John Zilka covers the basic of creating joint chains in Autodesk Maya, using the nHair properties for control. Autodesk Maya makes it pretty easy to set up a dynamic joint chain, but it does involve a few steps. First you need to create an Spline IK through the joint chain.
With the newly created spline IK curve, you can then use Maya’s “Make Dynamic” command under the Hair menu. This will make the curve respond to Maya dynamics.
In this tutorial I cover how to control a set of joints with a dynamic hair and also how to connect it into a rig so it will scale properlyJohn Zilka - BogusIndustries.com
Adding the dynamic hair to the joint chain will introduce all kinds of new nodes into the system, including a hair and follicle node and John shows which to pay attention to, and what setting to change for what effect.
John also shows how to set up the newly created dynamic joint chain so that it can be incorporated and scaled into a rig without breaking the system.
Taking Dynamic Joint Chains in Maya a Step Further
HHS Animation has a great tutorial showing how to incorporate a dynamic joint chain in a rig that can be used for automatic secondary animation. the video covers creating the dynamic joint chain and using it for the strap of a character’s helmet.
Swapping out Dynamic Joint Chain’s Hair for nHair using Nucleus
Since Maya 2013, you can use a new command offered in the Maya Bonus Tools. Using the new make joints dynamic command, you can make the dynamic joint chain use nHair instead of Maya’s older dynamic hair. This has the added benefit of using the unified Nucleus dynamics engine which will allow the dynamic curves to interact with Maya’s other elements in the scene, such as nCloth, nMeshes, nParticles, and nConstraints – so basically, anything with an “n”!