Lately, I’ve been playing around with an open source animation program called Blender. So far, I’ve just been following a few tutorials and watching some instructional videos. It’s been a fun but scary road trying to learn how to use the application. It’s very powerful but not easy. That’s not to say that you won’t be able to pick it up, but it will definitely take some time and work. The best thing about the program is that it’s completely FREE to use, so there’s really no risk. If it looks like something you might be interested in, visit www.Blender.org for the download link. There’s a huge community of Blender users that will be happy to help you along the way.
Tutorial may be found here: http://www.cgcookie.com/articles/2009/05/18/creating-a-teddy-bear-part-2
Tutorial may be found here: http://www.biorust.com/tutorials/detail/77/en/
Tutorial may be found here: http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:Tutorials/Animation/BSoD/Character_Animation
Abandoned Mine Ride
Tutorial may be found here: http://www.blendernation.com/tutorials/blender-3d-beginner-tutorial-a-ride-through-the-mines/
I’d love to see what you’re working on if you’re into this kind of thing. Send me a link.