Saturday, January 7, 2012

Movie Explorer: Zero Configuration Movie Manager

An intriguing new software to manage your movie collection is taking shape. If you have a large collection of movies and frustrated with the time consuming process of manually building up your library, that some movie managing software employ, you should take a look at Movie Explorer, and also a few other ‘zero configuration’ movie managers that I shall present here.

In Search of Smart Movie Managers

I first started looking into movie managing software back in 2008 when this website was still in its first year. I rounded up 5 software which were, at that time, the best I could find. They were a pain in the ass. All of them. You had to enter each movie title manually, and the software would then connect to the internet and retrieve information about the movie and populate the various empty fields. This was how one would build up their collection. It was monotonous and mind-numbing work.

movie-managers

It was only until very recently, like March last year, the first ‘smart’ movie manager was released. My Movie Library was capable of automatically identifying movies in a directory. All you have to do is tell the program where you have stored your movie/video files. I was so impressed by the program that I quickly named it the ‘best movie manager’. It wasn’t an exaggeration, at that time, even though it had plenty of problems. At least, it took all the hard work off my shoulders.

Two months later Movie Monkey came out, another movie managing program that automagically identified movies on your hard drive. Movie Monkey had better a movie-detection engine and fewer bugs than My Movie Library, but it presented so less meta data about the movies that it was difficult to decide whether to like it or not. On one hand, there is My Movie Library that provides various info like plot, movie cast, director, IMDB rating and runtime but with poor ability to identify movies automatically. On the other hand, there is Movie Monkey that has a superior movie identifying algorithm, automatic movie categorization and filtering but when it comes to providing information about the movies it leaves a lot to be desired.

Movie Explorer

movie-explorer

Movie Explorer provides the best of both. It has a good, if not better, knack for identifying movies in a folder and also retrieves all relevant information about the movie from IMDB.com. Though it failed to identify around one-third of the movies in my collection, it made up for that inability by adding the movie to the collection anyway, so that I could manually correct them later. A GUI for manual entry is not yet implemented in this beta release but it’s reportedly at the top of the developer’s to-do list.

Movie Explorer retrieves the poster of the movie, the plot synopsis, director, cast, writer, runtime, genre and IMDB rating and the number of votes. You can quickly increase or decrease the size of the fonts and images by holding CTRL and using the mouse scroll wheel. There is a search function that offers find-as-you-type kind of search functionality. You can search for title, year, director, genre, etc.

Movie Explorer is highly portable: it saves your settings and database to XML-files in the application directory instead of the system registry. You can carry it along in your portable hard drive/thumb drive.

To play a movie, just click on the file name and it launches explorer with the folder open. You can then play the movie by double clicking the file or by any other way you wish.

Presently, these are the only available features, but I see a lot of potential in this program. Current shortcomings include the inability to sort movies in any order other than alphabetically. I would like to see ordering options by movie rating and year of release. Also missing are categorization based on movie genre and filters but that is possible, in a crude way, through search.

I would keep an eye on the development of this software.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Movie Explorer is the best of those others, but it's still in beta, has bugs and can take forever to load. I guess XBMC is the best, but it's way too much for me and has other issues too. If Movie Explorer can get the bugs out and make it TRULY portable, then it will be a winner. Portability is key, as we want a manager that can go with our external drives to most any PC, and not have issues with drive letter dependencies.

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