By "custom" I mean creating original poses and expressions that only fit the particular scene and story you are working on.
If you are just gonna use stock prefab model sheet poses and expressions, then there really is no reason to do layouts in the country. You might as well just send the script directly overseas. It's a lot cheaper and all that matters is what the characters say anyway, right? Not how they say it or how they think?
This is not exactly what layout was created for. It's really the animator's job to create the acting, but since animation is all done overseas (or in flash) this is the best solution I could come up with to at least have some directorial control over the performances in the stories.
It's a bandaid created for TV production. However, TV practices and philosophy have largely been adopted by many full animators too. Meaning that most animators these days are expected to not really vary much from the model sheets or even the limited house styles that exist today. I see characters in every major studio making the same expressions and moving the same way they have moved for 25 years. Maybe some move smoother or have more overlap, but the acting seems to be out of the can.
I've found that even really good animators have trouble adapting to different styles and especially breaking out of stock expressions, actions and poses. Too many artists do things the way "it's supposed to be done".
So layout is also a way for me aid the animators in getting the customized acting I like.
Chuck Jones used to do a lot of his own poses even back when he had great full animators at WB. I think he said not all them could draw well and needed detailed poses from the director.
The ideal to me would be to have animators who not only can move things smoothly, but who also have their own individual styles - and an ability to break from formula - to be able to think on their feet. To be able to feel the emotions of scene and have the chops to translate those feelings into distinct and confident drawings and animation.
That's one of the things I love about Clampett. He encourages his animators to customize everything rather than just repeat actions they have already done a million times. That's true creativity as opposed to being merely smooth and professional.
More poses? You'll probably have to put up with another lecture; sorry about that.