Jan 132012

The largest project (in terms of man hours) is the digitization project. The digitization project is where I convert all of my CDs and DVDs into digital formats. After conversion has been completed, I can access the files from my server via xBox 360 using XBMC.

I have already worked on this project for months and it feels like it’s never-ending. I’ve chosen to break it up into small chunks daily to break up the monotony of the process.

The conversion process for music is simple. Take my music CDs and convert them in MP3 files using iTunes. iTunes will organize them by artist/album and everything will be easy to find should I need to access the files outside of iTunes. iTunes will find the artwork automatically as well which saves me the chore of this task for most of my music.

The process for converting DVDs is not as simple for a number of reasons.

  1. There is no tool that I am aware of that converts and organizes videos automatically like iTunes does for music. With DVD ripping tools, you have to convert the video, organize them, and then catalog them. This takes time.
  2. You will likely need to use different settings from disc to disc and there are a tremendous number of settings. Depending on your content, you may want to use different settings for movies, a concert, and a sporting event.
  3. Movies are frequently encrypted with a copy protection scheme because the MPAA considers it to be illegal for someone that purchases a movie to make a digital copy of it; even for personal use.

XBMC does a good job of indexing both audio and video files and transcodes them on the fly to other devices like the Xbox 360 or the iPad. It does so by looking up the folder or filename and comparing it to an online database. If it finds a match, it will index your file and add some metadata to it that makes it easier to find, including the actors in it and the genre of your video.

The problem is that your video is not always found in an online database. Sporting events are notoriously problematic. I have looked time and time again for a solution for my MMA videos — all of which require serious amounts of manual configuration. I found an MMA plugin for XBMC today that will index these files with minimal effort. All you have to do is create a text file with an event number in it for each of your videos and the plugin will look them up in Sherdog’s Fight Finder to index them. It’s still a manual process to create each of the text files but it’s not too much work and it will be well worth the labor to be able to watch these videos on the TV in my living room.