After I implemented the Dupligroup support into Action Baking and Matchbone, I realized that one of the true strengths of the dupligroup system is for Level of Detail. Once you have everything built, it's a piece of cake to swap out entire grouped objects with different levels of detail. You simply retarget the placeholder at a different group and update any Action Strip target armatures. Everything else works seamlessly. It turned out to be so simple that I just went ahead and put it into BlenderPeople.
So, before, where I was having trouble rendering more than 24 characters TOTAL, I just had my whimpy machine crank out a frame of 300 actors, all onscreen at once, with the appropriate level of detail per their distance to camera, in about 45 seconds. No memory chokes.
The way I did it was to create five different versions of my main mesh: hi res (26k verts), medium (13k), low (2k), proxy (382) and skeleton (150). I'm thinking to implement it like this: you start off with skeleton, for blocking things out. Once you have everything hopping as you like it, you can go in and make a selection in the 3D window of the relevant camera and the actors in question, advance to a particular frame, then press the LoD button in BlenderPeople, at which point it relinks the groups to the appropriate group objects. It should be a good first step.
As part of the new release is making some impressive demo animation, getting the Actor count up in final rendering is very important. So, if you're thinking this doesn't relate directly to release, well, you're wrong. To me, it's essential. Nice picture hopefully forthcoming tomorrow.