What a mess!.. Mediacenters and collecting movies -> a PITA.. o) (1 Viewer)

tbrg78

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Hi folks,

I'm dealing with movies and mediaportal for some time now, and just wanted to ask, if anybody knows a reason for why the software situation is like it is.. a big mess!

Installing, using and managing a fully working mediacenter installation needs professional knowhow, patience, time and strong nervs to get anywhere near.
There is no standard for exporting/importing movie details (including artwork).
There is no stable and bullet-proof application for storing, creating and scraping movie details.
There are plugins, working with dedicated skins only, throwing errors, breaking cofigurations.
There are many different active projects and developers, trying their best, but it seems, there is no teamwork.
I cannot count how many different scraper scripts and software solutions I tried the last months, to get a decent mediacollection and viewing experience.. and I'm not done yet.

So i've been through mediaportal re/installations, bugs, updates, extensions, skins, hours of manual work getting movie details and artwork straight. Testing MediaManagers, plugins, TV-Server setups, dvb-t cards/sticks and drivers, trying import and export helpers and so on.

To make a long story short, it's just a mess. As someone being relatively new to all this, it is a complete new world, a world where nothing works out of the box, where countless hours of reading forum posts is neccesary to get the simplest things done.

Why is that ?! I mean collecting movies is surely around for many years, using the help of computers and software is as old as any VHS-tape you might still have on your shelf.. o)

I'm a software developer myself, diving into mediacenter stuff half a year ago. Still trying to find some convenient way of adding new movies, exchanging data between different software and so on. I just can't believe this segment has not yet come to a level, where anybody is able to run, alter and just *use* a mediacenter and mediacollection as he would use a hair brush and his mobile phone.

This is no rant! I'm using computers for about 20 years now, I've seen high quality open-source and closed-source projects, delivering a "wow!" user experience. Think of blender, gimp, linux, web-browsers, php, apache, java, trillian, open office and free games like hurrican and so on.. just to name a few really well done pieces of complex software.

Watching movies and collecting them is something a lot of people spend time with,i just don't get why there is no software handling this without headache.

Thanks for reading.. o)
Rob.
 

Scythe42

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    Just properly name your files and any decent scraper will find a single match. Exception is where the source like IMDB or others are no good.

    Never had any scraping problems in general. Of 1800+ imported movies about two dozen needed a manual correction when I recently change from Moving Pictures to My Films.

    This was basically when a movie is available under different titles (Asian titles or movies from the 30s are often a problem) or if I have several editions of a movie that don't have their own entry (read: Blade Runner for example, or Despecialized Star Wars Editions).

    And of course If I want another title than the official one (e.g. for grouping some stuff solely on a title, like James Bond Movies).

    I go for "Full Title (year)". Any scraper I used so far could handle this. And if I resolved a conflict I let the plugin/scraper what ever rename the files. I usually check against IMDB.
     
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    tbrg78

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    Getting movie details scraped from imdb can surley be done with most of the scrapers available. Problems start if you aim for german movie descriptions, and if your scraper-thing gets precious information, but stores them somewhere in a database, where no complete export can be done from. Or when you just move any files around and the mediacenter/scraper-subsystem kicks off to rescrape already fetched information again and again. Overwriting your already picked cover, fanart whatsoever.. that's where it's getting real uncomfortable. And think about migrating from one mediacenter/movie-plugin to the next, problems will arise for sure.

    I think it could be as simple as some kind of zip-file or folder I put next to each movie. Any mediamanager or similar software could just put anything you scraped and gathered from the internet in there and let it be. There's normaly no need to scrape a movie x-times.. once I have all information I imagine to have some kind of vault for it. That mentioned zip-container or subdirectory should be the main place where to store and keep movie information. Not some database or some bulky xml-files.

    If I need to move files, or just want my friends to import my recordings, I'd like to copy 2 files or one extra folder for each movie and the mediasystem of my friend reads them in. Why does everybody need to scrape all over again ?! I know, there are ways to keep information side by side at the movie-files itself. That *.nfo-format e.g., but that's just a half baked thing, any cover/folderart.jpg is not part of it and the next Importer incapable of simply recognizing a "fanart.jpg".. and then it's "wtf?" again.

    You know MP3-Tags ?! Once they're set up, every player can show them. It seems never anybody thought about standard movie tags, including cover etc. ?!

    Multipart-File handling or DVD-Rips.. another point where most apps fail badly. God, how did I pull my hair when it came to VIDEO_TS.IFO files and stuff. Try to import an *.nfo complete movie set with MyFilms6, it won't do. Try to handle those filetypes with EmberMediaManager, which supports *.nfo by default and then import that into MovingPictures.. it won't do. It needs tweaking, reading, setting up, manual editing of filenames, foldernames and sometimes even taking care of some application to NOT touch your files ever again, else you start again from scratch, because it wipes of or just ignores your data already there.

    Even rather simple things as the "already watched"-tag cannot be saved at the movie itself. How stupid is that ?! MovingPictures always cleares the "watched"-information whener it imports a movie, which was already imported earlier (and might have been removed from the list, just because the files switched directories). I mean, that's what file-hashes are for.

    I'm kind of dissapointed at what all this feels like in everyday handling. Mediaportal and its plugins look nice if all is working and set up, but to ever get there is hard work. And don't ever touch a thing or think about moving around with your collection, you risk to ruine everything.
     

    TLD

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    There is no standard for exporting/importing movie details (including artwork).

    That's because there are 3 different movie plugins. The default "Videos", "Moving Pictures" and "MyFilms" each using there own databases. some of the information they hold is the same but "Moving Pictures" and "MyFilms" have extended information so need different databases. Also "MyFilms" is able to have multiple clients so it's database needs to support that. Because of the different features they each need there own scraper.
    You need to decide which movie plugin you want to use and use it's scraper


    There is no stable and bullet-proof application for storing, creating and scraping movie details.

    Use the backup plugin and it will backup the databases and thumbs so you will always have your movie information and artwork.


    There are plugins, working with dedicated skins only, throwing errors, breaking cofigurations.

    The only skin that supports all the plugins is the default skin, I'd suggest you use it until you know which plugins you want to use. That's because the folks that are making the plugins don't necessarily make all the different skins for there plugins. Many different people in the community make plugins, on there own time i should add, and many don't know how to make the skins. the folks that make skins don't necessarily want to make skins for every plugin because it may not be that useful and disappear after a month or two.
    If you know the plugins you want to use and the skin you want just ask in the proper skin thread if the plugins you want to use are supported and if not if the maker of the skin would add support for the plugin.
     

    kiwijunglist

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    Even rather simple things as the "already watched"-tag cannot be saved at the movie itself. How stupid is that ?! MovingPictures always clears the "watched"-information whenever it imports a movie, which was already imported earlier (and might have been removed from the list, just because the files switched directories). I mean, that's what file-hashes are for.

    Use trakt.tv or follw.it integration, record your watched status online, synch watched status between different devices and clients, If re-installing your movie database the watched status will get updated.
     

    scott_mckenzie

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    There are many different active projects and developers, trying their best, but it seems, there is no teamwork.

    5 years ago did you install Media portal and given it a try then? Have you run MS media Centre before?
    The reason I ask the 2 questions is that I think you would realise how incorrect your comment is.

    I originally installed MS Media Centre at the end of 2006 and after a number of guide dramas, I installed MP. To be honest I found MP to be very basic at the time and fairly buggy so I moved back to MS media centre and tolerated the guide issues. Last year in April when I saw that MS (who just earnt almost $7b in profit) were not going to make any enhancements to Media Centre, I decided to look at alternate options and again looked at Media Portal, and I couple not have been more surprised at how much progress they have made.

    Integrated blu-ray support, and so many great plugins, as well as skins that make Media Centre look like it was from the '90s, and not only that, a reliable guide! This to me shows incredible team work from the MP team!

    Yes I have had quirks but the support here is incredible. I get responses from people like Scythe, and kiwijunglist very quickly, and what is even better is that they actually attempt to fix the issues in new releases that are only weeks away. and Also I use moving pictures and I have had to rename several movies, but that was because the naming of the files were really bad in the first place.

    On top of everything else, this is product is 100% free!

    My recommendation is if you find MP and moving pictures to be a "PITA", I'm sure with your 20 years computer experience and developer skills you could enhance the plugin yourself - I'm sure the movingpictures developers would really appreciate it.
     
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    tbrg78

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    @TLD
    but "Moving Pictures" and "MyFilms" have extended information so need different databases

    I kind of disagree.. o) Let there be just one extendable database and every plugin should be pleased. In case of extended information, "just" add another column to that movie-table, so to say. What i still dislike is, that there is no straight connection betweend files on harddisc and that database. Whenever you move your files around or rename a movie-folder.. things won't do anymore. I'd like to mention those IDv4 MP3-Tags again.. they support any kind of extended information, but even the simplest mp3-player is still getting base-information of that music file.

    Use the backup plugin and it will backup the databases and thumbs so you will always have your movie information and artwork.

    Yes, i can do that. But if i plan to install XBMC the next day.. will that backup restore there, i doubt it.. o)
    I just ran AntMovieCatalog for the first time and tried to import the xml-database, which AMCUpdater creates and MyFilms6 uses as well. And guess what, 40% of the movies now miss their coverart (seems to be related to relative vs. absolut paths btw.). But that's the pain I speak about and that's one corner of many, where I miss that bit of multi-plattform/application interoperability. I don't blame mediaportal, don't get me wrong. I miss connectivity and ease of use in general. I expected that collecting and watching movies with a mediacenter, is as easy as driving a car - once you know the basics. But it's not, it takes half a year to get into that mediacenter system + media manager and all its bits.

    If you know the plugins you want to use and the skin you want just ask in the proper skin thread if the plugins you want to use are supported and if not if the maker of the skin would add support for the plugin.

    Yep, that's the way to go. Information hunting.. and that's part of my writing here. A regular user coming round the corner installing mp with that skin and that plugin is going to get in trouble. And in case he owns an already nice database of his movies, he's not going to get that straight into mp or any other mediacenter.

    @kiwijunglist
    Use trakt.tv or follw.it integration, record your watched status online, synch watched status between different devices and clients, If re-installing your movie database the watched status will get updated.

    Online services bring in another dependency, I'd rather go without them. I had a quick google search, showing me several issues with that integration, so this seems to be another can of worms.. o) But thanks for giving directions regarding this. I have a last.fm account and had some tests with music some weeks ago. I wasn't really satisfied with what it offers and I'm afraid that's the same with follw and trakt, but sure.. I shall try that though.
    Idea: WebService interface for MP to use my already running media server and serve/sync watch-status between android-equipment and other players myself ?!.. o)

    @scott_mckenzie
    5 years ago did you install Media portal and given it a try then? Have you run MS media Centre before?
    The reason I ask the 2 questions is that I think you would realise how incorrect your comment is.
    Yep, i used MS mediacenter before, an no - i'm new to mediaportal, don't know what it looked like some years ago.
    MS Mediacenter is a toy, it always crashes whenever i try to add my music or pictures to it. WMP11 the same. Maybe i was a bit unclear with my sentence and that "missing team work", I miss standards! I think mediaportal is one kind of an unique project, for sure. What it offers is great in comparison to some other systems, as well. But i cannot help thinking, that it's still a mess with movies, their formats and handling their meta-information.

    The Apple *.m4v format is the only one known to me, which carries at least some kind of "coverart" with it. I'd like movie-files to be as well supported as ZIP, MP3, JPG, PNG and whatelse is around. Since 15-20 years a snapshot taken with even the cheapest digital camera stores EXIF information + thumbnail for instance. A Zip file can be read by any operation system i've ever used. So what's the reason playing movies and handling their information needs dozens of scrapers, codecs and software suites, all handling that data in a different way?

    My recommendation is if you find map and moving pictures to be a "PITA", I'm sure with your 20 years computer experience and developer skills you could enhance the plugin yourself - I'm sure the movingpictures developers would really appreciate it.

    Sorry for bringing my 20 years of experience in, just wanted to point out, that this stuff is way to hard to handle for the average computer guy or anyones girlfriend, you know ?!.. o) Imagine I had a family, I wouldn't be able to use mediaportal, because of lacking time tinkering around with it.
    I'll see what I can do to give a supporting hand to the developers. Getting into new projects is always a challenge, and people not always like being helped by some guy coming round the corner, telling what's to be done next.. Hope you understand what i mean.. o)

    Perhaps my demands are just to high ?! On the other hand - come on!.. We live in 2013 now, computers being around for 30 years in anyones home, we fly to mars and moon.. Still we fight with filesystem structures, *.nfo-files, missing movie-details, crashing media applications, updating scraper scripts, xml-files belonging to popular plugins carrying no namespace and posting threads like this.. o)
    Efforts should be more focused to get some standards on their way, instead of every plugin/mediasystem developer cooking its own soup over and over again.

    Thank you for taking your time, it helps me to speak about it.. o)
    I enjoyed your replys.. o) Have a nice weekend!
    Rob.
     
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    scott_mckenzie

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    Hi tbrg78,

    I think Media Portal 2 is what you are more looking for - I haven't tried it myself as it's in alpha state, but I believe the back end has had a complete rewrite to make it more scale able (anyone feel free to correct me here).

    The challenge for this amazing team of developers is the fact that they have to deal with an infinite combination of hardware configurations, and not only that, but also coding around windows inherent flaws as well - check out this post - https://forum.team-mediaportal.com/threads/htpc-hdmi-win7-and-its-many-issues.109242/
    Scythe is working on a fix for this issue which only exists because hardware manufacturers and Microsoft setup HDMI detection so poorly!

    I get where you're coming from RE having a family and dealing with bugs, etc. I once installed a plugin for media centre that i downloaded during an ad break, but it had a virus which brought my HTPC completely down resulting in me having to format / reinstall. I've also had to reprogram the EPROM chip on my tv card as it got wiped in a major crash. In both of these scenarios my wife was not a happy camper! The MP team have delivered a huge amount of features (well beyond anything I have thought of) to suit so many people's needs, but by providing so much functionality so quickly, it does mean that isn't a simple wizard to get everything working. If you're wanting a rock solid system that is bug free, I'd recommend looking at other options like a PS3 - Sony has the benefit of only dealing with one hardware spec, having millions of dollars behind them, as well as full control of the operating system.

    My setup is now 98% perfect - I just have one issue that needs fixing and I have a workaround in place. What I have done with my latest setup is to capture all my notes on Google docs on all the tweaks, etc so next time when I format / reinstall, there's less hunting I need to do as the details are captured right there. Last week I did a format / reinstall and I had 90% of my setup done within 5 hours - all drivers installed, and TV working perfectly.

    Anyway - have a look at MP2.... but I have To say, anyone you ask that has been in the HTPC world for any longer than a year will tell you that just like golf, it's a world of frustration, but at the same time, very rewarding!

    Good luck - Scott
     

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