Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting previously recorded TV into Media Center Part 3: TV Library

I've been trying a new plugin for organizing TV Shows lately.  It's TV Library by Jack Luminous.  It's still in a beta state and there's active development going on, but it's looking very good at this point. It organizes shows based on the meta data rather than physical location.

As you can see, no more duplicate CSIs.   I have seen earlier versions present duplicate entries here because the metadata didn't agree, but those issues appear to have been worked out.  TV Library can also present the list of series sorted and grouped in different ways such as by genre.  I was not able to get that feature working to my satisfaction with TV series in Media Browser.

One thing that takes some getting used to coming from Beyond TV is needing to select the season you want to watch.   In Beyond TV, all the episodes for a series are presented in a single list, so it's quicker to get to the most recent episodes (depending on the sort used.)  In TV Library, a few more clicks are needed.  The first click brings up the synopsis for the series, then you can select either "Episodes" at the top or "Browse" on the panel to get to a list of seasons.

Then finally you can get to the list of episodes for the season.

That said, there is also a view showing new episodes that makes getting to the most recent recordings very quick and easy.  Also, selecting the "Browse" option for a series that has recorded recently will by default display a list of the recently recorded episode(s).

As I said, the plugin is still in beta and I run into an occasional glitch here and there.   I needed to install SQL Server Compact Edition manually before the plugin would work, but that's not difficult and it's a one time deal.

TV Library lacks a configuration program to set the directories and instead has two options for the user: it creates a Windows 7 library that you can add directories to, or you can edit the program's XML configuration file and add directories manually.  By default it adds the folders in the Movies media library in Media Center to its library when it starts up (I don't know why "Movies",  I would have preferred videos or recorded TV as the base.)  One thing that might trip up less Windows 7 savvy users is that the library is created under the "Public" user and the "Public\Libraries" folder is hidden so you need to know to go looking for it. There are a lot of helpful posts on the Green Button thread I linked above for getting it set up.

Once the directories are set, the app runs in the background and gathers the shows and pulls down meta data for each one.   That process can take a while, so it's best to set things up and leave it alone for a couple of hours while it does its thing.

The main screens with the lists of series can be a bit slow to load, but I know the author is aware of that and is working on it.   I'd also prefer that it be able to use metadata from a third party manager, such as YAMM or Meida Center Master.   Overall it does a pretty good job of finding Meta data, but sometimes you need to help it out by renaming files so they'll match whats on

Now if only it could work with the DVRMS Toolbox commercial skipping addin.  That would make it a must have for me, no question about it.

Edit: Now that I have some content recorded with Media Center I'm happy to report that the commercial skipping add-in does work from within the TV Library when playing .wtv files.

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