Various indoor props from Abadas.
The button-jar was a prop that took a fair amount of time to get right as we needed it to be knocked over and spill its buttons out in one shot. I tried various methods including nCloth, nParticles & rigid bodies, but they either were too inaccurate or took longer to sim than was particle. In the end I used nVidia's physX plugin for Maya to drive the sim, which seemed to get the balance about right between sim-time and accuracy.
To actually fill the jar I duplicated around 300 buttons above it, and used the jar as a rigid body with gravity on to allow the buttons to collect inside it. Any that clipped through the jar were then manually deleted, and all the buttons transformations were frozen. From here it was easy enough to reapply the physX dynamics and animate the jar falling over, and minimal clean-up was needed to avoid clipping the jar.
Unfortunately after all of this, the jar ended up being about 20 pixels tall on screen in the episode...