Scene Management in 3ds Max - Part 1 - Containers

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  • Design Visualization
  • Modeling
  • 2011
  • Basics
  • Deploying and Building
  • Environment
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
4 min

Scene Management in 3ds Max - Part 1 - Containers

In this tutorial, learn the basic concepts for creating and editing Containers. Containers are helpers that let you organize scene contents into logical groups. If you come from an AutoCAD background, think of containers as "Groups" but with added functionality. In this first tutorial, we focus on basic concepts for creating and editing Containers.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2010
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2010 or higher.


00:00:00 --> 00:00:05
Containers are helper objects that let you organize scene contents
into logical groups or "blocks".

00:00:05 --> 00:00:09
Objects within a container are then manipulated as a single object.

00:00:09 --> 00:00:13
If you are coming from a CAD background, think of containers
as AutoCAD blocks.

00:00:13 --> 00:00:17
3ds Max containers can save content to disk for collaborative purposes.

00:00:17 --> 00:00:21
You can even set rules to prevent others from editing container content.

00:00:21 --> 00:00:29
Containers can be managed from the Helper command panel, the Tools menu,
or the Container Scene Explorer.

00:00:30 --> 00:00:38
A Container Scene Explorer is a regular scene explorer with a
Container Toolbar that gives you direct access to container commands.

00:00:43 --> 00:00:48
You create a container like you do a dummy helper, with a simple
click and drag.

00:00:50 --> 00:00:57
In this scene, we have a kitchen cabinet made of three parts:
the cabinet body, a door and a handle.

00:00:58 --> 00:01:06
These three objects are hierarchically linked to perform logical
transform operations like Move & Rotate.

00:01:11 --> 00:01:18
To group the three objects into one container, place the container
where you would need to have it serve as an "anchor", or an insertion
point to the geometry.

00:01:19 --> 00:01:23
In this case, place the container in the back center of the cabinet,
at coordinates [0, 0, 0].

00:01:24 --> 00:01:29
At this time, it is called a "local" container, meaning you created it
locally on your system.

00:01:29 --> 00:01:31
Local containers display as "open".

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The container is now ready to be filled with components.

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Use the Add tool to add container nodes, in this case all three parts
of the kitchen cabinet.

00:01:47 --> 00:01:52
At this time, it would be a good idea give the container a name that
reflects its components.

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This is a 12" low-cabinet, so name the container: Cont_locab_12i

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Do not use illegal symbols like double quotes (") when naming containers.

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You can display the label on the container helper object, to make it
easier to identify in the viewport.

00:02:07 --> 00:02:12
You can also change the size of the helper object without affecting
the geometry.

00:02:16 --> 00:02:20
At this time, you need to consider if you want to provide editing
rights to others.

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If you do, turn on the Allow Edit in Place option.

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If you do NOT want anyone to edit the contents of your container,
leave this option unchecked, as is the case right now.

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You are now ready to save the container to disk. You can use the
Save As command to that effect.

00:02:36 --> 00:02:42
If you forget to use the Save As command and proceed directly
to closing the container, you will be prompted to enter a file name.

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A Container Definition File is saved under a .maxc extension.

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After you save (and close) a container, you can no longer access
its individual parts. In fact, you cannot select its geometry at all.

00:02:59 --> 00:03:05
You can still transform the container to move or rotate the cabinet
for scene placement.

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However, as the original "author" of this container, you can still open
it to make changes to its components.

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For example, you can mirror the door so that it opens from the other side.

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At this point, you can create a new Container Definition File using
Save As, or simply update the existing one using Save.

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Close the container before moving on.

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Let's take a look at how containers react in a collaborative environment.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Modeling
  • 2011
  • Basics
  • Deploying and Building
  • Environment
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