Date: October 22 - 26, 2018
Place: Seoul (Republic of Korea)
General Chairs: Susanne Boll, Kyoung Mu Lee, Jiebo Luo, Wenwu Zhu
Author/Reporter: Ana García del Molino (BIGO Technology & Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Seoul, what a beautiful place to host the premier conference on multimedia! Living in never-ending summer Singapore, I fell in love with the autumn colours of this city. The 26th edition of the ACM International Conference on Multimedia was held on October 22-26 of 2018 at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul, South Korea. It packed a full program including a very diverse range of workshops and tutorials, oral and poster presentations, art exhibits, interactive demos, competitions, industrial booths, and plenty of networking opportunities.
For me, this edition was a special one. About to graduate, with my thesis half written, I was presenting two papers. So of course, I was both nervous and excited. I had to fly to Seoul a few days ahead just to prepare myself! I was so motivated, I somehow managed to get myself a Best Social Media Reporter Award (who would have said… Me! A reporter!).
So, enough with the intro. Let’s get to the juice. What happened in Seoul between the 22nd and 26th of October 2018?
The first and last day of the conference were dedicated to Workshops and Tutorials. Those were a mix between Deep Learning themed and social applications of multimedia. The sessions included tutorials like “Interactive Video Search: Where is the User in the Age of Deep Learning?” that discussed the importance of the user in the collection of datasets, evaluation, and also interactive search, as opposed to using deep learning to solve challenges with big labelled datasets. In “Deep Learning Interpretation” Jitao Sang presented the main multimedia problems that can’t be addressed using deep learning. On the other hand, new and important trends related to social media (analysis of information diffusion and contagion, user activities and networking, prediction of real-world events, etc) were discussed in the tutorial “Social and Political Event Analysis using Rich Media”. The workshops were mainly user-centred, with special interest in affective computing and emotion analysis and use for multimedia (EE-USAD, ASMMC – MMAC 2018, AVEC 2018).
The conference kick-started with a wonderful keynote by Marianna Obrist. With “Don’t just Look – Smell, Taste, and Feel the Interaction” she showed us how to bring art into 4D by using technology, driving us through a full sensory experience that let us see, hear, and almost touch and smell. Ernest Edmonds also delved into how to mix art and multimedia in “What has art got to do with it?” but this time the other way around: what can multimedia research learn from the artists? Three industry speakers completed the keynote program. Xian-Sheng Hua from Alibaba Group shared their efforts towards visual Intelligence in “Challenges and Practices of Large-Scale Visual Intelligence in the Real-World”. Gary Geunbae Lee shared Samsung’s AI user experience strategy in “Living with Artificial Intelligence Technology in Connected Devices around Us.” And Bowen Zhou presented JD.com’s brand-new concept of Retail as a Service in “Transforming Retailing Experiences with Artificial Intelligence”.
This year’s program included 209 full papers, from a total of 757 submissions. 64 papers were allocated 15-minute oral presentations, while the others got a 90-second spotlight slot in the fast-forward sessions. The poster sessions and the oral sessions run at the same time. While this was an inconvenience for poster presenters having to leave the poster to attend the oral sessions or miss them, the coffee breaks took place at the same location as the posters, so that was a win-win: chit-chat while having cookies and fruits? I’m in! In terms of content, half of the submissions were to only two areas: Multimedia and Vision and Deep Learning for Multimedia. But who am I to judge, when I had two of those myself! Many members of the community noted that the conference is becoming more and more deep learning, and less multimodal. To compensate, the workshops, tutorials and demos were mostly pure multimedia.
The challenges, competitions, art exhibits and demos happened in the afternoons, so at times it was hard to choose where to head to. So many interesting things happening all around the place! The art exhibit had some really cool interactive art installations, such as “Cellular Music”, that created music from visual motion. Among the demos, I found particularly interesting AniDance, an LSTM-based algorithm that made 3D models dance to the given music; SoniControl, an ultrasonic firewall for NFC protection; MusicMapp, a platform to augment how we experience music; and The Influence Map project, to explore who has influenced each scientist, and who did they most influence through their career.
Regarding diversity, I feel there is still a long way to go. Being in Asia, it makes sense that almost half of the attendees came from China. However, the submission numbers speak by themselves: less than 20% of submissions came from out of Asia, with just one submission from Africa (that’s a 0.13%!) Diversity is not only about gender, folks! I feel like more efforts are needed to facilitate the integration of more collectives in the multimedia community. One step at a time.
The next edition will take place at the NICE ACROPOLIS Convention Center in Nice, France from 21-25 October 2019. The ACM reproducibility badge system will be implemented for the first time at this 27th edition, so we may be seeing many more open-sourced projects. I am so looking forward to this!