MythVideo: Managing Your Videos
Keyboards vs. Remote Controls
If you're just getting started with MythTV, use a keyboard. The default keyboard mappings are easy to learn and modestly well documented on the MythTV Wiki. However, moving to a TV remote control (using LIRC and an infrared receiver) is an advanced topic that only experienced users will want to tackle, partly because setting up LIRC is not easy but also because, once set up, you still need to teach LIRC about your specific remote and how it interacts with MythTV.
MythVideo can be configured on two sets of pages. The first is found under Setup→Video Settings. These pages allow global configuration of items like the MythVideo storage directory (under General Settings), how the gallery will lay out thumbnails (also under General Settings), which tools to use for playback (under Player Settings) and ripping options (under Rip Settings).
The Video Settings are global in scope, which means they apply to all videos unless a video has its own configuration. Setting video-specific configuration is done with the Video Manager (Videos→Video Manager). This section of MythVideo allows you to acquire metadata for videos, set a video-specific player, choose how to play videos in sequence (one after another), and choose poster art to display while browsing videos.
Familiarize yourself with the Video Manager, as it will become important when cleaning up artwork for your videos, not to mention when dealing with videos that don't play well with the internal video player.
The MythTV internal video player does a good job with most videos, and I recommend it over external players (at least for use with MythTV). But, I've found it to have a problem with some videos ripped with MEncoder, though this may be due to a bad DVD reader and not to MEncoder. Still, the way around this (until I can replace the faulty hardware) is to choose an external player, such as MPlayer or Xine. And, using the Video Manager is the best way of dealing with this problem should it occur.
The first step in using MythVideo is to rip your DVDs. There are a number of tools for doing this, including a MythTV DVD ripper, but I've found AcidRip to be the easiest to use for beginners (advanced users will want to move on to DVD::RIP or try using the command-line utilities MEncoder and Transcode). You'll want the smallest files you can get, without significant loss of quality, using the AVI file format with the audio and video ripped to MPEG-3 and MPEG-2, respectively. Other formats might produce better quality or smaller files, but if you're just getting started, start with these settings. Fortunately, these selections are the default with AcidRip, so the only thing you need to do is play with the file size in order to find the smallest size (see the General tab File Size field) with the best video quality (see the Video tab bits/px and Bitrate fields).
Once you have a ripped file, you need to store it in MythVideo's storage directory (see the Video Settings section discussed previously). I have internal disk space of about 150GB on an IDE drive and 500GB on an external USB drive. I use the internal drive for TV recordings and the external drive for videos. I mount the external drive under /store and set this in the Video Settings pages.
The videos are ripped by AcidRip and then copied to the external drive manually. This is so that I can rip them to temporary storage first and verify they work under MPlayer or Xine before installing to MythVideo's directories. I do this to save wear and tear on the external drives, some of which have less than stellar reliability.
Once you copy a video into the MythVideo storage area, you need to grab its metadata using the Video Manager. If you're using a remote control with MythTV, note that this step is easier to do with a keyboard, though you can use the built-in keyboard with your remote control. I don't recommend this if you have lots of new videos to add or if you add videos often.
To update the database, choose Videos→Video Manager. This takes you to a page where you can select a video to edit. Your collection is listed alphabetically by video title with the director and year also listed. New additions to the MythVideo storage directories show up with the filename, followed by Unknown for the director and a question mark for the year.
Page through the videos, if necessary, until you find the new entry. With the entry highlighted, press M for the menu, then select Search. If all goes well, MythVideo will find the video on the IMDb database and fill in the metadata for you.
If MythVideo locates the video in the IMDb database, you'll need to find the video manually with your Web browser. The URL for the video will be suffixed with an ID, something like tt0362227. Drop the leading alphabetic characters and note just the numeric portion of this ID. In the Video Manager, in the menu, choose Manually Enter Video Number, type in the number and then press Enter. MythVideo will fetch the appropriate information based on the video ID.
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