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Old Nov 13, 2012, 10:59 AM   #1
panda bear
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iTunes & Apple TV & Large Media Library

Okay, so, I just got an iPad Mini and I have an iMac, Apple TV2, Macbook Air (for now -- trying to sell it) and an iPhone 5.

I haven't felt the need to really keep all these devices synced until I got the iPad for some reason.

I currently have my ATV2 jailbroken and haven't updated it in ages. I would really like to no longer rely on the jailbreak to play movies from my external hard drive via my Apple TV.

Plus, with the iPad, i'd like the ability to sync a couple movies or TV shows here and there when I know i'll be in a position to watch them away from home.

So, with that said.. how would the move to storing my media (video, in particular, since music is already taken care of) in iTunes be? I have about 1.11 TB in video files. If I had to, I could trim this down significantly.

I have never done the video via iTunes thing. And I could be completely wrong about my idea of how all this works.

My very loose understanding of the process is that you put your file (I have mostly .avi video files) in to iTunes and it converts it to whatever video file it works with (.mp4?) and then the files are in my iTunes library just like my music. I can then play the song via iTunes on my iMac. Or use home sharing via my Macbook Air or any if my iOS devices as long as i'm connected to the same wifi. And I can view any of those videos via my ATV2.

Please correct me if i'm wrong.

I'd appreciate any input anyone can provide. I am extremely behind, I know..
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 11:22 AM   #2
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iTunes manages your media, but it won't convert it. Any videos will need to be converted using other software, such as Handbrake. It can then be imported into iTunes. The good news is that the videos are already on your computer/external hard drive. They just need to be converted.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 11:24 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by panda bear View Post
My very loose understanding of the process is that you put your file (I have mostly .avi video files) in to iTunes and it converts it to whatever video file it works with (.mp4?) and then the files are in my iTunes library just like my music.
It would be extremely useful if itunes did this, but alas it doesn't, you have to use a third party solution for converting videos to itunes compatible formats.

Handbrake is a popular free tool to do this, but search the forum there's plenty of discussion on conversion programs..
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 11:29 AM   #4
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Ahh, thanks to both of you.

I actually have just discovered that apparently, i've been downloading x264 files which are .mp4 files, so the first 5 videos I tried out went through without a hitch and are now on my iPad.

Now I have to restore my ATV2 and work that out.

Another question: Is there a good way to organize TV shows that I put in to iTunes myself? I tried dropping them in to the "TV Shows" tab, but it just puts them in to the "Movies" one.

So right now, I have 5 episodes of the current season of Glee (don't judge me). It's okay right now, but when I end up putting my whole library in to iTunes, i'd like them to be more organized if it's possible..

Any suggestions?
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 11:47 AM   #5
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There is a simple one step way to convert things it's called iFlicks but you have to pay for it. It's around $20 but its worth it.

Your biggest issue is going to be all those .AVIs you have which I'm guessing are going to using some lousy compression like Divx or Xvid and aren't going to be H.264 or properly containerised either. All of those files will have to be converted.

For anything that is MKV you can use subler to transmux to MP4s taking the video/audio files out of the container and putting them in an MP4 container instead.

If you go with iFlicks it will bag and tag all your files and make note of whether they are a movie or a TV series while also adding the metadata, synopsis and album art.

If you've already got a few MP4s that are H.264 and ready to go, or are in iTunes already all you have to do is open the movies with iDentify and it'll locate and find the tags automatically or at worst you'll have to enter the IMDB code for it to find it.

The long and the short of it though is that you've got a long process to make all your files into something iTunes will understand.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 12:18 PM   #6
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The problem I have with the "paid" apps (and a lot of free ones too) is that you just hit a button and you have no clue as to what it is using to transcode to h.264. It's just...a button with a name, like "Apple Compatible". With HB, you know the settings. You know you have a team of developers whose soul purpose is to proved a high quality transcode. And a lot of the apps out there use HB as an engine. They just provide a different GUI or incorporate various apps together to provide an all-in-one app.

I would recommend not buying anything that doesn't give you a trial period. Then, compare the output of HB vs the other apps (using the same source file). If the output looks and sounds as good as a HB output but provides you something of value above that (tags, easier interface, faster, smaller file size, etc) then go for it.

I think a lot of people are paying for something that provides very little additional value and may actually be sacrificing quality for a nice GUI.

Just my $0.02.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 12:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mic j View Post
The problem I have with the "paid" apps (and a lot of free ones too) is that you just hit a button and you have no clue as to what it is using to transcode to h.264. It's just...a button with a name, like "Apple Compatible". With HB, you know the settings. You know you have a team of developers whose soul purpose is to proved a high quality transcode. And a lot of the apps out there use HB as an engine. They just provide a different GUI or incorporate various apps together to provide an all-in-one app.

I would recommend not buying anything that doesn't give you a trial period. Then, compare the output of HB vs the other apps (using the same source file). If the output looks and sounds as good as a HB output but provides you something of value above that (tags, easier interface, faster, smaller file size, etc) then go for it.

I think a lot of people are paying for something that provides very little additional value and may actually be sacrificing quality for a nice GUI.

Just my $0.02.
I will probably just use Handbrake.

I know it probably seems like I am clueless when it comes to computers by this thread, but i'm really not, haha. I'm sure i'll be able to figure it out.

I have just been slacking so much when it comes to actually syncing my devices, which is sad, since I make it a point to have all Apple stuff solely for this purpose.

Thanks so much for your input I appreciate it all.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 12:46 PM   #8
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Another question: Is there a good way to organize TV shows that I put in to iTunes myself? I tried dropping them in to the "TV Shows" tab, but it just puts them in to the "Movies" one.

So right now, I have 5 episodes of the current season of Glee (don't judge me). It's okay right now, but when I end up putting my whole library in to iTunes, i'd like them to be more organized if it's possible..

Any suggestions?
Select the episodes of glee right click and select get info. In the video tab there should be a media kind option. Select TV Show.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 12:50 PM   #9
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Select the episodes of glee right click and select get info. In the video tab there should be a media kind option. Select TV Show.
OH MY GOOTNESS

Thank youuuuuuuuuu

Can't believe I didn't do this sooner.

The switch over will be kind of rough, but once I get it all organized, it should be fantastic.

Thank you, thank you, thank you
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:08 PM   #10
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Handbrake works well for converting for me, as well.

I use to "bag and tag" myself (to steal a line from mic j), but then I discovered Identify. It is $10 in the Mac App store and so worth the cost. The interface is easy and saves me light years in time from doing it manually. Once it tags your media, it automatically imports it into iTunes. You can also batch process as well.

I use 1) Mac Ripper to rip DVDs (though it seems you don't need this step), 2) convert using Handbrake, and the 3) tag using Identify which will import into iTunes for you.

As an aside, if you find that you like Handbrake, I like to encourage people to donate to the developers. They really have developed a great piece of software.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bozley0621 View Post
Handbrake works well for converting for me, as well.

I use to "bag and tag" myself (to steal a line from mic j), but then I discovered Identify. It is $10 in the Mac App store and so worth the cost. The interface is easy and saves me light years in time from doing it manually. Once it tags your media, it automatically imports it into iTunes. You can also batch process as well.

I use 1) Mac Ripper to rip DVDs (though it seems you don't need this step), 2) convert using Handbrake, and the 3) tag using Identify which will import into iTunes for you.

As an aside, if you find that you like Handbrake, I like to encourage people to donate to the developers. They really have developed a great piece of software.
Oh, cool.. i'll check out Identify. It sounds like it could be very useful for me when putting my whole library in to iTunes. I just put those episodes in to iTunes and I had to manually edit all the information. It wasn't bad for a couple things, but for my whole library, it would probably get really old really quick. Thanks!
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:25 PM   #12
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Oh, cool.. i'll check out Identify. It sounds like it could be very useful for me when putting my whole library in to iTunes. I just put those episodes in to iTunes and I had to manually edit all the information. It wasn't bad for a couple things, but for my whole library, it would probably get really old really quick. Thanks!
I also forgot to note that when using Identify or other third party tagging software, more information regarding the media will display on the ATV than when manually tagging. I'm not sure why this is. I found this to be true whether using Identify or a few others.

When using Identify, if the software doesn't recognize the information that is already there to fill in the blanks, you can google the imdb reference number, copy and paste it in, and it will tag accordingly. I've had to do this for some of my husbands media imports. I don't ask how he acquires his media when he comes home from deployment.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:31 PM   #13
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Have a look at iVI in the app store or iVI Pro on the web if you import DVD's too. It will convert (using handbrake in the background) and add all show/movie details and artwork and then import into iTunes for you. I've found it easy to use and very reliable. It's not free (though there is a trial of Pro which just adds DVD import that Apple won't allow on the app store) but it's not very much either and well worth it. Oh and they answer support emails!
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:37 PM   #14
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Another option is to run a server program like AirVideo on the iMac, pointing at the folders with your content. Use the companion program on your iPhone or iPad to navigate the library and play it on the ATV via AirPlay. The advantage is that you don't have to convert every video you ever acquire. The downside is that the videos are not displayed in the ATV's on-screen menus.

There are also video players like It's Playing that will allow you to load and view alternative file types on your iPad or iPhone.

I'm totally invested in Apple's ecosystem, but I HATE converting videos that I will probably only watch once or twice.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:41 PM   #15
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Also try the iflicks trial it was awesome for my switch pretty effortless
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:45 PM   #16
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And here comes all the endorsements for "paid" programs...just like clockwork!!
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:47 PM   #17
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And here comes all the endorsements for "paid" programs...just like clockwork!!
I'll be the first to admit, that sometimes it's easier (and lazier) to pay for it.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 01:52 PM   #18
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Have a look at iVI in the app store or iVI Pro on the web if you import DVD's too. It will convert (using handbrake in the background) and add all show/movie details and artwork and then import into iTunes for you. I've found it easy to use and very reliable. It's not free (though there is a trial of Pro which just adds DVD import that Apple won't allow on the app store) but it's not very much either and well worth it. Oh and they answer support emails!
I appreciate it, but I don't rip DVD's at all. Thanks, though!

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Another option is to run a server program like AirVideo on the iMac, pointing at the folders with your content. Use the companion program on your iPhone or iPad to navigate the library and play it on the ATV via AirPlay. The advantage is that you don't have to convert every video you ever acquire. The downside is that the videos are not displayed in the ATV's on-screen menus.

There are also video players like It's Playing that will allow you to load and view alternative file types on your iPad or iPhone.

I'm totally invested in Apple's ecosystem, but I HATE converting videos that I will probably only watch once or twice.
Yeah, I have used Air Video before. I don't exactly recall why I stopped using it. In this case, i'm not sure if that would be the best option for me, because I want to be able to sync them to my iPad as well.

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Also try the iflicks trial it was awesome for my switch pretty effortless
I'll check it out, thank you.

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And here comes all the endorsements for "paid" programs...just like clockwork!!
Haha, I don't mind. I don't pay for apps unless I actually use them. I try before I buy in almost every case.

I don't mind the suggestions, as long as they actually work and i'm not wasting my time.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 02:00 PM   #19
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I'll be the first to admit, that sometimes it's easier (and lazier) to pay for it.
In MakeMKV, I hit the scan disc button. It scans, then I hit the start button. It creates a file.

In Handbrake, I select the file. I hit the start button. It creates a file.

In Subler, I select the file and hit the Import Metadata button, I presents me with a selection of potential cover arts, including one selected by default. I hit ok. I hit Save.

I drag the file into iTunes.

Done.

For free and top quality output, it just doesn't seem so difficult. But to each his own.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 02:03 PM   #20
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And here comes all the endorsements for "paid" programs...just like clockwork!!
I've been here for 7 years thank you very much. A few bucks on programs that work well while saving hours of conversion time and gigs of space for duplicate files? Yes please.

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Yeah, I have used Air Video before. I don't exactly recall why I stopped using it. In this case, i'm not sure if that would be the best option for me, because I want to be able to sync them to my iPad as well.
As I mentioned, there are video players for iOS devices that play almost all formats of video with no conversion.
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 02:18 PM   #21
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I've been here for 7 years thank you very much. A few bucks on programs that work well while saving hours of conversion time and gigs of space for duplicate files? Yes please.
I'll give you that one.

There are complaints about streaming non-mp4 files, e.g. mkv, over wifi using iPad Airplay (which transcodes the file on the fly to h.264) being stuttering and occasionally freezing. Your experience must be better, or you wouldn't be recommending it...right?
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Old Nov 13, 2012, 02:24 PM   #22
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I'll give you that one.

There are complaints about streaming non-mp4 files, e.g. mkv, over wifi using iPad Airplay (which transcodes the file on the fly to h.264) being stuttering and occasionally freezing. Your experience must be better, or you wouldn't be recommending it...right?
No prob.

There are two different possibilities from your question. One is playing a non-native file directly from an iDevice through a program like It's Playing and then using AirPlay to send that content to the AppleTV. That method uses Airplay Mirroring, and while I don't ever use that method personally, I can bet that the results are less than ideal.

The alternative, of using a program like AirVideo, works great. With that program, the conversion is done on the fly on the host computer, and I never get any hiccups and you can background the program on the iDevice and continue to use it for other tasks. There are probably some downsides to this method - like not passing fancy audio formats or something (I'm actually not sure), but visually the quality is quite good.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 05:56 AM   #23
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And here comes all the endorsements for "paid" programs...just like clockwork!!
iFlicks saves a lot of time and it's a good piece of software, I don't understand the hate poured on payware by this forum. Sometimes there is a simple solution to doing everything you want. iFlicks will transmux, or transcode and place it into iTunes for you with all the metadata, or you can rip all your DVDs and then put them through handbrake and then taf them which takes longer.

I confess to doing it manually, but after encoding and tagging a whole bunch of MP2 folders I wish I would have just done it with iFlicks instead. People will reinvent the wheel rather than paying $20 for a straight forward solution, that's a choice I guess...
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 07:07 AM   #24
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No prob.

There are two different possibilities from your question. One is playing a non-native file directly from an iDevice through a program like It's Playing and then using AirPlay to send that content to the AppleTV. That method uses Airplay Mirroring, and while I don't ever use that method personally, I can bet that the results are less than ideal.

The alternative, of using a program like AirVideo, works great. With that program, the conversion is done on the fly on the host computer, and I never get any hiccups and you can background the program on the iDevice and continue to use it for other tasks. There are probably some downsides to this method - like not passing fancy audio formats or something (I'm actually not sure), but visually the quality is quite good.

I'm just curious. If you don't mind, what are the specs of the host computer you're using? My media "server" is a early 2009 mac mini that can't even play 1080p files without problems (though it can serve them up to my apple TV just fine!) I can't imagine it being able to convert 1080p MKV files on the fly. I'm just wondering what level Mac I'd have to get to achieve the same level of quality that you have. Thanks.
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Old Nov 14, 2012, 08:02 AM   #25
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I'm just curious. If you don't mind, what are the specs of the host computer you're using? My media "server" is a early 2009 mac mini that can't even play 1080p files without problems (though it can serve them up to my apple TV just fine!) I can't imagine it being able to convert 1080p MKV files on the fly. I'm just wondering what level Mac I'd have to get to achieve the same level of quality that you have. Thanks.
Mine is a 2008 iMac, core2duo.

It handles any 1080p content that I have tried, but I'll admit that it's far from the highest bitrate files available - ie. blu-ray rips. Of course if you are that concerned about quality, you would be better served by another solution than an AppleTV that is always going to need some kind of lossy conversion.
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