Author Topic: Another thumbnail fix ... but still a workaround  (Read 12456 times)

January 17, 2010, 06:16:45 AM
Read 12456 times

kheda

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Hi all, I've just got my WDTV live this weekend (don't get me started on subsequently hearing about the Popbox...). Anyway I got about thinking about some kind of resolution to the thumbnail issue when browsing network shares. I've found a 'fix' to the 'feature' I'm quite happy with so I thought I'd share it. (Sorry if it's been mentioned before but I have searched and couldn't find it so here it is...

As we all know, creating a JPEG with the same name etc doesn't really work as you you have to navigate into the folder and then past the JPEGs to locate the actual video file. Of course we can't click the folder itself (considering a folder structure of, let's say "Films/B/Back to the Future' where we'd then store both the JPEG and the avi/mkv or whatever) because the WDTV would then play the actual JPEG.

The fix I found is that the WDTV will show a thumbnail for an enclosing folder of the first movie file with an embedded image it can find. Now in order to embed an image we need a .mp4, for example, so what I've done is create a dummy .mp4 to sit alongside the actual movie file. So long as its named, let's say, zzz.mp4 it will always be found after the actual movie.

So to sum up - we have the following: "Films/B/Back to the Future/Back to the Future.mkv and zzz.mp4

Now if we let the WDTV sort its thumbnails we find the enclosing folder called Back to the Future has the thumbnail taken from the dummy zzz.mp4 file, but if we press Play on this folder the WDTV plays the first file it can find ... which is Back to the Future.mkv.

Basically I've created a small mp4 (I made it out a single chapter of a movie so it's about 20mb I think. And then I tag a relevent thumbnail to it and place it alongside every movie. Every movie and .mp4 are then stored in their own discrete folders.

I hope this makes sense? I also acknowledge it's not ideal but, so long as your folders and files are arranged correctly, ie every movie must be within its own folder and have an associated zzz.mp4 alongside it, it works. I also quite like the fact that pressing play on the folder means the end user isn't presented with the actual filename - ie the folder can be called 'Airplane', and that's what you click, whilst the actual movie file could be 'airplane1backup_h264rip.mkv' or whatever you like.

It seems to increase the Wife Acceptance Factor no end.

January 17, 2010, 12:33:00 PM
Reply #1

Whoheart

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If you think there is something wrong with your WD device contact them and then act upon that: Either wait or move on - don't whine here - this is not WD's board. If you have a problem, start a thread and ask - perhaps someone knows the answer.

January 19, 2010, 04:15:48 PM
Reply #2

jeffers

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Hi Kheda
Can you help me with this because it's not working for me.  Inside the folder I have the movie.mkv, I also have an mp4 file called zzz.mp4 and I also have the jpg of the movie thumb which I've called zzz.jpg.  The good news is that the jpg does not show up separately to the folder, and the folder has the thumb picture... so far so good.  As you say you must press play and not the centre enter button or else you go inside that folder, but when I press play it tries to play the jpg file and not the movie.  What am I doing wrong?  ???
Thanks

January 19, 2010, 05:43:18 PM
Reply #3

kheda

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Hi Jeffers,

yeah no worries: Glad to help!

Basically you don't need the JPEG. The image for the folder is taken from the embedded image in the .mp4 - I don't know if you're using a PC, Mac or a Linux distro but on the Mac (just to give an example as it's what I use) I'm using MetaX. I think you can also embed an image in an .mp4 by loading it into iTunes and giving it a thumbnail; anyway there are a few free bits of software that enable you to do it. I don't know how much you know about containers etc but in case you're not aware; you can add an image to the .mp4 itself- it doesn't need a jpeg alongside it. In fact you have to make sure there is NO jpeg in the folder. To use MetaX as an example- you drag and drop the .mp4 into the application's window, then drag and drop your JPEG into the window, and click save: job done. You have an .mp4 with your jpeg actually WITHIN it. (FYI it's called tagging and is adding to the file's metadata).

The way the WDTV works is it will look within a folder and either show a jpeg (which is why people use folder.jpg which we don't need in this instance) or it will show whatever image is embedded within the first .mp4 it finds.

So within a movie folder you have an .mkv and an .mp4 (with the embedded image). Obviously the .mkv can be any movie file at all - avi or whatever. The .mp4 is used because there are only a few movie containers for which an embedded image can be placed.

Basically what you have done is almost correct but you need to remove the JPEG image, but remember to embed that image within the zzz.mp4

The reason it's called zzz.mp4 is because it has to be after the movie file itself- otherwise we'd click play on the folder and play the .mp4 and not the .mkv!

I hope this makes sense but if it doesn't let me know and I'll try and explain it better (also let me know your OS and I'll find an equivalent to MetaX you could use in case that side of it's not clear.

It's worth getting it working as it's the only way I've found that avoids the multiple thumbnails and also doesn't delete the thumbnails if you reboot - most of the ideas seem to suggest creating a cache of images but obviously they're lost whenever you reboot the machine or disconnect it from the wall. This way it's stored forever.

Good luck and let me know how you get on! I'm not sure I'm the best at explaining things!!


January 20, 2010, 12:34:53 PM
Reply #4

jeffers

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That's great I understand completely.  I am running a PC with Vista.  Which application can I use to embedd the jpg into the .mp4?
Thanks

January 20, 2010, 01:09:26 PM
Reply #5

kheda

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Hi Jeffers,

I've just had a quick search and MetaX is available for Windows too so that's what i'd recommend you use. (I'm not sure if links are allowed in this forum but if they are the link is http://www.danhinsley.com/MetaX.htm). Otherwise a search for it will find it.

You can do quite a lot with the app like scrape IMDB for film credits etc but the WDTV doesn't use any of that data (that's more useful with AppleTV or whatever) so all you really need to do is open your zzz.mp4 and paste your thumbnail into the center image window. Then click Write and it'll save your new mp4 with the embedded image.

Just as another quick piece of advice I don't know how you create your thumbnails but I use WDTVC's thumbnail creator which makes the thumbnails online at 120x180 which is what the WDTV wants. You can then drag and drop the thumbnails from your browser window directly into MetaX (this works on the Mac version so I'm sure it'll be the same).

Good luck and let me know how you get on! It seems a pain but once you've done it once it only takes a couple of seconds each time you do it. (I've now created a really short dummy zzz.mp4, as a Master, which is only a couple of hundred KB so it's not much different to a JPEG size - make sure your zzz.mp4 is as small as possible (mine's about 10 seconds long) as you're copying it into every video folder - originally I was using a couple-minutes long music video as the master (as it was the shortest .mp4 I had) but it was 20mb which seems really small but when you re-use it hundreds of times it starts taking up space! And you won't ever actually play it anyway since it's only a container for the thumbnail so it can be as short as you like).
« Last Edit: January 20, 2010, 01:17:59 PM by kheda »

January 20, 2010, 03:23:00 PM
Reply #6

jeffers

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WOW!!!  It works flawlessly!!  OK it needs some effort but you can reuse the same mp4 file over and over and just retag it.  The MetaX tool is sweet and really quick to use as well. 
This is by far the best fix I have seen for the 'twin thumbnail over network shares' problem and I recommend others try it.  Once you get on a roll you can quickly set up 10 movies in about as many minutes.  Remember to go back into your folder and delete any old jpgs you still have in there as they will corrupt the fix

Thanks kheda..... great job!!!  ;D

January 20, 2010, 04:12:05 PM
Reply #7

kheda

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Great news, I'm really glad you got it working!

January 20, 2010, 07:46:43 PM
Reply #8

elinks

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Great job Kheda, this works like a champ.  I used a 200K Quicktime animated emblem and embedded a jpeg with itunes and it works perfectly!

If we could convince thumbgen to incorporate this facility into his great search/thumbgen program it would be fantastic.

Anyone know the structure that will allow for thumbnail it root level?  This didn't work for me:

/Videos
/Videos/zzz.mp4
/Videos/Blues Brothers/Blues.Brothers.mkv
/Videos/Blues Brothers/zzz.mp4

The Videos root still had the default icon?

January 21, 2010, 12:36:07 AM
Reply #9

kheda

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Hi Elinks,

the video root still requires a jpeg. The fix only works for the individual movie folders (as you've correctly set up for your Blues Brothers folder). The video root only has further subfolders (ie no actual mkv to watch) so it still requires a jpeg.

In order to keep my library tidy I have the following:

/videos
/videos/folder.jpeg
/videos/B/
/videos/B/folder.jpeg
/videos/B/Blues Brothers/Blues Brothers.mkv
/videos/B/Blues Brothers/zzz.mp4

Basically I have alphabetical folders within my videos folder (I actually have it set up as /Films and /TV Shows etc). I have them set up like this: # A B C D E  ... etc and then have a folder for every video within it (All be Bs in the B folder etc). Within every alphabetical folder I have a 'folder.jpeg' file for which I've set up a 120x180 jpeg with a big fat A or B or C etc on it so when you navigate into the B folder, for instance, you have all your nice thumbnailed film folders you can click play on, and a big fat B (which is the folder.jpeg) which you know not to click on because it's not a movie poster but just the letter. I'm not sure I'm explaining it correctly but it works quite well and looks very clear so long as your /Videos and /A and /B etc subfolders have very clear icons that don't look like movie posters! Then you know all of the movie poster folders are clickable films (with the mkv and zzz.mp4 inside) ...

As always let me know if that makes sense and is helpful?


January 21, 2010, 10:03:57 AM
Reply #10

wetsock

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I've tried this same method a while ago and had partial success but never got it fully working.  I was able to get the mp4 to display the artwork but I've never succeeded in having it show up on the folder.  With no luck at the time I tossed in the towel.  What are you doing to actually get the enclosed mp4 to show up as the folder art?  Is there a particular setting i'm missing?  It currently shows as the mp4 artwork itself, but doesn't display on the folder.

Also, are you using "Media Server" mode or "Network Shares"... Thanks in advance.

January 21, 2010, 11:28:17 AM
Reply #11

kheda

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Hi wetsock,

I'm connecting to Networks Shares. I haven't changed any settings as it's not required (the enclosed files don't even need the same name as the folder- you just need the mp4 in there). The main thing to note is once the WDTVLive has assigned the generic icon to a folder it won't generate a new one if you drop in the mp4 (or a jpeg for that matter).

I noticed this when I first started organising my media for WDTV - I had a few movies, checked the WDTV could see them (so had no thumbnails at all) and then retrospectively added the thumbnails. But the WDTV wouldn't show them.

Basically they're ignored until you totally reboot the machine (ie pull the plug and restart it). I had this problem when I mistakenly put a thumbnail of Solaris on a folder for Starsky and Hutch. Even when I replaced it correctly it wouldn't update - it's cached in the WDTV until I restarted. Then the new thumbnail appeared.

That's why this idea works so much better, for me, than the 'assign thumbnails then delete/rename the jpegs' idea so many people have had - they disappear once you reboot or reset. This way you keep the thumbnails forever even if you'd unplug it all at take it round a friend's.

So to check, basically, could you try setting up your folders as described (ie, using Elinks' example of Blues Brothers you'd set a folder called 'Blues Brothers' and then place the Blues Brothers.mkv and zzz.mp4 files in there) and then disconnect your WDTV and then restart it. Turning it off and on won't work as it doesn't refresh the cache. When it restarts it will reassign all the thumbnails, so all the ones it thinks should be blank (due to previously missing thumbnails) will now be correctly assigned.

Let me know if it works! If not could you give me a better idea of your set up and I'll do my best to solve it for you.

January 21, 2010, 12:02:56 PM
Reply #12

wetsock

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ah, thanks. All it took was a flush by unplugging it and plugging it back in to do the trick.  Using the reset button on the system using a paper clip didn't work since that's what I've been trying to do for so long.  Thanks again, this method will have to hold me for now.

January 21, 2010, 12:16:23 PM
Reply #13

kheda

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January 21, 2010, 12:27:18 PM
Reply #14

thumbgen

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If we could convince thumbgen to incorporate this facility into his great search/thumbgen program it would be fantastic.

I heard my name so here I am  ;D

I like kheda's idea, it is cool. I will try to implement it in ThumbGen during this weekend, let's see if I can manage it... I have to setup my WDTV inside my network (as I use it with USB drive directly connected).

I would like to have this fix as a temporary/optional thing... maybe renaming the .jpg thumbnails to .jpg_fixed so we can "revive" them when WD will fix this _bug_  ;)
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