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For example, I made a rotating cube. I made 100 instances of this cube and place them all over the scene.

I don't want all of them to rotate completely on sync with each other. Maybe a randomized start time so it looked natural like separate entity. (But still the mesh and animation is linked, so I can edit the original one to update all of them) Is this possible in Blender?

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    $\begingroup$ It is not only possible, but also a common practice in the field of animating. You'll need to learn to use the following: action editor, NLA editor. For massive objects that can't be done manually through NLA editor, combine keyed actions with particle system instead. $\endgroup$ Sep 14 '16 at 9:58
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One way is to use the animation nodes addon. In this example I take an fcurve from cube.001 and use a random number as a frame offset, then feed that into the rotation of each cube.

sample animation

The nodes start with an object list that I filled with the selected objects and then hid the inputs in the advanced node settings. The loop input is used to apply the same node tree to each of the objects in the list

node setup

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