Easing The Pain - Documentaries



After giving up on Plex and the sad state of Documentary support - that many users find an integral part of their libraries - I started to add them as they come in from my local PBS station.

TMDB is the most logical choice for the database, for the most part. TVDB may have them buried so deep in other lists or categories if you do manage to find a listing to match against the result bears no real resemblance to the material contained therein.

Anyway, Goggle and a free image manipulation program called Gimp: https://www.gimp.org/ are the only real tools you need to pursue this new ‘hobby’. A couple of brief tutorials from YT and an hour or two in practice with the workings of Gimp have produced some fairly decent posters - this entry and poster being the most recent and most polished so far:

TMDB requires poster sizes that will be difficult to come with on straight google searches, but google image searches most times will come up with a pretty good image - preferably much larger than the 1000x1500 pixel poster image that is at the top of the food-chain at TMDB.

In a nutshell, the trick is to create a new image in Gimp that is 1000x1500 - the poster size you want to end up with - then google up a suitable background image that will allow you to ‘punch a 1000x1500 hole into’. Load this larger image as a layer, select the ‘move’ tool and scoot your poster around on the background until you find your happy place. My Happy Place does NOT have Melissa Etheridge in it (that is one Angry Woman), but the image was a good one and was large enough and dark enough to ‘lead’ her nose to create an area to hold the white text that could be large enough to be read from across the room.

Here’s the background image:

Here’s the final poster:

Gimp has some powerful ‘Drop Shadow’ abilities and that set the bit of text that would have gotten lost in her pants (there’s a thought I’ll bet you never imagined) apart from the background image making the text stand out just as it should. I think I spent 5 minutes from start to finish on this image and roughly the same amount of time creating the listing at TMDB and googling up the various materials.

MCEBuddy is almost done with the recording conversion and there’s a brand new entry for him to match against when he sticks it in my library.

All in all, not too painful and a great way to spend Saturday morning with a few cups of Joe.


I've been using the Gimp for years - it's a fantastic program. I do almost exactly the same thing for those tough to find movies, and sometimes when I don't like the available posters and backgrounds available by default. Also for home movies, so I can have posters and backgrounds. Have never bothered with the extra work to contribute to TMDB, but might consider that option sometime.

Tip: Use the cropping tool (looks like an xacto knife), and under the tool options for that tool, select "Fixed Aspect" and set it to 2:3 for posters and 16:9 for backgrounds. You can drag the crop area around the image and just click to crop instantly to perfect aspect. Resize as needed after that.


Ah... good tip.

I've had Gimp for a few years, but never really used it for anything. I got it when I downloaded Blender years ago. As a yougin' I once worked as a graphic designer/production manager/chief editor (cook and bottle washer) for an industrial video company using Video Toaster by Realtek and had need to design a logo for our Gaming Group so I picked up a few things, but as it turned out Blender was the only thing I needed.

I quickly found out I needed a LOT more than MS Paint for poster creation so decided to acquire some skills with Gimp as it seemed to be more capable. Much more as it turns out.

Once you do a few at TMDB it's rewarding not to have to hand edit your unknown documentaries, but apparently there's some lag time between posting the poster and the time Plex can actually download it - and you know... I'm not a bit surprised by that discovery. I'm finding out that many avenues traveled with Plex are fraught with pain and suffering and I guess this is just one of those tiresome, painful thoroughfares.

You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?



@JuiceWSA My theory is that Plex uses caching servers to handle all the Plex traffic to the info sites (tvdb,...) thus decreasing the barrage of traffic to these sites, thus avoiding the wrath of the site owners. As such, delays from adding content to themoviedb til when our plex servers see it are expected. Again, my theory based upon observation.


I am not opposed to that notion, or find any flaws in it except for the fact that the text descriptions show up immediately, but that clearly visible poster seems to be stuck in some warp of space-time. I did pull the image up in a new tab at TMDB, copy it’s URL (from TMDB) and pasted it into the poster area of an item edit, but that kinda defeats my original idea that having a listing would ease the painful itch and swelling associated with trying to use Documentaries within Plex.

I know Plex hasn’t really thought this through - or they have and just don’t care - but typically people that are adding documentaries to their libraries are adding them about an hour after they air. If it takes 2 weeks for all the materials to come together some people may have already watched and deleted that item - like 1 week and 6 days ago.

It’s way easier to just create a poster and name it: Hitmakers The Changing Face of the Music Industry (2014).jpg, plop it down right next to the video file of the same name, grab the description from somewhere and make a quick edit, but I was thinking it would be great if I did this not only for myself, but for the community as a whole…

Just practicing my Gimp skills…