Movie Cover Browsing

istar-front.jpg The iStar NMT software as this point in time does not provide the ability to browse your movie collection by cover art. It does however have an embedded HTML browser which can use a limited set of HTML/CSS commands.

There are a number of software solutions that will stream a movie via HTTP and provide some sort of Movie Browse Mode. However none of these where suitable to my needs, I didn't want more computers running just so I can watch a movie, so I decided to build a solution that would work standalone on the iStar.

First off I must mention that these templates where designed for an SD TV. So if you have HD you will need to adjust the images sizes and possibly the templates. However this shouldn't prove to be too difficult.

These templates have the following pre-requisites and/or assumptions:

  • You have an SD TV attached to your iSTAR.
  • You have a copy of Movie Collectorz to catalogue and download all the cover art for your collection.
  • You have a SATA drive attached to your iSTAR. If not you will need to modify the templates as described later in this document.

A free trial copy of movie collectorz can be downloaded here. I know I'm pimping software but for the money you couldn't write something this quickly and I wanted to spend my time designing the templates and watching movies. As an affiliate I get a small commission if you buy the software from this link. Which is a nice way of paying me for the time spent putting this together and for my continuing support (and it doesn't cost you anything!)

Collectorz.com Movie Collector

Download these Collectorz Templates and place them in your personal “Movie Collector” template directory.

Movie collectorz provides the ability to attach arbitrary files to a movie in your collection. We will take advantage of this feature to associate the movies on the iSTAR HDD with those in your collection.

First you need to MAP the iStars' samba share to your computer.

It doesn't matter what drive letter you use

Mapped iStar Drive

Now open Movie Collectorz and Edit a movie navigating to the Links tab

The following dialog will be shown

From your mapped W: drive drag and drop the matching movie into the bottom panel. It will automatically be added. Alternatively you may manually enter movies here.

Don't worry about what drive letter you mapped the iStar drive to this will be automatically removed and remapped to an internal path by the XSL stylesheet.

z:\Movie\THE BOURNE IDENTITY.avi  
will become
file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/HARD_DISK/Movie/THE BOURNE IDENTITY.avi

This mapping is what would need to be modified if you have your collection on an network SMB shared or an attached USB drive.

You may also drop an .ISO file here and the template will take care of the producing the correct launching HTML code.

So you've got this far and now your ready to export your collection into HTML for use with your media player.

This is where things get a little funky. Even thou we are going to select a custom template the THUMBNAIL size will still be honoured when the images are produced.

Make sure you set the thumbnail size before assigning a custom template

Now we select a Custom INDEX template. Note the thumbnail size now can't be changed even thou this value will be used. (This has got to be a bug)

Now press the EXPORT button and your movie HTML pages will be produced. The output will be in your C:\Documents and Settings\<USER>\My Documents\Movie Collector\export directory.

 Mapped iStar Drive

Now all you need to do is copy this export directory to your iSTAR mapped drive and point your iSTAR at the INDEX.HTML file using the browser mode. Don't forget to also copy across the icon directory from the Templates directory. This contains some additional images used by the templates.

Some Gory Detail

Some of deeper aspects of the templates are explained in this section.

Some things off the top of my head that you might want to adjust.

Cover Indexing

I found that with a large movie collection 300+ the default way of creating an alphabetic index such as Abc…Het Gor..Jum used too much screen estate. So I decide to remove the Second component to produce Abc… Gor… If you collection is small or you like the default you can put it back.

exportindex_item_ISTAR.xsl

    <!-- on an SD TV space is at a premium, for HD you can remove the substring wrapper -->
    <xsl:variable name="pagen"><xsl:value-of select="substring(@pagenum,1,3)"/></xsl:variable>

will simply become

    <xsl:variable name="pagen"><xsl:value-of select="@pagenum"/></xsl:variable>

Location of Movies

If you don't have a SATA drive attached to your iSTAR or you also which to produce an index for movie on your SMB drive. Then you will need to adjust the following template.

exportdetails_ISTAR.xsl

<xsl:attribute name="href">file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/HARD_DISK<xsl:value-of select="$basename"/></xsl:attribute>

See the section on HTML movie linking on details of how to change the above linkage.

Now this is really annoying feature of the HTML browser implementation on the iSTAR. If you create a block of HTML and wrap its contents in a <DIV> so that you can apply style elements to it after the block terminator </DIV> a PARAGRAPH marker, that is to say a carriage return, will be automatically displayed. ! WTF?!

So when wrapping HTML blocks on the iSTAR make sure you use a <SPAN> element not a <DIV>.

When creating the HTML there is a syntax that you need to understand when linking files. In fact there are two formats. One for (Video files) AVI,MPG et al and another for ISO format files.

For example if you are exporting a share say

//CHEESE/Videos

To understand the direct link that is required you can telnet to your device and have a look a the mount path to get a better understanding of the nomenclature.

HTML Video file linking

The the syntax that you will need in your html will be.

<a tvid="PLAY" vod href="file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/[SMB] CHEESE:Videos/DVD/terminator2.mpg">

The VOD attribute is a documented in the NMT html guides.

HTML ISO file linking

The the syntax that you will need in your html will be. This snippet was taken from a working example. The exact name of your share appears on your NMT media selection home page.

<a tvid="PLAY" href="file:///opt/sybhttpd/localhost.drives/[SMB] CHEESE:Videos/DVD/terminator2.iso" zcd="2">

The ZCD attribute is an undocumented attribute. I'm not sure of its origins. This information was gleaned from the NMT forums.

Media Streaming Software