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Add metadata to ripped movies and TV shows

Somewhat regularly, I write about ripping DVDs and Blu-Rays. I tend to prefer physical media and sometimes—especially when buying an older TV series or classic movie—the disc won't include a digital copy. So I rip the disc—this way for Blu-Rays, or just via HandBrake for DVDs—to create my own digital copy.

Once ripped, the problem is that I have a video file that will play, but that has no useful information about what the video is—no metadata about the cast, production year, or (for TV series) season and episode. If I try to add the movie to the TV app (or iTunes, as on my iMac), it will require some hand editing to wind up in the right category, and it still won't have any show information.

Enter Subler, a free app to help you "tag" (add metadata to) movies and TV shows. There are probably other apps out there that do this, but Subler works quite well for me, especially for TV shows.

When I rip a TV series, I'll give the files a filename based on its title and (for TV series) season and episode, like Wings S01E01, or Sports Night S02E04. I then drag and drop the ripped file onto Subler's dock icon, and it opens a window, showing all the metadata associated with the file; here's how the window looked after I ripped the first episode of Sports Night:

Other than the ripping tool, there's nothing there. But that changes when I click the magnifying lens in the upper right corner of Subler's window. Because I've used a filename format (show name - season and episode) that Subler understands, it runs the search as soon as I click that icon:

(That window doesn't show all of the metadata found by Subler—this image shows the full data set.)

After confirming that Subler has found the right data, I click Add, and the metadata is added to the file, and Subler then presents the artwork panel:

Subler has searched its data sources, and returned a number of options for artwork, with one preselected. Most of the time, that's the one I want, so I only need click "Set as artwork," and I'm (almost) done. If, by chance, you'd rather use other artwork, you can select None, and then paste an image directly into the Artwork panel.

The final step—and one I've forgotten a couple of times—is to press Command-S to save the new metadata directly into the movie file. Once that's done, I'm good to go—dragging the movie into the TV app (or iTunes) results in it being properly categorized, with its metadata intact:

Subler can, in theory, process batches of files. I've only tried this a couple of times—it worked once and failed once. But it's really not much work (three or four clicks) to process each file individually—and that way, I can verify everything looks good before saving the changes.

Subler isn't fancy, but it works, it works well, and it's completely free. If you rip your own discs, Subler (or a similar app) is a must-have.

4 Comments

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  1. Have you found a way to utilize a secondary artwork image (typically a screenshot from the episode) so that the series still uses the "DVD cover art" at the top, but next to the episodes, it uses the secondary episode screenshot?

  2. Plex TV is a media player that organises everything for you. Works as a charm. It will recognise movies/series based on the file name you give it and add the metadata. Runs on Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS and many smart tv's. E.g. it runs on my NAS so I can stream my movies anywhere to any device.
    Concerning the series cover art and screen shots: it's all in there.

    https://www.plex.tv/

    1. Plex doesn't work well for me, given my large mix of home shot movies and ripped movies. I tried it a few years ago, and would have had to completely change how I organize and name my stuff, and I wasn't willing to take that step.

      It is impressive, though.

      -rob.

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