Recommendation: Blender 3D
Here is another FREE program that I have used for many years.
Have you ever seen an animated movie, like Toy Story, Cars, Shrek and so on?
Those movies were made with a similar software package that costs thousands of dollars. Well, Blender is actually an extremely powerful program that is absolutely capable of creating movies of the same quality, but it is completely free!
Because it is free, many professionals dismiss it as an inferior program that couldn’t possibly compete with the likes of Maya, 3DS Max and others. It simply is not true. Here is some proof of what Blender can do, and these were done by people who are not even in the industry.
1st – Elephant’s Dream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFQxRd0isAQ
2nd – Big Buck Bunny: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSGBVzeBUbk
3rd – Sintel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRsGyueVLvQ&hd=1
That is not to say that there isn’t a significant learning curve, because there is, but there is a wealth of support and tutorials and books and the like to get you up to speed. It runs on ALL major operating systems too, such as Windows, Snow Leopard (Apple) and Linux, as well as some others.
Here is the Blender 3D website: http://www.blender.org/
I really enjoy this program and wish that I had more time to use it. Hopefully one of you will find it useful.