Video's Missing Metadata
Where is the metadata standard for video? MP3's have ID3. Images have EXIF, IPTC, and more. If commercial video is ever to take off as an electronically distributed format it's necessary. Without it video players can't identify what's available. That may not seem important if you are sitting in front of a computer and reading a filename, but for other devices and 10' UI's it's a big problem.
As an example problem, I currently have a lot of data residing in a Meedio database. Unfortunately Meedio is a Windows only program that is no longer in development because its technology was purchased by Yahoo!. While the videos themselves can still be viewed by other programs, I lose all of the title, cover art, actor, genre, and summary data that makes a big catalog easy to browse through. As a result I'm captured by vendor lock-in, and the vendor doesn't even exist anymore.
Adding metadata to these key fields would allow videos to be used by any program. It would also set the stage for the growing video download market. While I'd personally rather see that be sans DRM, a standard metadata format would be beneficial regardless of whether a file was restricted or free.
One of the great innovations in the GNU/Linux world over the last few years has been the emergence of Live CD's. I'd love to be able to take one of the available MythTV Live CD's and throw it in a cheap client system with no local storage. As it loads, MythTV could scan the available network drives and automatically organize my videos based on the metadata it finds. Only the temporary in memory database would be needed and any computer could quickly extend my HTPC network without significant setup time.
But without metadata storing key information about videos, I would be restricted to whatever file and folder structure existed on the network drive, and that could get confusing.
Of course you wouldn't have to use a Live CD. Installed software would receive the same benefits. And the biggest benefit of all is if you decide that MythTV isn't for you, there would be no barriers to trying Elisa, Freevo, LinuxMCE, or another option.
Some of you may read this and think "I use DivX and it supports metadata." That is true, but there is a big problem with the .divx format -- it's proprietary and DivX doesn't support Linux with their official tools. What we need is a common, widely supported format. Step one is getting a wrapper to support metadata extensions. Step two is getting the applications to add the ability to create, edit, and view them. Only then will true video portability be achieved.