Media Companion is a free movie manager and organizer that offers full XBMC integration and the ability to gather information from the Internet (like posters, backdrops, plot summary, actors and actor images, and ratings. It currently supports both movies and TV programs, and communicates with multiple online databases like IMDB and TVDB to get the most current and accurate information available.
Media Companion is an essential tool for anyone that has a large collection of movies and/or television programs and wants to keep them organized without a lot of hassle.
Media Companion is as indispensible a bit of freeware as I have ever seen. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hundred movies and maybe six hundred television episodes in my personal collection. After a certain point, a collection this large takes on a life of its own and refuses all your best efforts to organize and manage it. That’s where Media Companion comes in; it gives you the tools you need to tame that media beast with virtually no muss or fuss.
Installing it is as easy as de-compressing the files in the download package, and running the program. That’s all there is to it. From there, you’re ready to begin getting your media in order.
Once opened, Media Companion presents you with an interface window (screenshot 1 above left) that shows all the information you could ever want or need for your movies and shows, but start up blank, of course. The screen may seem overwhelming at first, but thankfully there is a pretty good help file available from the top menu bar to get you started. Also, there’s a quickstart tutorial for both movie and TV show management procedures, which I found to be immensely helpful. Follow this tutorial and it will get your media files plugged into Media Companion quickly and easily.
In addition to the help file, there’s an online index of useful information and tips, and as if that wasn’t enough in the way of support, there is even a short description of each tab and button that shows when you select one (screenshot 2 above right). Media Companion has a recursive search feature so all you have to do is point it to the main folders where your media is stored and it will search all sub folders in there as well, which is a great time saver.
When you’ve finished pointing to all your movies and shows, the next step is to ‘search for new movies’ which will scan all the locations you specified, and immediately begin organizing the data by title, year, genre, and tons of other tag information. It does this automatically, and takes up very little in the way of system resources, so if you want to do something else while it’s working you won’t have a problem as long as the hamster wheel in your computer keeps turning. Once the files have been scanned and ‘scraped’, you then have the option to browse them or search through them using specific criteria or general search strings. For example, you can go to the main browser tab and look for movies only produced in 1998 or only romance films. Any of the tag information is an option for searching or browsing, and there are other options like sorting them by ‘watched’ or ‘unwatched’ status.
All the features in this tiny program are pretty intuitive, and I had a blast exploring my movies and TV shows with it. I now have the ability to find a particular movie in seconds, rather than taking twenty minutes to hunt it down in windows explorer. It’s also a nice way to learn more about the shows and movies I own, and even get information I didn’t have before. It also has options to export your collection into an xml file for transfer to another device or location so you don’t have to go through the searching and scraping process more than once. Media Companion will also create playlist files for you in standard m3u format for use with your favorite player program like VLC or even Windows Media Player. For TV shows or movie trilogies, it will let you know which episodes you are missing from your collection as well. Please note that Media Companion is designed to work with legitimate media files, not pirated ones, so if you’ve got a huge collection of those kinds of movies or shows, you will probably want to look elsewhere for an organizational solution.
There may be some other great functions and options available in the current Beta release but for purposes of this article I went with the most recent stable release. Media Companion is loaded with so many options it would take hours to describe them all, so here’s a short list of just some of its features taken from their home page:
Movie Features include.
- Scrape movie information from IMDB using the inbuilt scraper
- Scrape movie information from IMDB or TVDB using XBMC scraper. (weekly release req.)
- Download movie posters from any of IMDB, TMdb, IMPA, and MPDB.
- Download movie backdrops from TMdb.
- Download movie trailers from IMDB.
- View and edit all obtained data.
- Search and browse movies using a selection of filters and searches.
- Export to HTML movie details & artwork, with customizable templates.
TV Show features include.
- Choice of inbuilt TVDB scraper or XBMC TVDB scraper (weekly release req.)
- Automatically download information for TV Shows and episodes from TVdb.
- Download actor images from either TVdb or IMDB.
- Download and select poster for Show and individual seasons.
- Download episode screenshot.
- Create screen shot if download is not available.
- Automatically rename episodes.
- Display episodes missing from your collection.
- Display episodes in aired date order (so you can see where the specials fit in) (weekly release req.)
- Export to HTML TV details with customizable templates. (weekly release req.)
Bearing in mind that Media Companion does all of this, free of charge and under a general public GNU license, and this one is a five star winner for me. As the user agreement states, “The licenses for most software are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software–to make sure the software is free for all its users.” This means that if you have the desire and know-how, you can change or edit the program to your heart’s content to make it do whatever you want, or interact with anything you want. Add to that the fact that there is nothing to install and therefore no registry entries to worry about, and I would suggest it for anyone who feels the need to organize their media collection but doesn’t want to spend a ton of money to do so.
Until next time, my friends.
Version Tested: V184.108.40.206
Requires: Windows (any) and Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0 installed.
Get Media Companion here