You should look at OpenFX andrei. It's been under development for years, and was a commercial product, but we are going to release it really really soon now.
Feature list includes a raytracer and scan-line renderer simultaneously (which not even 3DS has I believe), bezier/NURB support, skeletal animation, procedural textures, a variety of conversion utilities, PNG/GIF/JPEG/AVI/FLIC formats, dynamic output plugins, etc. Check out the screenshot gallery I threw together for more ideas. this and this are two of my personal favourite pictures :)
I've had it in a 'private' beta for a while now, but I figure there's no harm in letting the advogato crew have a look at it - we are going to release just as soon as we can get the primary tarball and website ready. This is a Win32 binary ONLY at the moment - if you want source, I'll send you an old snapshot to look at.
Feel free to download it from ftp://ftp.openfx.org/pub/openfx/beta and send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Incidentally, offers of US mirrors would be greatly appreciated (I run rsyncd).
The catch? It's a Win32 ONLY program at the moment. I'm using the excellent WINE project to compile it natively at the moment, but time pressures on this mean that the dev team eagerly awaits release and other volunteers to help us get the codebase into shape. Luckily, the code only uses pure Win32 calls (no MFC or any of that malarchy) so converting it to ANSI C and GCC will prove no great difficulty using WINE I feel.