How To: XBMC Cinema Experience Add-On
My last XBMC post mentioned the Cinema Experience add-on. This add-on is a bit of a hassle to get set up for the first time but the result is well worth it if you are into a true “theater” experience at home. For me the biggest pain in the butt was locating all the little video files needed to create the experience.
Several of my friends have started using XBMC as their sole entertainment hub at home after seeing my set up. The first of them I mentioned this add-on to wondered why anyone would want all that pre-movie stuff at home. He was surprised to hear that more than once I had been asked if it was possible and that it was a wanted option.
Before trying out the add-on I thought it was kind of pointless too. My motive to try this out was from two things: a friend realizing he was unaware of what was coming out and wanting XBMC to automatically play random upcoming movie trailers once in a while and another friend with a substantial home theater wishing he could make it feel more like going to the movies.
Now that I’ve tried it out a few times I actually appreciate having the feature. Its pretty cool being able to switch on a movie theater simulation complete with trivia slides, current movie trailers, and the fun little connecting videos that give that slight personality to the theater itself. It is by no means intrusive unless you want it to be. The way I set mine up gives me the choice of running the Cinema Experience when I want to, but otherwise XBMC handles the media like usual.
I set my instance up using the default XBMC skin called Confluence. Some other skins natively support the feature, I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which ones. Using the default skin requires a hack to add a menu option/button to start the Cinema Experience script that makes all the magic happen. That doesn’t seem to work for everyone especially newer XBMC version users. What I do (because I use a keyboard) that always seems to work is to make an entry into the keyboard.xml file. I’ll get it out of the way now but it wont do anything until you install the add-on script itself.
Here is an example of the code to put in the keyboard.xml file you will need to have or create in the AppData\Roaming\XBMC\userdata\keymaps folder. This example launches the script by pressing CTRL + F4, you can set it to be anything that does not conflict with a default command, or one you do not mind overwriting. I am showing this one because it explains how to assign a two key combination to an action but in reality I usually just map it to a single key.
If you want to try adding the menu option into the skin directly here is the code you will need to add near the bottom of the:
C:Program Files (x86)\XBMC\addons\skin.confluence\720p\Dialog\VideoInfo.xml file. Make the indenting of the following text look similar to the other buttons. I mimicked “button id=15”.
<control type="button" id="14">
<description>Home Cinema Experience</description>
What this will do is place a button on the “Movie Information” page for each of your library items. Highlight any movie (or TV Episode) and bring up the context menu (right click/”C” key/Menu key), select “Movie Information”. It does not work for everyone, and you need to be careful to pick an unused button ID.
Then you will see the new button that will launch the Cinema Experience script for your selected film.
Now install the add-on by downloading the “script.cinema.experience.3.0.0.zip” file (for XBMC v12) and installing through the add-on menu> install from zip file. I found the file and links to the theater clips in this thread on the XBMC forums. Once installed you’re going to be able to change settings from the add-on menu, or from the programs category in XBMC. Before doing so lets get your CE folder structure ready and your clips organized. Keep in mind this organization is only for the add-on specific “theatre” experience files, and not your existing media collection which you should leave alone.
At this point you can start using the pre-show streamed movie trailer feature, which is probably going to be the most common setup here. You wont need anything else aside from choosing how many videos to play and from where to stream them. In my example I am using 2 videos from the Apple trailers site.
To get the full experience and intent of the add-on you will want to gather or create your own theater intro and outro segments. These will be stored on folders either locally on your PC or shared on the network. The makers of the add-on suggest you layout your folders like they are in this picture:
I do it similarly but number the folders in the order in which they will play,
the choice is up to you. the only important part is that your XBMC instance can access them either locally on the host PC or on a network storage device of some type.
The first settings to configure are the special videos tab. Here you will setup most of your intro and outro video locations. If you do not have videos for everything thats fine, just leave the selection to none and it will be skipped.
Then the movie trailers tab which has a few more folder settings to use. The trailers themselves are streamed remotely but the intro and outro videos are local to CE. Again, if you do not have the media for these just leave the setting to none.
At this point you can use the remaining defaults unless you want to set up pre-show trivia or slides, or a mid film intermission. Those will require trial and error as some xml files are needed. If you got this far you should be good to go. Send me a message on my contact page if you need some more clarity.