I've talked about this a bit in the past but I've not been sure which way I go on the issue. If we have 25 animators then by nature we have 25 interpretations of the character. The goal is to have a single character on screen with a measure of consistency of performance so that we get to feel for them in their world. We really don't want 25 versions of a character, that doesn't serve the story very well. So what extra energies are required to keep all the interpretations in line? Would these energies be better spent elsewhere? Is there a better way than the way we've done things for the last little bit?
Chicken Little was run in the standard Disney shop style where animators were put into teams that were dedicated to a specific character with character supervisors over those teams. Many other shops work where the animator does every character in a scene. But Disney stuck with their old way of having dedicated teams of animators working on a single character with a character supervisor who is the expert and master of that character. From what I saw on the screen with Chicken Little I thought they were very successful in getting consistent performances from their characters, especially Buck Cluck. Runt as well, very solid, very consistent from an emotional and mannerisms standpoint. And I felt that this consistency actually opened doors for depth of performance. It appeared to me that the energies that would otherwise be spent to keep the character performances consistent were now free to be spent in digging deeper. Those emotional scenes with Buck were flat out awe inspiring. I am willing to go out on a limb here and say that those are perhaps some of the best animated scenes (from an acting standpoint) as we have seen in the last 30 years.
I think my preference is definitely starting to tip toward the Character Team approach. We've seen it work for decades in the old Disney studio. Now I'm seeing how much it brings to the table in CG. I think that all things considered that this is a good system. It understands one of the more troubling challenges in animation and mitigates it some by reducing the number of "interpretations" of a character by limiting the number of animators responsible for portaying that character.
Sony Picture Animation is apparently following the same cue with their film Open Season. I'm curious to see how well they do with this. But the success with the animation in Chicken Little has certainly done its part in making me lean toward the character team approach.
Let the disagreeing comments begin. :)