While I was doing research for my review of the Dune BD Prime I came across Zappiti, a Video Jukebox similar to YAMJ for the PCH. Just about every media player out there has a substandard stock UI, so for me finding a suitable 3rd party jukebox is a must. Is Zappiti that jukebox for the Dune? Well, let’s dig in and see what it has to offer.
- WHS with all videos stored and streamed (Blu Rays, SD DVDs, and TV Shows) shared via samba (see my guide on setting up samba for WHS here)
- Wired home network (Cate5e/Cat6)
- Dune BD Prime connected via Cat5e to home network
Files To Download:
1. Install Zappiti and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 (if applicable). I decided to install Zappiti on my Windows 7 x32 PC, but confirmed it worked on my Windows 7 x64 PC as well
Before talking about setting up I just wanted to briefly discuss library organization:
- Movies – individual movie files can be in one big folder or they can be in subfolders (Separate folder for each movie and my preferred method). The key is to make sure the filename of the movie and/or the foldername of the movie is named as accurately as possible to the actual movie name. Words must be separated by spaces
- TV Shows – each TV show must be in its own folder, with the folder being the exact name of the TV show. Within each TV Show folder you can have separate folders for each Season (folder name should be “Season 1″, “Season 2″, etc…) or just have all episodes in the main tv show folder. Each episode ideally should be named ShowName s## e## (where S = Season and E = Episode). I prefer to have a folder for each season, so an example of my setup would be: TV Shows -> Supernatural -> Season 1 -> Supernatural S01E01.mkv, Supernatural S01E02.mkv, etc…
- Movies and TV Shows should be kept in separate folders. For example, I have a “TV Shows” folder and a “Movies” folder under my main “Videos” folder.
Alright, now on to setting up. Locate Zappiti (should be a shortcut on your desktop) and launch. After a few seconds the main menu should load. Along the top left of the menu are the various configuration options. Along the top right of the menu is a counter which shows how many movies and TV shows are part of your Zappiti library. In the middle of the main menu are five large icons. You can select each icon to navigate through your Zappiti library. This is exactly what it will look like when you access on a Dune.
Click on the “Configure” button and a Configuration Popup Menu should appear. The “Configuration Folder” will be where Zappiti will store the generated Zappiti database (I think SQLlite).Unless you want this stored in a specific location I would just keep it set to the default location.
Under Language choose your language of choice (German, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, or Russian)
When Zappiti is done creating the video jukebox it will export the files which the Dune will then access for viewing. The Share Path is where you want the Zappiti output to be sent to. It must be a folder that the Dune can access. In my case I just made a “Zappiti” folder on my shared Videos folder on my WHS.
Next up is telling Zappiti where your Movie and TV Show collection is located. For movies Select “New Movies folder” and for TV shows select “New TVShows folder”. The folder path is where your Movies/TV Shows are located. Next up is possibly the most confusing part and where most people have problems. You need to specify the “Rewrite absolute path when exporting”. This will tell Zappiti how the Dune will play back the video files. For example, if you access your media on the Dune via samba you would specify here what the samba path would be. When you click on the dropdown you will see a list of examples of different paths you could choose dependent on your setup (although the examples or helpful it is actually confusing because the user may think you simply choose one of the examples instead of actually filling in your own information).
Since I am using samba, my paths are as follows:
Folder Path – \\SHAWSHANK\Videos\Movies Family HD
Absolute Path – smb://SHAWSHANK/Videos/Movies Family HD (NOTE the “/” goes in the opposite direction as in the Folder Path.
Once done you can see below what my configuration looks like.
I only play back my media via samba to the Dune, but I know many other people have different setups (such as external drives connected directly to the Dune, internal hard drive, etc…). Since I didn’t test any other setups I can’t provide much guidance, but if users want to list out examples of how they set up for different scenarios in the comments section I would be glad to add here.
Once the configuration is complete the next step is to have Zappiti scan your video library. From what I can tell this is a two step process. First, Zappiti will will scan through each video file and look for local metadata to use. If metadata is missing then Zappiti will put the video file into the “# to scrap” section so the metadata can be scraped from various sources. For movies it appears that Zappiti will use the following local metadata:
- Cover = folder.jpg
- Fanart = backdrop.jpg
- Metadata = [filename] or [moviename].nfo
I have tried various different configurations for TV shows but have been unable to figure out what/if Zappiti will use local metadata.
Any video files that may have been added previously but since have been deleted/moved will appear in the “# to clean up” section. In the screenshot below you can see that once my scan was complete 24 Movies were added (upper right corner) and 2 movies needed to be scraped.
3. # to Scrap:
First off, in case you were wondering, this should say “Scrape” and not “Scrap”. Hopefully the developers will fix this misspelling because the last thing we want to do is scrap our video library!!! If you have 0 to scrape then you can skip this step. Otherwise, click the “# to scrap” button which will show you a list of all videos that need to be scraped.
Once the list appears you can decide to scrape each movie individually or scrape all movies in the list. To scrape a movie/TV show individually simply highlight on the list. At the bottom left the file name will appear, and this is what Zappiti will use to scrape. You can change this field if needed. For example, if you want 100% accuracy you can actually enter in the IMDB #.
If Zappiti is not sure of an exact match of the movie/TV show a list will appear with all possible matches for you to choose from.
4. # to Clean up
If you create a Zappiti database but later on delete any videos from your collection, when you run the scan any removed videos will appears in the “# to clean up” section. Click on the button and a list will appear showing all missing videos. Select “clean up” and Zappiti will remove these files from its database.
5. Export to Dune
The final step ( I will talk about reviewing/editing the Zappiti database shortly) will be to export the Zappiti database files for the Dune to access. Click the “Export to Dune” button and all files when be exported to the Share Path folder that was set up in the Configuration step.
6. Accessing on the Dune:
You are going to want to add a Zappiti shortcut to your Dune Main Menu to easily access the Zappiti jukebox (to create a shortcut you must be using Dune firmware 100706_1032_beta). To do this you will need to have system storage set up on your Dune. The easiest way to do this is to attach a USB Thumb drive to your Dune (keep in mind the thumb drive must remain connected to the Dune, so make sure you use a thumb drive that you will not need elsewhere). Download the System Storage Utilities from here and copy over to a shared folder that you can access on the Dune. With the USB thumb drive connected to the Dune, navigate to the System Storage Utilities files via the Dune and execute the “dune_service_init_system_storage.dsf” file. Once done you should now have system storage set up.
To create the shortcut, navigate to the folder where you exported your Zappiti jukebox to from the Dune in the file browser, press MENU, choose “Add to main screen” in the popup menu. You should now have Zappiti as a shortcut on your Main Menu.
Viewing/Editing Your Jukebox:
One of the nice things about Zappiti is that you can navigate through the jukebox on your PC exactly as how you would do so with the Dune. This will give you a feel for how the jukebox works and allow you to edit any details without having to run back and forth between your Dune and your PC. Keep in mind that the views you see on your PC will be the same on your Dune, but all Editing/Scraping is done from the PC and not the Dune.
Let’s take a look at some of the various options available with Zappiti:
There are five icons on the main menu. They are (from left to right):
- All My Files – this will show you your entire collection (movies and tv shows). You can view all, or by letter/number.
- Movies – this will show all videos marked as movies
- TV Shows – this will show all videos marked as TV shows
- Recent – this will show recently added videos
- Categories – this will show videos filtered by category (i.e. Comedy, Horror, etc…)
1. All My Files:
Nothing fancy here, just a simple wall view where you can select “All”, by letter, or by number
A nice wall view showing coverart for each movie. If you right click on a movie you will have the option to change the coverart as well as change the movie details. Otherwise, selecting a movie will take you into the movie details screen.
Below is a screenshot of the movie detail page. At this point you can edit the movies details, rescrape the movie, or change the covers/fanart (all from the op toolbar). The one drawback I noticed is that nfos Zappiti is using I created with YANFOE (for YAMJ). The media info that Zappiti uses YANFOE does not store (you only see “mkv” but you don’t see other details such as Aspect Ratio, Resolution, Audio/Video Codec, etc…). To fix this you can either edit the details manually or rescrape details which Zappiti will overwrite the current information. KEEP IN MIND THAT ANY EDITS ONLY HAPPEN TO THE ZAPPITI DATABASE (I.E. THE NFO IF APPLICABLE IS NOT EDITED), SO IF YOU DELETE THE ZAPPITI DATABASE YOU WILL LOSE ANY CUSTOMIZATIONS MADE.
Selecting “Scrap pictures” Zappiti will go online and pull in all cover/fanart. You can then choose which pictures you want to use (based on file dimensions Zappiti will determine whether it is coverart or fanart)
Clicking on “Edit” will bring up a popup will all the movie details that can be edited manually (as mentioned already, you are editing the Zappiti database and not the local nfo if present)
Clicking on “Scrap details” will bring up a list of all possible matches for the movie, simply select the one that corresponds with the movie in question.
After re-scraping the movie and changing the artwork, below is the final result (notice the full Media Info)
3. Tv Shows
The TV Show layout is essentially the same as Movies except you will drill down to the season and episode level.
Thumbnails of each episode for a given TV Show season.
Detailed information of selected TV Show.
Nothing fancy here, just a wall view showing any recently added TV shows/movies. I am not sure how recent is considered recent by Zappiti?
There is an icon for each category which will filter out your video collection.
You can replace the icons as well as create new categories. Below is a screenshot of a customized categories page created by MPCClub user peterbus.
- There appears to be a bug where if you delete a TV show from Zappiti the cover still shows
- Zappiti will only automatically scan your library when you first open the program. If you add new videos you must click the Scan button and the Export to Dune button
- As usual I stumbled onto a bug that had me pulling out my hair for a good 5-6 hours before I isolated. It turns out that if you have a “tvshow.nfo” file present in your TV shows folders (I believe XBMC scrapers create this nfo) then Zappiti will not properly scrape your TV shows. Once I deleted the nfo everything worked fine (however, I still had to manually delete the Zappiti database first)
- The primary language base for Zappiti is French. There is an “official” English forum on MPCClub which is very helpful. However, it is unclear if the Zappiti developers monitor the forum to address bugs/feature requests.
- For any home movies you can probably let Zappiti scrape incorrectly and then just manually change all the information/art/
Overall I am a big fan of Zappiti as it was very easy to set up and has a nice look/feel to it. For anyone using a Dune, I would highly recommend at least testing out (especially if you have TV shows). A few changes I would like to see made in the future:
- Fix “scrap” to “scrape”
- Work with metadata developers (possibly YANFOE, EMM, etc…) to create compatible local metadata/art
- If there is a change to any of the local metadata/art Zappiti should update as well. Currently, if you make a change to a local nfo, you have to delete the movie and rescan (YAMJ has a feature where if there is a change to the file it will rescan)
- Add option for alternative views (i.e. List)
As of February 1 2011 in order to use the Dune Export functionality of Zappiti you will need to provide proof of your Dune purchase. If you happened to purchased the Dune in France from a non French authorized reseller you will be locked out of this feature. If you don’t have a copy of your invoice it is still not clear if t here is a work around. You can read more about it here.