Part 5 – Ember Media Manager

Continuing on my Home Media Center series – we have ripped media, encoded it, renamed it and sorted it in to an appropriate folder structure.  But we still only have a media file with no additional details.  One of the great things about having a media center, is to be able to view cover images, synopsis, ratings, sort by genre, and other cool stuff that requires a bit more data than just a title.

More in this series –

Most media center programs will do a “scrape” on newly discovered media.  This means they will reach out to the internet, find relevant data and download that information.  Normally they store it in some type of internal database, not locally with the files.  This means that if it gets the logo[1]wrong information, the only way to correct that is through the software itself (which usually isn’t easy).  Customizing things is a pain, and if your database gets corrupted, or you have to reinstall, or are adding a second media center somewhere else in your house, you will have to re-scrape all that data.  It can take hours to scrape a library with a few hundred files in it.

Enter Ember Media Manager.  This is a free open source product (the best kind!) that organizes and catalogs your media.  This is invaluable for making sure your media is accurate, and custom tuned to your own individual preferences.  EMM is an extra step in an already long process, but it is worthwhile if you want any kind of control and longevity for your media collection.

What’s great about EMM is that it scrapes, then stores all the images, metadata and info about the media in the same directory.  This means that later on if you move your media, or install a different media center program, or are moving to a new computer, that your data is always the same and it’s already there.  EMM also gives you more control over what data is scraped, and how it’s stored.  Which we will get in to shortly.

First steps first – we need to download EMM.  As of writing this, I can’t find a way to download the newest stable release, and everything is in Beta.  You can check on the status and download here:

Opening and running the installer is straight forward.  Once it finishes we launch EMM for the first time.

EMM Install 1


Select your language and continue.

EMM Movies Setup

The next window will ask to set up your Movies sources.  We will be using the same ones we set up in The Renamer.  Click on the “Add Source” Button.  In the new window that appears, name your source (Movies, so original!) then browse to the location on your computer and select it.

Since we are using the one movie per folder structure, make sure to de-select “Scan Recursively”

Click Ok and Next.  Since we are planning to use XBMC for our Media Center, we can accept the defaults here and click next again.  I’m not planning to use Artwork Downloader, or TvTunes so I’ve de-selected both of those.

EMM Movie Naming

And click Next Again – no need for Artwork Automater.

EMM TV Sources

After that we get to pick our TV sources, same as with the Movice ones, but less check boxes.  Click Next, and again I’m de-selecting the Artwork Downloader and moving on.  And we are finished!  Time to actually get to work.

EMM should open and be blank.  Now we get to import our media and the fun starts to happen.

EMM Update Library

Click on “Update Library” in the top toolbar.  Depending on your library this may take a while.  I just have a few example files so mine loaded quite quickly.

You’ll see the titles of your media appear in the left hand pane.  If you click on a title it will show “No information available” in the right hand pane.  The left will always be your shows, and the right will be your data.

EMM Content

There are a ton of different types of data that can be included, EMM has a check list for all of them.  You can see them above your movie titles, hovering over the icon will tell you what the column is for.  Once we scrape you’ll see some of those rows fill in.

EMM Scrape individual

There are two ways to scrape content.  You can right-click on the individual item and select “Re-scrape Movie”.  Or you can scrape all your movies at once.

EMM Custom scraper

To do that, click on the “Scrape Movies” button on the top menu bar, and pick your options.  I’m using a quick custom scraper because the defaults don’t work for me.  I want “Movies missing items” and “Ask (require input if no exact match)”.  I prefer the “Ask” so that I can select the right movie if there are multiple options.

NOTE – The custom Scraper didn’t actually work for me.  I had to just scrape all movies.  Probably a beta release issue, it’s what I normally do with my stable version.  Feel free to look through the other options and pick one that makes sense for you.  

TIPS – I realized after my first scrape was taking forever that it was downloading the trailers.  My previous version didn’t have that ability, I’ve since turned it off (Edit -> Settings -> Movies -> Files and Sources).

For Television Shows – there is no “scrape all” option, you have to do each series individually by rightly clicking and selecing “re-scrape”.

EMM Single Scrape

The window that appears will quite often have more than one option (same window on the movie side when doing them individually).  If you don’t see the right option, there is a Manual entry at the bottom of the window.  Search TVDB and get the entry from there, then check the box and fill in the value.  It will then manually retrieve that item.

If the right show is there, just highlight it and select OK.

The scraper will then download the images and content from TVDB.  This may take some time.

EMM customize content

When everything loads you’ll have the option to pick and choose the images for various settings.  I normally just load the defaults, since it knows what the season covers should look like.  I customized the movies more, picking the right fan art etc.

To customize, click on an item in the upper left, then choose an image from the right pane.  The currently selected image shows on the lower left.

When you’re happy with your selections click OK, and the meta-data window opens.

EMM meta-data

Here you can see the Plot outline, Actors, Genre, Rating, etc.  Everything should be set up properly, but any customization you want to do, this is where it happens.  When you’re done click OK.

EMM tv left pane

Now everything should fill in.  The TV Shows tab has three panes on the left side.  The top is for the Series, the Middle shows the Seasons, and the Bottom has the episodes.  The right pane will populate based on what you’ve selected on the left side.  You’ll see that once it’s completed scraping it will fill in all the seasons for the show, and all the episodes and track which ones you have and which ones you’re missing.  Quite handy and cool actually.

NOTE – If you add more episodes, you’ll need to re-scrape the season to get everything to fill in properly.  

Once you are done scraping you can take a look at your media folders and you’ll see a bunch of new files that weren’t there previously.

EMM after folder

The thumbnails, posters, fan art, info, etc will all be stored locally.  Just like we wanted!  If you don’t like the information stored, just pop back in to EMM, right click the item and either “Edit Movie” or “Rescrape”.

NOTE – If you edit movie and get VLC errors, go in to the settings -> Modules -> VLC Player and disable it.

That’s it for Ember Media Manager – if you have any questions or problems let me know.  If I can’t help I can probably point you somewhere to get more information.  EMM is a product designed to work with XBMC (Kodi) so there is a full support and info subforum at the main Kodi forums.