Vinyl Album Recognition Project – Post 1

Vinyl Album Recognition Project for Bovik’s Image and Video Processing Class: Spring 2010

Post by Kevin Kozak

Mark Hoover (friend, lab partner) and I met on Thursday to discus our Plan of Attack for this image and video processing project.  To sum up our project, we are going to create software that matches a cell phone picture of a vinyl album to a database.  Once the album has been identified, information about the record is displayed and audio samples can be played.  The project contains the software algorithm, the user interface, and the database to contain the album info.  Our main focus for this semester is the software algorithm, especially since that what the grade will depend on.  The mobile app I mentioned in a previous post will come later.  For now, let’s make it work.

This weeks goal was to take some sample pictures of select vinyls to being implementing the software algorithm.  Our first task is to get the picture into a working form.  Once the picture has been taken, the background has to be removed, the picture rotated to be perfectly straight, undo any skew, transform into grayscale, deblurr if needed, and perform brightness/contrast adjustments.

Below are the 11 albums that I selected to test the software with.  Mark will be taking pictures of his own.  Then, we will try different cameras on different albums to see if that has any effect.

Picture 1: Stevie Wonder – Innervisions.  This album was intentionally left inside the clear plastic jacket to see if that affects our algorithm.  The user should not have to remove the jacket to take the picture.  You will also notice the price tag is still on it–classy, I know.  In a record store setting, it is not feasible to remove the price tag so the software needs to account for that too.

Picture 2: Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage.  This picture was taken with skew.  This album was chosen because a.) its cool b.) its Zappa c.) still in plastic jacket d.) has price tag e.) I want to see how the software performs the black and white thresholding given the level of detail with the black oil on his face.

Picture 3: Jimmy Buffett – Volcano.  This picture was intentionally rotated to see if the software can figure it out.  This album was chosen because its bright.  Really bright.  I’d like to see how the software handles the color.  This album makes me want to go to Florida really bad.  Summer yet?

Picture 4: Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Golden Records.  This album was chosen because he’s the king and because there is some writing on it that was not part of the album art.  This record belonged to my grandfather, and true to form, grandpa Jake wrote his name on everything he owned. Also, Elvis Presley wrote his name on here with a blue pen.  Silly Elvis.

Picture 5: Cream – Wheels of Fire.  I chose this album because it was shiny.  While shiny object frequently distract me, I wonder if the shininess will distract the software.  I got this record from my dad and I can most certainly tell he listened the hell out of it.  The front is worn pretty good.  We shall see what effect that has on the software.

Picture 6: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country.  This album is a great example of the “what the f*** is this album?” response I’ve had in the past while record shopping.  They were so innovative they forgot to put their name on the front!  They did put their name on the back, but how can they expect me to turn it over.  I’d rather image search it!  This album cover is interesting because of how blurry the image is.  Notice the wear and tear on this one in the shape of the record.  Performing edge detection or template matching will be very tricky for this record.

Picture 7: John Denver – John Denver’s Greatest Hits.  I chose this record because it has “Not for Sale: For Promotional Use Only” impressed on the upper right corner and the plastic cover is starting to tear and warp along the right edge.  Also its an awesome picture of John Denver.

Picture 8: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (or the 4 symbols Zoso.svg that appear on the record).  I chose this record because the album name appears nowhere on this record, inside or out.  The band name only appears on the record itself and the record sleeve.  The album cover is interesting because the main picture is very old looking and grainy.  The background to that picture is fairly detailed but low contrast.  This album could be challenging to template match.
Picture 9: The King Bees – The King Bees.  I chose this album because it was very high contrast.  It should be fairly easy to perform template matching or edge detection.  There’s also a little bit of dirt of something smudged on it.  The red and yellow overlays might make things interesting though.  We shall see.  I bought this record somewhat recently because I thought the cover art was cool, but its also a bad ass rock ‘n roll album.

Picture 10: The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  I chose this picture because it has a lot of detail, especially with the color.  My mom loves the Beatles and I’m sure she would approve choosing a Beatle’s album.

Picture 11: Billy Joel – The Stranger.  I picked this album because its already in grayscale.  I don’t really know what happens when you take a color picture of a grayscale image and the transform it into grayscale.  There is a little wear and tear along the top that the software needs to overcome.

Next step: handle skew, rotation, noise, deblurr, transform into grayscale, and research how template matching works.

Image and video processing project

Another project, woopee!  In addition to senior design, I also get to do a project for my image and video processing class with Prof. Al Bovik.  He’s kind of a big deal; he wrote the books.  http://live.ece.utexas.edu/people/bovik/  Can I mention he looks like Frank Zappa?  I asked him if he liked Frank Zappa after class on Wednesday.  He pretty much said “yeah you shoulda seen me with hair!”  Good stuff, he’ll like this project then.

I propose (with the help of friend, team mate, lab partner Mark Hoover) to create an iPhone app that allows the user to take a picture of an album cover (vinyl) and search an online database.  Once the program has found a match, the album information is displayed and listening samples are available to the user.  The image processing involved with this project entails creating an efficient search algorithm and overcoming “bad data” (such as worn record, bad lighting, skew, rotation).

An app like this would be incredibly useful while perusing a record store or garage sale.  Nearly all record stores (not thrift stores though) have record players available for you to preview a record before you buy it.  They usually have 1, maybe 2 record players, usually being hogged by some annoying audiophile listening to the entire record to make sure it isn’t scratched.  Waiting for an open record player can take a while, especially if the store is busy.  Playing every interesting looking record would take forever!  (Then you’d be that annoying person hogging the record player).  So why not get a quick mp3 sample online before you commit to walking over to the record player and listening?  This would promote more impulsive vinyl purchases since more records are given a preview.  Garage sales and thrift stores won’t even have a record player available.  The online database could also note the rarity of the record, suggested price, liner notes, and interesting facts about the record.  That’s all the info you would need to make a knowledgeable purchase.

To my understanding, this exact application has not been done.  There currently exists an app that allows you to take a picture of the bar code of a book and the program searches for the cheapest book from various locations.  There’s also a similar one for other goods.  Of course, there’s Shazam [http://www.shazam.com/] that searches for what song you are listening to.

I know this is a good idea for a useful iPhone app and I don’t care if the idea is secret or not.  I’m sure someone out there is working on the same idea, hoping to make some money off it.  I am going to make this project regardless of someone else doing it too.  If this app works when its done, I would make it available for download on the iTunes store for free.  Surely, if there is money to be made on this project, it would be on the online database end, perhaps something with advertisements or the music licensing.  If such a product worked, surely a record store would want to invest in it.  It could help increase their sales!

I have always wanted to make an iPhone app.  It wouldn’t even have to be a useful app, I just want to make one and put it on my iTouch thingy.  Fortunately, this project would allow this app to be potentially useful.