Tuesday, March 27, 2012

project: HTPC nerdbox - xbmc library limitations

For the last few days i've been loading up my media library onto xbmc. while its been going quite smoothly i have discovered some of the library limitations within xbmc and its skins.

first off, if movies and tv shows are all you need then the library is more than enough to sort you out. but what about sports events and anime ?. i dont really consider these movies or tv shows so where the hell do you put these?

when you load these into your xbmc library you are given a choice of either tv show or movie category. once you do this, the events and anime will crop up under your movie or tv show libraries! though the information is scraped properly and associated art is added.. they just dont belong in these categories!

to solve this there are 2 main alternatives that people seem to use:

Favourite folders - where you add the file folder as a favourite then add this to your main menu. this means that you can separate your movies but a downside is that your restricted to the list view... a view that i dont like using haha

Smart playlists - this is actually pretty cool, you can create a query based playlist that will pickup the movies or files you want which you can then add as a new menu. it will also allow you to use the many views available in your skin.

while these are good solutions there is a problem when using these.. you lose the information and sorting functionality found in the tv and movie menus (probably something only i care about). this means you cant browse by title/genre/director etc. not a huge biggie for most users but i'd like to have the freedom of searching something with a specific genre and see library info shown in the red boxes below.

deciding on the best solution left me with a headache.. until i came across "movie sets" in xbmc! so say you have a collection of movies eg. rocky 1-5. rather than have them as separate movies you can group them together into a set where the movies are part of a parent set. this got me thinking .. why dont i create a set for my ufc collection so that all events are grouped into that set that can be accessed in the movies menu. not only will this allow me to keep the neat movies/tv shows menus and not clutter them with the ufc events but it will also allow me to search it by genre and other categories! I will also create a smart playlist so that UFC can be accessed as a separate menu on the main page.

i followed the tutorial below to create the movie set. I recommend that you also export the thumbnails and fanart. it'll make life easier when you reload your vids back into the library

i then created a playlist to pick up all the ufc vids. (based on the below)

note: on Windows 7, your playlists and xbmc setting files are stored in c:\users\"your username"\appdata\roaming\xbmc

once that was created, i refreshed the library and YOSHHHH!!! i've got the new menu pointing to my ufc collection and still retain a clean movie menu without clutter.
next is to see if the same set will work for TV shows...

while i like this solution there is a drawback (damn why cant it be perfect!). i will need to export the library nfo files for any new UFC vid or new anime series i want to add to xbmc so i can attach them to their respective sets. i think theres some apps that can take care of this in a quicker way .. but i cbf'd looking and testing them.

it's not a huge pain but involves some extra work on my part... being neat sure has its price lol.

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