Good, read it read it read it!
Most use Maya. Others use Lightwave or 3Ds MAX. XSI has the best animation system to use but is expensive, but Maya is the all rounder. Pixar uses Marionette, a custom built modeller and animation system for their films. It’s inhouse only though and can’t be bought off the shelf.
Blender is just a baby to the others in comparison. Most production studios don’t use it because of the lack of customer and software support it has that Maya and the others do have.
See, open source is a bit like acquiring goods from a bazaar, theres an element of not exactly getting what your after in the software. Blender has real good support for it, but when a production company is being paid millions (literally) to produce an animated feature, you’re gonna want to make sure the software you use is watertight incase it fucks up. Simple.
BUUUT, in saying all that, Blender will become a pretty impressive and strong piece of software in a few years time and it will have most of the features the other software has like it does now, wait and see
NLA and keyframing both have strengths and weakness over the other, never hold one in favour for the other. Use both. NLA is good and can speed things up a bit, but a strong reliance on NLA can make you become a lazy animator. Keyframing IS slow but you have better control over the results. NLA is dependant on the initial keyframing of actions, if your walk is slow, your NLA will be slow, and vice versa. You can switch between walking, running and other actions however during an NLA but you can’t increase the keyed in pace of a walk action to a fast walk, you get me, the animating in Blender book will show you all of it.
This’ about all I can tell you, the rest is up to you Don007. But I will give you feedback for the animation. But I think you’ll probably be able to see what needs doing to it to polish it up as you go along. Its an instinct. I’d also email the other guys who worked on Elephants dream and a few of the other animators floating around the forums about it and get their opinion too, noone knows the software better than they do.