Migrating from Windows Media Centre

nhmorris

New member
I have a PC which runs WMC under Win7. Since I also use it for emails and web browsing I probably should look at buying a new Win10 laptop for the latter, or find a replacement for WMC which will be supported on W10. Two possibilities seem to be MediaPortal and NextPVR. The former appears to offer the option of searching for programs by genre as one can in WMC. I'm uncertain if the latter does? Both output video and audio in a .ts file, and metadata in a parallel .xml file. This is messy and I would like to end up with a single container for each archive recording as WMC achieves with .dvr-ms and .wtv. I have my own library structure for edited recordings and do not allow WMC to attempt to index that. My workflow is simple, basic and largely manual and I prefer to keep it that way! So, WMC saves to "Recorded TV", I edit the files there using VRD with minimal re-coding, the metadata is transferred automatically within VRD6 and I move the edited files into my library. I then delete the originals from within WMC. .wtv files have a field called "Program description" which is readable and editable in Win Explorer, and that is the information I particularly need to preserve. It is uploaded initially from the EPG (I use EPG123 who in turn I believe use Schedules Direct), though there may be some extra data gleaned from the internet. I know there are many tools including VAP which can search for extra data, fan art etc. to add to files but that is not something I need. My preference therefore would be to use VRD6 to edit the .ts file from say MediaPortal, and save it as an .mp4 (or possibly an .mkv), whilst acquiring and appending the metadata from the companion .xml file (or at least the Program description). Is that possible? There is a second issue in that Explorer does not seem to recognise a Program description field in .mp4 files though it does see a "Comments" field that can be written to with a limited string length (or longer strings from within VLC player for some reason!). I don't know if this has been improved in Win 10? Any guidance and ideas on these issues would be greatly appreciated.
 

dlflannery

Moderator
Take a look at #18, Command line Options”, in “Things to know” in VAP6-readme.pdf, specifically this option:

-metabtv Enables creation of BeyondTV style XML metadata files in output folder. If present beside the input video file, an XML file in NextPVR format is read to get uid recordingFileName, callSign, startTime, channel_OID, title, subtitle, description,
oritinal_air_date, rating, genres, season, and episode elements. If the corresponding elements also have been obtained from another metadata source, the NextPVR elements take precedence.

Thus VAP6 will read many metadata items from a NextPVR XML file beside the input video file. These items, optionally, can be used as keys to obtain more metadata from theTVDB.com and VAP6 will insert the combined metadata in output .mp4 files. IIRC another XML file is created beside the output file and these could be ignored/deleted if not used.

I don’t us WMC or these other programs but, if you can try NextPVR, I will help you get this process going with VAP6.

Also you may find this thread of inerest:
 

nhmorris

New member
Hi dlf! Many thanks for the swift response. I had discovered and read much of the thread you suggest and that is what set me thinking that your add-on might be able to do what I am looking for. However I couldn't find a statement that it would actually insert the data into a container like .mp4 rather than just into a new text file, so your "VAP6 will insert the combined metadata in output .mp4 files" is great to hear. I noticed that somewhere along the development thread you seem to have focused on .xml files from NextPVR rather than MediaPortal and you said the two were somewhat different. Does VAP6 work with MediaPortal's files too? (I explained why this is currently my preference in the original post). That leaves me with the issue that my Windows Explorer fails to display the 'Program description' field for .mp4's, showing only a 'Comments' field. Useable but not great. It did occur to me that in VRD I could equally well save the edited .ts back as a dvr-ms or .wtv file which would work with Explorer, but I don't know if VAP6 can transfer metadata to these proprietary containers too? Hopefully I'll arrive at a workable solution with the help of some kind folk like yourself...
 

dlflannery

Moderator
VAP6 will insert metadata into .wtv, drv-ms and mp4 video output files. It doesn't read metadata from mediaportal xml files, which have a different format from nextPVR xml files. If I understand correctly, your reason for preferring mediaportal is the searching-on-genre feature. Can you determine for sure whether nextPVR has this feature or not? VAP6 could be modified to also read mediaportal xml files but that might not be necessary if you can use nextPVR.

I have attached a zip containing example mediaportal and NextPVR xml files furnished by @jtcreate for both TV series episodes and movies, so you can see what info is in them. Note that VAP sometimes has issues because it can't decide whether an input video is a movie or a TV show, so it knows whether to search theTVDB.com or TMDb.com. And also so it can set the proper metadata elements in the output files. There are checkbox settings that can configure VAP to not do either one or both of the metadata searches, which can simplify things in some cases.
 

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nhmorris

New member
Hi dfl! I have posted on the NextPVR forum asking about category search ability and will await a response. Looking at the .xml files you kindly sent, I see that any program description in the MediaPortal files is inserted in the 'Comments' field and I never see a 'Program description' field. With those from NextPVR the 'Program description' field is usually present although just occasionally the data is under 'Comments' instead. Presumably this has to do with how the file originated. I'm not sure what the implications are for porting into a container. Does your software always create matching fields or could it for example always place text from Comments or Program description into a Program description field? (I would then need to choose a dvr.ms or .wtv format for Explorer to display the Pd field assuming Explorer behaves the same way under W10 as it does in W7).
 

dlflannery

Moderator
VAP uses its own internal metadata structure and the comments or description from one of those xml files would be put in VAP's Description slot, that is if VAP were reading MediaPortal xml files, which it currently doesn't. The VAP description item populates the Description tag in an mp4 or WTV/DVR-MS output file. In the WTV/DVR-MS case this tag shows as Program Description in Windows Explorer file properties (details). This is in Win10 on my PC, at least.

If you decide you have a significant preference for MediaPortal, it's not a big deal to mod VAP6 to read those XML files.
 

nhmorris

New member
Many thanks dfl. I have had an exchange on the NextPVR forum and in summary the advice was this: there was an add-on for version 4 which could search by genre (among other things) but it wasn't taken up much. The current re-coded version 5 does not support this or replace it's functionality, and there are no current plans for anything similar. They do not recommend installing v4 as it is a "dead end". So I would need to take up your very kind offer to enable VAP to read MP .xml's and port the 'Comments' field data to the '(Program) Description' field for .wtv/.dvr-ms/.mp4 if that is possible (plus populating any other fields you felt appropriate). I'm sure you have many other demands on your time so I am in no great rush for this - if you are still happy to go ahead can you give me some notion of a time scale (e.g. by the summer?). Much appreciated.
 

dlflannery

Moderator
Many thanks dfl. I have had an exchange on the NextPVR forum and in summary the advice was this: there was an add-on for version 4 which could search by genre (among other things) but it wasn't taken up much. The current re-coded version 5 does not support this or replace it's functionality, and there are no current plans for anything similar. They do not recommend installing v4 as it is a "dead end". So I would need to take up your very kind offer to enable VAP to read MP .xml's and port the 'Comments' field data to the '(Program) Description' field for .wtv/.dvr-ms/.mp4 if that is possible (plus populating any other fields you felt appropriate). I'm sure you have many other demands on your time so I am in no great rush for this - if you are still happy to go ahead can you give me some notion of a time scale (e.g. by the summer?). Much appreciated.
OK. It’s on my to-do list!
 

dlflannery

Moderator
Try VAP6 test version 1.01T1 executable contained in the attached zip file -- NOTE: this is not an installer, just a replacement .exe file.

This version reads either NextPVR or MediaPortal XML files if they exist beside the input file, appropriately named. Must use command-line option -metaBTV.

It attempts to decide whether the video is TV episode or movie by looking at the EPISODENAME and parsing the movie year out of the COMMENT field.
If theTVDB and/or TMDb searches are enabled, it augments the XML data with those search results, but will not overwrite the XML items.

Not having MediaPortal, I tested using the MP xml's I attached earlier. Just put any .ts (or .mpg) file in the monitored folder and put one of the xml files beside it with the same root name. Check "Refresh file metadata on reset button click" on the "Other" tab of the Advanced Configuration page. Then select the file and click "Reset". The log messages will tell what happens and right-clicking on the file (in VAP6) will show some of the metadata. If you process the file to create a WTV or mp4 file, the metadata will be inserted.

There could be a timing issue if MP delays creating the XML files relative to creating the video files. This can probably be addressed by entering a delay time in "Delay time after detection before processing a file in monitor folder" on the "Other" tab of Advanced Configuration. Note that when VAP is running, it detects new input video files, so if that happens and the xml file isn't present, then it attempts to get metadata without the xml data (which will fail for a .mpg or .ts file). Thus if you manually place video files into the monitor folder you should place the corresponding xml files there first. The reset button can force a new metadata detection after such a failure, as described above.
 

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