Media centers like XBMC and Boxee are excellent tools for playing local media on your big screen, but many new (and even experienced) users run into one big stumbling block: How do you get them to correctly identify your media? Today we're taking a look at how to prep your media for maximum wow factor and functionality when accessed through popular media center front ends like XBMC.
When you're done, you'll have a completely customized media center experience that will show off your media collection in all its every-episode-of-Arrested-Development glory.
Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and really dig into whipping your collection into shape, including all your DVD art, album art, fan art, and more.
By default, apps like XBMC and Boxee scan your library and scrape the internet to pull in data about your media from a variety of sources like IMDb and The (so you end up with cool DVD art, fan art, and more—like you see in the image below).
We're not knocking how great it is to install XBMC, point it at a folder of media, and have it do the dirty work of scraping for you.
Despite the convenience of such an arrangement, it isn't without flaws.
Media managers give you way more control over tweaking the images and art used to identify your media, and even if your whole XBMC installation becomes corrupted and the database is shot to hell, you'll be able to rebuild the database in a matter of minutes and it'll be just as perfect as it was without any intensive web-database crawling or hand tweaking.
XBMC gives preferences to local information and won't scrape the internet if the information it needs is present with the media.A casual search turns up dozens of media management applications, but we're going to focus on one application today and walk you through using it.If your media center database becomes corrupt or you reinstall it without backing up the old database, a new crawl for a large collection can take hours—we've had a crawl take the better part of a day on an XBMC install plugged into a packed media server.Even if you've backed up your media center's database, it's still terribly inconvenient to go into individual entries and make changes. Want to change the text of the summary on a television series?If you don't like the way things shook out in the automated scraping then you're in for a tedious headache when it's time to go in and tweak things bit by bit.Instead of relying on your media center software to scrape multiple internet sources and build an enormous database—which, as we mentioned above, you'll have to rebuild all over again if anything goes wrong—media managers inject media information into the individual folders that your media is stored in.