What's Up With Xbox Media Center

November 08, 2005

BIg Pimpin: Content Organization

Anyone can dump their movies and tv shows into a folder and browse through them. Without directory and file name changes, slowly decoding and decrypting the original file names into something usable is a bit of a nightmare, if not just plain ghetto. We want our Xbox media center to look professional, and impress our visitors.

Read more to find out what you can do to organize your content.

File Names
The first step is to rename your files. If you attained your content from "other places" it may look something like this War.Of.The.Worlds.XVID.DVDRip.CD1-APX.avi. Sure its not difficult to realize this is the first disc to War of the Worlds, but hey, its just plain ugly, if not a bit incriminating. Do your self a favor and join the 2 discs into one video file, and rename it to War of the Worlds.avi. If you're leaving it as 2 discs and using stacking, rename each disc to War of the Worlds-CD*.avi, replacing the * for the disc number of course. Using the -CD* is a perfect format for Xbmc's stacking function. It will remove the extension and show one file, rather than two, when browsing. IMDB searches will also go much more smoothly now that you've conformed to proper naming conventions.

Directory Structure
Ok, now that your movies and Tv shows look great, let's look at your directory structure. When you first set up Xbmc, you had about ten or so video files. But over the months, you've bought a 300 gig hard drive for archiving, read about broadcatching and set up Azureus to capture all of your favorite Tv shows automatically. Now you have over 40 - 60 video files in your Video folder. Get rid of it!

By simply adding genre named sub-directories, your media center will be usable and more presentable. Take your movies and break them up into genres, then add a directory for each of those genres and sort your movies into them. Keep a directory called New Releases for your newest movies. I usually give my new movies about a month lifespan in the New Releases directory before filing them into their genres. I use Specials as a sort of miscellaneous directory.

movies directory

Setting up your directories for Tv isn't any harder. I like to have three main directories. Full Season, Now Playing, and Specials. All of my incoming Tv shows from my broadcatching system get copied to the Now Playing directory once they are done downloading. I carried that convention over from my Tivo. So now all of my newest shows are in one directory. Simple! My Specials directory is just like the one in my movies section, used for miscellaneous Tv content.

tv directory

My final folder, Full Seasons is where I archive all of my Tv content away. Certain shows like, House, I like enough to keep. So inside I have directories named via show titles. Inside them I divide each season into its own separate directory.

full seasons directory

Cleaning up your content and dividing it into logical areas is key to having an easy to use media center. You will not only find things faster, enjoy using it more, but it will look much more refined and finished.

Disclaimer: I AM married and not all content shown represents my taste and my taste only :)


  • Great post, especially the tip about stacking and naming convention.

    Now that XBMC has support for multiple paths, I can finally bring a lot of videos into one directory since they're spread over the network.

    By Blogger Matt, at 9:46 PM  

  • Great point. I'll have to remember that when I do the post on bookmarks and shares. I was quite a pain before that was added. espcially for people using the xbox hard drive. If they had a 300 gig, and their movies were spread over F and G they had to have seperate shares for each, which really cluttered it up if you ask me.

    Network shares had this problem too for windows users. I use a linux box for a media server so its not so much of a problem. I can symlink 2 hard drives to one directory and then share that directory under SMB. Windows can't do that. So the addition of multiple paths in one share is a huge boon to Xbmc.

    By Blogger Jon, at 9:52 PM  

  • I'm in the same situation. Having movies on F,G and the network really breaks things up. It makes it harder for guests/family to find movies when there are so many different folders to look in.

    The multiple paths is only working for My Music and My Programs right now. We'll have to wait for My Videos. As soon as it comes to My Videos, I'm upgrading XBMC.

    By Blogger Matt, at 11:48 PM  

  • Ahh, I had thought it was just for Music. They did it for programs a while ago. I wasn't sure if i missed something in CVS for the videos..

    Seems a bit odd, as far as videos and music goes, you'd think that they share the same codebase when it comes to shares like that.

    Hopefully they'll have that up soon, its a pretty important addition in my opinion. Anything to make it more useable is :)

    By Blogger Jon, at 11:52 PM  

  • That is strange how it's not in Videos yet. If it was that easy then I'm sure they would have done it.

    It's definitely an important feature and am looking forward to it.

    By Blogger Matt, at 7:37 AM  

  • Ok, here's a question that I have a tough time finding a straight forward answer to.

    When I rip my own DVD I use a simple de-encrypter. So I end up with a folder with the name of the movie as its title and inside that is a VIDEO_TS folder and inside the normal DVD files (VOBs and such).

    Now, I may or may not compress this folder at some point in the future.

    First question. What is the best way to compress this rip (Mac or PC) while keeping all the menu functionality and DVD extras. Most compression programs assume you want to only end up with the main title or compress the thing to 4GB so as to burn back to a DVD.

    Well, I want to (in most cases) keep all the menus and content and I could care less about this hard and fast 4GB target, I just want decent compression to save a little HD space.

    Second, let's say I don't compress and just stick with a folder called "Star Wars III" with a VIDEO_TS folder inside and inside that the DVD files.

    What is the best way to organize this so that in XBMC I can play a "folder" and have the DVD menu start up? (Should I just ditch the top "Star Wars III" folder and rename the VIDEO_TS folder to "Star Wars III"?)

    Right now I have to navigate into the "Star Wars III" folder, then navigate into the "VIDEO_TS" folder then search for and play the "IFO" of the Main Title. Not very eloquent.

    By Anonymous Dean, at 1:31 PM  

  • Ok, well I'd have to say that your setup in general is not very eloquent. By ripping your dvd's to the hard drive, you will always have to keep that folder. As of right now Xbmc will not see a VIDEO_TS folder and launch it like a dvd, maybe sometime soon, it wouldn't be a bad feature. Have a folder called Star Wars III and inside that is a single VIDEO_TS folder, xbmc would see that folder and instantly launch the "disk". That could be cool.

    For now though, you're stuck with a mess. As for compressing it and keeping the menus and features, forget about it. I'd just rip to Xvid with a high bitrate and call it a day. Organizationally its nicer and you'll save a ton of storage space as well. I personally never use extra features so they're something I can do without anyways.

    By Blogger Jon, at 1:38 PM  

  • Perhaps you could take a route similar to what I have.

    Each movie I have is in ".iso" format which retains all the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS directories within. When I click the ".iso" file I want, it launches the movie (without having to look for the IFO manually).

    However, I don't know how well DVD menus works in XBMC since I only keep the movie alone.

    Hope it works for you and anyone else looking to do the same.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:37 PM  

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