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4 Places to Find Free Reference Footage for Character Animation

Caleb Ward

If you’re in a creative slump or just need some assistance with keyframe timing, these free animation reference libraries have you covered.

Animation reference footage is real live-action footage used by animators to help with timing the subtle movements that are required to make animation realistic. No need to shoot this footage yourself – the following online animation libraries cover a wide range of subject matter.

1. Reference! Reference!

Reference Reference Reference! Reference! is an animation library that features dozens of videos for your animation referencing pleasure. All of the videos feature numbered frames to help you get perfect timing. While you’re there check out the Animals in Motion link where you can find dozens of animal reference videos as well.

2. Ani Ref Vimeo Group

Ani Ref Ani Ref is a curated Vimeo group with an impressive collection of animation reference clips.  With over 500 videos in the group they cover tons of different content types – everything from soliders to monkeys. Use the search feature to track down what you’re looking for.

3. Endless Reference

Endless Reference Endless Reference is my favorite place to find reference footage on the internet. You can find Endless Reference footage on their YouTube channel and website.  All of their videos are professionally made and feature a model on a plain white background. Some videos also feature a grid overlay, as well as numbered frames, to make the whole animation process much easier. If you want to download the video files you can get the entire library from Endless Reference for $25.

4. Mixamo

Maximo Mixamo is so much more than a collection of videos. Sure, you’ll find plenty of reference footage here, but the functionality goes far beyond video. On Mixamo you can customize your characters to get the exact motion you want to replicate. Once you have your desired movement you can download the project files for direct use in your favorite 3D program. No more keyframing by hand. You can watch any of the reference footage for free on Mixamo, but if you want to download the project files it may cost you (depending on the clip). Know of any other places to find reference footage? Share in the comments below.