comes from. So, once the animation is finished, we go into post production and then it’s the stage really where all the final parts come together to make a lovely coherent film.
Nick Park: I’ve always loved visiting National Trust puppeteers. One of my favourite place is that I’ve visited, in fact, I took a team of people to visit for doing research for Curse of The Were-Rabbit, was Montague house. We did kind of vaguely base Tottington Hall on Montague house. I think the National Trust would have more than its fresh air of jobs Wallace could get up to. Gromit loves the British countryside. He’d love the heritage, British heritage.
Merlin Crossingham: We fit together so very well Wallace and Gromit in the National Trust. We kind of have the same values and a great sense of humor.
I am a fan of Chris Salts Stop Motion with LEGO. I only recently came across an interview he did for BBC Technology by Mark Ward.
“A scene with Chris above using his set and stop motion software to bring his movie to life”
I have transcribed the interview as Chris describes his LEGO stop motion.
LJ Rich: That was Jane’s Brain, a video shot entirely on location in this Stock On Trent bedroom. Now Chris Salt, you’re the mastermind behind all this. How long did Jane’s Brain take to do?
Chris Salt: In total, it took probably a week and a half, part of that was building everything that you see on the screen.
LJ Rich: What process are you using to do the filming?
“All Rights to Mark Ward – Technology correspondent, BBC News”
Chris Salt: It’s called Stop-Motion Animation. You take a photo of, in my case Lego, you then move the things that are going to move just a tiny little bit and then you take another photo and then you do it again and again and again. For every 15 photos that you take, that’s one second of video.
LJ Rich: So how did Jane’s Brain actually come about?
Chris Salt: Jane’s Brain was an entry for a competition on the BBC News 6 Music radio station. There’s a show called Adam and Joe where they would each prepare a song and then get the listeners to create a video for it. I managed to create the video that you’ve seen at one.
LJ Rich: You had a continuing relationship with 6 Music afterwards.
Chris Salt: Around the time that 6 Music was facing closure, Adam Buxton who’s the guy who did the Jane’s Brain song made a jokey protests on.
LJ Rich: So, we’ve got David Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust lightning across his face.
Chris Salt: Yeah.
LJ Rich: A viewer would think that that was just you moving and focus in and out but there’s more to it, isn’t there?
Chris Salt: There is. You just have to change the focus tiny little bit, take a picture, change it a tiny little bit again. There’s a lot of digital work for the presentation, the reflections on the table. I had to throw all the digital stuff in the background after the focus as the faces came-in in the front. You don’t need an expensive camera. You just need a cheap webcam. The one that I use at the moment was 50 pounds.
LJ Rich: You actually harness your Lego powers for good.
Chris Salt: A year or two ago, I took part in a charity event in aid of prostate cancer. Men spend the month of November growing moustaches. I thought I would make a little video to accompany it and get a bit of publicity.
LJ Rich: So, I composed some music for you to put to Lego. How are you going with that?
Chris Salt: I’ve built a little choir and a piano. I’ve also created a little LJ. You should see that.
LJ Rich: It’s like looking at a mirror. Right, we’re in position for the stop motion animation. So, do I just kind of reach in and lift up.
Chris Salt: Just life up each arm. Lift the arms a little bit more again.
LJ Rich: This is quite hypnotic, isn’t it?
Chris Salt: Yeah. That’s one word.
LJ Rich: You know I keep on nudging the pianist.
Chris Salt: We’re going to play this back and see what we’ve done so far.
LJ Rich: Absolutely! The guy in the background moved because I knocked him over. How long is it going to take you to do this properly?
Chris Salt: It’s probably going to be a few hours to do the Stop Motion Animation itself, a few more hours to put faces on the choir and have them all singing in their different parts.
LJ Rich: Don’t you wish you’ve done something quiet slightly less detailed?
Chris Salt: All the time.
- End of Interview-
I am not sure what stop Motion software Chris uses when making his animations. Whatever stop motion software he uses it sure makes excellent animations.
Stop Motion and LEGO have been synonymous for years now. So many Brickfilms or LEGO Animations out there to choose from. I came across a really interesting interview with three creative artists working with LEGO. Sean Kenney,Alex Kobbs and Nathan Sawaya.
I have transcribed the video narrative here for your enjoyment. All rights to the producers here.
Sean Kenney: There’s something just natural about the way two Lego pieces click together. It just feels right for that moment those two things are perfect and they’re meant for each other.
With the Lego, you can create art. You can create films. You can create models. You can make something functional. You can make something that you can wear.
Nathan Sawaya: Everyone has snapped together a Lego brick at one time or another. It’s such a great feeling just hear that click.
Sean Kenney: Lego has always been a big part of my life. It’s something very tangible. It’s less austere than an oil painting or a bronze sculpture. And because of that, it connects with people in a way that I think art is supposed to. If you look at a computer screen, it’s just a bunch of colored squares if you zoom all the way in. And so I thought, “Well, you can do that with Lego bricks. You can create a mosaic.” So I decided that I was going to take this to another level. I’ve done portraits of a mother and a child together or a father and a child together. They’re so powerful because you can see the bond between parent and child. I need to make it special to you. I need this to reflect what’s inside of you and then somehow get that onto the canvas. I suppose an artist working in any medium has this challenge but then I only have 13 colors to do it with.
Sean Kenney: Recently, I put together an exhibit that’s now touring botanical gardens around the United States that’s showing kids, plants, insects, birds in a new way, and I created 27 larger than life sculptures that use almost half a million Lego pieces. It took my team and I 5,000 hours to put all these sculptures together, some of which are as huge as an 8 foot tall hummingbird all the way through to a life size polar bear. Now you’ve got kids wandering around botanical gardens that would otherwise never be in a botanical garden which is also a really great thing. Whether it’s the message of what my particular piece is saying to you or simply the connection that you have with the piece because of your connection with Lego suddenly you’ve bonded with this in a way but you may not have if it was perhaps the same story told in a different medium. That is really special. It helps bring people out who otherwise might not be looking at art and then speaking to them in a special way.
Alex Kobbs: Every little thing you can think of, Lego has a means or way or shape and a color to create that if you so desire. I went to college for film but I realized there were a lot of limitations to shooting live action film. So the Lego’s are just a medium for me to get what I want to create across. I really, really love the video game culture and I made a stop motion film called Bricks of War based on Gears of War. So I made a two minute stop motion video basically emulating what it was like to play Gears of War, the behind the shoulder view, the camera zoom in. So, whenever I’m setting up a shot, I look at every little aspect of it, the lighting, the camera movement and I build custom dollies to move the camera. When I saw Call of Duty 3 coming out, I took their launch trailer and I said, “Hey, let me try to recreate this.” It was a lot of fun because it gave me so many things to work with. They have a train car rolling in a subway system and I had to represent different countries. Right now I’ve been using cotton balls to make explosion effects and things. And, the little characters, they have pivots, they have joints and you can really get across, not only movement but motion too with a Lego stop motion. It’s almost perfectly made for stop motion animation. There are films where I make it up beforehand or there are even sometimes where I make it up as I go. So every film is different and it will take anywhere between 6 weeks, sometimes it’ll take 3 months. Lego opens up all possibilities. I can literally create anything I want and I love everything about it.
Nathan Sawaya: People can relate to Lego because they have this connection to it. They have it at home. I think there’s something about that. I really wanted to create sculptures that hadn’t been seen before, you know almost take the Lego element out of it. There’s a sculpture called My Boy where it’s a figure holding a small child figure in its arms. When they debut this culture at a museum, a woman started crying. She was not seeing this as a toy. She was just seeing it as art. When I get to follow my passion and create art for myself, it is a lot of art that’s about metamorphosis. It’s about transition. It’s about liberation. There’s a piece called Yellow where this figure is tearing his chest open and Lego bricks are spilling out all over. And, people have said, is this about agony, what is this piece about? For me, it’s about opening one’s self up to the world. Red was a piece I did about transition. You see this figure and it’s emerging from this pile of bricks and is he reaching to the sky or is he sinking into the bricks. I actually don’t really reveal. I want the viewer to have a role when they’re looking at the art. I was trying to put my emotion into my work. Really create these sculptures that really had something to say. The fact that it’s made out of Lego it opens the art world up to this whole new audience that may never even think about taking a Saturday and go into an art museum. And yet because it’s made out of Lego, they’re drawn.
Sean Kenney: There’s nothing you can’t create with Lego toys and so every day is something new, something different, something fun.
Alex Kobbs: How many toys can you really say that you can say – “I can create anything.” It just has that broad span of all spectrums.
Nathan Sawaya: We’re really seeing a Lego art movement that’s emerging. More and more artists are using Lego as a traditional medium and I think it’s amazing.
End of interview.
I hope you enjoyed this transcript of the very cool video from PBS about LEGO, LEGO Art and LEGO and Stop Motion.
Stop Motion software is made all the more powerful with the addition of chromakey which is sometimes called Greenscreen. What is chromakey? Well think of the weatherman or even superman. A character in front of a blue or green screen in a studio is seen by the viewer with weather maps behind him in the case of the weatherman. Were in fact he only sees a blue / green screen, we see images of maps of states, clouds etc etc. And in the case of superman we see a sky and clouds moving in the background ..the cameraman in the studio sees an actor dangling from support wires in front of a green screen. So now with Stop Motion software such as iKITMovie you too can change the background.
Changing a background with stop motion software used to be difficult. In fact a lot of the stop motion software available does not have even have chromakey. So you would have to export your finished movie to another application that has chromakey in order to add backgrounds. And the stop motion software out there that does have chromakey is tricky to use at the best of times. Not only does iKITMovie stop motion software make it easier to use chromakey it also includes a library of still images and video images ready to use for backgrounds. When we reviewed stop motion software with chromakey the two areas which we felt that let them down were “A” only a single color could be chromakeyed out and “B” they did not give you any video or still images to work with. You had to search for appropriate images/video yourself either online or offline, resize them and import them in to your stop motion software. We felt that this slowed down they creative animation process. So we set about addressing these two issues. After over 14 months of development we believe we have addressed both these issues and more.
iKIT allows you to chromakey out up to 3 colors. This is really useful if you have any shading in your backdrop. While to the naked eye you may think that your blue / green backdrop looks all the same color throughout it invariably will have slight differences in shading of the blue/green ( whichever color you are using ). iKIT allows you to click on up to three different shades of your backdrop. This will ensure that all your blue or green is chromakeyed out correctly so that the background image or video can show up. So if you are looking for stop motion software that gives a great result without spending too much time on lighting etc then iKIT is for you. Its perfect for what you would expect from good stop motion software.
I came across an interview given way back in 1994 by John Matthews , the stop motion animator behind Curios George. Remember him?
Stop-motion director & animator John Clark Matthews and family are interviewed entertainment tonight about animation and their film, Curious George.
I have transcribed the interview here for your interest:
And that famous Man in the Yellow Hat meets his maker.
“Hey George, say hello to Entertainment Tonight.”
We’ve got more monkey business for you on Entertainment Tonight this weekend.
Baby Boomers grew up curled up in an armchair reading the tales of a curious monkey named George. Now, a new generation gets in on George’s adventures on video and we went to visit the young at heart guy who’s doing the work.
“This is George. He lived in Africa. He was a good, little monkey and always very curious.”
That curious little monkey has been a favorite with kids since the late 1930’s. Naturally, we were curious about how George and the gang came to life.
“Hey George, say hello to Entertainment Tonight.”
This is John Matthews, the animator who created the video in his southern California studio using a process called stop motion.
“This is one second of movie film. There are 24 little pictures here. That means, if I want to move George here, I have to move him 24 times for one second.”
These home movies John gave us show the process. After each little movement, John takes a picture with a camera. Many moves and several hours later, this is the result.
“In a half hour, you have about 35,000 little moves like that. That’s why we usually have about four to six setups going at once. Most people ask, ‘When is the film going to be done? In the year 2000?’”
Obviously, it is a very time consuming process. It took John more than a year to complete the video. He showed us the secret to what the stars are really made of.
“It’s an armature. It’s the size of the Man with the Yellow Hat. You can do about any movement possible for a human skeleton and even some that can’t be done with human skeletons.”
As John’s home movie shows, each puppet had interchangeable faces with different expressions.
“The Man with the Yellow Hat had hundreds of these face plates that came off when he talked. It was really a pain to animate because you had to change his little eyes every frame. It would take ten minutes sometimes have him say a word like ‘George.’”
John gave away some other secrets as well. The clouds George is flying through are really made of cotton. The waterfall in this scene isn’t really water at all – it’s plastic. George is able to swing through the jungle with the help of thread. For John, making family videos is a family business, with his four kids and wife Nikki all involved. It’s an ideal situation – John gets to spend time with his kids and be a kid at heart at the same time.
“It’s like magic. You take these puppets…they’re not alive; they’re puppets. You do stop motion by moving them frame by frame and getting out of the way of the camera, they come alive. They walk, they talk, they run, have bad habits… That is fun.”
Curious George is in video stores now. By the way, the books are still very much in demand for kids in the 90’s. Fifteen Curious George stories are still in print.
I came across a great interview with Dik Jarman on YouTube which I have transcribe here for your enjoyment. Dik is an Australian animator with some great titles such as Mary and Max and Dad’s Clock and now director at kanga manga studios. The interview is entitled “Creation Through Animation with Dik Jarman”
The interview is the property of
Screen and Media
School of Media and Communication
The interview goes as follows:
“Good animation is like Formula One racing. You got the driver in the car at the end who wins the race, perhaps. But then he’s got all the 21 crew members who pick the car up, there’s people who design the car, there’s all that behind it, ___ people. And it’s the same with animation: there’s the performance of the team – people who make the puppet, design the puppet, build the puppet, paint the puppet, cloths for the puppet. Then there’s the writer for the story. There’s the uh, creator of the set, the lighting, the camera, the way it’s oriented, the rig that is built. All of that, in small production, is probably done by the animator but in large productions it’s a team effort.
I first got into animation in 1985 at secondary school when a good friend of mine and I were acting. And were the only people acting and working in the art department as well. And he was doing a film for his art project. And he asked me, can I act in it? He won an award for that film, he came back to me and said, “Look, I have another film to do and I want to make it puppet animation and I know you can sculpt,” because I was doing sculpturing at the time in the art room and so from then on I started sculpting for him and he was making films. And, 14 years I became his production designer and in the end animator as well.
The animator comes in and it is a dance, if you like, between you and the puppet. The puppet has it’s own integrity – its physical, it has knees, it has arms and fingers. It will move in a certain way. A computer animation you could bend any way, it can be spaghetti arms if you don’t put the joints in the right place. A puppet animation can’t – it can only move in the way it’s actually been designed. And so, you have to work with those set of limitations and create those gestures. I mean, early on you try to create a puppet, which can, if it needs to play the piano, has articulated fingers. If it only needs to run, you can just design fists. So the perfectly designed puppet for the gesture, but once you got the puppet, how do you use those internal mechanisms to be able to create the right gesture?
Animation, I think, is broad spectrum because everyone from kids to adults can enjoy animation depending on content and quality. Um, there’s good animation, there’s bad animation. There’s very literal animation in that it’s figurative. If we look at Wallace and Gromit, for example, it’s like a transliteration of film into animation. It’s just every character you know, every — it coul all be replaced by people. The fact that Gromit’s a dog is irrelevant; it could easily be a person and Davis McGraw and the like. You’ve seen these characters in film and what Nick Parker is doing is just merely transposing that to animation. I think that kind of misses the advantage that animation has, is because you’re creating a world which the audience is ready to sit down and go, “I – I wish to believe in this world,” or, or, or, “open to that world.” So you can take them on a journey to anywhere. So to merely replicate reality is missing an opportunity. So therefore, I think there’s a broad spectrum, as I said, of available destinations for animation and audiences of course, as well.
If you go to, uh, Bug’s Life, for example. The bugs, or the ants, they have four legs they don’t have six. Why? Because they’re trying to make them more like us. They’re anthropomorphizing them so that we can emote better with them. That blue color: they don’t actually look like ants. Where as, the enemy who they don’t want us to have an emotion with, those flying grasshopper-y things, they are grasshoppers, aren’t they? They’ve got scars, they’ve got all the texture, they’re as alien to humans as possible.
Well, in Dad’s Clock, I had a puppet, which was all tin and brass. Of course he took months to build, there’s no way I could build another one. The idea was just to make him stronger, or repair damage should it be required. Yeah, a lot of experience has taught me to build things well to begin with because a lot of animation is just in your feel. Like how much does that joint move? You don’t want to constantly be bringing in a measuring device.
Now with Max (from Mary and Max), for example, he’s a beast, and he’s heavy and he’s depressed. And when you’re heavy and depressed, your weight becomes your enemy. You’ve gotta drag it along. But when you become, proud and strong, suddenly your weight becomes your friend and you can actually use that momentum and start actually knocking down doors with it. And it’s the way you carry that, the way you carry your body is what defines how happy or whatever emotion you’re trying to bring across.
You’ll often see animators walking up and down rooms and, you know, actually performing themselves to feel bodily what it is so they can then transfer that bodily sensation to the puppet. Um, or a lot of animators have mirrors on their stage, they can go (*he makes a couple of facial expressions here*), and just remind themselves of those particular things. As Nick Duncan once said, “You never finish your film, you just run out of time”. and that’s true, you always want to go back and open this bit or fix this but you’ve gotta know when to – like in any creative endeavor – when to stop designing and when to start presenting.”
President Barack Obama or should that be Barack O’Bama landed here in Ireland today on the 23rd of May 2011. He was welcomed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Mary McAleese.
US President Barack Obama’s 24-hour visit to Ireland began with a meeting with President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin.
He also held talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Farmleigh, visited the US Embassy in Ballsbridge and is now en route to Moneygall in Co Offaly.
President Obama will return to Dublin this afternoon for a rally on College Green.
Mr Obama said it is ‘heartwarming’ to be in Ireland.
‘We are glad to see progress is being made in stabilising the economic situation here.’
‘The friendship and the bond between Ireland and the US could not be stronger.
‘Obviously it is not just a matter of strategic interests. It’s not just a matter of foreign policy, for the United States and Ireland carries a blood lineage.
‘For millions of Irish-Americans this continues to symbolise the homeland and the extraordinary traditions of an extraordinary people.’
The current US President’s Irish roots have been traced back to a great-great-great-great grandfather named Joseph Kearney who was a shoemaker in Moneygall, a small village in central Ireland. Obama’s great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney left for America aged 19 during the potato famine in 1850.
Moneygall, population 300, is now on the map for American tourists, especially Irish Americans and the Presidential visit will swell numbers to a country still reeling from an economic crisis.
American Presidents visit Ireland for a number of reasons and these include looking ahead to their re-election campaigns and 40 million or so Americans who trace their roots back to Ireland.
Their voting power is sometimes overstated given the geographical spread of the Irish Catholics in America, but it still counts, and with this visit to the ancestral homeland, Barack Obama can count on most of what is traditionally a Democratic Party leaning community.