Set up your own personal streaming video library

(This post will be sticky for a few days, so new posts will appear underneath it)

Based on some feedback I received both in class and via email, I decided I would write a post that walked through the steps of ripping and naming files and configuring clients. After taking around fifty screenshots and writing a whole lot, I realized it would be much easier for me to record some videos, and hopefully much easier for you as I could cram a lot of information into a hands-on demonstration that would provide visual context. .

Therefore, over the weekend I recorded three videos, each covering a particular aspect of setting up a media library, and I have embedded them below. I will also post them to their permanent spot on our brand new Videos page. Each is about 20 minutes long, and they’re easily digestible (I hope). The first covers riping and properly naming your media, the second covers using PLEX Server to set up streaming, and the third covers using XBMC as a dedicated media manager.

As I mention in the first video, the process isn’t necessarily complex, but there are steps involved and considerations that have to be made. Once you’ve you’ve gone through the initial setup, however, adding media is relatively easy.

A different view of XBMC than what you'll see in the video

A different view of XBMC than what you’ll see in the video

In the interests of time, I didn’t cover everything the programs can do; for example, with PLEX you can share your libraries with others who live far away, giving them a unique username and password so they can use your library too. In XBMC, if you right click on a movie or television show, then click “Play From Here,” it will play that movie/episode and everything after it as well, so you can binge a whole season no problem. Half the fun is learning all the features!

I know it can be intimidating, that’s why I made these videos, and you may still encounter a hiccup here and there. If that happens, you are more than welcome to leave a comment or contact me and we will figure out the particular issue and get it fixed. One other thing I should mention: This demonstration creates .mkv files, which can be huge – a single blu-ray can be 25 gigabytes and a regular DVD between around 5 gigabytes. I’m ok with that because I have a lot of storage and the quality is important to me, however if space is a concern, if you would prefer smaller files or will be watching them on PCs or mobile devices, there are two free programs you can use after ripping to shrink the resultant .mkvs to a much smaller size (~2GB) while retaining decent quality. Those programs are DVDShrink and Handbrake. Experiment with those if you’re so inclined, and if there is enough interest I can make an additional video about using them to reduce file sizes.

Again as I mention in the videos, for me this is an issue of ownership. Your libraries will always be there, you can watch what you want when you want, you don’t have to wait for a channel to air a show and hope it was something you wanted to see, it’s all up to you. Once you start, it becomes a way of life.

All feedback is welcome, and have fun!

Creating Your Own Personal Video Library Part 1: Ripping and naming your media


Creating Your Own Personal Video Library Part 2: PLEX


Creating Your Own Personal Video Library Part 3: XBMC