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I have a looping animation made up of a few keyframes and a Cycles fcurve modifier.

I'd like to introduce some random variations so it doesn't look like an exact loop, however the cycles modifier always appears to be applied last; random patterns produce by the noise modifier are repeated as well:

enter image description here

Is there a way to do this without adding a ton of empties and constraints?

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Have you considered the NLA?

Add Noise to your original fcurve.

Cycle with strip repeat Add Noise to the NLA strip

cycle and noise in NLA

Add Noise to the animated influence

Add noise to the animated strip time.

Noise on animated influence and original Fcurve

Produces some random patterns over the cycles, with a fair touch of overkill. Just the repeat and noise modifier in the NLA would suffice.

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