Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Please post general questions about MainLobby here
henris
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:06 am
Contact:

Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby henris » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:48 am

I've been running Meedio based htpc's for the past seven years. I had been looking for a replacement for several years when I found MainLobby 2,5 years ago. I was also designing our new house with full automation in mind. So MainLobby seemed to be a perfect solution. Now the house is finished (enough) to start tinkering with Mainlobby seriously. I just downloaded the trial versions and started playing around with media parts of ML since that is the what I will need working first. Automisation parts like integration to KNX will follow. I try not to be hanging on to the old ways of doing things so I need some help figuring out the best way to accomplish things in ML world. I've been reading a lot of things from the forum and wiki but might have missed important parts. So answers and pointers are more than welcome.

My current setup is the following
- unRAID servers for storing DVD's, Blurays, music, tv-series and DVB-recordings
- DVDProfiler for DVD and Bluray cataloging
- PowerDVD for Bluray playback
- TheaterTek for DVD playback
- DVBViewer for DVB viewing (server/client setup) + Recording service for background DVB recording (OTA only, no SAT or cable)
- Media Player Classic Home Cinema for x264 avi and mkv playback
- HIP for MCE remote interfacing (converts all commands to keystrokes)
- AnyDVD HD for Bluray ripping (and on-the-fly decryption of BR ISO's)
- DVDFab for DVD ripping
- Virtual Clonedrive for ISO mounting

The media is stored in the following structure
- bluray
-- "Blu ray Movie #1.iso"
- dvb
-- "year_month_day_hour_minute_channel_tvprogramname.ts"
-- "year_month_day_hour_minute_channel_tvprogramname.txt" (epg information for the recorded tv-program)
- dvd
-- "DVD movie #1"
--- Video_TS.ifo
- mp3
-- Artist
--- Album
---- "Artist - Album - Track number - Track name.mp3" (with full mp3 tags)
- tv-series
-- "TV-serie #1"
--- "Season 1"
---- "TV-Serie_#1_S01E01_Episode#1_Name.avi/mkv"

And the questions are:
1. Does ML support importing movie metadata from DVDProfiler repeatedly? I know you can import atleast once but can you continue maintaining the movie catalog in DVDProfiler and have only the changed ones updated to ML-database?
2. Is the metadata created on ML side (e.g. last watched) kept or lost when re-importing from DVDProfiler?
3. Is there a way to export movie data from ML database? This is the main reason for question #1, I hesitate to but any large amount of data into a proprietary system/format if it cannot be exported to some generic format.
4. Should I replace Media Player Classic with one of the natively supported players? I'm in anyway moving from WinXP to Win7 so the systems will be installed from scratch.
5. Does ML have support for DVBViewer or is there anyone using it with ML? The integration with Meedio is very loose just launching the program and then waiting it for finishing which should work with ML too. But it would be nice to have a deeper integration.
6.How would I import my DVB recordings into ML? In Meedio I have a very generic file importer which parses metadata from the filename and then I can build a view whichs groups the items eg. on the program name. It would be perfect if I could combine also the information from .txt file (epg) to the same metadata.
7. I saw some comments regarding file mode vs iso mode for ripping dvd's and blurays and file mode was recommended for both. But for blurays it atleast used to be impossible use file with PowerDVD since it simply did not support it. Is this still the situation or has ML done something specific to overcome the restriction?
8. How would I import my TV-series into ML? This is very similar to DVB-recordings but in this case some of the meta data is parsed from the directory structure (series name, season and season image).
9. Where would DVB recordings and TV-series be placed in ML (movies section or...)? And how would I be able to provide a separated (from movies) way of browsing them?

User avatar
CinemarDave
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 10535
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2003 8:56 am
Location: Planet Earth
Contact:

Re: Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby CinemarDave » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:13 am

Excellent questions.

1. Does ML support importing movie metadata from DVDProfiler repeatedly? I know you can import atleast once but can you continue maintaining the movie catalog in DVDProfiler and have only the changed ones updated to ML-database?

Yes, but to make the process more efficient after the initial export you should only export the new items or items that have changed from DVDProfiler. DVDProfiler gives you the option to only export "flagged" profiles. The extra step is that you need to flag them before exporting. However, once you see the new Content Manager you'll see that it has all the same metadata as you get in DVDProfiler and more. Most users stop using DVDProfiler.

2. Is the metadata created on ML side (e.g. last watched) kept or lost when re-importing from DVDProfiler?

Yes.

3. Is there a way to export movie data from ML database? This is the main reason for question #1, I hesitate to put any large amount of data into a proprietary system/format if it cannot be exported to some generic format.

All of the data is kept unencrypted in the SQL Server database. While their is no "Export" functionality built into Content Manager the data can easily be exported from SQL Server.

4. Should I replace Media Player Classic with one of the natively supported players? I'm in anyway moving from WinXP to Win7 so the systems will be installed from scratch.

We do not officially support MPC yet because I've found it to be far to difficult for a user to properly install and configure. So I'm been waiting for one of our users to ask for it. Support via the AVAgent is easy to add and if you were to want to continue to use it we would add the support for it.

5. Does ML have support for DVBViewer or is there anyone using it with ML? The integration with Meedio is very loose just launching the program and then waiting it for finishing which should work with ML too. But it would be nice to have a deeper integration.

Not at this time. But if they have a public api for interfacing and controlling it then we would could write a driver for it.

6.How would I import my DVB recordings into ML? In Meedio I have a very generic file importer which parses metadata from the filename and then I can build a view whichs groups the items eg. on the program name. It would be perfect if I could combine also the information from .txt file (epg) to the same metadata.

Much the same way as Meedio I suspect. You would use Content Manager to import the folder of recordings.

7. I saw some comments regarding file mode vs iso mode for ripping dvd's and blurays and file mode was recommended for both. But for blurays it atleast used to be impossible use file with PowerDVD since it simply did not support it. Is this still the situation or has ML done something specific to overcome the restriction?

This is where Cyberlink drives us crazy. The AVAgent fully supports .iso mounting so there isn't an issue. However Cyberlink keeps breaking things. In PowerDVD 10 and 11 you could launch blu-rays by pointing PowerDVD to the index.bdmv file. In PowerDVD 12 this is broken again. They'll probably fix it again in PowerDVD 13 and charge you another $50 for the fix. Arcsoft does not have any issues launching from the folder paths.

8. How would I import my TV-series into ML? This is very similar to DVB-recordings but in this case some of the meta data is parsed from the directory structure (series name, season and season image).


You create one master entry in Content Manager for the TV Show. Then using the discs tab you add each of the series as a new disc. That way when browsing the collection you see only one coverart for the TV show. When you select the show you will then see the option to select the series disc to play.

9. Where would DVB recordings and TV-series be placed in ML (movies section or...)? And how would I be able to provide a separated (from movies) way of browsing them?


Yes. In today's world when you browse the entire collection you will see everything. If you only wanted to browse the recordings then you would use the filtering options to only select the media you are interested in. When you selected the "All Movies" filter you will see everything. We could probably entertain the idea of implementing a "Show me everything but these" type filter option to filter out the unwanted. But in today's world if you wanted to only see movies then you would assign the movies an additional genre of "Movie" and then select the genre filter called Movie.

henris
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:06 am
Contact:

Re: Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby henris » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:48 pm

Thank you for answers. Have some comments and questions below. I'm now heavily concentrating on trying to understand the media management parts of ML, the rest (home automation bits, multizone audio etc.) seem pretty straight forward :wink:

CinemarDave wrote:
5. Does ML have support for DVBViewer or is there anyone using it with ML? The integration with Meedio is very loose just launching the program and then waiting it for finishing which should work with ML too. But it would be nice to have a deeper integration.

Not at this time. But if they have a public api for interfacing and controlling it then we would could write a driver for it.

DVBViewer is very popular here in Europe. I did take a brief look on the api part and DVBViewer does have api/interfaces for both the recording service and for the viewer itself. This is not high in my priority list so I will come back to this later.

CinemarDave wrote:
6.How would I import my DVB recordings into ML? In Meedio I have a very generic file importer which parses metadata from the filename and then I can build a view whichs groups the items eg. on the program name. It would be perfect if I could combine also the information from .txt file (epg) to the same metadata.

Much the same way as Meedio I suspect. You would use Content Manager to import the folder of recordings.

DVBViewer Recording Service runs in the background continuously and automatically records programs either based on user explicitly set timers or key-word epg searches (e.g "UEFA Champions League" will pickup any program having that phrase in their epg description and set a timer for it). The recording files are stored in a network share. Currently Meedio monitors this share and automatically imports any new files without any user interaction. Is this possibly with MainLobby?

CinemarDave wrote:
8. How would I import my TV-series into ML? This is very similar to DVB-recordings but in this case some of the meta data is parsed from the directory structure (series name, season and season image).

You create one master entry in Content Manager for the TV Show. Then using the discs tab you add each of the series as a new disc. That way when browsing the collection you see only one coverart for the TV show. When you select the show you will then see the option to select the series disc to play.

What if each episode was a separate file (ie. not a disc per season)? For each TV-series I have directory and underneath a subdirectory for each season where the episode files are stored. This is currently mapped quite straightforwardly to the UI so the watched information is stored for each episode.

CinemarDave wrote:
9. Where would DVB recordings and TV-series be placed in ML (movies section or...)? And how would I be able to provide a separated (from movies) way of browsing them?

Yes. In today's world when you browse the entire collection you will see everything. If you only wanted to browse the recordings then you would use the filtering options to only select the media you are interested in. When you selected the "All Movies" filter you will see everything. We could probably entertain the idea of implementing a "Show me everything but these" type filter option to filter out the unwanted. But in today's world if you wanted to only see movies then you would assign the movies an additional genre of "Movie" and then select the genre filter called Movie.

I gave this a lot of thought and I see this as quite a big hurdle. A movie is a movie and dvb recordings and tv-series are not. Trying to map them to the same handling mechanism is bound to create conceptual problems. If I understood it correctly ML plays things called Discs which are tied to a Movie. This maps very poorly to DVB recordings (would create a lot of Movies and huge amount of Discs) and only partially to TV-series. I hope that I have misunderstood something since my setup and needs are quite universal (at least I thought they were).

A new question:
10. Where does the Content Manager get the meta data? The continuity of this service is a very critical aspect when choosing the cataloging software.

henris
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:06 am
Contact:

Re: Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby henris » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:10 am

Below are some screenshots of my current setup as an attempt to clarify my questions regarding media management. Click thumbnail for larger image.

There are two main issues to be solved:
a) How to import, manage and display video media other than movies (tv-series and dvb recordings in particular)
b) How to run imports silently (without user interaction) either scheduled or triggered by some action (eg. entering a view where the information is required).

Some additional questions
11) Is it possible to write a custom importer plugin?
12) Have you thought about providing means to group media views (example of the concept shown below with TV-series)?

Main screen with direct access to all media categories (photos, music, movies, dvb recordings, live tv and tv-series) and some other functions
Image

Movie view preset selection. Fully configurable, now provides presets for Children movies and others with either alphabetic or purchase date based sorting.
Image

Movie selection. Standard stuff, very similar to what DVDLobby provides
Image

TV-series selection. Uses generic media view builder where the grouping for each level can be configured. In this case first level of grouping is the name of the TV-series. Import parser takes this metadata from the name of the 2nd parent directory of the video file.
Image

TV-series season selection. This is the second grouping level using the season name. Import parser takes this metadata from the name of the parent directory of the video file.
Image

TV-series episode selection. No grouping present since we have reached the file level.
Image

[b]DVB recordings program selection. These are grouped by the program name. Import parser takes this metadata by taking the last portion from the video file name (others being year, date, time and channel)

Image

DVB recordings show selection. This now displays the video file name directly.
Image

User avatar
CinemarDave
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 10535
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2003 8:56 am
Location: Planet Earth
Contact:

Re: Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby CinemarDave » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:15 pm

Let me see if I can get caught up.

The recording files are stored in a network share. Currently Meedio monitors this share and automatically imports any new files without any user interaction. Is this possibly with MainLobby?

Yes, you can configure a DVDLobby folder as an auto-import source. As soon as it sees a new file appear in the folder it will automatically be imported into the database.

What if each episode was a separate file (ie. not a disc per season)? For each TV-series I have directory and underneath a subdirectory for each season where the episode files are stored. This is currently mapped quite straightforwardly to the UI so the watched information is stored for each episode.

Discs are just our naming convention. Each episode would be imported as a "disc" and then they would appear in the selection list prior to pressing the play button.

I gave this a lot of thought and I see this as quite a big hurdle. A movie is a movie and dvb recordings and tv-series are not. Trying to map them to the same handling mechanism is bound to create conceptual problems. If I understood it correctly ML plays things called Discs which are tied to a Movie. This maps very poorly to DVB recordings (would create a lot of Movies and huge amount of Discs) and only partially to TV-series. I hope that I have misunderstood something since my setup and needs are quite universal (at least I thought they were).

You bring up some good points and to be honest you are the first customer that has told us that you have an extensive collection of TV shows and episodes. It certainly makes sense to keep a large collection like that separate from the movie collection. The solution I am envisioning is an evolution of our old TVLobby product. The new version would work and act a lot like DVDlobby or our Netflix app but it would only deal with TV shows. This is a rather easy port and would bring you the functionality you need. I'm curious to know if other customers would find this useful?

10. Where does the Content Manager get the meta data? The continuity of this service is a very critical aspect when choosing the cataloging software.

We maintain our own database of over 330,000 movies and TV shows and a database of over 2.8 millions music albums and their associated metadata. Movie metadata has a concentration on U.S.,Canada,United Kingdom and Australia as that is where the bulk of our customers reside. We are always expanding and enhancing the data.

11) Is it possible to write a custom importer plugin?

Absolutely. We're are always doing this. It is impossible to always have every option covered. So when required we write custom solutions to answer the need.

12) Have you thought about providing means to group media views (example of the concept shown below with TV-series)?

Yes, just about every screen shot you provided is available today. Perhaps in a slightly different format but basically the same.

I think the biggest item for you is the TVLobby solution mentioned prior. With that solution in place I think we'd have all your bases covered.

henris
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:06 am
Contact:

Re: Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby henris » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:35 am

I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all these questions. I do hope some of the questions/answers help also others in the same position as I am and perhaps give some ideas to current users or even for the development. I've spent most likely thousands of hours in htpc scene in the last 10 years evaluating things like xbmc, Media Portal and others trying to understand how they are built and what are made for and what are their strengths. I'm yet to find a "perfect" solution and I certainly understand that ML has a long history and nothing major can be done without careful consideration on backward compatibility and end user approval. I hope this does not prevent me from pitching in some wild ideas for version 5 and 6 perhaps :wink:

I also have quite long experience in software development and especially on the architecture side. Home automation / media management is not (yet) my main work but I'm more than willing already at this point to participate in the ML development. So if developing custom importers, plugins or even some custom UI-components would be feasible or possible I'm volunteering.

CinemarDave wrote:Yes, you can configure a DVDLobby folder as an auto-import source. As soon as it sees a new file appear in the folder it will automatically be imported into the database.

I will experiment with this one. Some of the things the auto-importer should be able to do are very specific to media files in question. In my case the auto-import for DVB recordings would have to process the related metadata file (*.txt) in addition to the media file (*.ts). I also think that some of custom fields should be filled with fixed values defined in the auto-importer configuration eg. "Custom 1" would the media type of [Movie, DVB, TV-series] which would be automatically set to DVB when importing anything using the "DVB auto-importer". I'll report back on any success implementing this.

CinemarDave wrote:You bring up some good points and to be honest you are the first customer that has told us that you have an extensive collection of TV shows and episodes. It certainly makes sense to keep a large collection like that separate from the movie collection. The solution I am envisioning is an evolution of our old TVLobby product. The new version would work and act a lot like DVDlobby or our Netflix app but it would only deal with TV shows. This is a rather easy port and would bring you the functionality you need. I'm curious to know if other customers would find this useful?

I've read at least a few posts regarding similar scenarios. The main difference is that they usually refer to TV-series with Series/Season-Disc concept. To my understanding in these cases and with default scenes you would see separate Movie entries for each Season and Discs would represent collection of episodes like 1-4, 5-10 and 10-15. You would be able to play the Discs but not the individual episodes (no point either since they are actually inside the discs).

I did take a deeper look on the Movie Scene designs (0028 in particular) and how they are accessing the movie data. If I understood it correctly the movie metadata is always accessed by the scenes through server variables numbered with #1-32 which are synchronously populated when navigating the media collection. The meta data includes fields dvdnumber, mpaarating, prodyear, runtime, starrating, thumb and title (and a few fields for state/selection). This combined with the overall arrangement of filters and other aspects suggest that the Movie-Disc concept is pretty much cast in iron.

Instead of implementing something specific for solving the dvb recordings import/display I would like to challenge you to think about a more drastic change in the way media management is done. I would propose a generic and dynamic approach which would be able to handle all media types from both import and display points of view. It should be possible to create as many media "libraries" as needed with freely customizable attribute sets. On the scene side the built-from-scratch media scenes could be replaced by a generic configurable media-browser widget which could be styled/skinned but the functionality would be universal (and fixed) for all media. The media-browser could then be provided with high level view definitions like [group by series / group by season / list episode, sort by episode name, show thumbnails in 8x3 matrix] or [group by movie category / list movies, sort by movie name, show thumbnails in 4x4 matrix] from which the media-browser would dynamically build the actual UI. This would of course lock down some functionality from customization but would speed up development of new media scenes tremendously. The media-browser would have total access to all media meta data. For each of the media types you could implement a widget which the media-browser would utilize in container fashion.

I know this comes out of the blue and needs a lot more details but have you ever thought about anything like this?

CinemarDave wrote:
11) Is it possible to write a custom importer plugin?

Absolutely. We're are always doing this. It is impossible to always have every option covered. So when required we write custom solutions to answer the need.

12) Is it possible for an end user to write a custom importer plugin? I saw the development Wiki part, is the API for writing something like this released when joining the developer community?

User avatar
CinemarDave
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 10535
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2003 8:56 am
Location: Planet Earth
Contact:

Re: Migrating from Meedio based htpc to Mainlobby

Postby CinemarDave » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:34 am

12) Is it possible for an end user to write a custom importer plugin? I saw the development Wiki part, is the API for writing something like this released when joining the developer community?

Yes, and you could do that right now. Since everything is stored in the SQL Server database all you would need is to write an importer that populated the SQL tables. As long as you followed the integrity rules everything would work. The auto-import function that is currently in DVDLobby will only import the media file and it will use the file name as the title of the movie/show. It does not look for any other files that may have supporting metadata in them. That's a customization I would have to make.

Actually, I did give some thought to allowing multiple libraries when I was creating the V4 table structure and at the last minute I decided not to. Hind sight says I should have. In fact it is not too late. All I really need to do is modify one of the table structures. It's a quick change and it will maintain backwards compatibility. :idea:

I've said this before and it is worth repeating. I think we do a very good job of figuring out what our customers would like to have but when never get everything. We are always open to, and welcome, suggestions of what we can do better. Especially when it comes to suggestions for products we haven't even thought about. Don't hesitate to toss it out. It almost always sticks.


Return to “MainLobby Questions & Answers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest