While most readers are probably familiar with adding album art to their MP3s and other digital music files, support for doing so for videos files is far less common. But the benefits are hard to refute. Consider the following a visual explanation of why adding album art to video files is desirable.
Exactly. It just looks nice.
Fortunately, adding album art to video files is straightforward and simple, and when you do so, the results will be visible near universally: In the Windows shell, in Apple's products, in the Zune solutions, on the Xbox 360, in Windows Media Player and Media Center and in numerous set top boxes. The only bad news, perhaps, is that you have to use Apple iTunes--the bane of my existence at the moment--to make it work. But that's OK. Even if you don't plan to use iTunes to manage your media collection, you should still install it just for this reason.
Note: Because this requires iTunes, it will only work with those video files that are compatible with iTunes. Right now, this basically means MP4 (*.mp4) and H.264/MP4 (*.mp4 or *.m4v) files. Which is fine, because you're ripping DVDs in H.264 anyway, right? Of course you are.
Here's how to make it work.
First, add the videos you wish to edit to iTunes. There are various ways to do this, but the easiest is to simply drag them into the application. Then, navigate to the Movies view.
Now, using a web browser, visit images.google.com or your favorite search engine and search for \[movie name\] movie poster where "\[movie name\]", of course, is the name of the movie. (You could optionally seek out the DVD box art, but I find the original movie posters to be nicer looking.) Do this for each movie, and download a suitable movie poster to use for the album art.
In iTunes, right-click the first movie and choose Get Info. Then, in the Get Info window, navigate to the Artwork tab. Now you can either drag and drop the appropriate image file into the center of this tab, or click the Add button to navigate to the file using a regular File Open dialog.
From here, you can simply click OK to apply the album art to the video. But you may want to also visit the Info tab and fill out some relevant fields, like Name, Artist, Year, and Genre: This information, too, will stick with the file and work with other applications and devices.
Tip: IMDB is an excellent source for this information.
Obviously, you should repeat this process for each video file. The result, as you can see in the images below, is visible all over: In Zune, in iTunes, and on various devices and set top boxes. If you're going to take the time to rip DVDs, in particular, this is a small but important step to consider as well.
Tip: This works just as well with TV shows of course, though you'll want to search for "\[TV show\] DVD" or similar. There are also other issues around TV shows, but I'll address those in future Digital Media Core articles.