Ok, so you’ve read my page called Video Conversions and can successfully create compatible wmv video files for your Zune. Great! So you sync your newly converted videos to your Zune, and when you examine these files on your Zune they all show up with the category of “Videos”. So, you have a
very long list of every movie, every TV show, every music video synced on your Zune to scroll through to find the video you want to watch. You might ask, “is there a way for me to put my Heroes episodes in a separate folder and do the same for my music videos and movies?” Unfortunately, the answer is no, there isn’t way to use folders to categorize your videos.
The Zune does, however, have a few limited (predefined) category labels that you can use for your video files but to use them isn’t a trivial process. The procedure below outlines how you can categorize your videos to make it easier to deal with on your Zune.
What is tagging?
If you’ve lurked on the different Zune forums, you’ve probably come across postings talking about “tagging” audio files, or messing with “meta data”. The term meta data refers to extra information that can be stored in a audio or video file. This extra data isn’t necessary to play a music file or view a video file, but rather lets you defined additional information for your particular player to do something special with. For example, when you scroll through your list of video files it would be nice to see a brief description of the selected movie. This kind of information is considered meta data.
So, how do I categorize my videos?
The Zune has four predefined categories that you can use for your video files:
- Music Videos
- TV Shows
The meta data tag that you need to define to tell the Zune that this file is a Video, is WM_MediaClassPrimaryID. You need to set this tag to the following:
The above needs to be done for all video files. The next tag called, WM_MediaSecondaryID, needs to be defined to set the category of the video. The following tags are valid for the Zune device:
For Music Videos:
For TV Shows:
If you don’t set anything for this tag, then the Zune defaults the file to “Videos”. There are a few more valuable tags worth modifying, which I’ll explain in an example in the next section.
What tool should I use to change the tag information?
There are three freeware applications currently available for editing meta data for WMV files:
Originally, I was using TigoTago to manually edit the meta data for my converted WMV video files, since it was the only application that allowed for editing the WM_TrackNumber meta data variable. I wanted to edit that particular variable since I believed it controlled the sort order of the episodes of a TV Show, however, I learned later that it did not control such ordering. The zMeta application seemed easy to use, but it was a big buggy and hasn’t been updated in quite a while. I finally decided to use dSHARPIE, since it seemed to work the best for editing numerous TV episodes simultaneously.
Below is the main interface for dSharpie:
The steps for tagging a video are as follows:
- Load a single (or multiple) videos for tagging.
- Select the video (or videos) that you want to edit meta data.
- For “Video Type”, select between, “Movie”, “TV Show”, “Music Video”, or “Unknown”. You can also fill in the rest of the meta data tags as you see fit.
- Click the down arrow to move the selected video(s) into the “Video To Be Saved” list box.
- Finally, click the “Save Videos” button to save your changes.
Under the Settings menu item there is an option for “Sort TV Shows” which will allow you to move your selected TV Show episodes up and down to sort them in order. dSharpie will then define a “Creation Date” for each of the sorted video in descending order (increasing the specified creation date by one-second). For the older Zune 30 devices, this is sufficient for keeping the TV Show episodes in a specific sorted order, however, this approach doesn’t work for the 2nd generation Zunes (Zune 4/8/80 GB devices). I’ve learned that for the newer Zunes, the only way to correctly sort the order of TV episodes is to sync them one-at-a-time starting with the first episode and working down the list chronologically.
If you’d prefer to use TigoTago, you can follow these instructions:
The best way for me to explain how to use TigoTago, is by example. In this case, I have three episodes of Band of Brothers which I want to categorize as a TV Show, and I want to have them displayed in a sorted list (Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3). So first, I start up TigoTago and select the folder where the video files are located as shown below:
Next, I right click on the first episode and select Advanced Edit… from the popup menu as shown.
Now, you should see a list of tags that are associated with the selected video file. In the next figure, I’ve identified the tags which I typically edit. Here’s a summary of what these tags are:
- Description – A description for the movie that shows up when you select it in the Videos list.
- Title – The title for this video movie
- WM_TrackNumber – This is specified to identify the episode number (for display sorting). Since I want this to be the first episode displayed for this series, I’m using “01” for the value. (Note, that for the sorting to work properly, you need to have a zero in front of single digit numbers (e.g., 01,02,02, etc.)
- WM_MediaClassPrimaryID – Set equal to a unique string (as described previously) to tell the Zune that this is a video file.
- WM_MediaClassSecondaryID – Set equal to a unique string (as described previously) to define this video as a TV Show.
- WM_SubTitle – The name of this particular episode.
- WM_SubTitleDescription – A description of this particular episode. In my case, this is set the same as the “Description” tag.
I then save this, and do similar editing for the other three episodes of Band of Brothers. Remember to set the WM_TrackNumber to the correct episode number for display sorting. [Update: This does not work for either the Zune 30 or 2nd generation Zunes]
Finally, you can have TigoTago set the file creation date for each episode file to go in sequence by selecting the following:
In this dialog box just drag the episodes into the correct order, then click the OK button and Save all the files.Now when I sync these video files to my Zune, they look like the figure below. The three video files are categorized as “TV Shows” and grouped together as a series of episodes for a specific show.
Nitty Gritty Details
More information on the usable video tags for Zune files can be found at this Zune.net page. Lots of dry, techo mumbo-jumbo, but the details are all there if you’re interested.
Note: Meta data tags are only available with WMV formatted files. Unfortunately, such tags do not exist for MP4 files. So, the above outline procedure will only work with WMV files.
dSHARPIE is the recommended tagging application, followed by TigoTago. Of course, if you have a TV Tuner card and are using Windows Media Center to record TV Shows, you can also use DVRMSToolbox to automatically do all of this tagging for you!
Also read this posting where I discuss some issues I had with TV Show episode sorting and how I resolved them.