From a suggestion made by reader Alex, we thought that this week’s Roundtable topic would be a good opportunity to discuss the various ways to organize a movie collection. Do you arrange your discs in a strictly alphabetical fashion, or do you sort by genre? Do specific directors or actors have their own sections? Do you keep Criterions or other special collections separated? Are TV shows separate from movies? The possible variations here are virtually endless. We’ll tell you how we do it if you’ll do the same.
My shelves are practically overflowing with discs. If a random person were to walk into my home theater room to look for a specific title, they’d probably assume that I have no organization at all. There is a method to my madness, though. I swear.
First off, I freely mingle Blu-rays with HD DVDs. I don’t discriminate among high-def discs. However, I keep DVDs separate. My shelves are divided into sections for: Steelbook and metal cases, box sets, Digibooks, 3D, animation, and non-animated children/family movies. Discs from the Criterion Collection are all grouped together. Franchises and movie sequels (James Bond, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Terminator’, etc.) get their own dedicated shelf. TV shows have a separate shelf as well, but I like to group movie spin-offs from TV shows (‘Star Trek’, ‘Firefly’/’Serenity’) together with the original show.
Any titles that don’t fall into one of these categories go into a “General Movie” lot that’s broken into three subsections: Discs that I’ve watched, discs that I haven’t watched but that I’ve previously seen the movie, and discs that I haven’t watched with movies that I’ve also never seen.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Currently, I also have a big stack of recently-purchased discs next to my computer that haven’t been sorted out yet. Because I’m pretty much out of shelf space, I’m going to have to start putting discs from the “General Movie” section into DiscSox sleeves in the near future.
I keep track of everything I own with DVDProfiler.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I have just over a couple thousand DVDs, HD DVDs and Blu-ray discs scattered around my house, so I kind of have to keep everything organized if I’m ever going to find what I want. On one side of my home theater, I have a mildly enormous QuadWidth Media Storage Rack with the DVDs I think there’s any chance of me ever watching again. Probably around 60% I keep on display there, sorted alphabetically, and the other 40% are mothballed in my garage.
On the right side of my display is another QuadWidth rack. That one, along with two smaller racks against another wall, have all my Blu-ray discs and HD DVDs mixed together. Those are also sorted alphabetically. I keep sets with very unusual packaging (the ‘Blind Dead’ DVD coffin, Anchor Bay’s run of limited edition tins from a decade back, the cigarbox-size collector’s sets of a few different films on Blu-ray, for instance) all over my living room. I have a special rack with my ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ DVDs, and I keep all of my BCI/Eclipse animated DVD sets in another room, but I prefer to keep everything sorted alphabetically wherever possible.
Around eight years ago, I wrote my own little homebrew database app to keep track of all my purchases, and I’m still using that. (I’m also obsessive/compulsive enough to keep a log of every movie I watch… right at three thousand over the course of eight and a half years! Yikes.) So, is all this unhealthy? Probably, but at least I’m organized.
I’ve sorted collections in a number of ways, including one spat where my unwatched titles were sorted by date acquired so that I wouldn’t let movies sit for too long. Currently, I sort my Blu-rays in four distinct areas: Viewed, unwatched, 3D, and “To Do” movies I’d want to review sometime down the line.
My viewed area is alphabetically sorted (with 007s up first, then all other numbered titles, and on to films by the letter), with Criterion titles I’ve seen at the back end, sorted by number. Recently viewed movies are laying down in front of the rest, waiting to be sorted when I get the chance. Any box set or TV show that is fairly thick goes above my numerous bookshelves, so that they don’t hog up all the space (and big boxes like the Mel Brooks set look much better up there).
My unwatched pile is sorted in the same fashion, only in a different section of the room. These have a separate shelf (in a unit that I removed all the shelves from, since Blu-ray case height vs. DVD height allowed me to expand the ones I was using more frequently) for any unseen Criterion titles. Due to their thickness, I’m not a fan of the way Criterions hog up the rest of the space. I have a small shelf for 3D content, sorted under watched and unwatched, with no particular sorting so far beyond that. (My OCD hasn’t kicked in for that particular area yet…) Finally, the “To Do” area is ordered in terms of importance, how much I want to get to that particular title.
I also have boxes where I throw titles I don’t want, or duplicates I get when I make a bulk buy on eBay. Once it gets to a certain point, I unload ’em en masse.
My physical media collection goes a little like this: Most of my regular movies are sorted (alphabetically) by HD and standard DVD. However, I have several sections that are separate and alphabetical within each section. These include: Box sets, TV shows, anime, HD (both Blu-ray and HD DVD), and then all of my DVDs. Of course, my “Check Out” system (those discs I have lent to friends) is in serious need of updating/reimagining. Currently, there are several sticky notes that line one side of the few racks holding my collection. Admittedly, it’s not the most advanced situation.
My entire collection is organized alphabetically inside two rotating media storage towers. I like them because they look slick and don’t take up a whole lot of space. One tower can hold about 550 DVDs (700+ Blu-rays), and each has seven shelves on each of the four sides. Another thing I’ve tried to do is plan ahead by leaving enough space for new titles as I get them. The oversized stuff like ‘Lost: The Complete Series’ and ‘Ben-Hur’ are just kept on top of the towers. All 56 shelves also have simple identifier labels for quick reference. Plus, I keep track of my movies via an Excel spreadsheet. I know that I probably don’t have the greatest set-up, and the sight of DVDs and Blu-rays co-mingling with one another may send those with OCD into convulsions, but the bottom line is that it works for me.
M. Enois Duarte
In a previous blog post, I explained my methodology for sorting media. Except for the special box sets, TV shows and Digibooks, everything is alphabetized in a very neat filing system. I love using DVDProfiler to keep track of what I own. I keep it in sync with my Android phone, so while I’m out shopping I know what I have and don’t accidentally re-buy. I also use the program for separating my discs into genres, just for convenience. Over the summer, I decided to build an HTPC, which allows me to better organize my media, and gives me the freedom to watch any title in my collection with the push of a button. There’s no need to sift through anything, pop discs into the player, or deal with trailers, all the warning junk or a main menu. I’m in the process of writing a future post about my experience building the machine and setting up the best organizing/navigation tool for my collection and my needs.
I have a lot of DVDs and Blu-rays. I also live in a very small 635 square-foot, two bedroom condo, with one room (the former media room) on the brink of becoming a baby room. Since not buying DVDs and Blu-rays is definitely not an option, I’ve finally had to break down and take the majority of my discs out of their dust-collecting plastic cases, and separate them into binders and sleeves. Once I found options that let me keep the artwork together with the discs, I wished I had taken this project on years ago! My DVDs are all organized alphabetically into binders broken down as feature films, TV series, music and concert discs, with separate binders for favorite directors like Woody Allen, Richard Linklater, Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg. Blu-rays are organized alphabetically on a shelf I built along the ceiling in our upstairs hallway. Special collections, Criterion editions, and box sets are kept in their original cases on a separate shelf, but the majority of my Blu-rays are now in DiscSox HiDef Sleeves. What used to take up the better part of a bedroom now fits in a hall closet and a couple of shelves.
My collection is completely organized in a simple alphabetical fashion. A to Z, nothing more. I’ve contemplated pulling out the Disney/Pixar titles or the entire discographies of Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, but always stick to the plain old alphabetized system. That’s too easy for me to consider anything else.
That’s how we do it. How do you organize your movie collection?