Many years ago I used POV-Ray to render some 3D animations. I liked POV-Ray's Scene Description Language (SDL) as I could generate the required files programmatically using other languages (e.g. Perl) and send them to a headless (Linux) server for rendering — no GUI required.
Time moves on, and I now want to do essentially the same thing.
Blender seems to be the new hotness, and looks like it can (kinda, sorta) be arm-twisted into doing what I want it to using Python. It looks like it might be a struggle, though, as it has a very clear GUI focus.
What other 3D rendering programs can run on a headless Linux box and be programmatically controlled?
Alternatively, is there a 'new way' of programmatically rendering scenes and animations that has appeared over the last decade or so that I might not be aware of, and should consider?
In case it is helpful: The type of animation I want to do has a focus on light and shadows. Imagine recreating something like this time lapse.