I am following the work of Franz and Jon on the render engine Appleseed.
About a week ago they released the newest version of the engine. 1.1.0 Alpha 17.
Do not be scared of the Alpha tag. It is a very capable app and very easy to use.
I feel that many might overlook this awesome piece of software even though the team behind actually have a great blog and are very good at telling about their animation project Masculine, made to test the engine.
It is kinda like Mitsuba. A pearl in open source rendering with a world of niche strengths compared to other projects but quite overlooked in the blender world for some wierd reason.
I have followed the blog from the very start and while this project is relatively young it is already showing much muscle especially for animations, including unbeaten motion blur, interactive rendering and studio style rendering.
And apart from Maya integration it integrates great with Blender through a simple export addon.
Interested in animations and havent tried this? Then go do it already! You may be surprised.