MythVideo: Managing Your Videos
MythVideo is a video management plugin for the open-source personal video recorder (PVR) system known as MythTV. Its primary purpose is to help organize digital videos that are saved on a MythTV back-end server for display on front-end client systems. The most common use of MythVideo is to create a personal digital archive of videos ripped from DVDs.
In this article, I explain how to configure both your hardware and the MythVideo software so you can make the best use of your computers and disk space, while still providing a comfortable user experience with uninterrupted playback of your digital videos. First, I walk through the process of using and configuring MythVideo and then cover some tips on improving both the process and the end result.
It is assumed that you have MythTV and its associated software installed. MythVideo doesn't require support for live TV, so I don't cover configuration of live TV components in this article.
The MythTV system has a client/server architecture that utilizes plugins to extend its feature set. The server side is known as the back end, and it is generally responsible for providing the hardware required for live TV recording and the storing of audio and video content for use within the MythTV system. It also provides database features used by both MythTV and its plugins.
The client side is known as the front end, and it primarily is used for playback of content that is stored on the back end. This can include viewing videos or listening to music, but it also includes browsing photos and the Web, making Internet phone calls, displaying the weather forecast and even ordering movies from Netflix. Front ends and back ends are separate pieces of software that communicate over a network, but they also can run on the same computer.
MythVideo is a plugin that runs on a front-end client and communicates with the back-end server to manage videos. It provides administrative tools for adding new videos to the system or for editing video information, along with tools for selecting videos for playback. Videos are stored on the back end but must be made available over a network using NFS in order to be played by the front end.
The MythTV display is divided into pages. There are three sets of pages specific to using MythVideo: the video selection pages, the video manager pages and the video settings pages. The video selection pages (Videos on the main menu) is where you browse your video collection, select a video and play it. There are three ways to view your collection: browsing one at a time, as a pageable gallery and as a list. Each method allows you to view the video title, summary information (running time, directory, plot summary and so forth) and artwork.
A Word about MythTV Themes
Many themes are available for MythTV, and each can be configured in a variety of ways. The MythMediaCenter theme was used while writing this article, and the theme was configured (see Setup→Appearance) to use the Classic menu theme. Screenshots in the article reflect this specific setup.
Despite the difference in themes and configurations, the underlying functionality related to MythVideo remains the same. All themes offer the same set of video browsing options and the same administrative interfaces. The only difference between themes is where you find the menu option that takes you to each of these features. If you have problems finding a particular page described in this article, feel free to drop me an e-mail, and I'll try to help you out.
Browse Mode sorts all your videos alphabetically, and although the information it displays is detailed and easy to read, it can take some time to browse a large collection. Use paging keys (by default, this is the Page Down key on a keyboard) to page through the list a little faster.
List Mode displays two small windows. The left side is the current folder and the right is the contents of that folder. If you have all your videos in one folder, List Mode is only a slight improvement over Browse Mode. However, if you arrange your videos in topical folders (by genre, for example), List Mode makes finding a video much easier than Browse Mode.
But, if you've arranged your videos in genre-oriented folders, which is the recommended manner for this article, the Gallery Mode probably is easier to use than either Browse or List modes. This is because the Gallery Mode lets you see a user-defined set of thumbnail poster art for the videos in the current folder. This mode does run a little more slowly than list mode, however, as MythVideo needs to cache the rows-by-column set of thumbnails for the current folder at least once.