Multimedia computing, indexing, and retrieval continue to be one of the most exciting and fastest-growing research areas in the field of multimedia technology. ACM ICMR is the premier international conference that brings together experts and practitioners in the field for an annual conference. The eighth ACM International Conference on Multimedia Retrieval (ACM ICMR 2018) took place from June 11th to 14th, 2018 in Yokohama, Japan’s second most populous city. ACM ICMR 2018 featured a diverse range of activities including: Keynote talks, Demonstrations, Special Sessions and related Workshops, a Panel, a Doctoral Symposium, Industrial Talks, Tutorials, alongside regular conference papers in oral and poster session. The full ICMR2018 schedule can be found on the ICMR 2018 website <http://www.icmr2018.org/>. The organisers of ACM ICMR 2018 placed a large emphasis on generating a high-quality programme and in 2018; ICMR received 179 submissions to the main conference, with 21 accepted for oral presentation and 23 for poster presentation. A number of key themes emerged from the published papers at the conference: deep neural networks for content annotation; multimodal event detection and summarisation; novel multimedia applications; multimodal indexing and retrieval; and video retrieval from regular & social media sources. In addition, a strong emphasis on the user (in terms of end-user applications and user-predictive models) was noticeable throughout the ICMR 2018 programme. Indeed, the user theme was central to many of the components of the conference, from the panel discussion to the keynotes, workshops and special sessions. One of the most memorable elements of ICMR 2018 was a panel discussion on the ‘Top Five Problems in Multimedia Retrieval’ http://www.icmr2018.org/program_panel.html. The panel was composed of leading figures in the multimedia retrieval space: Tat-Seng Chua (National University of Singapore); Michael Houle (National Institute of Informatics); Ramesh Jain (University of California, Irvine); Nicu Sebe (University of Trento) and Rainer Lienhart (University of Augsburg). An engaging panel discussion was facilitated by Chong-Wah Ngo (City University of Hong Kong) and Vincent Oria (New Jersey Institute of Technology). The common theme was that multimedia retrieval is a hard challenge and that there are a number of fundamental topics that we need to make progress in, including bridging the semantic and user gaps, improving approaches to multimodal content fusion, neural network learning, addressing the challenge of processing at scale and the so called “curse of dimensionality”. ICMR2018 included two excellent keynote talks <http://www.icmr2018.org/program_keynote.html>. Firstly, Kohji Mitani, the Deputy Director of Science & Technology Research Laboratories NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) explained about the ongoing evolution of broadcast technology and the efforts underway to create new (connected) broadcast services that can provide viewing experiences never before imagined and user experiences more attuned to daily life. The second keynote from Shunji Yamanaka, from The University of Tokyo discussed his experience of prototyping new user technologies and highlighted the importance of prototyping as a process that bridges an ever increasing gap between advanced technological solutions and societal users. During this entertaining and inspiring talk many prototypes developed in Yamanaka’s lab were introduced and the related vision explained to an eager audience. Three workshops were accepted for ACM ICMR 2018, covering the fields of lifelogging, art and real-estate technologies. Interestingly, all three workshops focused on domain specific applications in three emerging fields for multimedia analytics, all related to users and the user experience. The “LSC2018 – Lifelog Search Challenge”< http://lsc.dcu.ie/2018/> workshop was a novel and highly entertaining workshop modelled on the successful Video Browser Showdown series of participation workshops at the annual MMM conference. LSC was a participation workshop, which means that the participants wrote a paper describing a prototype interactive retrieval system for multimodal lifelog data. It was then evaluated during a live interactive search challenge during the workshop. Six prototype systems took part in the search challenge in front of an audience that reached fifty conference attendees. This was a popular and exciting workshop and could become a regular feature at future ICMR conferences. The second workshop was the MM-Art & ACM workshop <http://www.attractiveness-computing.org/mmart_acm2018/index.html>, which was a joint workshop that merged two existing workshops, the International Workshop on Multimedia Artworks Analysis (MMArt) and the International Workshop on Attractiveness Computing in Multimedia (ACM). The aim of the joint workshop was to enlarge the scope of discussion issues and inspire more works in related fields. The papers at the workshop focused on the creation, editing and retrieval of art-related multimedia content. The third workshop was RETech 2018 <https://sites.google.com/view/multimedia-for-retech/>, the first international workshop on multimedia for real estate tech. In recent years there has been a huge uptake of multimedia processing and retrieval technologies in the domain, but there are still a lot of challenges remaining, such as quality, cost, sensitivity, diversity, and attractiveness to users of content. In addition, ICMR 2018 included three tutorials <http://www.icmr2018.org/program_tutorial.html> on topical areas for the multimedia retrieval communities. The first was ‘Objects, Relationships and Context in Visual Data’ by Hanwang Zhang and Qianru Sun. The second was ‘Recommendation Technologies for Multimedia Content’ by Xiangnan He, Hanwang Zhang and Tat-Seng Chua and the final tutorial was ‘Multimedia Content Understanding, my Learning from very few Examples’ by Guo-Jun Qi. All tutorials were well received and feedback was very good. Other aspects of note from ICMR2018 were a doctoral symposium that attracted five authors and a dedicated industrial session that had four industrial talks highlighting the multimedia retrieval challenges faced by industry. It was interesting from the industrial talks to hear how the analytics and retrieval technologies developed over years and presented at venues such as ICMR were actually being deployed in real-world user applications by large organisations such as NEC and Hitachi. It is always a good idea to listen to the real-world applications of the research carried out by our community. The best paper session at ICMR 2018 had four top ranked works covering multimodal, audio and text retrieval. The best paper award went to ‘Learning Joint Embedding with Multimodal Cues for Cross-Modal Video-Text Retrieval’, by Niluthpol Mithun, Juncheng Li, Florian Metze and Amit Roy-Chowdhury. The best Multi-Modal Paper Award winner was ‘Cross-Modal Retrieval Using Deep De-correlated Subspace Ranking Hashing’ by Kevin Joslyn, Kai Li and Kien Hua. In addition, there were awards for best poster ‘PatternNet: Visual Pattern Mining with Deep Neural Network’ by Hongzhi Li, Joseph Ellis, Lei Zhang and Shih-Fu Chang, and best demo ‘Dynamic construction and manipulation of hierarchical quartic image graphs’ by Nico Hezel and Kai Uwe Barthel. Finally, although often overlooked, there were six reviewers commended for their outstanding reviews; Liqiang Nie, John Kender, Yasushi Makihara, Pascal Mettes, Jianquan Liu, and Yusuke Matsui. As with some other ACM sponsored conferences, ACM ICMR 2018 included an award for the most active social media commentator, which is how I ended up writing this report. There were a number of active social media commentators at ICMR 2018 each of which provided a valuable commentary on the proceedings and added to the historical archive.
Of course, the social side of a conference can be as important as the science. ICMR 2018 included two main social events, a welcome reception and the conference banquet. The welcome reception took place at the Fisherman’s Market, an Asian and ethnic dining experience with a wide selection of Japanese food available. The Conference Banquet took place in the Hotel New Grand, which was built in 1927 and has a long history of attracting famous guests. The venue is famed for the quality of the food and the spectacular panoramic views of the port of Yokohama. As with the rest of the conference, the banquet food was top-class with more than one of the attendees commenting that the Japanese beef on offer was the best they had ever tasted.
ICMR 2018 was an exciting and excellently organised conference and it is important to acknowledge the efforts of the general co-chairs: Kiyoharu Aizawa (The Univ. Of Tokyo), Michael Lew (Leiden Univ.) and Shin’ichi Satoh (National Inst. Of Informatics). They were ably assisted by the TPC co-chairs, Benoit Huet (Eurecom), Qi Tian (Univ. Of Texas at San Antonio) and Keiji Yanai (The Univ. Of Electro-Comm), who coordinated the reviews from a 111 person program committee in a double-blind manner, with an average of 3.8 reviews being prepared for every paper. ICMR 2019 will take place in Ottawa, Canada in June 2019 and ICMR 2020 will take place in Dublin, Ireland in June 2020. I hope to see you all there and continuing the tradition of excellent ICMR conferences.