[Maya] Containers




I’m currently going through the 3DBuzz Developing modular rigging systems with Python, and Containers are a huge part of their process. I plan to finish this tutorial series, and write my own auto-rigging toolset. I have other ideas in mind, and another approach, but I just want to finish this tutorial first, not sure why :smiley: Anyway…

Personally I never really used Containers in production. I’ve googled a bit more about what people think about Containers in Maya, and I found mostly positive feedback.

However I don’t see any auto-rigging scripts that use Containers, including big ones like Advanced Skeleton and I think A.R.T too (actually not sure now about this one) for example. I think I only found one Modular auto rig, that was using containers as part of it’s workflow.

I see the appeal of Containers as a way to Lock the rig as much as possible for animators (probably useful on big projects, but in most cases in my experience I did not have the need to protect the rig THAT much). But I also see some downsides. For example it makes maintaining this rig harder, it makes it harder to work with it for other riggers. And in auto-rig scripts it adds a lot more steps to include containers as well.

So, what do you think about Containers? Are they really useful? Are they worth the time spent on setting them up and learning all ins and outs?



We used them at Lionhead within our modular rigging tool to help encapsulate rigging components. The concept is great, but we utilised them right from their initial implementation and we paid a price for that. The biggest issue we found was the lack of support from other tools within the application - the node editor being the most prominent one.

As an example, when something goes wrong in a rig, the first thing is to look at the evaluation graph (typically in the node editor). However, out the box, the node editor does not display the contents of a container, making it near impossible to debug. This was certainly true in Maya 2014 (though I am fairly certain the same issue occurs in 2016). Throughout our entire production we constantly felt we were using a feature that was not ready and that ended up really hindering us.

I have not used containers in the last couple of years so I cannot say whether the situation has changed, but given that experience I would definitely take a moment to look at how well its integrated before committing to it. It’s a shame because the idea behind the feature is great - the ability to encapsulate and query the contents of a container is very powerful.

I would love to hear from others that may be using them in production - particularly more recently to get a feel whether things have really changed.


@MikeM Thank you for your answer!

From what I recently googled, from other forums’ discussions - containers now work better with Node editor.


One very hacky way to display the content/connections within a container is:
With the container selected in the node editor, show incoming/outgoing connections,
delete the container, then immediately undo the delete. That (dangerous) method will then expose all of the node connections within the container. Discovered this accidentally and would love a true solution.