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An animation database is a store of animations and related information available to anyone who wishes to use them, sometimes for a fee. Such databases can be valuable for animators who need clips for projects, want demonstrations of human movement, or need filler for crowd scenes in animated pieces. Some databases are associated with professional organizations and are only open to members of those organizations, while others are free to the public.
The animation database may focus on a specific type of animation or could provide a number of types, separated by category. It typically has a robust search function to allow users to find what they need in a timely fashion. Users of the database may do something like seek out an animation of a chemical process for a presentation so they don't have to make one from scratch, or look up recorded human movements to make their animations more realistic. Databases can include various types of animation and movement capture for the benefit of users.
Animators use a variety of tools in their work. They do not actually draw out each frame and can utilize mathematics to animate characters in a believable and natural way. Their math relies heavily on research about how humans and animals move. Information about such research, including variances in human movement, is available through an animation database. For example, if an animator wants to create a character with a limp, she can go through a database to find motion capture information on people with limps to use as the basis for her programming.
Animation databases are also useful for the remixing and creation of clips projects. Some contain archival material that is open to the public or can be licensed for a fee. Animators can pull together clips in creative work ranging from documentaries on animation styles to critical commentary on various animated works. An animator might, for instance, compile images of princesses in films from a specific company to highlight similarities and differences.
The best animation database to use can depend on what the user needs. Users who want things like raw motion capture data may need a specialty database. For clips and similar resources, a public domain database may have ample materials for users. Other animators may want to seek out compilations of scientific animations, history animations, and so forth for specific tasks. An animation database may offer a temporary pass to allow a user to explore it before paying a fee.