Hard surface model ready for Animation

Hello everyone,

it is my first post on the forum and I’m quite new to Blender while coming from a looooong way back in the 3d industry (let’s just say I started with TDI Explore on Silicon’s Irix!)

I’m quite happy to give it a shot at blender but I’m getting trouble understanding some architectural concepts that don’t seem to be easily explained anywhere I looked for… maybe it is just a matter of you guys heading me to the right source.

I’m trying to understand data workflow and “good habits” from modeling to animating.

For example, I downloaded a demo file from blender’s page, scene-Helicopter-27 which is a wonderful meccano helicopter. It is ready for render but not for animation.
It has modifier, curves, mirrors etc… which makes it quite optimized and light.

But what would be the best procedures to animate it.
What does the “blenders book” advice as how to deliver a model ready for animation (rigged or not)

In this case you could simply use one empty for the helix and another for the main and you could bypass bones, wights etc.

But how do you deal with model history? Modifier, scales, origins, instances, duplicates etc.

On other packages you would “bake” all up and end up with a pure mesh with nothing else than polygons data, but this means no RAM optimization of example.
What is Blender’s philosophy?

Thank you in advance.