Valence Art Director in Roon

The latest Roon release talks about Art Director as a way of fixing up artist photos in Roon, and I’d like to expand on that. We’ve been testing this internally for a while now, and a small number of you (a few hundred) have already been using Art Director as well. I wrote this post for those early users, but I’d like to share this with you all now that this stuff is out the door for all to use.


Getting high-quality (and highly accurate) photographs of artists has been a challenge for everyone. Even the major music services (with considerably more resources than Roon) struggle with this problem.

Over the years, we’ve continually improved the artist photos in Roon, both by licensing new data sources and by implementing image analysis. Facial recognition in particular has improved the way artists are presented, but it hasn’t been a comprehensive solution and in fact, we’ve found that it doesn’t help at all on a certain class of photos. For example, facial recognition algorithms are notoriously biased when it comes to skin color and gender, and are rarely effective when dealing with group photos.

As part of our Valence development, we’ve built a tool called Art Director that lets our team manually adjust photos, but we just can’t produce enough data fast enough. We’re a small team and there are many artists.

Rather than attempt the impossible, we settled on a different approach: we improved Art Director and made it suitable for use by a wider audience. Now, we’re releasing it to the Roon community, so everyone can help make perfect artist images a reality. Not only will this effort improve artist images in Roon, but it will provide our machine learning algorithms with valuable training data for improving images automatically in the future.

Some Roon users have complained that circular photos are the problem, but that’s not quite right. It’s true that they’re not great when you have a row of performers lined up for a band photo, but square is equally bad in those cases. Going “square” creates additional problems in UI design, where artists and albums look too similar when presented together.

To solve the difficult circular cases, we’ve gone back to a concept that we’ve always wanted anyway: the logo. Artist logos can be used as the “avatar” of the artist – the circular image. Circular avatars are now distinct from the large rectangular “banner” images shown at the top of artist pages. For example, the London Symphony Orchestra has a beautiful and unique logo; a wide-angle photo of the LSO on stage just looks like any other orchestra. The same goes for many bands; would you rather see the 4 to 6 members of The Rolling Stones in a small circle or their “Hot Lips” logo?

Once we start gathering contributions at scale, another positive side effect of this project is that we will be able to show multiple great images of each artist in Roon.

After updating your Roon Core and Remotes, you will find it can take up to 3-4 days for our content delivery network (CDN) to update its caches and make Art Director’s “adjusted photos” available in Roon. If no adjustments exist, you’ll continue to see the older data that is quite “dumb”. Feel free to improve them for everyone!

Please try to spend some time on this and let us know about any confusion, bugs, or any general commentary you may have. Also, let us know if you find it engaging and fun, or frustrating and confusing, or something in between.

You can find this at https://valence.roonlabs.com, where we will place more of these types of tools in the future. You will need to log in with your licensed (non-trial) Roon account.

Thank you and we looking forward to hearing your feedback.

26 Likes
A database of artists' pictures
Missing Artist Photos [resolution: use Art Director]
When will Roon improve the centering of photos in the artist circles? [resolved: use Art Director]
Old and wrong artist photo displaying [resolved, also can use Art Director]
Where are the profile photos of the artists coming from? [resolved: Art Director]
How can I add a photo to an artist who doesn't have one in Roon? [ANSWERED]
Artist photo for Arne Domnérus is a photo of Georg Riedel [resolution: use Art Director]
Artist Photo Tag To Enable Use of Artist Photos Tagged by the Community
Roon 1.8 (Build 880) is Live!
Missing artist thumbnails
Artist appearing together on an album, not a compilation
Banner Photo in Display Zone - This looks cheap
Artist displaying while playing music is not consistent?
Is it just me or is there usually some problem going on with Roon at any given time?
GIFs in Art Director
Apple TV Extension - Roon TV Remote
Roon 1.8 (Build 880) Feedback Thread
Wrong photo of famous artist? How do I correct it?
Add ability to change main photo of an artist [Resolved]
Artist view, some have photos, some do not [resolved: use Art Director]
Wrong artist photo for Rockwell [resolved: use Art Director to fix]
Significantly more Artist photos [resolution: Art Director]
Feature: fill 100% of artist photos, basic learning on images [done with Art Director]
Artist photos cut in half? [resolution: use Art Director]
Missing artist photos? [resolution: add them using Art Director]
Cropped Artist Photo on Display Zone [resolution: use Art Director]

A post was split to a new topic: Discussion on the ownership of uploaded photos

There needs to be a “this is bad quality” reason to downvote / prune a picture. That you’re harping about AI bias while using source material in the 200 and 300 pixel single dimension range seems quite odd.

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You should not favorite low-resolution photos. Just because an image is “adjusted” does not mean it will be selected for use in Roon. That only happens when enough users “favorite” the image.

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Please enable downvoting bad stuff. Because you’re previewing in lo-res, how crappy it looks in the end doesn’t necessarily shine through, so you’d conceivably get people upvoting ok-looking thumbnail-sized files that look like crap once they’re in actual use.

Here’s a practical example, and actually a good case in point where mechanical turking the problem is the right way to go at it.

My guess would be that the original picture was extrapolated way beyond what it should’ve been, and then compressed within an inch of its life by some idiot before it was picked up by Roon, so this isn’t a case of something that could have easily have been caught by just saying “don’t use stuff that’s below n pixels high for banners”. The thumbnail actually looks pretty good, but in-app, it looks dreadful. So this, to me, would be a case where people need to be able to proactively downvote on IQ grounds.

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Let’s see how it goes with the positive-only votes before I start complicating the mechanisms. Out of the images that already exist, we are already 20% done with nearly 100,000 adjustments. This is a living breathing project that will get better with feedback over time.

In a couple of weeks, I’m pretty sure I’m going to add some more shapes as well so we can optimize the mobile experience.

8 Likes

I’m looking in the art director tool. and i think it’s a good direction.
one problem is that now it’s still experimental… and you cannot really see the final result…

so, my opinion:

  1. you can fix the position… if the 2 choices (circle and banner) work for all possible displays (monitor, smartphone, tablet) then: perfect!
  2. i don’t see why limit to only ONE picture. i mean… i’d like to see one main picture that I choose/prefer, but also (clicking on the image) see a gallery of the “approved” pictures in valence. maybe it’s going to work that way? so, i think the selection should be more subtle (the favourite ONE, and among those approved i should be able to remove some i don’t like and don’t want to see in the gallery…)
  3. you can upload pictures. FINALLY. here there are 2 alternatives: in the past you could upload your own pictures… but that does not work, as there are TOO MANY artists. so i like the other approach, that we can share the custom pictures. i understand the copy problems… but at the same time the pictures one can upload are already there in the internet…

anyway, whatever it’s going to work, i’m glad that the problem has been addressed…

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10 posts were merged into an existing topic: Discussion on the ownership of uploaded photos

We will be introducing more “shapes” later. 4:3 is coming in a couple of weeks, to help with mobile.

It is. We will grab the top N images and show them all in Roon.

Yah, me too. I’m shocked at how fast you all are. Everyone has already gone through multiple % of the artists in less than 6 hours after release. This whole timing is going to feel so great in just a couple of weeks.

We have two users that have single handedly done monumental work in beta. One has changed heavy metal artists completely, and the other just transformed how Russian and Ukrainian pop artists are represented in Roon.

I’m so excited about the other crowd sourced project under the Valence umbrella: Quantum Timelines. I’ll write about it early next year.

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well … very good.
i think that most of the people already had hundreds of pictures used in roon. i have a folder containing thousands. but uploading requires time, and in this period i don’t have much…
besides, it would be useful to see the final result… so i think i’ll wait for the official release before spending time in this task.

Valence Art Director was officially released today. Future improvements of the tool are more likely if many of us make good use of it and give feedback.

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So I had a quick play with 808 state and set an image I like and submitted it. It does not change my 808 state picture. Is the hope here I do this work and one day you may send it to my roon?

Presumably you’ll reduce the cost of roon with all this free help? (or better still at the very least then fix my image to the one I set!)

@Danny Please make logos a different category in the avatar section, so I can choose to ignore the logos as an avatar. At the moment my artists avatars are a mix of artist (people) and logos as I can’t filter the avatar photo with the artist (people) from the logos.

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4 posts were split to a new topic: GIFs in Art Director

It does not appear to even fix them for the roon base, changes you make are not reflected in your library. This is a bizarre ‘feature.’

As I am typically a listener of more obscure artists without accompanying photos in Roon this is really cool.

However… (:slight_smile:) asking me to approve images in Art Director for artists I don’t know is strange to me. How do I know if the image is the artist I am being asked to approve? Feels a bit like Captcha. :sunglasses:

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Also I accidentally made an image ‘bad for roon’ and there is no way to reverse it. I see no purpose to this thing, you could have just allowed these simple editing tools for our database images and that would be progress. At this stage we are just data inputters for roon.

It can take up to 3-4 days for caches to refresh.

It’s ok, someone else will fix it.

It’s ok, no one is forcing you to use it.

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No one is asking you to approve anything. We are asking you to adjust faces and stuff. It’s to tap into that human ability we all have from birth to be able to recognize faces.

We also ask you to “favorite” a photo from a set of photos. You don’t need to know the artist to just pick the best photo.

There is a lot of theory about crowd sourcing and the wisdom that can be extracted from these efforts. You can’t really mess up, the system is designed to prevent that. If you are malicious, we will take steps to undo that “work”. It’s also one reason we require a paid subscription to participate.

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8 posts were merged into an existing topic: Discussion on the ownership of uploaded photos