DVD Databases on Mac

Where are all the DVD indexing applications for Mac? Where’s the equivalent to CDDB for DVDs? Why is it that the only viable alternatives for it are either proprietary, limited to just one region or just plain part of a larger plan to catalog the tastes of all computer users?

OK. I have searched…
I really have.

I have found tons of DVD cataloguing software for the Mac (you’ll excuse me if I completely disregard the existence of Windows for a moment), I have found some that may even be considered “great” on the information they contain. Hell, a friend of mine even made one of these. They are all good, but they all lack a very simple factor that would made them all the more useful: A centralized database of information that contains DVD data and that can be cross-referenced.

DVDProfiler got it right in concept. They created an engine that can be updated by the users themselves through their client. Users can input their information and then DVDProfiler can happily charge for the right to use that information through the sale of their little cataloguing program.

This, by the way, is your typical Windows program: Made with Delphi, Windows-only, with an interface that resembles in some undefinable way either Internet Explorer’s or Outlook styles (this is the same “feature” that plagues similar programs like those of Collectorz or others like Kazaa and iMesh). The interface is a mess of tabs over tabs (vertical, horizontal, if diagonal tabs were possible it would have some of those as well) with tons of checkboxes and panes all over the place. A paid subscription allows you to download “High-Res” images of the DVDs (I don’t know which is worse, if encouraging the copying of the DVD covers, possibly breaking copyright agreements -the high-resolution ones are “high” enough to print out and use for pirated VCDs- or the actual usefulness of having a huge picture of a DVD that you supposedly already own).

Upon startup DVDProfiler downloads a database of DVDs, actor, directors and other data that, depending on your connection can take anywhere between five minutes and forty five. It downloads the whole database of information from DVDProfiler and then periodically updates it. This is a smart idea if you use this in a machine without an Internet Connection but you need one to download the file in the first place.

I don’t know. I had started thinking on making a free database of DVD information akin to CDDB for Music. Have a website where users can register for free and input the information for their DVDs (either be the UPC code or the name of the DVD) and, if the DVD is not present they can input the information and have it validated by other users who, later on, search for that same DVD. Such a list should encompass all regions and versions of DVDs. I thought I had found it when I saw MyDVDs in SourceForge, but sadly it works only for Region 1 DVDs, pulls the list from a site that pulls it in turn from dvdlister and has an interface that could scare a monkey (and those guys are used to really scary things, where do you think they get the crap-flinging reflex from?).

So here I am, 1:30 in the morning considering if to do so or not. If to use an existing DVD listing or let the users do all the input and correction by themselves, thinking how DVD’s like the special edition of Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring should be catalogued (as it contains 5 discs and one of them is actually a separate disc from National Geographic with its own code and can be purchased separately. What to do?

So here is what I think could be done:

1.-Create a website where users create an account and can input their DVDs, again, using either the UPC code or the name (the UPC ensures a proper selection, selecting by name may be harder with all the versions that can exist out there of a given DVD). If he can’t find the DVD he is looking for he is given the option of inputting the information himself. The input sheet should contain all the possible fields the DVD may have (audio tracks, number of CDs, kind of case, UPC mandatory, etc.). Once a user has put this DVD information it becomes available to all the users of the system in the future. Option to include a picture (either uploaded or from a URL is still in consideration)

2.-Users can register their DVDs and track them there. Links can be automatically created to IMDB for information about the movie or to Amazon to check on the title. The user can have his list online, decide if it’s public or not and choose to print it or e-mail using any of several templates.

3.-Conceivably create a Cocoa Application for Mac Users that is able to keep this information offline (keeping it synchronized as best as it can with the online version) downloading information when needed and a connection is available. A Cocoa app has the advantage of being able to interface with a barcode reader for the UPC or read the DVD code straight from the drive. This application would probably be a shareware app with a nag screen at startup..:)

I don’t think this is so hard. All the infrastructure is there. How hard can it be? Is it that if one wants things done right one has to do them?

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