Back in the days before computers and home entertainment started to converge, I wrote a database application that let me keep track of my CD collection. I put in a moderate amount of work writing the application and a huge amount of work entering the track information for every CD I owned. Today, most computers have built-in CD players, and anyone interested in digital music has a CD player/burner with access to an online database, such as Gracenote's CDDB Music Recognition Service, that identifies the CD, and in most cases, saves the user from having to enter any information about the CD and the recording artist.
I've considered writing an application to keep track of video tapes, but I wasn't much of a video-tape collector. However, as I've accumulated DVDs, the video equivalent of CDs (don't talk to me about CD-Interactive—CD-I), I've become more interested in keeping track of my movies. But I wasn't really interested in all the movie details that serious film aficionados seem to enjoy, mainly because entering that information can be quite a chore. Most of that information isn't even included on the DVD case. I knew that online sources for film information exist, but I wasn't looking to make myself a lot of work trying to keep track of DVD information.
I knew that DVD cataloging tools must exist so I searched the Web and found Movie Collector 1.3 from Collectorz.com. (http://www.collectorz.com) The program is not DVD-specific, although DVD is the default format for your data entry; you can select from many other formats, including tape and the aforementioned CD-I. Most importantly, Movie Collector can link to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) (http://www.imdb.com ) and pull information such as cast and crew to populate your database.
Movie Collector's interface is very simple (see Figure 1), and after you add your collection to the database, you can see your available films, along with details about them, with a mouse click. Now, when my wife asks me what movies we have available that are suitable for small children, I can point her to the Movie Collector application and tell her to pick her category and get the details. You can even click IMDb on the toolbar to go to the database Web page, with its additional links and information, for the currently selected movie. If you're not online, the data you entered or pulled from the IMDb when you created the entry will still be available locally.
Adding data to the local database is easy. I used the Add Movie by Online Query option from the IMDb menu to get the basic data for each of my 75 DVDs. I searched the online database and selected the movie I wanted to enter. The program then opened the Edit Movie menu (see Figure 2).
The IMDb query enters some basic movie information and the more complex credits information. On the Main tab, I entered any specific information to the data already filled in for me. The Movie tab let me add details such as the movie's rating. The Technical tab let me select the film's screen ratio, as well as the type of audio and other technical details. The Personal tab let me add my own rating, the date I bought the movie, how much I paid for it, who I've currently loaned it to, and some tape-specific data. The Pictures tab let me link images of the DVD's front and back cover. Credits provides a space for actor and crew information, which, in almost every case for me, the IMDb filled in. Under DVD Features, I entered the extra items that the DVD includes, such as Director Commentaries or DVD_ROM games. The program also includes a free-form entry field for a previously uncataloged feature. The Plot and Notes tabs are free-form data entry fields and are self-explanatory.
The Search item on Movie Collector's toolbar lets you create a filter to search your movie collection. For instance, you can track when you watch each movie and search the collection to determine which movies you haven't watched recently. You can also search for simpler items such as a particular actor or director.
Movie Collector 1.3 is an inexpensive ($25) and useful tool for cataloging your movie collection, especially when you use the IMDb along with it.