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What we need now is a database of internet movie databases
June 25, 2010 11:49 AM   Subscribe

In the beginning, there was text. The early users of the internet looked upon it and saw that it was good. They used e-mail and also communicated with each other via Usenet, a series of bulletin/discussion boards shared across various networks and the internet. But that was the old way, and open databases are the new way. The best known movie database, IMDB, will turn 20 on October 17, 2010, but for some enthusiasts, it's not detailed enough. Were you wondering exactly what weaponry was shown in that episode of Mail Call? Check the page on IMFDb, a wiki catalog of guns in movies. Having debates over what was said in the Book of Eli? There's a Database for that. Perhaps you're a fan of vespas or Hudsons? The Internet Movie Car Database can satisfy your interests. And don't forget to check the Internet Game Car Database, or the other sites linked from IMCDb, including the database for movie car chases (mentioned previously, twice). Soundtrack Collector, Soundtrack Info, and Sounds Familiar have (you guessed it) information on soundtracks.

Not related to movies: Internet Broadway Database, the official source for Broadway Information. The Internet Theatre Database is a similar site, though in need of maintenance, and may have a sketchy advertisement agreement with an online pharmacy.

Limited sites:
* Car Stars of Film and Television, with web design stuck in the late 1990s
* Movie Posters DB is built by user uploads, but downloads require credits that you get by uploading or paying real money.
* Cinema Poster Archive has a good collection of old posters, but none are very large-scale
* Pick at the details of type choices in movies with Typecasting and Son of Typecasting, covered previously
* Animalographies are a list of biographies of famous animals movies, TV and commercials
* Soundtrack.net has some stories behind soundtracks, for hours of tangential distractions (previously three times)
*

if you're looking for more history, check IMDB's page for the celebration of its 15th anniversary. For more nostalgia, here's the IMDB FAQ from 1997, and a review of IMDB from it's humble beginnings as personal database to keep track of the thousands of movies then 23 year old Col Needham had seen.
posted by filthy light thief (30 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Finding out about IMDB was an "oh, WOW, internet" moment. Also the last time I fought with someone over what movie That Familiar-Looking Guy was from.
posted by sallybrown at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not a call out, but on a day when the internet has made me grumpy (spoiled little brats moaning about the 3% drop in performance of their $300 telephone whilst I watch people outside my office searching through rubbish bins for paper to recycle), this is lovely. I will lose myself for hours in all this. Thank you.
posted by jontyjago at 12:02 PM on June 25, 2010


I must say I'm really surprised that IMDB hasn't gone the way of CDDB (aka GraceNote). User contributed and built, then taken private.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:07 PM on June 25, 2010


I must say I'm really surprised that IMDB hasn't gone the way of CDDB (aka GraceNote). User contributed and built, then taken private.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:07 PM on June 25 [+] [!]


Well, that may have something do with the fact that Amazon bought them - it seems like it would have been a more likely scenario if they had stayed independent and needed to monetize some how.
posted by alaijmw at 12:16 PM on June 25, 2010


In the mid '90s I worked for a company called ExecPC, and, for a brief time, I had the pleasure of sitting within a stone's throw of the machine that IMDB lived on. Most of the people that worked there didn't care, because they weren't film nerds in quite the same way I was, but I always thought it was really cool. Even as rudimentary as it was at the time, it was an awesome utility to have on hand.

Hell, to this day, it's probably one of the sites I visit most (mostly due to my great ability to recognize a face, but have no clue where I last saw it, leading to lots of "Hey, what did we last see him in? Was it a movie? No, I think it was a TV show... damn it, lemme check..."
posted by quin at 12:26 PM on June 25, 2010


If only someone would rescue song lyrics from the hell of shitty websites.
posted by fleacircus at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


LyricWiki isn't bad. It's the one I always try first, and most of the time I come away happy with the interaction.
posted by quin at 12:38 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


fleacircus: Actually, back in the day, there was a good lyrics site, lyrics.ch. It inexplicably got taken down by the music labels (and the operator arrested!), leaving a space which got almost immediately filled by the thousands of spammy/scammy/ugly/inaccurate lyrics sites that exist today. Good going there, guys.
posted by zsazsa at 12:49 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Motobiker.org has a horrible layout, but a fairly comprehensive list of motorcycles in movies and what motorcycle celebrities own.
posted by skynxnex at 12:51 PM on June 25, 2010


Even though I have access to the AFI Catalog at work (their film summaries are really something else!), I still always go first to the IMDB. It's a truly amazing resource and even just the thought that it could go the CDDB route (thankfully very unlikely, as noted above) gives me chills.

I've come across some of those other databases before but it's great to have them all together here like this. Nice post!
posted by estherbester at 12:52 PM on June 25, 2010


I've been thinking, actually, of using an AskMe question to get people's takes on how complete imdb is. It seems like I'm always seeing some character actor I recognize, checking her entry there to see where I might know her from, and the only stuff listed are things I know I haven't seen. And yet I've seen this actor a number of times, though I can't remember where. Makes me curious about it.
posted by not that girl at 12:57 PM on June 25, 2010


Eh, wikipedia has far more detailed information about movies and actors then IMDB at this point. And IMDB is so ad-laden and the UI is terrible.
posted by delmoi at 1:02 PM on June 25, 2010


Also, since I didn't see it listed; epguides.com is a wonderful resource to keeping track of television series.

I particularly like that because the context is so simple (epguides.com/shownamewithnospaces) you can usually guess what the URL is going to be and go straight to the page you are looking for.

So Burn Notice would be epguides.com/burnnotice

Useful if you want to see if you missed an ep of something, or when a show is going to come back with a new season and what the scheduled dates.
posted by quin at 1:07 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking, actually, of using an AskMe question to get people's takes on how complete imdb is. It seems like I'm always seeing some character actor I recognize, checking her entry there to see where I might know her from, and the only stuff listed are things I know I haven't seen. And yet I've seen this actor a number of times, though I can't remember where. Makes me curious about it.

I'm not hard core, but I play the "guess what that person has been in before" game a lot. Running into a case where IMDB is missing a person is so rare that I can't remember the last time it happened, and if it ever did happen, I think it's much more likely that I was wrong.

If you're not talking about some edge case (super-brief cameos, very obscure stuff), and you see someone in the credits for one thing and you think they're in several other things in credit-worthy roles that IMDB is missing, I would bet on IMDB every time.
posted by fleacircus at 1:47 PM on June 25, 2010


Though IMDB might have an awkward layout (and it doesn't scale well on mobile devices), the formatting is always the same. Wikipedia seems too customizable at times, and their uber-safe tactics in regards to picture sources means many people are without even a headshot, let alone a collection from past films and TV shows. Also, wiki plot summaries tend to detail the whole movie, through the twists and ending. IMDB leaves some of it vague. There's a blace for them both, and plenty of room for niche sites.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2010


BAH. Nobody seems able to identify the two motorcycles here:

http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_158360-Tesla-Roadster.html
posted by poe at 1:54 PM on June 25, 2010


Also: The Internet Adult Film Database
posted by mrbill at 2:14 PM on June 25, 2010


ya know that dude who was Taylor Swift's boyfriend in that one video? He was also a cashier in a bad horror movie recently in rotation on cable.

Some of the face familiarity for lesser_knowns might be from music videos and commercials, which IMDB doesn't track.
posted by yesster at 2:17 PM on June 25, 2010


... and if you're looking to spoof movie posters, there are movie fonts, just some of the duplicated "famous" fonts.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:24 PM on June 25, 2010


If you're not talking about some edge case (super-brief cameos, very obscure stuff), and you see someone in the credits for one thing and you think they're in several other things in credit-worthy roles that IMDB is missing, I would bet on IMDB every time.

That's helpful. Though it's more that I know I've seen them in something, but I haven't seen anything imdb says they've been in, than that I think I know where I've seen them. Maybe it is that I've seen them in very small roles. Or maybe they are just constantly reminding me of other actors. I could make a game out of that, trying to identify the 2 or 3 actors I think are the same person.
posted by not that girl at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2010


A post about movie-related databases and no mention of the ultimate resource for content-related content, TV Tropes (which covers TV, movies, books, comics, games and damn near every other medium)? Of course, that may be because you can't click on that link without getting distracted for at least 2 hours (which is why I didn't post this 2 hours ago)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:59 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looking back, it's indescribable how information-poor was the world I grew up in.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:01 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I found remember downloading the IMDB off Usenet back in the day, then having to spend hours getting it just the way I wanted it.

As far as completeness goes, adding Actor/Actress info can be a pain. I remember weeks of arguing with the editors when I tried to get my mother and little sister (who was trying to get an acting career going) added for their roles as extras in That Boat Movie. They got added, then deleted later.

I like them for reference material, and have added some stuff (mainly effects and continuity errors) in the past, but they've definitely got a serious case of Wikipeditis.
posted by Samizdata at 4:25 PM on June 25, 2010


BAH. Nobody seems able to identify the two motorcycles here:
http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_158360-Tesla-Roadster.html


HA! The very first thing I did, after hearing here about IMCDb.org, was to run over and search for Tesla Roadster appearances, and then crosspost it over to a Tesla fan site.

I remember when IMDB was just the newsgroup, and how much more awesome it became when they turned it into a web database.
posted by intermod at 6:49 PM on June 25, 2010


I must say I'm really surprised that IMDB hasn't gone the way of CDDB (aka GraceNote). User contributed and built, then taken private.

Er, what? This happened in 1996. They lost a number of contributors then, and even more following the Amazon acquisition. I eventually got over it. At least access to the data has remained free, but it rankles somewhat that the place remains somewhat opaque. I hate the interface, there's no API, and they force you to, for example, endure the endless (VG) results from searches even when you have no interest in finding out video game credits. Sheesh already.
posted by dhartung at 7:16 PM on June 25, 2010


I recall a point, maybe fifteen years ago, before discovering IMDB when any question of "Where have I seen that actor before?" had to be settled by searches through the fine print listings in the back of Leonard Maltin's guides. Yeah, not that great a situation.

If only someone would rescue song lyrics from the hell of shitty websites.

Or more to the point, tablature. So far as I can tell, there are two steps to setting up a tab website:

1) Get a domain name
2) Copy the entirety of the tabs in every other website.

Thus is anyone in 2010 wants to learn how to play some David Bowie or Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam song, he will find something that some freshman who had been playing guitar for eight months on Usenet posted in 1996 on every goddamned tab site on the planet. No matter how wrong the words or the chords are, they will persist until the end of time now.

Someone once upon a time guessed at a word in the second verse of Neil Young's "For The Turnstiles"-- what Young wrote was:

And all the great explorers
Are now in granite laid
Under white sheets for the great unveiling
At the big parade


Google searches for the phrase "are now in granite laid" bring up a couple hundred hits; searches for "are now in Granite Lake" bring up many thousand results.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:28 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Or more to the point, tablature. So far as I can tell, there are two steps to setting up a tab website:

"1) Get a domain name
"2) Copy the entirety of the tabs in every other website."


There used to be a great tabs site then what ever copyright cartel owns most of them got it shut down. Sad really.
posted by Mitheral at 9:09 PM on June 25, 2010


I've been thinking, actually, of using an AskMe question to get people's takes on how complete imdb is.

I can't speak to actors specifically, which is what you were asking about, but I can provide some insight for films. I keep a personal database of films seen, which currently includes over 900 entries. A lot of these are pretty obscure films (i.e., film-festival release only, didn't even make it to an arthouse circuit) and a lot are short films. One of the reasons I've made my own database for this rather than using IMDB is that there are a few which aren't in IMDB. A very few. Less than ten, at last count. Admittedly, some may skirt the edge of what a "movie" is (if it's initially an internet-based flash animation that gets submitted to a film festival, and accepted, and shown there, is it a movie? I say yes, but I can understand that others might say no), but there's at least a couple that should be there by any reasonable criterion that encompasses other things that are in IMDB, but aren't.

Every now and again—maybe about once a year—I recheck any "not in IMDB" entries in my database, and find that a couple have been added (sometimes several years after the movie's release) since the last time I checked, to IMDB's credit.

Now, I have a question of my own, spurred by the soundtrack database links in the OP (which didn't appear to answer this question). Sometimes, the order of tracks on a movie soundtrack album is not the same as the order the music actually occurs in the movie. The soundtrack album for The Untouchables is one that recently came to my attention. (That the first track is titled "Untouchables (End Title)" is a pretty big clue, but some albums that do this are less obvious.) Anyone know of a resource that reports the order of tracks on soundtrack albums in the order they occur in their films?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:43 AM on June 28, 2010


TheMoviedb.org is used by software like XBMC to scan media files and display meta-data and artwork.
posted by OwlBoy at 12:24 PM on June 29, 2010


DevilsAdvocate, I was going to say that IMDB also covers soundtracks, but as linked, there are only 2 tracks for The Untouchables listed on IMDB. Weird.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:03 AM on June 30, 2010


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