I think that this could be a great idea.
The problem I always have with 3D is that it is just so complicated and mind numbing. I've played with more basic packages like COOL 3d (I was always disapointed with it to a degree but the newest version Cool 3D STUDIO actually looks like it could be a great halfway point)
Generally I still fire up my old Micrografx Simply 3D. IMO it was very, very, very easy to use and understand oveerall. It just lacks the ability to export 32bit AVI's with alpha channels.
This one also is under the radar and might be worth a look:http://www.aist.com/CMS/index.php?movie3d
But honestly I wish there was a way to design things more simply and then "dimensionalize" them. I suppose there may be, but maybe I'm just missing it, it's almost as if you need a "wizard" type of "design studio" to help take you through the process.
i.e: Here is a sketchpad to make a 2D sketch of your 3D model using basic shapes and tools.
Here is a "dimensionalizer" which will convert those shapes into 3D objects. Then if you double click on one component of that model it will open a window and let you modify just that one object with 3D lathing and stretching tools, etc. Then when you finish, it goes back to the primitives model with that one component component in the SAME PLACE.
For example: MODE I is "blueprint mode":
I sketch out, using basic 2D shapes and things a TOP view of a spaceship. All of this is snapped to a grid (toggle on/off for freeform, or change scale of the grid) I tell the program it is a TOP view. Then I sketch out a profile view. I tell the program it is a profile view. THen a back and or front view. I specify points on these drawings that correspond to each other so that the program understands how to "dimensionalize" the model based on the grid. It is easier for me to conceptualize in 2D and let the computer deal with the spatial issues.
The computer makes a good guess and renders my complete primitive model.
OK, Now I can select any ONE of those primitive shapes and go into
SCULPTING MODE. I double click on, say the cylinder that is where my spaceship engine is. It opens a traditional 3D wireframe mode with various tools for scaling, rotation, skewing, stretching, lathing, etc.. Check out the excellent way this is done in SIMPLY 3D.
Here is the catch! I spin the thing around, add to it, sculpt it, etc, but when I'm done and I hit OK it returns to the primitive model with the new cmponent already in place because it still sees the reference points of where that primitive was. I do the same thing to the body, etc.
You can even have a "replace" feature where it saves each primitive and each sculpted primitive as an object in a set. Like the way you made one engine? save it as "spaceship engine" and then click on the other cylinder representing the second engine and click the "replace" button. It asks you what you want to replace it with and you click the pic of the saved object "spaceship engine". BAM. It's replaced.
I know all of this is probably all do-able in more advanced packages, but it's the WORKFLOW that kills me.
NEXT MODE is BODY SHOP for textures and painting.
then the world generator and atmosphere generator, cameras and lights, animation timeline, export, etc.
Whatever can make it the most simple to generate:
3D spaceships and vehicles
3D cloudscapes, buildings, and flythroughs.
It would be fantastic to be able to specify alpha channels with masks. (make this part transparent) and export in 32 bit avi format. NO KEYING!
Import of existing 3D model formats would be a given and exporting the same as well as using any bitmap or jpeg for textures, materials, etc..
I don't know. Food for thought , it sounds way to complicated.