Better artist artwork handling

We are all aware of the large gaps in the artist artwork and all the “top of the head” shots. This request is not about that. It is about what happens when you try to manually fix the problem. It is also not meant to be in anyway prescriptive. I am sure there are a lot of ways of addressing the problems that arise and I do not want to stray into roon GUI and design choices. But the easiest way to explain this is via a concrete use case with suggested solutions.

Mostly this effects solo artists and composers as group/ensemble shots are generally more forgiving. I will use a violin player as a use case. This is roon’s default page for Rachel Kolly d’Alba:

Not very interesting. Roon will build a full page “spread” if you tell it to use something larger than 960 dpi horizontal and an aspect ratio of at least 1: 1.55. The problem is that almost no tight head shots or portrait shots, which is what is mostly available uncopyrighted on the web, really works because it clashes with the text layout:

There are exceptions but mostly the only thing that works is a three/quarter shot portrait with a much more extreme aspect ratio of at least 1: 2.5. Then you can get something like this:

But there are problems also with this approach.

  1. Roon will use this custom artwork elsewhere in its navigation but now the extreme aspect ratio doesn’t work as the image is too far to the left (or right):

  1. Making an image like this requires a lot of faffing about with a photo editor, especially if there is a less plain background. Not really very feasible as roon tells me I have 3,891 artists and almost all the artwork needs editing.
  1. It can also be very difficult to find an image that lends it self to editing this way. Mostly what you find are tight head and shoulder portrait shots so the only thing you can do is something like this:

Personally, I find the text layout doesn’t work in this case and better would be:

These are just considerations and suggestions. The feature request is for a much more joined up and integrated approach to artist artwork handling taking into account all the different aspect ratios roon is using in different parts of it’s GUI and also more flexible artwork/text layout options that reflect the reality of the available public domain non-copyrighted images.

It is a great shame that such an outstanding product as roon in other aspects is so let down by poor artist artwork handling. It just gives roon a very unfinished “beta” feel. This is a common criticism by other members of my household and I don’t really have a very good answer.

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Yeah I’ve never figured out why Roon uses so many different aspect ratios in views of the same types of art. Maybe they should rethink this from a UX standpoint, settle on an image format that works in all views, and design the rest of the experience around that.

#FixTheForeheadProblem

PS - Thanks for walking us through your use case. Wow.

Changing the text layout from center to right could work in some cases. Perhaps if could default to this layout when using vertical images and keeps the center layout when using horizontal images.

I personally find the layout change due to resolution a bigger problem when editing artist images

Macbook pro vs iPad mini:

Yes. We have the same problem. We have roon core on a 43 inch TV but remotes that are regularly used are an iPad and various laptops.

Actually quite fun trying to get some uniformity in the artist layouts. :grinning:

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Very cool. There must be scope for roon to crowdsource much better artwork from the community. Evan after doing dozens of these I feel like I have made no dent at all. 3, 861 to go . . .

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Great work here.
I always want to include an instrument in the picture: a pretty face is not helpful, for newly encountered artists I need to be reminded what this person does.

Any tips or hints?

You can often add a bit of drama if you can find your artists actually doing something. I just do a search on google images. Backgrounds unless they are very plain present a challenge. But I find Paint.net is easy to use and has enough functionality to deal with that. Russian composers seem to work best smoking a fag for some reason.

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Wow, Tony, I feel downright pedestrian :weary:

By the way, “paint.net”? Can you elaborate? U mean the old Mac app Paint?

@John_V. Unfortunately no. I am PC. We have iPad’s at home but I have never used a Mac.

Pro tools like Photoshop can of course do all of this (Mac and PC) but it is expensive and there is a steep learning curve. Paint.net is free, has a short learning curve and has everything you need for roon artwork. Maybe something similar is available for Mac.

https://www.getpaint.net/download.html

In general it is not possible to find an image that can be used “full-page” in roon with no changes. There will be some editing required. Sometimes a lot. This is not the place for an image processing tutorial. The point of the post is that the topic of artist artwork handling in roon needs much more attention and needs to be thought through. I see two main issues.

  1. Sharing artwork. I have almost 4,000 artists. I cannot find an image, process it and upload it in much less than about 15 minutes. Doing this nine to five, 5 days a week is about 6 man months. There must be a way of sharing art work. Maybe if we could upload them somewhere roon could provide a selection option from the artist screen.

  2. Roon uses these images in all sorts of places in its navigation. The problem is that roon is also using a variety of aspect ratios. What this means is that a carefully processed off-center full-page image which works well on the performer page doesn’t work well on the tiles of the artist page. In that case “centered” images work better. For roon to have a slicker, more finished look it needs to be able to use the same image, centered, or left or right off-centered depending on context.

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In general, crop very tight to the top of the head. Sometmes this is enough to fix existing roon artwork. You can also jazz things up with sepia effects, old and new:

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Tony, your results are very impressive, as are those of stevev1 - I hope that you both might begin a thread setting out a tutorial to help the rest of us to improve our collections…

Tony… very nice work there. Wow nice job!

Steve you too. It would be so cool if punters like me could just click on something in Roon and pick the work of talented folks like you to be the art we see.

I would really like it if Roon engineers concentrated on audio and opening metadata including art to the community.

Anyway you guys are brilliant!

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I can certainly look at making a simple tutorial. Maybe a youtube. It’s easier than it looks with the right tools following a few simple rules.

But my real point is that each of us working alone will never be able to solve this problem. Maybe there are millions of artists when streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz are taken into account. So some kind of crowd sourcing solution like @pscreed mentions is the only practical solution. That could be done from the artist editing page which could be extended to present crowd sourced art-work options. A bit like the album editing page gives album cover options. I’m not sure how copyright issues need to be taken into account.

A more subtle issue is that there is very little consistency in the aspect ratios roon is using for artist art in various parts of it’s navigation. For example, the “tiles” on the artist page use an aspect ratio of 1: 1.8. But when you link to the performer page, the full page spread is using a much more extreme aspect ratio of 1: 2.7. Combined with the text layout, what this means in practice is that relatively low resolution, centered images on the artist page just don’t work on the performer page, and vice-versa. That requires much higher resolution images with a much more extreme aspect ratio and also off-centered. Usually left or right off-centered for solo images but vertical off-centered for group images.

Working through the consequences of both these points would benefit from attention by roon it seems to me.

Brian alludes to the crowdsourcing approach as related to artwork in this recent post:

As you say, copyright issues immediately arise if a crowdsourcing solution were to be available. Which is why, until something better comes along, I’m happy to flesh out the artist images just in my own library. And so a list of some very simple guidelines concerning aspect ratios and resolutions would be useful to help me achieve good results.

Just in case it benefits others who may be trying to do the same thing.

In general, group shots need a different treatment to solo shots. This is a typical default roon group shot:

This is a nice group shot but it will not benefit from left or right off-centering. What is wrong with it is it needs to be off centered vertically. Most group shots benefit that way like this. Again the same general rule applys of cropping as tight as you can to the top of the head.

It works also with the generally more conservative classical artwork. This is roon’s default for the Choir of Queen’s College, Oxford:

The availability of artwork means that it is not possible to make an exciting image every time. But there are two things wrong with this. One is the clash with the text but the other thing is that if you are interested in Choral music the most important thing about the Queen’s College choir is that it is mixed gender. It gives a completely different color to the Choral and Sacred repertoire and you just cannot see that from this image. However, if you off-center vertically and crop very tight to the head the ladies get a look in:

Mostly, the massed portrait shots of 100 strong orchestras and choirs that roon often default’s to don’t really work. It doesn’t work everytime but usually more tightly cropped action shots work better. This is roon’s default for the Wiener Philharmoniker:

It is easily replaced with something much more interesting that requires almost no image editing:

One final tip. In most cases, solo artists work best off-centered to the right or left. But that can be a lot of work with an image editor because most images on the web are centered. However “larger” solo artists work a bit like group shots. Vertically off-centered images of these artists can usually be easily found on the web and they require no editing:

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This is something that always puzzled me. Isn’t it the same issue with existing roon sourced artwork? Not just artists but album art as well?

It is simple enough to pull together some image editing guidelines. There is a lot already in this thread. There is not much more to know. The hardest thing is using an image editor for those not used to it. It’s one of those things that is easier to demonstrate than to write.

I doubt it is the same. Roon Labs will have cleared copyright for the stuff they include. The issue with crowdsourcing is that gawd knows where the material is culled from, and the question of copyright clearance immediately arises.

It would be good to get the guidance into one post, and then I can turn it into a KB entry. Frankly, I wouldn’t bother about pulling together a tutorial for an image editor because a) they must already exist out there and b) there’s a scad of image editors as well.