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[Posted from the Bus click and read, if you don’t know what I mean]

Previous posts about building my Vista Media Center:

I posted part 2 back in  June, so it has been a while, but I wanted to continue documenting my media center project and I can’t help but talk about the MyMovies2 plug-in next. 

Create Your Own “Movies On Demand” Library

One of the key goals for my home media center was to be able to build up a library of children’s programming that they could select and play “on demand.”  Similarly, for myself, I wanted to capture all of those favorites of my own for replay on demand.  After a little research, I adopted the MyMovies2 plug-in, which has two main components:

  1. Media Center plug-in which shows up in the menu next to “Recorded TV” as “My Movies”.  There are some nice filtering and sorting features, parental control enforcement and visually it looks a lot like the movies listed under “Recorded TV”, showing DVD covers, listing actors and descriptions.                                             
  2. Collection Management – A back-end Windows application to manage your movie Library.  Again, this has a nice interface that lets you manage all of the information about movies you add – and it will help you search for the information online at its own online site and, as a backup, at                                                             

A Bit About Organization

I’m not going to duplicate the installation instructions, because they are easy.  However, though you can place Movies *anywhere* on your hard disk(s), you do need to put each movie in its own folder.  I recommend you set up a structure such as “C:MyMovies” and create subfolders under there (however, you can do it anyway you want).

Also, if you purchase an external hard drive for storage, I recommend you connect it via a different interface that your tuner (ie, don’t have a USB2.0 tuner and a USB2.0 hard drive – put the hard drive on Fireware if you can).  This is not an issue if you are using an internal tuner card.

Movies Recorded from TV

The quickest and easiest way to build up your movie collection is to use the built-in capabilities of Media Center to record movies and then transfer them over to MyMovies for later use on demand.  Here are the basic steps you can use:

First, use the Movie Search option of Media Center to find upcoming movies you like and record them.  I tend to record them in “Best” quality, so that I am starting from the best position when I transcode them to a compressed format.  However, I’ve also used the lower level formats without problem. 

Simplest Method (I don’t use this normally)

  1. Record the movie in the lowest quality you are comfortable with – perhaps “Good”.
  2. Create a folder and move the .dvr-ms file over to the folder.
  3. Use the Collection Management application to add the “online” movie to your database.  Search for the movie title and just a select a DVD version that represents you movie.

My Method

  1. Record the movie in the highest quality, “Best”
  2. (OPTIONALLY) Use comskip or showanalyzer to help you remove commercials from the show.  I won’t detail this here, but it can also be combined and automated using the tool described in the next step.
  3. Use a utility to transcode the move to a compressed format – this can be any format for which you’ve installed the appropriate codecs.  Note, that I use WMV because it facilitates streaming these movies to a Media Center Extender.  This process can be automated using DVRMSToolbox from (or similar tools) 
  4. Create a folder and move the transcoded file over to the folder.
  5. Use the Collection Management application to add the “online” movie to your database.  Search for the movie title and just a select a DVD version that represents you movie.

Putting your DVDs “Online”

Another option that MyMovies give you is, when you are viewing a DVD, to copy the video files to a hard disk folder and include the movie in the database.  I have not used this option, largely because it consumes a lot of hard disk space.

Instead, I have compressed and transcoded some of the kids’ DVDs that we have and placed the resulting movie file in a folder and added it to the database in a method similar to how I add recorded TV.

The downside of this, of course, is that my son now insists on watching Toy Story or Cars repeatedly …