When visually exploring a multidimensional dataset with a 2D visualization (e.g. scatterplots), users may switch views with a smooth 3D rotation. We identified three expected benefits of such transitions: tracking graphical marks, understanding their relative arrangements, and perceiving structural elements. We studied existing implementations of progressive 3D rotation and found problems that prevent those benefits when dealing with dense scenes. To address this issue, we propose an improvement by wisely placing the rotation axis. We performed two controlled experiments, which confirm the expected benefits and validate our improvements to the technique. Based on these experiment results, we describe a set of interaction techniques to control the rotation axis placement and apply them to the exploration of aircraft data.