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Video library redesign idea - How can we improve Smart Playlists, aka Filtered Lists? - Printable Version

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Video library redesign idea - How can we improve Smart Playlists, aka Filtered Lists? - jmarshall - 2009-05-24

Hi all,

I've been working on redesigning the video library so that it's much more flexible, and before I get too much further, I really need to get a handle on how each of you use the current video library.

In particular, I need to hear from those of you who make use of the Genre, Actors, Years, Directors, Studios "nodes" in the movie or tvshow library.

If you do:

1. Why do you use them (i.e. what is your end goal in using those nodes)?

2. Could this be done better in an alternate way (eg by enabling a "filter" on one or more genres)?

My blog has some further ideas.


- [email protected]_ - 2009-05-24

Hi Jonathan,

I sometimes use the actors node if I would like to view a movie of one of my favorite actors. If I would be able to do that with a filter or "find related" that's fine by me.


[email protected]

- jmarshall - 2009-05-24

Great - that's the kind of feedback I'm after.

If you're wanting to watch a movie with your favourite actors, then perhaps searching for the actor would be more efficient, if it's anything like my actors view (thousands and thousands of actors)?


- MaxNL - 2009-05-24

jmarshall Wrote:...
In particular, I need to hear from those of you who make use of the Genre, Actors, Years, Directors, Studios "nodes" in the movie or tvshow library.

The library node actualy is like a "group by" on the database. What I'd like to be able to accomplish is:

1) Possibility to create a new library node just selecting one of the videolibrary fields and say: "group by this"

2) I would like to have the possibility to create a library node based on a custom filter on the video library.
Example could be:
All the movie with genre = Sci-fi, action
All the movie with year = 2008
All the movie with xxxxfield = yyyyvalue

> Multiple rows should work in "and", multiple values on the same row should work in "or".
> Operators: equal, not equal, like, not like
> Jolly character

Hope I don't sound too crazy Laugh


- jmarshall - 2009-05-24

I appreciate your response, but it's not answering the questions I asked in the original post. Use smartplaylists to accomplish what you want. And yes, the layout will be as configurable as we can possibly make it once we've decided on what to include. Obviously placing smartplaylists wherever you want (within reason) is included.

Please respect that in this thread I'm only interested in discussion concerning usage of the current "category" nodes at this point.


- KidKiwi - 2009-05-24

As you said in your blog, Year and Studio are probably least used. I use actors - mostly to find what else a particular actor has starred in after watching a movie (Usually accessed through the movie info page "cast") I also use Directors - basically to remind me what else a certain Director has done. It would be quite nice if a button was beside the "Director" info label in the info page that did a search.

Your blog states all the reasons/ ways I use my system. The menu takes you straight to the title page and it's easy to forget the other options are there one tier up (I don't have the "Up one Level" icon showing).

A workable filter would be nice like you have mentioned. Personally, I never use the filter because it never works quite like I expect. For example - if I want a title starting with "E", I select a capital "E" and it takes me to a title with "the" in it. Oo. Thankfully I made my onscreen "jump2" feature that I wouldn't be without now. Sorry - slightly off topic.

One thing that would be nice (not sure if it's possible) is a way to filter actors by their fame "Top tier" - instead of simply listing them all. (not sure if even IMDB does this??)

- jmarshall - 2009-05-24

Thanks KidKiwi. Basically you don't use any of the nodes for browsing purposes - actor via info window doesn't count - that's a "similar movie to this" style feature, and looking up directors via that or some other search mechanism would cater for your use.

In my opinion the actors node is essentially useless as it is. IMDb in particular is rubbish at organising the actors for a movie. TMDb may be better - at least we can improve it in that case! I think even with "headliners only" it'd still be too large to browse effectively.

Genres is the one I think has the biggest case going for it, possibly followed by Year if you're a film buff? I'm just not convinced that browsing by those categories (i.e. a list of all of them, click on it and you get the movies from that genre only etc.) is the best way to handle things.

I guess if one has thousands of movies then a breakdown is necessary just to manage the listing - if so, I'd be interested in how people group their movies and shows under this scenario from a browsing point of view.


- midgetspy - 2009-05-24

I use genre *all* the time. I have 700+ movies so if I don't have a movie in mind that I want to watch isn't really feasible to look through them all to pick one. I usually decide what genre I (or we) feel like watching (usually Action or Comedy are the 2 most selected ones) and then I filter out half the library right there by choosing the genre. The best way to improve this for me would be to allow selecting multiple genres at once (so I can find Action Comedies, for example).

I never use the Years filter, not because I don't want to but because it's not flexible enough. Sometimes I want to watch a recent movie (say, 2005 or newer) but I'm not going to dig out the keyboard and make a smart playlist just for that, and I'm not going to look through 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 all separately. Or sometimes I feel like a 90's action movie, for example, but again it's not worth making a smart playlist for it so I just find them myself. For me the years filter would only be useful if I could apply comparators to it (newer than 2000, between 1990 and 1999, etc).

I have never used the directors or actors filter ever. 750 movies with full cast list makes the actors list way too huge to even bother looking through.

The only thing I have used the Studios list for is as a hack to sort by resolution or audio info. Aeon & Serenity use kludged NFO files to store media information (resolution, codec, audio type, audio channels, etc) in the Studios field which has the side effect of allowing you to sort by them in the Studios tab. I use this sometimes when I don't want to watch an SD movie or I want a movie with surround sound or something. This is really just a wish for proper media flagging and has nothing to do with the library redesign.

What you list in your blog is basically exactly what I would hope for - a way to make a simplified smartlists on the fly. For me to filter out all movies older than 1990, for example, it should only take 30 seconds... just bring up the filter screen, go to the Year tab, and add a condition.

There should also be more options available - IMDB rating, for one. Duration would also be handy - if I have only an hour and a half of free time it'd sure be nice to be able to find the movies that I can watch, hehe.

While considering the library redesign it might be a good time to consider a way to allow movies to be grouped. Finding the Bond movies is a HUGE hassle, and other movies I've been forced to rename so they're grouped together (Rambo movies, Die Hard movies). Other movies are sorted alphabetically even when it doesn't make sense (Oceans Eleven, Oceans Thirteen, Oceans Twelve). It'd be nice if I could make a set of movies which would be sorted according to the set title and then alphabetically within the set, with some indication that they're in the set (indentation)? I don't know if it's even important for this to be doable from within XBMC - I imagine 90% of people with enough movies to want grouping are using an external program to manage their meta-media anyway.

EDIT: I have never used any of those filters for my TV shows. I have about 50 shows and filtering them has never even crossed my mind.

EDIT2: I know this is kind of a feature request but I think it fits with this post. One thing I wish I could do almost every time I go to choose a movie is choose from movies I've never seen before. I know, this is already supported with Watched/Unwatched. The problem is that it is way too much work to redo my whole library with watched/unwatched every time I rebuild it (which happens pretty frequently actually... when I add a bunch of trailers or fanart, change a bunch of posters, mass rename, move movies around, etc. it's just easier to rescrape from the XML NFOs than it is to manually refresh every movie I changed). Not being able to read watched from the NFO means I lose it on every rebuild and it's not worth the upkeep of setting it on 700 movies every time. Of course to implement this properly would mean some changes to how XBMC treats the library and NFO files because you would want XBMC to be able to write changed watched statuses back to the NFO files rather than only to the internal library, but since I'm talking about how I use the library and its filtering I figured I would bring it up.

- KidKiwi - 2009-05-24

Thinking about this further and how I use XBMC - any info I want to get is usually always accessed from the "info page" ("i" on the remote). It would be nice if the info labels (or strings eg "director, year, writer, genre, studio, etc") were clickable to return a search for that particular person etc (and then from that returned search page other options could be selected - All Years, directors, genres etc). Even further, the clickable button is user configurable (points to a script or smartplaylist that a user can edit)

Maybe as a example the "Director" string could be clickable to return a "Director" category, while the "Info label" is clickable to return a result based on the person whatever in that field?? - meaning each string/label could be accessed separately. You could do it for all the info fields.

Also - special considerations for movies etc that have 2 directors/writers etc - a result for each individually and also for any other collaborations).

Pre-configured options would be good to.

Quote:I guess if one has thousands of movies then a breakdown is necessary just to manage the listing - if so, I'd be interested in how people group their movies and shows under this scenario from a browsing point of view.

I guess I'd fall into this category. Getting around them is the biggest problem (hell...I'd still like the ability to just be able to jump2 a specific title letter - say "R" by entering a number code on the remote - say 18 for "R" - off topic sorry)

A "Grouping" method - being able to have one dvd cover take you to one location - say all James Bond - would certainly be helpful. As would the abilty the return to the last watched/played items via a quick jump button. (We discussed this before, but at that time you needed to code it. I think it has been done, but I'm still not sure on the info label for "last played" was done??)

Hope this helps.

- jmarshall - 2009-05-24

Thanks midgetspy - perfect info.

The grouping is being taken into account via a couple of different methods. Firstly, you'll be able to browse your movies by folder structure (essentially a cleaned up files mode with metadata info available) for those of you who want a particular structure. In addition, there'll be a sort order field that you can use - the 'primes first' sorting of oceans 11/12/13 for example is easy to fix via this method.

I'm not sure if "stacking" into folders will be allowed or not, but that's a possibility that doesn't have much to do with the actual library design at all.


- J_K_M_A_N - 2009-05-24

I wouldn't mind looking for movies by actor but like you said, there are way too many and the list takes like 5 minutes to load. I just use smart playlists. Now that I figured out how to use multiple they are really nice. It sounds like you want to make something like the smart playlists but easier to access which would be perfect IMO. I have a feeling most people have the flatten button on anyway. Smile


- Dilligaf - 2009-05-24

I use the actor filter a lot. I know I want to watch a movie that has a particular actor in it but can't remember the name of the movie. I filter by actor name and then I can go down the list of movies, when I see the name I remember it.


- krypt2nite - 2009-05-24

I personally only use the Year and Genre categories.

I have 2000+ movies so of course navigating them and finding what I want is a chore without these specialized filters and honestly making abunch of smart playlists that aren't even easily accessible from the main gui isn't viable either.

I would love to use actors, but like said it loads 1000s of them and its not efficient at all. I've always wondered if you could make the actors category only show actors that have a picture associated. This would weed out a lot of the no name extras I don't care about. We would still have a lot of actors but it would eliminate so many.

It's been requested many times, but we really do need some kind of grouping ability. Put some kind of tag in the nfo <group>James Bond</group> It would then be easy to have the grouped items show in the overall movie views in their respective group but sorted by year. Or you could have a tag that you could manually choose the order ie. <Sort Order>1</Sort Order>

Having this "Group" filter accessible like the current options would be a blessing. Would really help to organize things. So I could see myself selecting Groups or whatever it's called and seeing

Disney Movies
James Bond
Star Wars
Star Trek

So I use genre for this now, but having a separate option built around this idea would be fantastic.

- speedway - 2009-05-24

I only use "title" to start the search in my library mode.

Would it be possible to use the path tag to create an extra 'filter' ?
Path => <path>smb://NAS/ShareLevel1/ShareLevel2/</path>

- RickDeckard - 2009-05-24

Another vote for the Year filter from me. I use it quite often to find recent movies in my 800+ movie collection.