The main purpose is to tell a story using animation and to learn as much as possible especially in the area of character animation. This is strictly a personal project to push my 3d knowledge.
Carrara, Blender, DS Studio and Poser 7 are the 3d apps that I own and I am not planning on buying anything else, but I want to get decent results using these products.
I currently teach graphics design and animation in a public high school, so I have access to the entire Adobe suite through adobe creative cloud ($30 a month)
So your learning process is primarily about telling your own stories, not to utilize it as a reel in order to get a job animating in the studio system? If that’s the case, then I say go forth and use the products at your disposal. No need to invest in anything further.
But I’d reiterate the focus on compositing.
I look at something like Star Trek: Aurora which is just such a massive achievement by a single animator. It took him 5 years to finish it, he used motion capture for a lot of the animation, and while the animation is not distracting, it’s still limited in some areas as are some of the aesthetics. Aurora is a MUCH larger feat than was Rosa, but because Rosa had layer upon layer (upon layer) of composited effects, to me they’re not even in the same league—which doesn’t take anything away from the accomplishment of Aurora (it inspires me frequently), but it certainly speaks to the importance of compositing.
I’d even take the Rosa/Aurora comparison a step further and point out that the characters in Rosa were android-esque while the characters in Aurora were human folk.
Even with motion capture and a devout focus to a project, I still think that a single animator animating a CG rig is going to have struggles selling the humanity of the character. Especially if you’re not working with something like Maya. There’s just so many hours upon hours of tweaking that goes into a single moment to sell *life*. Traditional animation has it much easier because it’s organic from beginning to end. The rig is a rig is a rig no matter what it’s posed as.
So just some food for thought. Any opportunity for your characters to not be *alive*, I think, takes an incredible (possibly insurmountable) burden off the individual animator, especially when using inferior animation software. I personally refuse to animate living things unless it’s motion capture, and even then the project I’m working on now is meshed with a lot of compositing to disguise the fact that I’m using less-than-stellar animation software and am a single animator doing it all myself.