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Monday, 20 May 2013

XBMC Frodo - Aeon MQ4 Skin– Part4 Everything else

In part one of this series we looked at the Music Library in part two the Movie library and in part three the TV Show library, in part four I will be looking at all the other areas of the user interface not previously covered.


Pictures in XBMC is not a “Pictures Library”" like in Windows Media Center, its basically a folder and file view type of deal in XBMC, so you cannot filter on tags and years etc. I believe there is a 3rd party Picture Library add-on for XBMC but I have not looked at that yet.

Pictures main menu

Pictures source folder which is on my WHS server.

Picture Folders in the PhotoShow view

Picture Folders in the PhotoShow view

Individual Picture image files in the Photoshow view

Picture folders in List view

Picture folders in Wall view

You can play a picture slide show, I like to use picture slideshows whist listening to music playing. There are two options SlideShow and R.SlideShow, presuming R is for random.

Overall the pictures area of XBMC is not as good as Windows Media Center and I particularly miss the MCE photo screen saver, I have not found an XBMC screen saver add-on that can do the same?

This is the Windows MCE photo screen saver


I always liked having the MCE Heatwave add-on installed when it worked! in XBMC weather is native and is part of XBMC which is nice.

Weather main menu

Weather sub-menu

If you press down on the remote control you can access the sub-menus from any of the main menu items.

The weather sub-menu options are:
36 Hours / Weekend / 4 Days / 7 Days / Alerts / Settings

In the settings you can add more than one location for weather, although I did find it a little tricky then switching between the two locations.

This screen shot shows the 7 days option

If you select the main menu item for Weather you will enter the Weather UI proper. Here you can see there is a menu on the left and that Weekend is the currently selected item.


If you select the Maps item it brings up a satellite map. Aeon-MQ4-Weather-5

Overall I really like the in-built Weather part of XBMC.

Concerts / Music Videos

Concerts main menu item

I haven’t spent a great deal of time using the Concerts area, when I initially set it up to point to my music videos stored on the WHS, I used the Last.FM Music Video XBMC scraper which did a decent enough job of adding the music videos in to the Concerts library. However since then that scraper has stopped working and now the only scraper available is which wasn’t as good at detecting things.
I believe and don’t quote me on this that your individual music video files should be named like:

artistname – songname.avi or .mov or whatever.

I also have two actual music concerts on DVD VIDEO_TS rips

As you can see in this screenshot not every music video got a poster / cover and some are just showing a thumbnail from the video file, for example the one in the bottom left hand corner has no cover image.


Cat Stevens – Majikat Concert - DVD rip

Elvis Presley – Aloha from Hawaii Concert – DVD rip

I am not totally sure if this Concerts area of XBMC is meant only for full concerts or individual music video files you have downloaded from the Internet? I need to spend more time using this area really to be more certain about it.

YouTube XBMC add-on

The YouTube area is an add-on and not a native part of XBMC.

I would say its functional but not as good as my previous Youtube integration with Windows Media Center.
You can login with your YouTube account to then link in your Playlists, Favourites and History etc.


Explore Youtube

Youtube Categories

Youtube videos in List view

You are able to search via the on screen keyboard

As I said the YouTube add-on is functional if nothing else. It has broken once in the time I have been using it, due to site changes made by Youtube on their site and the XBMC add-on developers were quick to release an update, most XBMC add-ons are updated automatically so the newly fixed update was just installed on to all my HTPCs when it was released so I never had to do anything!

Security Cameras

This was just a quick and dirty integration I did to get my two IP security camera streams in to XBMC using .strm files. I am still looking for a better solution / add-on for security camera integration with XBMC. I just wish Embedded Automation would get their act together and write an mControl XBMC add-on !




Well that’s it folks. I will probably cover Live TV integration next, but I need some funds for a new BlackGold TV Tuner card first before I get around to that. I will be using DVBLogic’s DVBLink software on the WHS server and their XBMC Live TV add-on.

Monday, 13 May 2013

XBMC Frodo - Aeon MQ4 Skin– Part3 TV Show Library

In part one of this series we looked at the Music Library and in part two the Movie library, today I am going to look at the TV Show library.

Before we start I need to point out that XBMC does not properly support TV Series that are DVD VIDEO_TS rips or Blu-ray rips, to read more about these limitations see here.

Therefore you can assume that TV Series from DVD and Blu-ray discs should be ripped and then the episodes re-encoded in to individual video files such as .AVI or .MKV using a program such as Handbrake. Once I have figured out how to do this and automate it, I will probably do a blog post about the process.

For now we will assume that our TV Series episodes are already in individual video files and in the correct folder structure with the correct naming conventions, I currently use a program called TheRenamer to speed up the renaming of the files in to a format like: nameofTVseries – S01E01 – episodename.avi

In this screen shot you can see an example of a correct folder and file structure.


The default meta-data scraper for TV Shows in XBMC is TheTVDB your video files episode order should match the same order as in TheTVDB database, if your migrating from Windows Media Center / that also uses TheTVDB so you should already be good to go!

When I added my sources under TV Shows – Files in XBMC I assigned the content for my TV Shared folders to be: Folder Contains "TV Shows" and to use TheTVDB scraper as you can see in this screen shot. If your TV folder and file structure is correct you shouldn’t have any issues importing your content in to the XBMC TV Show library.

TV Shows – Main Menu

I have turned on rotating TV Show fanart images for the TV Show main menu, so that background image changes to the various different fanarts for the TV Shows in my collection.
Again we have a partially watched feature and you can see the last episode I was watching but didn’t finish and there is an option to Continue Watching. This partially watched feature and be turned off and disabled if desired.


Like with the Music and Movies if I push up on to the top menu, there is a View Modes, this screen shot is showing recently added episodes. You can also change the View Mode to Random and In Progress.


TV Show Library Views

Now I have all the extra artwork setup for TV Shows my new favourite view is this one which is Poster. You can see that the rating of TV PG is displayed along with the channel logo in this case The History Channel. The Year, Genre, Directed By and I believe the IMDB rating can also be displayed in the bottom left. The number of episodes and the TV Show title are shown at the bottom in the middle, next to that is a synopsis and next to that in the bottom right are the extra artwork images obtained by the XBMC Artwork Downloader add-on.


Here is another TV Show in the same Poster view


When I select a TV Show its takes me to a screen that looks like this, I prefer the Panel View for Seasons. You can see there is a cover image / poster for each Season and also for All Seasons and Specials. When highlighting a Season a season image and synopsis are shown on the left hand side.


If I then select a season I am taken to the Episodes View. In this case I prefer a list view for episodes.
Each episode has its own image and synopsis. The ticks you can see next to each episode means I have already watched them. As I have setup on my WHS server, a central MySQL database for use with XBMC and multiple HTPC’s around the house, this watched or unwatched status is shown in every room!

Episode 1:

Episode 12:

If I press Info on the remote control whilst on an episode that episodes Information page is then displayed. Here you can see we get a bit more information and some actors images are shown.


If I start to playback the episode and whilst its playing if I press Info on the remote again, it looks like the screen shot below. Not sure what they call it? Information overlay perhaps, but you get the Plot of the episode, who’s starring in the episode. We also can see along the bottom the various Media Info icons, one nice feature about XBMC with this skin is the “Current Time” and “Ends At” you can see in the bottom right corner, along with the extra artwork images above that.


TV Show Library – Other views

TV Show – Showcase View

TV Show - Showcase View with drop down panel

TV Show – 3D Wall View

TV Show – Wall View

TV Show – List View

TV Show – Banner Info View

TV Show – Banner Info View with drop down panel

TV Show – Banner View

TV Show – Panel Logo View

TV Show – Panel Landscape View

TV Show – Panel View

TV Show – ShowArt View

TV Show – ShowArt View with drop down panel

TV Show – Landscape View

TV Show – Landscape View with drop down panel


Wow as you can see you are spoilt for choice with the number of gorgeous looking views to choose from! I don’t have a large TV Show collection but the Artwork Downloader add-on did a good job of obtaining the extra artwork images and most were available for the TV Shows in my collection.  I think the TV Show library in XBMC with the Aeon MQ4 skin is fantastic, the main issue when migrating from MCE / is that XBMC does not properly support TV Shows from discs rips and it is expected that your episodes are to be in individual video files. Hopefully an automated solution using Handbrake will be the answer to this but I need to investigate.

Overall I am very pleased with how the TV Show library ended up looking and  how it functions. Next in Part four I will be looking at all the other areas of the user interface not covered so far, like Pictures, Weather, Concerts and the YouTube add-on.
Things for the future? I will be eventually looking at Live TV integration within XBMC and setup for an automated downloading system for new Movie and TV Show content.