Your Digital Media Has Never Looked So Good

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MPLAY - More Movie Centric User Interface Wish List

Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:21 pm

bluefin wrote:
requis wrote:
Any hope of a No menu MPLAY?

I may have asked a number of times...still holding out!! You read it here first I will pay $50.00 USD for this feature!

Simply loads cover art, and allows you to Scroll through the cover art in say a Movies Directory behind the scenes, in other words let me set-up the directory or you tell me what it has to be from a file structure perspective and I will make it happen on my end. When you select the cover art and press play or select a movie, bingo plays the movie...none of that text that pops up in the right hand corner. No file structure to browse from, no fancy themes, NADA. Thats not to say I don't like what you have done, its just ackward and not the way movies were intended to be selected.

Note I have two sides to every DVD front and Back cover art can this be supported??

To summerize:

jpeg Images or thumbnails of available movies scrolling across the bottom (just the front of the cover art or movie). In the center perhaps some form of highlight to indicate which movie your on. Above this in a significantly larger format the Movie cover art (front and Back) that appears in the selector below. The two cover art images should simply be the majority of the available Screen size. If you can leave an area off to one side to import text that describes the movie. You will not only receive my donation but an additional $25.00


You know, if I am reading your post correctly, what you are asking for is a more friendly interface that is less intimidating for say the wife or the crazy files paths displayed in the menus, or when playing the the actual file (i.e. upper right hand corner). IF this is correct, I would further add that you are requesting an interface that is less "file-centric" and a bit more "movie-centric" and overall less intimidating for the lay user.

I think TheEndless and marcelo3d made great strides towards this by introducing the "-browsedir" and "-nomenu" flags that essentially allow you to go directly to your list of movies and scroll and select.

As far as I am concerned, your comments are curiously timely. Last week, I dreamed up the following screen shots of a more "movie-centric" interface. Notice that these renderings are void of any file paths, directories, sizes, and so forth...JUST MOVIE TITLES. Furthermore, I dreamed that there was a little more info about each movie (i.e. rating, genre, etc.) instead of the file size. Also when that movie is selected, it pops a screen that diplays more detailed info about the movie. See ScreenShots below:



Let me know if we are headed in the same direction. I have already had some communication with TheEndless regarding this topic and I would be happy to share if we are on the same wavelegnth.

Also, thanks for the tip on DVD Profiler. Wondering if you know what the difference between the free version and the "not-free" version is. Looks like what I have been looking for. Wouldn't it be killer if this could integrate with DVD Decrypter? (although I just read they were shut down last week).


TheEndless and marcelo3d have created an INCREDIBLE little app for and otherwise not so interesting roku HD1K. I will tell you that it wasn't until I heard about Mplay that I decided to purchase my HD1K. After showing Mplay to two of my good friends, they also promptly purchased HD1K's with as much enthusiasim as me (TheEndless and marcelo3d should get a comission from Roku on people like this). Now I see the vision and the potential for the HD1k as becoming the most important piece in my modest home theater.

For me, here is the dream...(1)drop in a DVD to rip, (2)and while DVD Decrypter is ripping, the dvd cover art and title info is automatically fetched via dvd profiler (3) and then browse for a movie in Mplay via a "movie-centric" navigation menu

This is a pipe dream of course and of course I am CRAZY grateful for what Mplay already does. But hey if there is more interest in a something like this we should take it to another thread and start to gather $$$ pledges. Count me in if we are envisioning the same thing.

I figured I would start a new post of this topic. I think the above examples are pretty much what I would like to see as a movie centric interface. Don't think I care about having back covers but def front coverart and movie info would be appreciated. I like the examples Bluefin gave.

As for monetary support, I could def chip in some. I really think ROKU needs to step up to the plate either with actual cash or inkind gifts such a a free Rev B Photobridge for testing purposes (maybe they have and we are not aware.) I didn't use PB much until I upgraded to Ver 2.028 and downloaded the associated MPLAY. Now I use it all the time to access to my DVD's. I don't know who made the statement but MPLAY I am sure has def increased ROKU sales.

Futher comments welcome.
Toots Mutant
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:44 pm

Yes, Roku should be clear on this:

Their work on 2.0 sold a second HD-1000 to me, but most of the work that counted toward the sale is the part that made MPlay possible (mainly the API updates).

It is in Roku's interest to do whatever's necessary to allow 3rd party apps like this to thrive, and so far, they seem to have been doing just that. But the other incentives the the OP suggests are certainly a good idea, too.

And yes, I also contributed to the MPlay people. Probably should have contributed more, and maybe I will with the next release.
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 1:39 pm

Hi guys,

As I already said soewhere, I think the best plan is to develop an interface like what you describe as a launcher for MPlay. The Launcher app can spawn MPlay with some command line parameters when a movie is selected. When you have that working, I can add more command line switches if required.
GUI work is very-very time consuming for me and I don't really enjoy it, that is why I'd like to keep working on the video part of MPlay.
I really think ROKU needs to step up to the plate either with actual cash or inkind gifts such a a free Rev B Photobridge for testing purposes (maybe they have and we are not aware.)

Nah, no free HD1K for us. I think it is hard for them to reward some developers and not others. I understand that. I did get 2 beers out or RokuDon, thuogh :) (TheEndless got nothing. As realtor say, location, location, location :P ).
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 1:56 pm

marcelo3d wrote:
(TheEndless got nothing. As realtor say, location, location, location :P )

Oh sure.. rub it in!

I agree that the launcher interface should be a separate app. It's not only a UI thing, either, as integrating directly into MPlay would require us to develop some sort of database backend. There are several UPnP servers out there that will collect the DVD info for you, so it really would make sense for it to be a UPnP front-end that could do movies, music, and photos....

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Tue Jun 21, 2005 2:01 pm

I mentioned in the old thread about using this interface for files other than DVD's. Like HD files. I just wanted to get that down in this thread.
I'd like to see whoever looks into developing the interface to keep in mind that not all of us will use this for DVD's exclusively. Although I do have a lot of DVD rips as others do.

I'd still like the ability to add/get data for files manually. I would even say the users download the images into the folder with the actual files as well as maybe fill out a "termplate" of movie information that will be displayed on the screens.

What might be nice is to create a "database" of all movies you have and the location they are stored on. Then if you scroll through your list, it might say if this particular share or file is "not attached", but it's located "here". Or could it read an excel file with all this info?

Just some ideas.

Toots Mutant
Posts: 195
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 2:05 pm

Yes, I probably use MPlay as much to stream HD .TS files off my Mac Mini as I use it for playing ripped DVDs. Any UI issues I have with finding TV shows to stream are pretty much outside of MPlay.

And might I add that it's a totally killer app for streaming those HD shows. It is now my prefered HD recorder (it and the Mini) compared to the Comcast DVR.
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Tue Jun 21, 2005 2:37 pm

I am working on just such a GUI frontend. It is a UPnP client that presents all of the information and then spawns MPlay to play the video. I figure we should let the MPlay guys focus on enhancing the video playback and DVD navigation (menu support, etc) instead of asking them to also do an enhanced GUI. I'll try to get an alpha together as soon as possible. My current screens are remarkably close to the suggestions posted earlier in this thread.

On a related note, very few UPnP servers offer enough information about a movie to create these nice frontends. I ended up writing my own server that provides all of this information using standard UPnP tags. I use a small app to fetch all of the information from IMDb, the cover art from, and create a small XML info file for each movie. Since most movie formats do not support a concept similar to ID3 tags, this info file was the best idea I had to associate the info with the movie.

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Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:38 pm

Okay, so a bunch of you beat me to the punch here, but I will post what I had been writing anyways...maybe it will be helpful...maybe it will be clutter:

Wow, it is great to see that people are excited about this kind of "movie-centric" interface. As I said in my initial post, I had already talked to TheEndless about this offline, but I didn't share what we talked about primarily becuase I wasn't sure if anyone cared...but essentially, he said what marcelo3d says above; and that is, that they would rather someone else develop an interface that ran MPlay in the background. So I guess we need to recruit some tallent to do this. I myself am not a developer, but I am decent at layout, graphics, skins etc. (not a pro, but decent)... so tonight, I will work on some more screen shots and develop a screen shot prototype of a "movie-centric" interface. From there, perhaps we can peak the interest of those some others to help make the screenshots funtional. The guys working on the SDesk app are doing something similar in concept, but I'm pretty sure they are headed in a slightly different direction.

I am curious to know the feasibily of creating such a front end for MPlay. It is always easy for non-developers to say "I'd like this and that" without really knowing what it takes to get that kind of funtionality off the ground. So please, if you are a developer reading this thinking " these guys have no idea." Let us know.

I have thought through some of the implicaitons of designing a system that works like the screenshots above. The biggest hurdle I can see is, where do we store all of that data related to movie titles (i.e. rating, run time, synopsis, genre etc.)? Naturally, a database right?? But from what I gather, database driven apps for roku are not possible. So here is what I came up with:

1) A thin-Client method that stores the info individually within the movie folder, kind of the way the folder.jpg coverart files are currently being handled.

2) A webservice like WeatherSix that hosts the data online or on a localhost within your network. The application would then call the data from its external location to be displayed on your tv, plasma, projector, whatever, (much the way weatherSix works).

Anyhow, these are just a couple of thoughts on how to handle the data. In the meantime, please post here and let us know if you think this kind of application would be helpful.

Sounds like BlkKnight is way ahead of the game here...FANTASTIC! Also for those wanting to catalogue your HD files, I'm guessing a small interface that allows you to manually enter the info related to each title is a possible solution.
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Wed Jun 22, 2005 5:37 am

I would certainly like to see this on my setup

:D :D :D

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Great work!

Wed Jun 22, 2005 8:18 am

BK, I would love to see some screenshots of what you have so far. I'm not a developer, graphics guy or anything like that, but it sounds like a collaberation with Bluefin and the MPlay guys could bring this together (albeit with a large time commitment, I'm sure). Since I don't have any talent in these areas, I'd be happy to contribute $$$ to the cause.

As an aside, just the thought of this interface has pushed me over the edge, I finally ordered my PB today.

It's great to see people with the vision for what the PB is capable of. Keep up the good work!
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Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:04 pm

Great Start!

UpNp?? Can someone educate me on this acronym, I'm a software guy and hear abreviations all day long, and keep seeing this one popping up but have no idea what it is or whether I have it.

Can UpNP work with DVD profiler, if your willing to write code or GUI I would think the best way to do this would be with an exisitng application that already catalogs then you simply poll the database for the data. No rework, no having to goto the internet unless your updating your DVD profiler.

I can now see the screen shots and thats pretty much getting to what I was thinking. Simply remove the menu system. No menu system on the front end clik on the icon from the main menu, and immediately pop up to the movie selection area.

Is this really that time consuming? from a gui perspective no images just empty boxes with instructions to get from a) Front Cover Art / movie folder, b) rear cover art, c) movie text. d) play vob file when screen art selected, across the bottom simply all movies in a)

Maybe its me but this does not need to be to heavy an app. For all the work surely that has been done this task would by my laymen skill sets seem to be less than what is required to say Support PAL??

In anycase the offer still stands I am willing to pay dollars for this feature let me know. Surely if there was a dollar amount to introduce a feature it would make the development aspect of your product somewhat more pallatable...allthough you wouldn't catch me writing code.. I can still remember my computer science teacher kicking me out of class for trying to get all the good basic programmers to right these cool space invader apps...hey I'm a by product of Leisure suit Larry, anyone remeber Lord British..potion up Lizard, potion down frog...Apple IIe's were awesome.


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Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:14 pm

[quote="BlkKnight"]I am working on just such a GUI frontend. It is a UPnP client that presents all of the information and then spawns MPlay to play the video. I figure we should let the MPlay guys focus on enhancing the video playback and DVD navigation (menu support, etc) instead of asking them to also do an enhanced GUI. I'll try to get an alpha together as soon as possible. My current screens are remarkably close to the suggestions posted earlier in this thread.



I'm not entirely sure you need to go that in depth from a relational database perspective. In a freeware app by Intervocative software "DVD profiler" already has all of these features of storing everything and more of what one might be looking for in a cataloging system for DVD's.

In fact it also has a simple process for entering bar codes as you add movies to your collection. What I am getting at is that I already have the roku box pointint to my DVD profiler Database where all my images are stored. The roku box treats them as I suspect pictures and then displays them accordingly. from a slide show perspective its great. start the slideshow app and boom scrolls through all my cover art full big bright and beutiful,

The Issue:

So now its scrolling through pictures in the Profiler database...on screen from the ROKU box Awesome!! then....hey I want to watch that movie shouts one of the kids, guest other etc. and well go find DVD and put in DVD player, then someone else says hey pass me the DVD case I want to read the description...and well then who knows or I goto mplay and see if I've gotten around to ripping onto the server.

The problem no scrolling and some movies hmm hmm you just want to blow through as cover art that big with say some explicit material well lets just say it hursts the eyes...

Make sense...sorry for rambling just thought I would explain what would rock my ROKU...We are so close!!


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Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:43 pm

I briefly looked into the data in the dvd profiler database and wasn't able to interpret anything. I'm guessing they are encoding it somehow, but I'm not sure.
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Wed Jun 22, 2005 7:45 pm

I threw together a simple web page with some very early information and screen shots. Feedback is welcome. The focus has been much more on functionality than the look and feel, so be nice :). At this stage, it is functional enough that I am using it for all of my movie browsing/viewing, but not for music or photos yet.

The reason for going this route instead of just talking to an app like DVD Profiler is because I want to catalog movies, TV shows, music, pictures, etc all in a single interface. I think a 'connector' that can export the DVD profiler information into the xml file format that I use for each movie would be great tho.

As for what UPnP is, go here to read: A UPnP server implements a content directory and a UPnP client acts as a renderer. It's really a very nice approach to distributing media content throughout your home.

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Thu Jun 23, 2005 3:10 am

The DVD profiler has an option to export the data base. It will export it as an XML file or a CSV file. I have looked at the XML file and it looks pretty easy to parse down.

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