Media Centers (MC), Media Managers and online media databases

Ember Media Manager

A Media center, also called Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Home Cinema, refers to a home entertainment system that seek to reproduce a movie theater experience and mood, with the help of video and audio equipment, in or outside a private home.

A list of some renowned media centers is shown hereafter :

A Media Manager is  an application that catalogs your media and writes images and metadata to the directory the media is stored in so that the media center can access that data in order to display the correct information for the media files. Most media centers do have some sort of scraper built in to look for media matches in Internet online media databases. Media Managers usually provide extended and more reliable tools to catalog your media.

A list of some renowned media managers is given below :

The most renowned online media databases usually scraped by media centers and by media managers are listed herafter :


Display extended informations about media files

Last update : January 30, 2013

I set up a list with useful software tools to display extended informations about media files :

  • MediaInfo : open source (GPL or LGPL licence) tool with user friendly user interface;
  • FLV MetaData Viewer (FLVMDV) : free tool to adds ‘FLV Details’ tab to the file windows properties dialog
  • TSPE (Transport Stream Packet Editor) : shareware from BitStreamTools
  • CodecVisa : powerful H.264/AVC real-time analyzer for H.264/AVC and VP8 video codecs
  • GSpot : codec information appliance
  • StreamEye tools : powerful applications from elecard, designed to analyze video quality, troubleshoot problems in the encoded stream for further video compression optimization, and ensure compliance to the video standards
  • VideoInspector : free video tool from KC Software
  • TSReader : free lite, payed standard and payed professional  MPEG-2 Transport Stream Analysis and Recording software

VLC Media Player

Last update : June 12, 2013

VLC  Media is the favorite media player for most people because it plays everything they throw at it without problems with the included codecs. VLC can do the following things (see contribution on Instant Fundas) :

  • Rip DVDs with the integrated basic DVD ripper
  • Record videos during playback (View>Advanced Control)
  • Download YouTube and other online videos by grabbing the URL of the YouTube video page (Media>Open Network stream). In the latest version (1.0.2 Goldeneye) you must replace “swfArgs” with “SWF_ARGS” in the youtube.lua file with a text editor to make the youtube videos running.
  • Play RAR files with zipped videos even if the RAR file is split into several files
  • Play in ASCII mode (Tools>Preferences>Video>Output>Color ASCII art video output)
  • Listen to online radio (Media>Services Discovery>Shoutcast radio listings)
  • Convert Audio and Video formats (Media>Convert/Save)
  • Enhance your player with new skins
  • Stream your Linux/Windows/Mac Desktop as video

VLC Media Player can not cut videos from the GUI, only with the command lines.

VLC Remote Control for iPhone

After 485 million downloads of VLC 1.1.x versions, VideoLAN and the VLC development team presented VLC 2.0.0 “Twoflower”, a major new release, on February 18, 2012. VideoLAN, a French non-profit organization, is a group of people, that produces and distributes free and open source software for video and multimedia purpose, released under Open Source licenses. It started as a student project at the French École Centrale Paris but is now a worldwide project with developers from everywhere and dozens of millions of people using VideoLAN’s software.

VLC is the official name of VideoLAN’s main product, often named VLC. VideoLAN Client is an ancient name of this product. VideoLAN Server (VLS) is an outdated streaming solution developed by a separate group of people.

The current version of VLC is 2.0.5. It supports now DLNA and works fine with the Serviio DLNA server (see contribution on the Serviio Forum). A remote control for the VLC player to run on iOS devices is available from Hobbyist Software. The log files are displayed in the Tools > Messages window if verbosity is set to the value 2 (debug).

With VLC, cuttingt videos is very easy. Launch VLC media player and activate advanced controls located under the view menu. You will see four extra buttons above the normal play/pause button. You will not cut the video, but rather record the segment using the built-in VLC recorder. First seek the position you want to start your recording with the frame by frame button, then press the record button and the play button. The background color of the record button will change to blue. Press the record button when you want to stop the recording. The clip will be automatically saved as an MP4 media file in your Videos folder in Windows. A prefix “vlc-record-date-time” is added to the name of the original videoclip.