In live action films, the actors get to interact with one another directly. When Capt. Willard talks with Col. Kurtz in Apocalpse Now, you have actors Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando in the same place at the same time acting and reacting to one another. Animation can't be done like that. But how IS it done? How do animators handle the interaction of the characters they animate?
Until, several years ago, I started thinking seriously about animation, such issues hadn't occurred to me. Nor had it occurred to me that a given character might be animated by different artists in the same film. Because animation is such a time-consuming process, it may not be practical for one animator to do all the scenes for a given character in a feature-length film; so different scenes are given to different animators. What about scenes where there are two or three or four characters interacting with one another? How is that done? One animator for all of them, or different animators for each one? If the latter, how is the work of all the animators coordinated?
These sorts of questions still aren't central to my own interests, but I'm now aware of them as real issues. It's through the perceptive writing of such people as Michael Barrier, a historian and critic of animation, and Michael Sporn, an animator and director, that I've become aware of these issues. In this post (HERE) Michael Sporn takes up those issues in a consideration of Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, by Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Here's Michael Barrier on the same subject, prompted by two books, Richard Williams, The Animator's Survival Kit, and John Canemaker, Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation.