If you’re a fan of movie trailers, pre-rolls, and the build up of anticipation leading up to the cinematic experience, then we’ve got a treat for you: Plex Media Server makes it dead simple to recreate that theater magic right at home with both trailers from your own movie collection as well as those of upcoming releases.
You may already be aware that Plex supports trailers, but not many people know that you can leverage trailers into something much cooler than something you manually load up now and then. Tucked away in the settings of your Plex Media Server is a neat little bonus feature that can add a little cinema magic and authenticity to your movie night experience. With a little bit of prep work and a few small changes, Plex can do the following things:
- Play trailers for movies from your personal movie collection (including trailers for all movies or just your unwatched films).
- Play trailers for new and upcoming theater releases (Plex Pass premium users only).
- Play trailers for new and upcoming Blu-ray releases (Plex Pass premium users only).
- Play a custom video pre-roll (a video clip that will play right before the feature film starts—like the THX loto or an old-timey “Welcome to the movies!” clip).
By taking advantage of these features, you can get a gentle nudge to check out great movies already in your collection, or see what’s new in theaters and about to come out on Blu-ray. Plus it’ll feel like you’re actually at the movies.
How to Download Your Trailers and Pre-Roll
Of the four potential features we outlined above, there are only two that require you to do any prep work: trailers from your own movie collection and custom movie pre-rolls. Trailers for upcoming theater and Blu-ray releases are downloaded automatically for Plex Pass subscribers and, if that’s all your interested in, you can skip this entire section and jump down to “Enable Trailers, Previews, and Pre-Rolls”.
Here are the three ways you can add trailers to your movie collection (with their respective benefits and shortcomings):
- Manually: Labor intensive, but you get the exact files you want and they are stored locally with the movie file in your media directory.
- Third Party Media Managers: Automated, and stores trailers with movies. Requires additional software and setup.
- Third Party Plugins: Automated, but stores trailers hidden away in the Plex database, not in your media directory.
If you’re a media purist who wants control over which trailers you have and where they are stored, you’re stuck with the extra work of the first two options. If you just want trailers and couldn’t care less where they’re stored, pick option three and let the plugin do the heavy lifting for you.
Adding Movie Trailers Manually
To manually set a trailer for a movie you simply need to download that trailer video from some source and then placing it in the folder where the movie is located, with the filename set to descriptivename-trailer.ext, where “descriptivename” is the a clear description of what the file is and .ext is simply whatever the existing extension of the movie is.
Let’s say we wanted to manually add a trailer to the 2012 cinematic masterpiece, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. We have the trailer in MP4 format, so we simply browse to the location of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in our collection, paste the downloaded trailer into the directory, and rename it to match the file name of the movie file, like so:
Simply repeat this process for as many movie trailers as you wish to add to your collection.
Adding Movie Trailers with a Media Manager
Manually adding a movie trailer here or there is one thing, but if you want to add trailers to hundreds of movies, that’ll get old really fast. If you want the trailers stored with your movie files but you don’t want to manually download and rename them all, you need to use third party tools like Ember Media Manager or Media Companion.
For our purposes today, we’ll be using Media Companion. The interface is cluttered to the point of being almost overwhelming, but if you know which switches to flip, it makes short work of downloading trailers for even a Library of Congress size collection.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed Media Companion, launch the application. First, make sure “Movies” is selected in the control bar (it should be selected by default) and then click on the “Folders” tab in the GUI, located towards the right hand side of the tab list, as seen below:
Next, look at the bottom of the Folders tab for the entry “Manually Add path to Movie Root Folder”. Put the full directory path to your movie collection here (e.g. C:\Media\Movies\, \\homeserver\movies\, or wherever your movies are located). Click “Add”.
Once you’ve added the directory, Media Companion will scan the folder and populate the file browser. Go to the file browser now by selecting the first tab “Main Browser”. You’ll see a list of movies on the left-hand side. Let’s download the trailer for a single movie now to demonstrate the process. Select a movie and right click on it.
In the right-click context menu, you have two tasks. First, head…
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