Open source software has really turned the tables. I mean, you used to have to pay 1,300 euros for 3D Studio MAX (which would deliver you Maya and a bunch of other programs, to be fair) if you wanted to learn 3D design. No need to do that now.
You can download Blender for free. It is every bit as effective and powerful as MAX, but costs you nothing. If you like, you can check this link for a brief history of Blender. And you do not have to sit in expensive classes to learn Blender. You can just go and learn it through a Wiki manual, or use the oodles of tutorials on the Web. And of course, join Blender Artists. I have never seen a more friendly bunch of utter experts.
But what can you do with Blender? Everything you can see inside your head, our outside of it. If you have enough time and effort, you can create Hollywood-quality movies. The Mango Project allows people to collaborate worldwide to create amazing movies. They have just released Tears of Steel, which is an amazing movie – go get a cup of coffee and watch this 12 minute movie.
While I am not saying you can do that straight out of the box, I am saying that everyone can contribute to this, because the software is free, and all you invest is time and ideas. That is the power of open source.
The learning curve for Blender can be pretty steep. That’s a result of the power and wealth of features of the software, but it is exactly the same thing with any advanced 3D environment. Still, all it takes to learn the environment is some time and ideas for working on.