VideoMonkey and Metadata

With the 0.4 release of VideoMonkey, you can manipulate the metadata in a video file. Metadata is extra information in a video which tells you the title, description, rating, etc. of that video. It can even hold artwork (posters, cast photos, etc.). Some apps, like iTunes, can use this metadata to display information about the video and organize it. For instance, a TV show can contain the series title, and the season and episode number. This allows iTunes to group episodes of a single show by season and show episodes in order. If you have Apple TV, this is especially useful because it will show you the poster from the show and the description of the episode. It’s totally cool.

Only some file formats support metadata. Luckily, MOV and MPEG-4 files (which is what VideoMonkey deals with) both do. There is a new Metadata tab in the Info Panel. Here you can add or remove metadata for each video in the file list. Once you get it just right, you can start an encode. When finished the metadata is written to the file. You can now encode, write metadata and add to iTunes, all in one step. You can setup an entire season of a TV show, let it encode overnight and when you get up in the morning, you’ll have a new show ready to go in iTunes.

But where does the metadata come from? VideoMonkey supports 3 metadata sources: from the input file, input entered by the user, and from a search. If the input file has metadata, it will show up in the metadata panel. You can also type into the metadata fields, and drag images into the artwork box. Then there is VideoMonkey 0.4’s crowning feature: search.

Search makes it easy to get great metadata into your video files. At the bottom of the metadata panel you will see a search box. Type any search term into it and VideoMonkey will go off and try to find matches. You select one of two sources: thetvdb.comor themoviedb.org. When searching thetvdb.com you not only get a list of possibly matching TV shows, but each episode for every season of that show. For instance, type in “bang” and you will get (as of the writing of this article) 4 shows. Select “The Big Bang Theory” and you will see 3 seasons worth of shows. The data from thetvdb.com is pretty complete, including extensive artwork, ratings, release dates, and very high quality descriptions. When using themoviedb.org the data is typically not quite as extensive (for instance, it doesn’t include the rating, and many movies don’t have a description). But the data is still great for many popular films and themoviedb.org is still new, so I’m sure it will improve over time. Both of these sites are community driven, so you can go to there and add your own data to improve the quality.

When a video file is added to the list VideoMonkey tries to figure out search terms. It will try to split the filename into words (replacing characters like underscore and dash with spaces) and search for several variations of those words. It also detects strings that look like season/episode combinations (e.g., “S02E05”). If a show is found and it has that season and episode, VideoMonkey will set it to that.

Next to each metadata item you will see up to 3 icons. These indicate which of the 3 sources (input, user, search) the item contains. Clicking on the icon will select that source for that item. Artwork is a little different. The image shown is the first selected image from the list, which can be seen by clicking on the trianngle next to the Artwork box. This opens a drawer with all images for the current file. Next to each image you will see an icon indicating where the image came from. Use the checkbox to select whether or not you want to include that image in the output file. You can also rearrange the images in the drawer. The first selected image will show up in the Artwork box and is typically the one that apps like iTunes and Apple TV show.

You can right click on the title of any metadata item and get a “use this value for all files” menu item. Select this and whatever is in that metadata item will be duplicated in all files in the list. To quickly set the Episode Title, you simply type it into the box then select “use this value for all files” and every file now has the same title.

At the bottom of the Metadata Panel you will see a tools menu (with the gear icon). This has menu items that let you manipulate all metadata items at once. You can switch to use all metadata from any one source, and do this for the current file or all files.

Finally, you have a choice of how and where to write the metadata. In the main window, there is a new pull down menu between the Device and Encoding menus. This allows you to do the normal operation of encoding each file and then writing the metadata to it. But you can also choose to skip writing of the metadata altogether. Or you can just write the metadata to the input file. This is really useful if you’ve got files which you already have in the right format and now you just want to give them all metadata. You can also just write the metadata to the output file. This is useful if you forgot to set the correct metadata or made a mistake with some metadata item and don’t notice until after the encoding is finished. You can write out new metadata without having to re-encode. Before doing this remember to select the files in the list you want to write the metadata to. Files get deselected once they’re successfully encoded.

That’s the new metadata feature in VideoMonkey. I hope you use it and love it as much as I do. Go to the forums and post if you need any help, have a suggestion for how to make it better, or just want to share your stories about cool things you’ve done with it. And you can post bugs there, too.

Have fun!