Saturday, May 18, 2013

All My Movies

My profile tells you that I have a "sizable" DVD (and now also blu-ray) collection, "most of which I've legally purchased".  How sizable is "sizable"?  Large enough that I don't actually know exactly how many titles I own.  I can tell you, however, that I'm using a movie cataloging program called All My Movies to gradually catalogue my collection.  So far, I've catalogued just over 300 movies, and that's probably roughly half the collection.

As you can imagine, cataloging all those movies takes some time and patience.  All My Movies (AMM) makes the task easier by automatically pulling in most of the information from internet web sites such as but, of course, I have to get all anal about it and manually tinker with each entry; the screen shots aren't right or the synopsis needs re-wording and there are several bits of info missing that can't be gleaned from the internet such as where, in my vast collection, the movie is actually stored (in case I want to, you know, watch it sometime). 

Most tedious of all, although AMM does download the cast list for each title, it has a feature that allows me to further download bios, often with thumbnail pictures, of every actor in the cast list.  AMM doesn't automatically pull in this extra info because the program's authors probably assumed, quite sensibly, that nobody could possibly be anal enough to want all that extraneous info.  So, if you want an actor's bio, you need to click on his or her name, which brings up a pop-up that allows you to pull it in, again from on-line sources.  This is still fairly easy, but one does have to do this for each individual name in the cast list and, of course, I do so.

These cast lists often include not just the major stars but every single actor that appears in the film, including minor characters and extras such as "man on bus" or "hotel doorman".  Not even I'm fussy enough to want the full bios of every walk-on character, so I have a rule.  Any actor that shows up in at least two or more titles in my collection gets their bio downloaded.  One-offs do not.  AMM makes this easy by showing me all the titles in my collection in which each actor appears in the same pop-up dialogue that allows me to download their bio.

"Gee, that sounds tedious!" you're probably thinking (along with "Buddy, you really need a life!")  Right on both counts.  One personal trait that I've long recognized in myself is that I have an astonishingly high tolerance for tedium when I'm fully engaged with any project, professional or personal.  I'll doggedly work at the most mundane tasks for hours on end, gradually whittling away at them.  Sometimes, I must admit, I actually enjoy "turning off" my brain (appearances to the contrary, it is active most of the time) and working on some rote task.  This is probably a side effect of having a job that requires mental calisthenics most of the time.

Getting back to the movie collection, I made reference to storage earlier.  Needless to say, all those movies have to go somewhere.  Many of them line a sort of bookshelf in our living room but, with all those titles, this has the effect of making our living room look like a video store, which is fine by me but not so hot with my wife.

Some years ago, I stumbled upon a really neat movie storage solution.  It's an album, of sorts, made by a company called Allsop.  Allsop offers a variety of CD and DVD storage solutions but my favorite is one which they apparently don't make anymore known as the "Faux Leather DVD Album".  It's basically a box with wood-grain sides and a faux leather cover and spine.  At a glance, it looks like a large, bound book.  Open it up and it contains 20 cloth "pages" with transparent vinyl sleeves.  There are two disc-sized sleeves on the back side of each "page", allowing for two discs to be stored, and a large, full-page sleeve on the front side for inserting the movie's cover artwork.  Allsop says that each album can store up to 40 movies, which is true (20 pages times 2 disc sleeves each equals 40) but I insist on including the cover artwork for each title, and each page has only one cover artwork sleeve so, for me, each album really holds only 20 titles.  I insert the cover artwork on the front side and the disc into one of the reverse side sleeves, leaving the second disc sleeve empty, although it does come in handy for those two-disc titles. 

It's the allowance for cover artwork, and the overall book-like appearance that I particularly like about these DVD albums.  Line up five or six of them on a shelf somewhere and your decor changes from "Blockbuster Video" to "Library" or "Study". 



Open up an album and you can browse through the titles, enjoying the cover artwork at your leisure.  After all, this is a collection and, as with all collections, presentation is important.

In case you're wondering where I get the cover artwork, I scan scan the DVD jewel case cover with a document scanner, then print the scanned image on glossy paper at the appropriate size and trim it.  I do not destroy the original jewel case or its cover artwork.  Those, I store in big cardboard boxes in my basement and I bring them out if I'm taking the movie with me somewhere or loaning it to someone.  Incidentally, AMM keeps track of who has borrowed your movies, when, and for how long.

There is only one major flaw in the design of Allsop's Faux Leather DVD Album.  The "pages" are glued to the inside of the spine and can't be removed.  Why is this a problem?  Because I also insist on storing my movies in alphabetical order.  Well, I mean, how would I ever find anything if I just inserted them in whatever order I got them?  That means that, If I buy The Avengers, which begins with "A", I have to shuffle all the movies in each album by one page in order to make room for the new title in the appropriate slot.  That means pulling each movie out of its page and inserting it into the next one, starting from the last title and working my way forward until I get to the appropriate spot.  It would have been SO much easier if the pages of these DVD albums had been ring-bound and removable!  But then, I suspect that the good people at Allsop never expected that anybody would buy quite as many of their faux leather DVD albums as I have.  How many is that?  Well, I have twenty of them.  That's twenty albums times twenty titles apiece, giving me space for 400 movies, and I'm not sure if that's enough!  They're not all full yet.  I'm currently working on Volume 16.  But then, I still have lots of movies in their jewel cases waiting to be filed.

So, to summarize, when I picked up a new title, here's what I do:

  • Add it to the AMM catalogue, pulling in the bios for all the cast members and tinkering with still shots, the synopsis, etc.
  • Scan, print and trim the cover artwork
  • Shuffle all the movies in each of my DVD albums one page to the right, starting from the last one and working forward until I've finally freed up a slot for the new title in the appropriate spot
  • File the empty jewel case in the basement, where it also has to be inserted alphabetically so that I can find it quickly if needed.

By the time all the movies in my collection have been catalogued and filed, I'll have repeated the above process at least 400 times. 

And you wonder why I don't have time to blog more often...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you DO need to get out more often! :-P