Big Screen Blog

Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

Work In Progress: Big Screen Movies – CodeName “Fatlady” Pt. 2 (Under the hood)

with 6 comments

This is the promised follow up post (to the previous one on Big Screen Movies aka codename ‘Fatlady’) – and I thought I’d use it to talk about how some of the movie + metadata management works in this product.


What Metadata/Imagery Big Screen Movies will work with (and look for).

Similarly to DVD Library – Big Screen Movies scans for metadata information and images for a movie in the folder that the movie title resides.

In the case of DVD Library – a file ‘<moviename>.dvdid.xml’ is searched for (which in turn provides a reference to another XML metadata file in your common directory with data downloaded from AMG) – or alternatively it will locate a cover image if a file ‘folder.jpg’ exists. In the case of DVR-MS files – metadata is extracted directly from the dvr-ms file (which comes from the EPG).

Big Screen Movies follows a similar path – but allows a whole lot more data to be used – and a lot more images to be provided (ie you can provide back covers, gallery items, different resolution pictures etc).  

The main XML metadata file (prefixed with .bsdvd.xml and .bsvideo.xml is a new schema that I came up with (well actually it’s a XML Serialization of a .NET class structure – but it can be read back fine) – and it’s a really comprehensive spec which allows for lots of different information (ie more than just Chapters, Synopsis etc – things like detailed cast/crew lists, dvd specific information like features, subtitles, tracks, easter eggs etc).

If you want to check out what a Big Screen Movies bsdvd.xml file looks like – see this link Example .bsdvd.xml file.  Note this is not finalized (Element names are not all 100% and many should be moved to attributes).

Similarly with images – Big Screen Movies looks for image files based on the same filename – and rather than just looking for folder.jpg (or dvrmsfilename.jpg) – it uses the double-dot notation to find different bits : ie.   if you provide a file with the extension .back.jpg – then it will pick this up and use it for the back cover. You can also provide different cover sizes and all sorts of other miscelaneous imagery (for the gallery when viewing a movie title) – ie.  <folder/moviename>.<anything>.jpg.


Offline + Online Title support (and a lot of cool opportunities for 3rd party developers).

Since Big Screen Movies supports offline ‘movies’ too (that could mean a HD-DVD title on your Shelf, something showing at the Movies or Coming Soon, or even a movie available from a Video On Demand service – or a movie you leant your mate)- you can also drop these files into special directories (located in the program data folders) – and they will be picked up by the scan and made available.

Via this feature (and the fact that even online content uses this open/parsable XML file format) – it opens up opportunities for other developers to write supporting tools (ie. Image cover grabbers, metadata importers etc) in the same way people have done for DVD Library functionality.  Developers may also write tools that add titles/metadata from other places – such as an app that extracts lists of movies/metadata from Blockbuster or a coming soon at the movies list from Amazon (or elsewhere).


I whipped up the following diagram to better explain what sort of metadata and content can be referenced with Big Screen Movies.

The top of the diagram being what DVD Library does today and the bottom half being what Big Screen Movies adds to the pot – /and/ the yellow boxes in the middle indicate the "new" types of media/content that can be catalogued/browsed.

Please click on the diagram to see the large version (as you probably can’t read whats below)…



The Big Screen Movies Manager/Editor

The Big Screen Manager allows you to edit and manager your Movie Titles (which then appear inside the Big Screen Movies) – and provides the ability to add/remove/import/edit your metadata and imagery. 

The basic pretext behind how Big Screen Movies works – is that an end user would ultimately add titles to their movie collection a lot less frequently than they would actually load up the addin/watch a movie – hence there’s no need to rescan everything each time you load up the addin as Vista Media Center DVD Library does. (Vista Media Center DVD Library’s focus is on locally available content only so this makes sense).

Instead – the manager program builds (and manages) a lean/mean database/indexing file (using .net binary serialization) which is loaded into memory when the addin is launched. (hence the UI already knows where everything is – and whats available.).  When you go in and actually view a movie title – some (re)scanning is performed at that point if deemed necessary (as it doesn’t need to know about all the metadata and online availability up until that point).

There will be some auto scanning / index building features actually inside the Media Center UI – however this won’t do everything and will be triggered manually.



Double clicking on a movie will allow you to edit all the included metadata (this is still a little unfinished as you will see in the UI below) :



A few wizards are provided to simply importing/scanning of metadata. The screen below is part of the import ‘DVD Profiler’ XML Data wizard – and has quite a few smarts to enable it to find and match up with your existing titles. (ie. if straight title or UPCID matching doesn’t find the right title – it will also try to extract the DISCID’s from the DVD Profiler data and match it with the saved dvdid.xml information).  Other wizards are also provided to do things like scanning your drives for new/updated/removed content (ie DVD’s on hd, avi, wmv, dvr-ms files etc).




Ok thats all I’m going to say/show for the time being about this product (well there’s a plethora of reading material in this post and the previous one so this wont be an issue!)…

When I have some more updates/progress to share (or the Fatlady is singing) I will post them here …. 

Please also see the ‘faq’ in the previous post for some of the common questions.



Written by mobilewares

June 8, 2007 at 5:22 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Looks excellent Niall, and even made me dig out my old DVD Profiler registration 🙂
    As far as the VMC interface is concerned I know that for Big Screen Weather I was in favour of getting it to look like the rest of media center, but in this case I think it looks excellent with the curtain look. It indicates that you’ve now left TV land and are now browsing Movies instead 🙂 I think my wife would love it!


    June 9, 2007 at 11:40 pm

  2. What I have seen so far of this product looks awsome! My only question is will it be supported under vista ultimate x64?  I think you could really take that market since mymovies will only work on 32bit vista and XP.


    July 9, 2007 at 4:43 am

  3. Hi – (no name),
    Yes it will work on 64 bit vista no problems (as do all the Big Screen Products) – and will try to get what I can going for xbox360’s too (the UI will work at 100% frame rate etc – but the playback and codec support will have same issues as usual).


    July 10, 2007 at 11:53 am

  4. This looks fabulous!  I recently discovered DVDSpot at for cataloging DVDs.  It was a snap to load my collection compared to other apps I’ve used so I actually got my entire collection added.  It would be outstanding if Big Screen Movies could take the CSV file exported from there to populate its library.
    I look forward to beta testing this.  Keep up the good work.


    August 29, 2007 at 6:20 pm

  5. Its october! 🙂 When are you going to release the beta?


    October 8, 2007 at 6:27 am

  6. VAPORWARE!!!!!


    April 8, 2012 at 4:06 am

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