And Out of Movie Chaos Came . . .

Movienizer screenshotMy movies are out of control.  They’re stored on harddrives, DVDs, VHS tapes, and kept in a variety of places.   I have gone to some pains to test out some means of paperless cataloging of my media.  This post is intended to save you some of that effort, should you decide to get your,um, media together.

I installed Movienizer and was sent to their website where a dummy library appeared.  No information as to what to do next.  I clicked the Add a Movie button and selected the option to add one from a file.  It took quite a while to start browsing.  It could not find the movie with the file name “Flirting With Forty (Recorded Dec 6, 2008, LIFE).mpg”, but found it by title very quickly.  The resulting information was quite nice.  Eventually I did figure out that I needed to create a database.  The first database was a demonstration one.  After creating a database, I repeated the search for the movie and saved the movie to my collection.  There was an intriguing play button, but at first nothing happened when I clicked on it.

Later I found an exhaustive tutorial at ManiacTools that states that if a movie is added by file (instead of title), Movienizer will play the correct file when the play button is clicked.  Movienizer also lets me choose my own default player.  The Movienizer player has a nice feature wherein one can take a snapshot of the movie as it plays and have the snapshot added to one’s database.   Even if one chooses to use a different “external” player as the default, a drop down menu lets one choose their “internal” player.  That way if one wants to add a shot from a specific scene one easily can.

The information at the Movienizer website was sparse and left me floundering.  After going to Maniac Tools, I was able to access the full power and versatility of this package.  In addition, all of this is available in a portable package.  If I’m at a friend’s house and we’re discussing which movie we might want to watch, I have some choices right on my thumbdrive.

Libra screenshotThe next package I used was Libra.  It installed without a hitch and quickly found my movie simply by entering the title.  Unlike Movienizer, it only searches Amazon.  In my limited use, the description of the movie was more elaborate than that found on Movienizer.  The tastiest feature to me was that one can use one’s webcam to scan in the bar code of one’s DVD to add a title to the database.  Unfortunately, the hokey library shelf display is off-putting to me.  (Others may find it attractive.)  I did not readily see a way to link the library to the video on my computer or change the appearance.  A detailed review was done in 2008 at My Digital Life.  Sadly the orignial Libra url seems to have reverted to GoDaddy.  However, it is still available from other sources.

MeD Movie ManagerMeD Movie Manager installed easily, but did not give an option as to in which start folder to place its shortcut.  It required me to choose the type of database I wanted when I created a new one.  It didn’t import fan art automatically like the other packages, but did pull in the data from imdb.  By clicking on the big X, I was bounced to the pictures at the imdb site, but was left to guess what to do next.  Eventually I discovered that in edit mode I could click on the X and it would allow me to browse to a picture on my computer that I could use as the thumbnail.  In the help file there was an intriguing answer to the question of how to choose a default player, but not how to link one’s movie to a file on one’s computer.

DVD Profiler 3.5DVD Profiler 3.5 tried to upsell me before I even had it installed, but it also had the most intuitive start screen.  Easily loaded the information from an unknown source including the picture of both the front and the back of the DVD.  It also offered a choice of different appearance themes. One has to select an alternate tab to be presented with the synopsis.   DVD Profiler’s license will expire when it moves out of alpha, but its database can be imported by My Movies 2 for use in Windows Media Center if one should decide to change at that point.

coollector There is a lot of competition in this area.  Other choices include Coollector Movie Database, which has been downloaded by a lot of people.  It comes with a “complete” movie database.  All the user has to do is check the one’s owned, borrowed, or lent out.  Lots of useful filters for searching and sorting.   Very attractive appearance.  I like that the package offers the option of using PicLens to display graphics.  Great keyboard shortcuts.  However, it consistently crashed while I was performing searches.

my movies 2 collection management Now if you use Windows Media Center there is a plug-in called My Movies 2.  (It can also be used with XBMC, but that costs $25.)  The movie collection mode interface is not so attractive, but when viewed through Windows Media Center it is the slickest in appearance of any of the solid performers.  I love being able to rip uncopyrighted DVD s right from My Movies 2.  No wonder MM2 has gained so many fans.  If paired with WMC, it can also monitor folders to reflect the actual contents therein.  If I add a file with a home movie or ripped in another way, I can still include it in my catalog.

my movies 2 through WMC MM2 ripped a DVD in about 1.5 hours.  DVDShrink took about 6.5 hours.  It also placed a picture in the folder which then shows up on the cover of the folder when viewed in MS Explorer.  Which means that one approach, for those without Windows Media Center or who choose not to use it, would be to catalog with MM2, view thumbnails with MS Explorer, and watch with a good video player (like VLC or KMPlayer).

MediaMan1 The MediaMan bookshelf has an appearance similar to Libra (ugly).  Like Libra, it also allows bar codes to be scanned by webcam.  In addition, it advertises that items can be associated with files and played straight from the Media Man software.  Another cool feature is that MediaMan can display only those items with associated files.  One can also add custom tags to items for easy searching.  All of these functions work with music files, also.  Lastly, MediaMan is an Amazon Associate retailer, so I can shop Amazon straight out of MediaMan.   Their site also offers the option to coders of developing their own theme.   So, why didn’t I lead with MediaMan?  After 30 days it costs $40.  (They also have a version for servers for $140.)  Did I mention that I’m cheap?

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