Members of the online virtual world Second Life can give their digital alter egos a style makeover thanks to a Sussex-based animation company.

Animazoo in Basin Road South, Portslade, has opened a shop in the fantasy world where residents can buy animation kits based on real human movements.

The animations make residents' avatars - the online representations of themselves - dance or walk in a certain way and are priced between eight pence and 50p.

Animazoo claims its animations appear much more life-like than existing animations within Second Life, and are being heralded as the finest available.

The Animazoo shop is located at Animazoo, QA Business Park and can be found by typing "Animazoo"

into the search window within Second Life.

Animazoo said the animations had been created to satisfy the increasing expectations of the Second Life community, which now has eight million subscribers.

Second Life is an online community where people can live a virtual life, buying clothes, houses and furniture, making friends, chatting people up at the bar and organising events.

It's all fake, of course, but the money isn't.

Adidas, Dell, General Motors and Reuters are just four of the real-world commercial enterprises buying Second Life islands as advertising platforms.

Linden Lab, the San Francisco company behind Second Life, is planning to open its first European offices in Brighton later this year.

Animazoo marketing director Jo Hull said: "Animazoo motion capture systems allow people the freedom to express themselves more fully through their avatars than previously possible.

"How you look is important in Second Life, and our system gives the user much more scope to look and move naturally.

"The shop is an ideal extension of our brand into an environment that really benefits from motion capture, enhancing the Second Life user experience."

Animazoo animator Dave Wooldridge said: "Considerable effort has been put into making our animations the smoothest in Second Life.

Second Life offers fantastic creative opportunities, and many of the capabilities of the Second Life animation system are still largely unexplored."

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