MyMovies 3 – A Look At What’s New

by Damian on October 21, 2009 · 13 comments

in Reviews

With only one day left until MyMovies 3 is available to the general public, I had the opportunity to give the final version a test run over the past few days. For those who don’t know My Moviesfor Microsoft Media Center 2005, Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows 7  gives you the ability to index your movies with automatically downloaded data from the My Movies WebService, and then browse movies, actors, directors and much more. You can share your movie database to multiple clients, and configure each client to its own parental control limitation which requires a pin # to view the full collection. My Movies is available in more than 10 different languages. With My Movies you can filter your collection by genres, actors, directors, MPAA parental level and much more. My Movies can help you copy your DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray’s to hard drive storage for easy playback.

So now with the introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at what MyMovies 3 has to offer. The initial installation is the same as with past versions. You have the option to install My Movies as a Standalone, Server and Client, or Client.

MyMovies Setup

With MyMovies 3 installed there are two main interfaces you will be dealing with, Collection Management and the MyMovies UI in WMC.

Collection Management (CM):

Not much if anything has changed on the layout of CM. A list of all movies will show on the left. By highlighting a movie all the details will appear to the right (movie details, coverart, and Actor/Crew images). You can either add a movie manually or set up CM to monitor your media folders and add whenever a new movie is added. MyMovies relies on its own servers with user contributed data for all its meta data and has a very impressive collection of high quality coverart (over 200,000 titles with high resolution covers, disc id’s, barcodes, etc…).

MyMovies - Collection Management

When you first install MM3 you are going to want to configure all the available options in CM before actually going in to WMC (NOTE that some features/options are only available with a certain level of points, I will try to summarize this at the end of the post). The first option to configure is Media Center Interface. There are a lot of different options to choose from, such as setting the default movie overview view, number of rows to be displayed, max bitrate for movie trailers, and quality of movie backdrops.

MyMovies - Collection Management Options InterfaceMyMovies - Collection Management Options Interface a

The next option is Media Center Disc Copy. If you plan on using MyMovies to copy any DVDs that you own, you can specify what format they should be copied to, as well as a target folder.

MyMovies - Collection Management Options Disc Copy 

Although I have never changed the default settings, the next option is External Players. If you have a favorite player of choice that you want used for a particular video file (let’s say you want MPC used when playing mkvs) you can specify here.

MyMovies - Collection Management Options External

One of the frustrating thing about meta data is that it seems like every device/player/software has their own format that they use, so if you are using multiple devices most likely you need to run separate programs to maintain meta data. With the Meta Data Storage option you can actually use CM to handle meta data for a variety of other devices, not just MM3.

MyMovies - Collection Management Options Meta

Under the Folder Monitoring option you are going to want to specify what folders you want MM3 to monitor, where the monitoring is handled (WMC, MM tray application, or CM) and how the monitoring should operate (should the user be prompted to confirm the movie being added, etc…)

MyMovies - Collection Management Options Folder Monitoring

A feature I have not had a need to use yet but will be relying heavily on down the road is Parental Controls.

MyMovies - Collection Management Options Parental

 

MyMovies – Windows Media Center UI:

With all the options now configured in CM, it is now time to head into WMC. With MM3 installed, you should now have a new “My Movies” strip, with icons for the movie library, trailer library, search, play disc, and copy disc.

7MC - MyMovies Strip

Most of your time is going to be spent in the movie library, so let’s check what changes have been made with MM3. The first thing that you will notice is the complete overhaul of the UI (which is a good thing). The MM2 UI had a very blah/static feel to it whereas MM3 comes to life the moment you access the library.

MM2 UI

MyMovies2

MM3 UI (Covers full screen)

MyMovies - Movies -Covers Full

There are a couple small details to notice on each DVD coverart. MM3 will attempt to determine if the movie is an HD movie (such as Blu Ray or HD DVD) and if so change the borders of the coverart to reflect this. Also, in the right corner of each movie coverart MM3 will show where the movie is located (a disc will appear if the movie is in a ROM drive, a network icon will appear if the movie is located on a network share, etc…)

There are four views you can choose from to view your movie collection, covers full screen (pictured above), covers and details, covers centered, and list and details.

Covers and Details view

MyMovies - Movies -Covers and Details

Covers centered view

MyMovies - Movies -Covers Centered

List and details view

MyMovies - Movies - Details

 If you leave a movie highlighted and don’t move the cursor for a few seconds fanart will appear (you can adjust/disable this setting). Move the cursor again the fanart will disappear and you will be back in the movie library.

Covers full screen view w/ fanart (if you look closely you can see the outlines of the movie library faded out)

MyMovies - Movies Backdrop Fade

List and details view w/ fanart (if you look closely you can see the outlines of the movie list faded out)

MyMovies - Movies - Details a

Once you select the movie you are interested in you will be taken to the main movie details screen. From here you can select play to play the movie, but also view additional information such as synopsis, cast + crew, audio + subtitles, extras, and similar movies.

details screen – general information about movie as well as front/back covers

MyMovies - Movies Details

From the details screen you can zoom in on the front/back covers (you can see the high quality of the cover)

MyMovies - Movies Details Front Cover

Synopsis screen

MyMovies - Movies Synopsis

Cast + Crew screen

MyMovies - Movies Cast

Selecting a cast member will pull up the Bio of that person as well as any other movies in your library they are in

MyMovies - Movies Cast Bio

Audio + subtitles

MyMovies - Movies Audio

Extras

MyMovies - Movies Extras

Similar movies

MyMovies - Movies Similar

One nice feature that was added with MM3 is streaming trailers for your movie collection. MM3 will scan through your movie collection and if a trailer is available for that movie online an icon will show up next play (you can see in the screenshot below).

MyMovies - Movies Details W Trailer

While on the topic of trailers, MM3 has made available a large list of movie trailers outside of the movie library. I am a big fan of having the latest movie trailers at my fingertip as this is usually the only chance I get to experience the movies in theaters currently. This does not appear to be the typical Apple Trailers plugin used by many other  programs but possibly the trailers are all stored on the MyMovies server (this could be a good thing because anyone who views trailers via an Apple Trailer plugin knows the headaches that have been experienced of late). My only complaint would be the picture quality which comes is through closer to SD then HD (even adjusting the trailer bitrate settings).

Trailers Main UI

MyMovies - Trailers

Trailer synopsis

MyMovies - Trailers Details

Features Requiring Points:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this point, although the core MM3 is free to the general public, there are some features that require a certain level of points to access. Per every $1 donated you will get 25 points. You can also earn points by contributing data to the MyMovies Webservice (you can get more details here). The features that require points are as follows:

  • Covers and details View (500 points)
  • Covers centered View (1,000 points)
  • Custom Menu Button 1 (1,000 points)
  • Custom Menu Button 2 (1,250 points)
  • Change Cover Rows (1,000 points)
  • Online Backdrops 720p (500 points)
  • Online Backdrops 1080p (1,000 points)
  • Internal Transcoder (1,250 points)
  • External Players (1,250 points)
  • Similar Titles (2,500 points)
  • Sony BDP-CX700ES Support (2,500 points)
  • Online Collection (Optionally from 500 to 1,500 points)
  • Backup to ISO files and backup of HD-DVD and Blu-ray (2,500 points)
  • My Movies Disc Copier on Windows Home Server (1,250 points)
  • My Music Disc Copier on Windows Home Server (1,250 points)
  • Multi-Disc Copying on Windows Home Server (2,500 points)

Caveat:

While I was testing out MM3 I noticed that over half of my movie collection was not being picked up. After spending some time troubleshooting it was determined the cause of this was because some of the meta data I had stored had been created by metabrowser for Media Browser. MyMovies creates mymovies.xmlwhich is used by MyMovies to store all meta data for each movie. Media Browser uses the same mymovies.xml. In cases where I had used metabrowser to create the xml file data that is specific to MyMovies was not included. With this information missing MyMovies would ignore the movie. I am not going to get into a debate over who is in the right here, just thought this was important to point out for anyone who is thinking about going back and forth or switching over from Media Browser  to MyMovies (it appears that if the mymovies.xml is created by MyMovies it can be used with Media Browser but not vice versa).

UPDATE – with the public release tomorrow (MyMovies 3.01 officially), MM3 will warn the user if it detects any mymovies.xml files that are not stored by MyMovies. If so it will re-index/overwrite.

Overall Impressions:

Overall I have to say that the changes made to MM3 are a huge leap forward from where MM2 was and brings MyMovies more in line with many of the other media center UIs being used today. One thing I wanted to test out was the speed of browsing through a large movie collection as I know this was one thing boasted about with MM3. Unfortunately due to the library issues I noted above in the Caveat I had a very small library selection to test out on. Navigating through the movie/trailer library is effortless, the selection of meta data and quality of coverart is second to none, and the multiple views/options give the user control over the experience without complicating things. I would like to see the picture quality of the trailers improved (or make an HD option available) and also more views available (such as coverflow). The biggest feature request I would like to see added is support for tv shows as this is the major item that has kept me from using MyMovies as my primary video jukebox.

Alternatives to MyMovies in Windows Media Center would be the default WMC library, Media Browser (be on the lookout for my write up on the latest release in the coming days) and OML (to be looked at in the near future).





Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 13 comments }

Suresh October 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Damian

Another excellent review. So is it worthwhile to change from mediabrowser to mm3? Also when you say configurable views are 500 points – what are the views that comes free without any points needed.

Also would like to know how seamless is integrating POWERDVD in MM3.

Damian October 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Suresh,

Hope all is well. As far as the views that come with/without any points I am not sure. The information from the website regarding points appears to apply towards MM2, so I don’t know how this will fit in with MM3 (i guess once the public release tomorrow we should know, I have a review copy of MM3 so I don’t know if any limitatons had been lifted).

As far as PowerDVD I don’t have on my system right now (when I did a clean install of W7 I never added it back on). I think I have a copy lying around somewhere so if I have a chance I can take a look at or hopefully someone else can comment on.

Now the question MM vs MB…. I would say there is no right answer as they are both great programs. I know some people have an easier time getting meta data for their movie collection with MM because it uses its own massive user contributed database as noted in the review (MB uses themoviedb). Also, managing your meta data outside of WMC is fully integrated with MM3 via CM. If you want to manage your meta data outside of WMC for MB you need to use a 3rd party app like metabrowser (not saying this is a negative, just pointing out some differences). On the other hand if you want to go the extra step and have complete control over the look and feel then MB is a great choice (new plugin structure, creating virtual folders, all stuff I will try to go over in my upcoming writeup). Really the big question for many people is cost. Right now MM3 is free (some costs for additional perks but the base program is free). Currently MB is free but is going to a paid model shortly (no idea what the terms will be). As I mentioned in my writeup, the big item missing for me with MM3 is integration of tv shows.

Cheers
Damian

Suresh October 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Damian

Thanks for the quick response. Have you been able to get thumbnails and stuff for dvr-ms recordings in MB? Also does MB remember last watched point for dvr-ms recordings. It works for me for avi, xvid,mkv and all those files but not for dvr-ms.

I used MM initially two years back, when I built my media pc, but the SQL database part seemed to slow down the system and so I gave up.

Damian October 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Suresh,

There is a plugin for dvr-ms I think for MB. I will take a look at when I do my writeup of MB in the next few days. I also updated this post for the points required for the different features.

All4Fun (Richard) October 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Hey Damian.

How do these programs stack up when working with MKV files? I don’t rip to ISO or folder structure which these programs seem to have an affinity for.

All4Fun (Richard) October 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Ignore last comment. Found my answer.

raaaaaa October 23, 2009 at 12:27 am

they seem to be having allot of problems after the win 7 upgrade and WHS check out there forums

mrbrock72 October 28, 2009 at 8:05 am

I just installed mymovies3 on my new install of win7. The copy disc option says I need 1250 contrib. points. I am only trying to copy a DVD movie not a blu ray. I had my movies2 installed on vista media center and win7 beta before and I was able to use the copy disc option with DVD movies without any contrib. points.
Is this a new change with my movies3?
Thanks for your help!

Damian October 28, 2009 at 8:29 am

I have never used the disc copier function, but I was under the impression that this applied to all discs, not just Blu Ray (from MM standpoint it should not matter anyhow since MM is not the one doing the encrypting).

mrbrock72 October 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

I can still copy the movie using anydvd if I exit media center and use anydvd the manual way. It is just much easier to use my remote and my movies to rip a dvd to hard drive without having to grab a keyboard. Ive been doing this for well over a year now on dvd movies and did not have to purchase any contrib. points. Before when I would try to rip a blu ray it would ask me to purchase contrib. points. I guess they must have changed it recently for DVDs also.

Damian October 28, 2009 at 8:51 am

I usually copy the manual way with AnyDVD since I only grab the main movie/audio and not the entire disk. That is a shame if this feature was free in the past but now requires points. Hopefully some other people can confirm this as well. Thanks for letting everyone know. Terming MyMovies as “free” is tricky.

mrbrock72 October 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

Ok I just confirmed that the disc copy change requiring contrib. points is with My Movies 3.
I uninstalled My Movies 3 and installed my movies version 2.57 and I was able to use the copy disc on a DVD movie just like before. http://www.mymovies.dk/download/media-center-2005.aspx

That is a shame they would get you hooked on a feature then start charging for it in a new version. Seems kinda shady…
Here is the list of features that require contrib. points.
http://www.mymovies.dk/how-to/written-documentation.aspx?Page=Features%20Requiring%20Points

Damian October 29, 2009 at 10:58 am

Thanks for letting everyone know, it is a shame that a free component is no longer free. Like I said, the term “Free” needs to be used very loosely

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