good news! my rig is up and running at full speed with both my dog and human character! the human character is going amazing all weight painting is finished and the deformations look amazing! stretchy IK and FK systems are all working well as well has implementing an anti-twist shoulder and hip bone so that when you lift the arm up the rotate-plane solver doesnt do a 180* flip and ruin character animation. I have also finalised the hair for the character and started on the blendshape expressions for the face and so far i have included smile, laugh, blink, frown (i am thinking of maybe around 6 more expressions which i will create a facial control for expressions).
I have also finished fur testing for the dog with maya fur at 1920x1080 the maya fur (with a density of 600,000) is rendering at 16 secs a frame which is real amazing (i will need to adjust the specular of the fur)! With the little boy, Maya software is spitting images out at 4 secs a frame, so with basic lighting and rest of geometry in the rest of the animation i will probably be looking at maybe 24-30 seconds a frame which will be very manageable!
video of fur test: http://youtu.be/Sjd3rHbYDbM
a gallery of test expressions and fur testing: http://imgur.com/a/ctWew