If you fancy creating your own 3D animation short but lack the effort, time, dedication and mostly the skills required to master the art, Muvizu 3D is exactly what you need. This free 3D animation software makes it super easy for anyone to produce their own movies, with full camera control, lightening and visual effects, backdrops, music, dialog and what not. All you need is a few spare hours (or minutes, depending on how long your movie is) and absolutely zero drawing/modeling skills.
The program works by providing the user with a huge range of ways to edit and animate a growing library of characters, objects and elements. You do not create these yourself, neither do you need to worry about the usual things associated with 3D animation such as modelling, meshes, rendering or raytracing. The user simply picks cartoon styled objects and characters from the library and places it on a scene. These objects and characters are completely customizable from skin color, clothes, hair styles, eyes, lips, etc. If you choose to, you may also model your own characters in a 3D application and import the static meshes into the application.
A high-quality animation set offers complex character animation. In Muvizu 3D, animation is done using “passes” – something analogous to layers typically associated with image editing application. For example, you can animate the character’s head movement in one pass, eye movement in another and hand movement in another pass. When the animation is played, the character will animate the head, eyes and hands all at once. This breaking down of the animation sequence helps users easily create complex character animation. The characters can also lip-synch to dialogue tracks, automatically. The lack of modelling, rendering and animation by movement of joints allow users to concentrate on storytelling and direction, not on technical minutiae; the Muvizu mantra is "Direct, don’t animate".
Muvizu 3D is a large download (500Mb+) and is based on the Unreal Engine 3. You must have a good enough graphics card to run this program.
If you are interested in learning more about the software, I suggest watching the two embedded tutorials – one shows how to customize characters and the others shows how to do a simple animation.