Organize Movies Without AppleTV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Blazer5913, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Blazer5913 macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2004
    Hello all. Just a quick question. I am one of the people with about 700gb worth of movies, all HD, ranging in sizes from 4gb-12gb (some 720p, others 1080p). Therefore, the AppleTV, no matter how much I try to convince myself, is just simply not for me. Currently, we just hook up the computer to the HDTV and start a movie via the (boring) finder. Yet, I would absolutely love to organize my movies a different way, something like how they are in iTunes/AppleTV with Artwork, synopsis, Rating, Year, ect. I don't mind putting the time into this, as it makes everything look so nice. So anybody in the same boat as me have any suggestions? And again, in no way am I opposed to the AppleTV, but I just feel that I have way too many videos at too high of resolutions/sizes to begin encoding (and losing quality) to move to an AppleTV. Any alternatives? Thanks in advance!
  2. imlucid macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2007
    Well, you could put these in iTunes and use it to add artwork and metadata and use Front Row as your front end...
  3. Vapor macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Buy yourself a xbox 360. THen buy 360 connect. you will then be able to stream your movies from your pc to tv with the xbox hooked to it. Supports up to 1080p.
  4. Blazer5913 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2004
    Thank you very much for the quick replies. To the 1st poster, all my movies are in the .mkv format, and this doesn't go nicely with iTunes at all. Therefore, I would have to re-encode them all just to go into iTunes and eventually an AppleTV. To the 2nd poster, I own an Xbox 360, but I would also have to re-encode to Connect360 standards, and the 360 lacks the visual aesthetics I love about the AppleTV, such as artwork.

    The more and more I think about it, I may just use Visual Hub and re-encode all of my HD movies for the AppleTV. For those of you who have done this, are you happy with the end result? Quality and sound? I am worried that the AppleTV has a size limit (4.??gb) as well as a bitrate limit? I'm sure all of my movies are already over their limits, but are you all still happy with the HIGH-DEFINITION videos your watching from your AppleTV? Thanks
  5. peeaanuut macrumors 65816

    Sep 10, 2007
    Southern California
    if your mkv file plays through quicktime (not itunes) than you can use front row. just drop them into the movies or links into the movies folder.
  6. Vapor macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Man I hate the fact that no one can get it together and understand what we want for our media.
  7. davidwes macrumors 6502

    Dec 28, 2004
    what is .mkv and why are you using it?

    I have been encoding using handbrake and the setting AppleTV because it seems like a good quality/size option.
  8. Blazer5913 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2004
    .mkv is a high def file format (as far as I know) but quicktime cannot play it. And I don't want to use the 360, its a pretty ugly interface. Anybody out there can comment on the quality I'm hoping for the AppleTV? Basically maxing out the AppleTV's HD video settings... Thanks
  9. jbellanca macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2007
    Actually, QuickTime CAN play HD 1080p MKV's... just install Perian. It's a QuickTime plug-in that allows you to play them. Works great. And if you want, once it's installed, you can load the MKV into Quicktime and Export it as MP4 with video passthrough - i.e., no recoding, just passing the video stream through, putting it in an MP4 container which is more widely supported than MKV.
  10. TBi macrumors 68030


    Jul 26, 2005
    What he said! I play back mkv files all the time in front row and quicktime.

    Also if you had just simply searched for mkv and quicktime you would have found what is needed to play them.

    They aren't stupid, of course they understand what you want. They just won't make money doing it the way you want.

    You should use XBMC sometime. It is (almost) everything you could ever want in a media center!
  11. Blazer5913 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2004
    So are you saying that there is a way that I can use quicktime (having perian installed) to basically just rename my .mkv files into acceptable AppleTV ones, such as .mp4? Will the quality be the same? Thanks alot for the help!
  12. Avatar74 macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    Speaking as someone who has done professional production and, as I have a trademark agreement with Dolby Labs that requires me to adhere to very specific fidelity criteria to use their logos/trademarks and trailers, I am very impressed with the AppleTV. It handles 720p very well (even when streaming it over 802.11g), and with the forthcoming updates it will do Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound pass through and Handbrake already allows you to do Dolby Digital pass through encapsulation in H.264.

    Given that, I don't think there's any reason you can't entirely eliminate the optical disk in the immediate future with AppleTV. I've already planned ahead, upgrading my internet downstream speed to 15Mbps and scaling back my Netflix membership. Companies listen to pocketbooks, not nasty letters or blog complaints... So I'm putting my money where their mouth is.

    That's the short answer... now if you want, stop here but if you want a bit of backstory:

    I have always been a music nut since as early as I can remember. I have seen the media evolve through several different stages... vinyl, magnetic tape, CD, etc.

    In my college years, technology was reaching a point where it was apparent to me that the distribution paradigm that really began in the 1940's was going to become obsolete.

    I was a student at University of Minnesota from 1994, at which time they had one of the largest LAN's with over 10,000 active e-mail accounts; U of M also developed Gopher which we used before NCSA Mosaic, the first graphical web browser.

    Armed with my extensive knowledge of music distribution and the internet, I wrote a research paper in 1996 titled "Music Distribution via the Internet". At that time the key technologies that enabled streaming were Quicktime and Progressive Networks' RealAudio (Now RealNetworks RealPlayer).

    I argued that in the immediate future, people would be able to download and burn to CD entire albums. I argued that recording companies need to get ahead of the game in order to stay afloat, because artists now have an incentive to launch their own websites, market themselves and distribute their music directly to the masses. To my surprise, the industry ran away from this. What I didn't fully understand at the time was that those companies deep down knew that they were too bloated to compete against more agile entities with access to global distribution at next no no cost. This led to the ensuing legal battles between RIAA and millions of internet users over the peer to peer networks, which I never thought were the right approach to this kind of thing anyway.

    So at the turn of the millennium, iTunes launched... and offered the capability to archive and burn your music to CD. Wow, I thought, my prediction was right. It turns out that Apple was in the planning stages of iTunes about the exact same time I was writing my paper. That just shows me that whatever I think I'm smart enough to come up with, surely that means someone smarter is already designing the prototype... and there's a good chance they work for Apple!

    Let me mark a milestone here... In 2003 when iTunes Music Store launched, I made a conscious decision to leave CD's behind. That's right. With the exception of a few releases I can count on one hand, I did not buy another CD from that moment forward. If it wasn't on iTunes or some other form of internet distribution, I wasn't buying it.

    Now, another thing was happening in 2003. iPod was exploding but that's not the real story. According to insiders commenting in a recent Wired article under anonymity, Steve Jobs was already seeing the potential demise of iPod which was just three years old. He saw all kinds of "convergence devices" emerging... particularly smartphones, which had the ability to do what iPod did, plus communicate and access e-mail and web mail. These devices were coming, and there was nothing Apple could do... except do it better. That was the year of iPhone's first conception. It would be another four years and $150 million before deployment, making it the longest and most expensive product development cycle in the history of Apple since Steve's return.

    A year later AirPort Express is introduced. Having already transcoded all my CD's to MP3 (and subsequently MPEG-4 AAC), and now purchasing all my content online, I saw the opportunity to rid myself of the optical disk that was cluttering my house, my car, etc. I wanted convergence, and I wanted it yesterday. There was just one problem... every time I wanted to listen to music, I had to access it through the computer. But I knew something better had to be coming. I thought, hey, if Apple can come up with this... they're a stone's throw away from figuring out how to completely vanquish this mess of wires, discs, clunky interfaces, and bring it all together in one elegant user experience. You'll find I pimp that expression "user experience" a lot on these boards... I'm not laying claim to it, but I believe the more I repeat it the more the people around me will get the message:

    "It's the interface, stupid."

    It was about this same time I capitulated and got into the whole digital TV thing. And that got me thinking... If I can have music where I want, when I want, how I want... why the hell isn't there a more elegant solution for film? Yes I know DVR has been around and on demand around even longer. But these didn't seem like great solutions to me. Every DVR, every on demand menu, every third party product I'd ever seen... the interface just plain sucked AND left out a number of things.

    I saw myself doing content creation in one room, my computer room, and content exhibition occurring in another room, my living room. What about the pictures, movies, etc. that I make, that other people make... at this point the real magic of this question hadn't occurred to me but I'll come back to that.

    It was not long before I had a full blown surround system and I was shopping for an HDTV... but I heard talk of a new toy from the folks at Cupertino... So having already planned my home audio around AirPort Express as my "audio bridge" I was ready... BRING IT ON ALREADY!

    AppleTV came... and I thought it was the best thing since roquefort. Too bad that opinion was shared by maybe five other people. But I knew... something I just knew was that despite its current flaws, the underlying concept was the right thing. You've got a media bridge that in itself doesn't serve just one kind of content. It can be made to serve ALL kinds of content... bridging that gap from network to living room, and eventually out into the mobile world (think of streaming from your LAN to your iPhone over WiMax).

    So Apple took in all the criticism and instead of giving up they tweaked it. Again, I'm planning forward. I called Verizon and upgraded my FIOS connection from 5Mbps downstream to 15Mbps downstream -- unnecessary since AppleTV "Take 2" will download, not stream, HD rentals... but I like those downloads to go fast and hey, the upgrade only costs me $10 more a month.

    My goal? In three years I want to be rid of removable media. I want to be rid of subscriptions. I want ALL content when I want, where I want, how I want... I DON'T want 900 channels of crap just to get 12 HD channels. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if I can just turn on my TV and watch what others like me are cooking up in the music studio, in the TV studio, and not rely on the endless banalities churned out by Hollywood?

    I've been working toward this goal, and evangelizing it, for a while now, gradually... and the greatest news in ten years came this week. At Macworld, Jobs pretty much laid out Apple's strategic plans for the next ten years even if you didn't quite catch it overtly. The MacBook Air, like the iPhone, is another tactic in their overall strategy to steer us toward a wireless yet technologically converged existence.

    Halle-freakin-leujah! My dream has come true. Someone (Steve) has been thinking about the same problems, and how to solve them.

    Well, after I heard the spiel about AppleTV and all the new features they'll add... something hit me like a shotgun blast. You'll recall that 300 paragraphs ago in this rant I mentioned the gap between content creation and content experience/exhibition. I'm sure this hit a few of you as well... Wouldn't it be great if I didn't need any channels? Wouldn't it be awesome if I could flip on YouTube or Podcast central and just browse what everyone else is making in their computer room? And maybe I could share mine as well, and it'd be playing on someone else's HDTV.

    This, folks, is the ultimate Peer to Peer networking... this, not piracy, is the nail in the coffin of RIAA, MPAA, all the establishment. It is their kryptonite. The genius behind what Apple has been strategically deploying since day one of Jobs' return, from iMac to iPhoto to iMovie to iPod to iPhone and beyond... is that every one of us has an idea to express, and every one of us has billions of people to share it with. And every one of us benefits from the accumulation of knowledge. In all of history, look around you... the greatest cultures of the world to ever exist were not hoarders of knowledge, they were producers, catalysts, sharers of knowledge.

    These cultures are revered millennia later not by the wealth of knowledge they possessed, but by the wealth of knowledge they shared.

    In college I wrote another paper, titled "A Taxonomy of Popular Culture". Despite its dry title, the paper ended like this: If you really despise what's on TV, please, for god's sake, pick up a camera, a microphone, and produce your own show.

    This is the beginning of the end, my friends, of the distribution monopoly in all its forms... not just commercial, not just musical, not just whimsical entertainment.

    It is what industrial/agricultural robber barons have feared for six thousand years... the decentralization of the entire information economy. McLuhan called it "The Global Village" (incidentally, this is where the name for the GlobalVillage modem came from).

    The greatness of Apple is that their wealth, their profit, is not arising out of the commodization and hoarding of just intangible concepts, but game-changing, tangible products. Their legacy is that they are the technological zeitgeist by which we, the people, will tell our own story and not have it told for us by corporations who seek to falsely inflate the value of bad information by controlling the flow just as DeBeers manipulates the diamond supply. The valve is wide open...

    The products that you use to express ideas may be theirs.

    However, the intellectual capital being shared with the world is yours.
  13. ccwilli3 macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Great post, this deserves it's own thread. Best post I've read on many forums in a very long time! I agree with you in every way.
  14. Avatar74 macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    ccwilli3, thanks.

    After I finished it *PHEW* it got me to thinking. I'd been running a web site writing film criticism for a while and for two years I haven't had the time or the "spark" to know what else to do with it now.

    Doing this post and remembering past posts I've done on this subject, and the research papers I had fun writing in college, gave me an idea. Instead of getting its own thread, my post is going to get its own website. I'll be converting my site to talk about the future of the information economy, and examine it from various angles with various contributors and, hopefully, grow it into a portal for content creators... not for commercial purposes. Not for ad revenue. For a bona-fide excursion into the ideas of others who haven't otherwise found a publisher.

    Thanks for the compliment. I might post it elsewhere if the moderators don't scold me for post-whoring, or for pimping my own noncommercial site.
  15. Blazer5913 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2004
    Keep the comments coming. Great thread so far.... More people with high def .mkv files, what are your impressions!?!?! Thanks for that amazing post
  16. running macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2006
    If you have mac hooked up to tv, let it that way, it is way better than :apple:tv. First, install perian from, then 1)move the videos into ~/Movies OR 2)create alias to folder, when you have videos, and copy it to ~/Movies , and then you can browse everything with not-so-boring remote control.
  17. Blazer5913 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2004
    But can I browse this in FrontRow with album/cover art and descriptions and all that good stuff?

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