Multimedia How Tos

A quick and simple list of tools to solve many multimedia problems. All referenced software are free!

  • How to build a home theater system using your computer.
    • XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media. XBMC is available for Linux, OSX, and Windows. While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Supporting an almost endless range of remote controls, and combined with its beautiful interface and powerful skinning engine, XBMC feels very natural to use from the couch and is the ideal solution for your home theater. There is even apps for iOS and Android so you can use your tablet or phone as a remote control. XBMC does not have a scrapper for music so all music must be pre-tagged.
  • Best movie scraper/movie manager for XBMC.
    • Although a little buggy at times, Ember Media Manager is a much better alternative to the built in XBMC movie scraper. As long as you name the movie folder name with the same name as the one used in IMDB, it is very accurate. For obscure movies or those with multiple matches, you have the option of entering the IMDB id for an exact match. For TV scrapping, I prefer not to use this scrapper since it cannot handle file renaming very well. The results are readable by XBMC so XMBC will not try to re-scrape the movies unless you tell it to.
  • Best TV series scraper/renamer.
    • Media Companion will handle all your TV series scrapping and episode renaming. Imports fan art, banners, posters, episode descriptions, etc. It works and works really fast. The results are readable by XBMC so XMBC will not try to re-scrape the shows unless you tell it to.
  • Two free mp3 tag managers.
    • I prefer to start with Musicbrainz Picard as it has a really good database to scrape against. It works great with albums but tends to get confused with compilations. For compilations, I prefer mp3tag which also has a great file renaming tool. Pre-tagging mp3 files is essential for XBMC.
  • How to convert FLAC file to mp3. How to split a single FLAC file into multiple mp3 tracks.
    • AudioCoder (formally MediaCoder Audio Edition) is a high performance and high quality batch audio transcoder based on MediaCoder. It supports most popular audio formats and can convert from both video and audio files as well as directly from network streams, DVD, CD. On multi-core processors, it is can processes up to 8 transcoding sessions at the same time to significantly improve transcoding speed and thus shorten the time needed to have your audio files encoded.
  • How to batch rename files.
    • Rename Master is a freeware utility designed to rename multiple files with a just few clicks. Anyone that has worked with websites, file archives, or collections of music, videos, or pictures has probably spent way too much time renaming hundreds of files. This utility will add, remove, or replace parts of the filename with ease and also supports renaming via file properties, MP3 tags, JPEG JFIF and EXIF tags, and text files. Batch renaming that’s simple to use, yet still very powerful.
  • How to encode movies to x.264 format.
    • There’s no getting around it. Encoding x.264 movies into quality movies take time and Handbrake is the best at the job.
  • How to easily merge multiple movie clips without re-encoding.
    • Boilsoft Video Joiner, is a powerful video merger to join AVI, MPEG, MPG, VOB, RM/RMVB, 3GP, ASF, WMV, WMA , MP4, MP4a, MKV or FLV files,etc. to one “non-stop” file. Our video joiner, merger have provided you with Direct Stream mode and Encode mode to merge your videos more efficiently, and supports joining different format videos together at super speed.
    • For more complex video editing needs, Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.
  • How to manage ebooks.
  • How to recover lost files.
    • Accidentally erase those files? EASEUS is a free utility capable of salvaging those files. The key is to immediately stop using the computer with the erased files. Download EASEUS from another computer and install it in the affected computer and try your recovery without performing any other task. Each minute you spend on the affected computer lowers your chances of recovering those files if the files are stored on your C: drive.

Do you have a favorite tool to solve a common problem? Add your suggestion to the comment for possible inclusion in this list. All suggestions must be free or open source software. No trial ware or commercial software.