What is the Album Art format used by iTunes?

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nobius

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Does anyone know what format apple is storing the art data when you add art via iTunes?

I've added album art to several of my mp3s via iTunes' "drag-n-drop art" feature and I really like it......BUT

The art shows up perfectly in iTunes, but it seems that other applications cannot read/find the same album art from the files.

I've tried MusicMatch 8's browse by album cover feature, and none of the files that I have added art with iTunes show a real picture. MM8 shows a opaque square where the art should be. And it is not the same as if there is no art at all, because MM8 displays something different when there is no art at all.

I've also used Tag-n-Rename and it shows that the mp3s have album art, but it can't display it.

:mad:And to make matters more weird, for files with art that both MM8 and TnR CAN read (art that was not added with iTunes) , so can iTunes. So it seems that Apple has built incompatibilies into the way the art info is stored via iTunes.

Any suggestsions as to where to go from here would be greatly appreciated.


GEEK/TECH INFO:
============================
http://sourceforge.net/projects/javamusictag/

I also used this SF project to attempt to look at the individual frames in the ID3 tag. The project is a set of Java classes that represent an M3File and its tags (ID31, ID3v2_*). I didn't see the "APIC" (ie attached picture) frame, nor did I see any other frames that appeared to contain any image data.

I find this especially weird since both MM8 and TnR both can see that art data is available, they just can't read/use it. This would lead me to believe that the data is being stored in the "APIC" or similar frame, but I don't see any of those when the tag is parsed by the java classes.

As last attempt, I've opened the file in a hex editor and can see the other tag frames (artist/TPE1, title/TIT2, album/TALB, etc...) and don't see the APIC frame.
 
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HiRez

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nobius said:
The art shows up perfectly in iTunes, but it seems that other applications cannot read/find the same album art from the files
It's because iTunes embeds the images directly into the file, whereas most other apps reference to an external file, so they aren't even looking for the image where it is. I do believe it may be using JPG and recompressing images as you drag and drop them, because the images are of poorer quality that the original scans I dragged in. For some reason iTunes also upsizes the images by something like 33% when it displays them in a separate window (I save all mine as 320x320 @ 72 dpi from Photoshop).
 

nobius

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I understand that iTunes stores the art data in the file, this is what I was expecting. But so does MM8 and TnR. These 2 apps can both read art data set by each other, and iTunes can read data set by them. However, they cannot read the art data set by iTunes.
 

nobius

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Hmmmmmmmmm.

Okay....After testing a few more files, I've found that TnR can read the album art for some of the files done via iTunes; however, MM8 cannot read any of them.


GEEK/TECH
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Viewing these files with in hex, I can see the APIC frame. But this still doesn't explain how iTunes is doing it for files without the the APIC frame.
 

MOCKBA

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iTunes stores art work in the same format as you drop. Information about image format added as MIME code in ID3 V2 header. By default iTunes uses obsolete ID3 v2.00 format (no APIC frame but PIC http://www.id3.org/id3v2-00.txt, in this case some programs won't show the picture correctly, although everything is present. In this case I'd recommend to use Convert ID3 tag... option of iTunes.
 
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nobius

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MOCKBA said:
By default iTunes uses obsolete ID3 v2.00 format (no APIC frame but PIC http://www.id3.org/id3v2-00.txt...
I'm not so sure.

I scanned a few files for the "PIC" frame you mentioned and referenced in the spec. I didn't find it.

Still curious, I made a copy of a file without any art info. Then I used my diff tool, to compare the 2 files. Indentical, as they should have been because I did a file copy, then a diff.
Next, I added album art via iTunes drag-n-drop. I did the diff again, still no differences......

Now I'm quite confused.

Anymore tips/suggestions would be appreciated.
 

nobius

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Okay....things are really weird.

I'm going to have to start all my tests over again, but here is what I've found in the meantime.

The files I mentioned earlier that I updated via iTunes drag-n-drop and didn't have the "PIC" or "APIC" frames, got whacked out or something.

I shut iTunes down, and re-opened it, only to find that those files were no longer even in my library. Nor did they seem to have album art anymore. So I re-added them to the library, and then re-added the art, and I was able to see the "APIC" frame when I opened the file in a hex editor.

I think the SF project I mentioned above, must have a bug in it recognizing/retrieving the APIC frame. I will post the info from my new tests soon.
 

Mxlplk

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Serious Art File Problems!

:(

Okay, I am experiencing the same problems. I also use Tag N Rename. I have been dragging in album covers (some better options to Amazon are buy.com and walmart. Bigger/clearer pictures!) in iTunes and they look great, but when I open TNR, they are not there.

Someone said to convert them to a different ID3 Tag, but which one? iTunes lists a bunch. Will it still be read in iTunes, but now be "better" cause more tagging software (TNR) can read them?

Any help would really be appreciated.

Mxlplk
 

Mxlplk

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They seem good, but buy.com/wal;mart both have large sized pics, which is what is appealing about those sites.

Still having trouble with the art file showing up in TNR! Anyone?
 

nobius

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Re: Serious Art File Problems!

Mxlplk said:
:(

Someone said to convert them to a different ID3 Tag, but which one? iTunes lists a bunch. Will it still be read in iTunes, but now be "better" cause more tagging software (TNR) can read them?

Mxlplk

I'm not sure which format, I tried 2 of them I think (don't remember which), and neither of the 2 I tried seemed to make a difference. My original tests began giving me some mixed results. I will be doing some new tests again this weekend. I'll get back with the results.
 

MOCKBA

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Again, tag software doesn't do any format conversion, so if you have file in JPEG, it will be stored in JPEG, if GIF, then GIF. ID3 tags are a bit smarter because they can store not only a picture, but MIME type and picture type, like cover, icon, and so on. AAC uses dumb tag which just stores picture in JPEG without additional information. If you are interested in more details, then I can give you hex dump fragments demonstrating what I said.
 

Mxlplk

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Yes, then, please give me more info.

Here is what I have.

1. Tang & Rename. This software lets me tag files. Easy enough.

2. iTunes. I can tag here as well, plus drag in CD covers.

Now, when I add CD art in iTunes, 99% of the time, Tag & Rename can NOT read them. BUT, when I add CD covers via T&R, iTunes CAN read it.

So, it appears that my only option is to add the CD covers via T&R unless anyone can help me or explain otherwise. Not a big deal, but I liked how I could almost not use T&R (which is still a great program) anymore and only use iTunes.

The long and the short of it is, it is quite dissapointing that any CD covers I drag into iTunes won't be read unless it is in iTunes. That is extremely weak. Yet, if I alter any info (ie. Artist, Year etc.) it IS readable by T&R. The main hiccup seems to be the CD covers.

I also realize this is a petty thing to be upset about, but I have a large music file (120G) and have gotten rid of virtually all of my CDs. Having the cover art re-connects me back to the tangible days of holding a record or CD. I really like having cover art on my files actually.

Anyway, thanks for any help here, you are all great.

Mxlplk
 

stark23x

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I'm not sure if people understand the question being asked...

There is a standard to saving album art inside a file, but iTunes isn't using it. I wondered the same thing, because I have a little piece of software that adds an ID3 tab in the file properties dialog...it can't read them. MMJB doesn't read them, TnR isn't finding them...very odd.
 

stark23x

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MOCKBA said:
Why do you think that iTunes doesn't use the standard? [/url]
Well...admittedly I haven't tried them all, but so far the only two I have found that read the album art iTunes embeds are iTunes and T&R.

Maybe I have it backwards, and those two are the ones sticking to whatever ID3 standard governs these things...could that be it?
 

MOCKBA

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Have you tried Windows Media Player? It has a very good tag editor with a lot of extra fields not supported by others. I found that iTunes shows an art inserted in Windows Media Player fine. However, iTunes not capable to show an art comment and type. I think it because AAC art doesn't keep this information. Since two programs of such famous companies (Apple & Microsoft) can read pictures I conclude conclude that T&R has a bug or not following standards.
 

nobius

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stark23x said:
....I wondered the same thing, because I have a little piece of software that adds an ID3 tab in the file properties dialog...
What is this software/plugin if I might ask?

Originally posted by MOCKBA
I'd recommend to read the article. http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/3130
Great article, thanks! Should prove to be very useful. Especially the bit about iTunes converting GIFs to PNGs. That probably saved me a few hours of testing.

With the weekend at hand, I should be able to get through my own new tests with iTunes, MMJ8, TnR, hex editor, and a mp3/id3tag java library.


Keep you guys posted. :cool:
 
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