How To Automatically Tag Your Movies with Useful Metadata

By Will Greenwald

MetaX is a freeware video tagging application that automatically searches online databases for meta-data, and encodes it into your video files.

We’re all familiar with meta-data in music. MP3s have information coded into them that lets your media player of choice organize them by album, artist, genre, and several other characteristics. Movie files can have meta-data, too; MP4 movie files can hold information that media players can use to organize them easier as well. Videos purchased over online stores like iTunes automatically include metadata, but if you want to rip your own DVDs and organize them nice and neat on your hard drive, you have to do it yourself. Tagging movies may seem unnecessary, but it's actually extremely useful if you want to move those movies onto a mobile media player like the iPad. Metadata not only helps you sort your videos, but includes relevant information like a plot synopsis, film credits, and even a poster thumbnail.
 Metadata includes movie posters that show up in the iPad.
Windows and Mac OS. We'll walk you through the tagging steps for the Windows version of the software, but the process is similar for both versions.

Transcode your videos to MP4

Handbrake. We've written about this process extensively, so we won't repeat ourselves in full here. It basically boils down to loading your MKV file into Handbrake, selecting the appropriate transcoding preset (we recommend a high-quality setting like Apple TV), and choosing your output destination. The transcoded MP4 file will then be suitable for MetaX to read and work its magic.

Load your videos into MetaX

MetaX can queue up batches of videos to be tagged, so you don’t have to go through them one at a time. You still need to go over each movie’s data individually, but at least you don’t need to go through the entire process again and again. 
Important: MetaX has a strange bug that causes it to crash whenever loading a video file if you have Microsoft Groove or Sharepoint installed. Uninstall that feature of Office and MetaX should work fine.

Enter the manual-only information and lock it

If you want to organize your TV shows by episode title on top of series name, you need to enter the name of each episode in the Title field and the name of the series in the Artist/Show field, and check the boxes next to them. This will lock those fields, so it won’t overwrite them regardless of the Amazon or tagChimp information you load. tagChimp, if you haven't heard of it, is a community-driven database for meta-tag data. Its library of almost 100,000 movies and TV shows is fairly comprehensive, and the summaries in its database are typically more descriptive and colorful than what's listed in Amazon's database. 

Search the databases

This is especially useful for TV shows. Search for the episode name first to see if it’s listed on tagChimp. Select and lock the episode summary and details (including the episode and season numbers, under the Video tab), and then search for and select the full series entry to add the rest of the information.   

Repeat for each movie/episode

Go down the queue on the right side of the screen and make sure each file has the right information under it. You don’t want to tag your entire library with the information from Howard the Duck. Once everything’s ready, click the big red arrow on the top right and MetaX will start tagging all of your videos.