Looking into Ways to Organize my DVDs

The other day I got a copy of and immediately devoured “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” by Sam Gosling. It’s a fascinating read about what our homes, offices et cetera reveal about ourselves. It’s like a scientific approach to what you can see on MTV’s Room Raiders.

I used some of the techniques described there on myself and as it turns out, I am a very organized person (big surprise, I know). And since I’ve already organized my books using LibraryThing, the logical thing to get in order next would be my DVD collection. So far, all I have is an Excel spreadsheet listing all movies and TV box sets I have, which is really laughably low-tech.

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Here’s what I would want my ideal DVD organization solution to be like:

  • Simple, uncluttered UI: There should be a simple and straight-forward way to add new titles and browse my collection; like a gallery with pictures of all DVDs I own that I can than drill-down into to get further information.
  • Rich meta-data: Upon entering a title or ideally a UPC, I should be able to see a cast list, cover art etc. for all my DVDs with ways to search and cross-references titles (e.g. show me all titles or episodes starring Summer Glau).
  • First class support for TV series: Most of my DVDs are TV series box sets, such as “How I Met Your Mother Season One”. I would want to be able to get a list of all episodes that are contained in the box set with full cast lists and ideally a searchable episode summary.
  • Data Mining: Based on this meta data I would love to be able to perform advanced searches (kind of like a version of six degrees of Kevin Bacon based on my own collection) and answer questions such as “What is the connection between Rachel Nichols and Ed Helms?” (answer: Rachel Nichols starred in Alias together with Jennifer Garner who also starred in Juno together with Jason Bateman, star of Arrested Development, where Ed Helms made a guest appearance in “The One Where Michael Leaves”. Or “How many people from the cast of The Daily Show have appeared on Arrested Development?” (answer: as far as I can tell, four: Ed Helms, Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle and Stacey Grenrock-Woods; cf. List of Notable Guests on Arrested Development). Although, I have to say, this merely a nice-to-have, that I don’t think anyone has implemented anywhere. Yet.
  • Online Sharing: Like my publically viewable book collection I would like to be able to share my DVD collection online. However, since I own a couple of DVDs I am not really proud of (like the occasional chick-flick I watched once and then never again), I would like to be able to flag some titles as “private” so they will only be shown to me. However, now that I think about it, it would probably be best to get rid of those titles once and for all :)
  • Cost: The ideal solution would be free (or ad-supported for a website), but I wouldn’t mind paying a small one-time for a really great solution, like I did for my lifetime membership at LibraryThing.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any solution that would do all these things. Most fall short on at least one count. Here are (in no particular order) the ones I have looked at so far. Please let me know, if I’ve missed anything or if you know of anyone that does all those things listed above:

  • DVD Profiler: This is a Windows application with a lot of rich meta-data and first class support for TV series. However, I would really like my DVD organizer to be a website so I’m not tied to my PC for browsing and updating my collection. Note that the software isn’t free for collections of more than 50 titles. Regardless, the 30$ one-time license fee wouldn’t be a problem, if it offered all of the must-have features listed above, including decent online access.
  • DVD Corral: This website has a good, clean UI, but I’m afraid that is only so, because it doesn’t have a lot of features to begin with. Meta-data seems to be limited and it kind of feels like the primary purpose of the site was to get people to buy or rent the movies shown (which is I suppose the way they finance the whole thing). It’s free, however.
  • DVD Aficionado: My first impression of this website was “so Web 1.0”. I could look beyond the UI, if there were features that would make it worth my while, but it appears that this is more of a price comparison website than a full featured DVD organizer. Also, while browsing the site, I got a couple of “Internal Server Errors”, for instance when looking at the Bugs page. How ironic.
  • DVDPedia: Mac-Only, that is all there is to say.
  • DvdCrate: This site has a lot of information on individual DVDs, but it appears to be too focused on movies with no inherent support for TV series, like episode lists.
  • DVDCount: This is a very basic site that doesn’t seem to offer any of the search and browsing features I would like.

Based on this (admittedly brief and quite possibly incomplete) research I think I’ll go with DVD Profiler for now. Although it doesn’t have the kind of online features I would like, it does have the best support for TV series, I’ve seen so far. I’ll start adding some more titles to the database so I can further evaluate it, while staying under the 50 titles limit of the free version.

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