How I manage my family's home videos

My latest and greatest idea for managing (and enjoying watching) my family’s home videos is to set up “fake” TV shows in the same format as you see on all of the pirated TV content out there. I use a Plex server to serve up all the videos.

Why this is a cool idea

My 10-month old daughter has her own show that she loves, with just footage of herself. My weird projects and silly things are in my own show and my family memories are in another. This makes things so much more enjoyable if you actually want to watch your home videos!

Using an app that scans for TV shows and creates a gallery (like Plex or Kodi) means you can use custom artwork per show, season and episode.

Think of it like you creating your own Netflix of personal videos, but all private.

An easy way to do it

You can do something as simple as purchasing an nVidia Shield TV. It’s similar to an Apple TV as you can watch Netflix, YouTube, Plex, etc. but it also lets you run a Plex server (with one button press) directly on the device. You would then plug any USB flash drive or hard drive containing all your family videos, and bam you’re good to go. To keep it simple, follow my “Organizing completed videos” instructions below.

My way of doing it

Creating daily videos

My shows edited down clips from all my phones and cameras from a single day.

Finding the videos

One of the trickier things when creating daily videos is finding all the videos from a single day. I have two phones and two digital cameras that dump to different folders on my computer. Luckily I have a trick for finding all the videos in a single search.

Using the program Search Everything I type the following search into it:

<"C:\Lightroom\2020\2020-04-01" .mov>|<C:\PhotoSync\*\videos\2020-04-01*.m*>

How I import and organize my videos

The “Search Everything” example above will work for you if you:

  1. Import all your digital camera footage using Lightroom to “C:\Lightroom” (for example)
  2. Import all your iPhone videos to “C:\PhotoSync” (for example) using PhotoSync.

For PhotoSync, I set up a custom subdirectory format:


Now with the results you have in Search Everything, you can just drag the list of files into your favorite video editor.

Organizing completed videos

My technique is to name my finished videos as just the date and then use mp3tag to tag and rename the files automatically.

Naming structure

All of my videos are set up like the following:

  • Folder: Show Name
    • Subfolder: Season 2020
    • Epsisode code: 04010 (AKA April 01, part 0)

I add an extra digit to the end of the episode code to allow me to make multiple shows per day.

Example video file names:

Daughter\Season 2020\Daughter - S2020E03200 - Title.mp4
Daughter\Season 2020\Daughter - S2020E04010 - Title.mp4
Daughter\Season 2020\Daughter - S2020E04011 - Title.mp4
Daughter\Season 2020\Daughter - S2020E04012 - Title.mp4

Tagging & renaming

Open mp3tag and browse to where you saved your new video. I always save the new videos in the same folder as all the other completed videos.

Using the side panel I fill out:

  • Title: Episode title
  • Artist: Show title
  • Year: 2020 04 01

I had to add these extra fields in the options:

  • TV Season: 2020
  • TV Episode: 0401
  • TV ID: Used only when I have multiple episodes for a single day (I use 1, 2, 3…)

Tip: Now that the tags are in place for that one episode, any time I make further videos I use copy and paste from one episode to another to copy all the tags and just tweak the ones that need to be changed.

Automatic renaming

In the menu, go to Convert > Tag - Filename. Paste in the following formatting string:

%artist% - S$num(%tvseason%,4)E$num(%tvepisode%,4)$if(%TVEPISODEID%,%TVEPISODEID%,0) - %title%

It should preview the result below. If all was done correctly you should get an example like mine above. These titles are fully compatible with Plex and will automatically create shows and episodes with pretty names and artwork. Yay!

The Plex server

Why it’s awesome

If you’ve never used Plex before, this is the ultimate watching experience. You install their server program onto your home computer, tell it where your videos live and it will make the videos available for anyone using a Plex app.

You can stream the videos from that computer to your Apple/Android TV, smart phone, computer and more, all with ease.

If you’re only interested in having the videos mainly work on one system, you can try something like Kodi. (You just need the program to understand the TV show file names.)

Create your library

Plex already has an “Other Videos” library type that is meant for your bulk, unsorted home videos. While that totally works, I’ve never actually used it to watch anything because of all the excess bulk footage I have.

What I did is created a new library called “Family”, using the “TV Shows” library type. I set the agent to “Personal Media Shows” and pointed it to where my videos are. Done!

Another advantage of the “TV Show” library type is it will autoplay the next episode. My daughter is too young to know how to do that so it’s a major help.

My storage setup

If you’re interested in where I put my files, read on…

The editing station

My main desktop has an array of redundant disks set up using Windows Storage Spaces to prevent failure.

All the data is backed up to the cloud using Backblaze.

I mirror (sync) all my home videos to my NAS where Plex will see and play them. (This acts as another level of backup.)

The storage “NAS”

My storage system is an 80TB, 10GbE 5-node Ceph cluster set up with enough redundancy for me to lose 2 drives at once and not lose any data.

Ryan Anstey
Creative Technologist