The annual ACM Multimedia Conference was held in Nice, France during October 21st to 25th, 2019. Being the 27th of its series, it attracted approximately 800 participants from all over the World. Among them were the student volunteers who supported the smooth organization of the Conference. In this article, I would like to introduce the reports and comments provided by each of them.
Reports from student volunteers
Hui Chen (Tsinghua University, China)
It was such an honor for me to be granted for the student travel funding. During my stay in Nice, as a Ph.D. researcher, I read a lot of nice academical works which inspired me a lot. And I had wonderful conversations with authors from all over the world. Meanwhile, as a session volunteer, I was glad to help speakers and the audience during sessions. Their nice works and warm smiles impressed me a lot. What I most valued about is the friendship with other volunteers. We often discussed the attractive places and the delicious food in Nice, and cared for each other along the journey. I am deeply thankful for this wonderful experience in Nice. Some advice: (1) I think the beret was not necessary for the volunteers. Majority of us seemed to dislike it, because I did not see many volunteers wearing them. (2) Notifications about the room changing for sessions should be made clear early. (3) The manner of being punctual can be emphasized in the ice-break meeting. (4) Reminding of volunteered sessions could be shown in the Whova app.
Shizhe Chen (Renmin University of China, China)
It was a great pleasure to attend the ACM Multimedia this year. I have attended MM twice and the organizations are getting better and better. One big change was the deployment of the Whova APP, which really improved our experience at MM. On the one hand, it made connections among different attendants and organizations more convenient and efficient. On the other hand, it was nice to share photos in the APP about the conference. The volunteers are very devoted to serve the conference and uploaded many good pictures. The conference banquet at Nice also improved a lot. I really enjoyed local foods and magic shows. Even though there were so many people at that night, the organization was very ordered and made everyone satisfied. I also liked some multimedia modern art pieces exhibited at the conference which were wonderful. The conference session I enjoyed most was the Multimedia Grand Challenge, which provided a great opportunity for us academics to get involved in real-life problems in industries. It would have been better if there were more opportunities off-line to communicate with industry people in the conference. In summary, thanks for all the efforts the organizers have put on the conference. I am also proud to be able to contribute a little as a volunteer this time.
Yang Chen (University of Science and Technology of China, China)
This was my first time attending an international conference and needed to be a session volunteer during the conference. It was also my first time abroad. So I felt a litter nervous before going abroad for the conference. Fortunately, everything went smoothly in the end. The MM conference has been held for many years, so the experience of organizing the conference is rich, and the scale is also large. The MM conference provided a lot of convenience for the participants. All conference schedules can be found at the venue, so attendees can easily find the sessions that they needed to participate or were interested in. In addition, this year, the MM conference had many local characteristics of Nice, France. All attendees were given the famous local soap of Nice. The French food provided at the venue was also very delicious. All in all, it was a very impressive MM conference experience.
Amanda Duarte (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain)
ACM Multimedia 2019 for me was a different and great experience. This was the first time that I attended this conference and it was very different of what I am used to find in a big conference. For the past four years I have been going to conferences more focused on Computer Vision and Machine Learning which nowadays have a large number of attendees, accepted papers, parallel sessions, and all the stress of being in a large venue and need to find the sessions that interest you across large rooms full of people.
ACM Multimedia on the other way around was held in a smaller venue with less attendees but yet with a very large amount of high quality researchers. Thus, I had the chance of talking more to great researchers in the areas that I have interest and also were interested in my work. In addition to my great experience during the conference in general, I had a great experience participating in the Doctoral Symposium during the conference. This event gave me the opportunity to present my work to great researchers that work on topics related to my doctoral thesis and were able of giving me great feedback and suggestions on how to improve my research.
Gelli Francesco (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Although I am still a student, this edition of ACM Multimedia has been my third. Similar to the previous times, I met with the now more familiar community and allocated my time between attending sessions, walking around the posters, and rehearsing my presentation. My observation is that this year, there has been a major focus on applications rather than on the technical aspects. For example, the Best Paper session included works on zooming audio together with video, multi-modal dialogue system and privacy. The Brave New Ideas session, in which I presented, saw some more unusual and daring applications, such as the automatic creation of a sequence of images to match a short story. I had a great time presenting my paper on ranking images by subjective attributes, as I did my best to engage the audience with multiple questions. I learned from the senior organizers that their goal is to push the Multimedia community on applications such as Wellness and Human-Machine interaction, which naturally involves multimedia data. It was also inspiring to see so many engaged volunteers all dressed in blue running around with that very traditional beret. Definitely looking forward to attend the next edition.
Trung-Hiếu Hoàng (University of Science, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
I am excited to share my experience in ACMMM 2019, as a person who received the student travel grant. Living in Vietnam, I cannot believe that I had such a great opportunity to travel thousands of kilometers and attend one of the top conferences in the world. On the first day, I met a lot of friends who received the same travel grant like me. We hung out together sharing different stories and experiences, all of us were enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to become a part of the volunteer team and contribute to the success of this year’s conference. During the last two years, I have had a strong interest in medical image processing. In detail, my research focuses on abnormality detection in the endoscopic image. Attending ACMMM 2019 gave me a wonderful chance to present my work, and discuss with experts in this field. I enjoyed the Healthcare Multimedia workshop, where I met the organizers of the BioMedia Grand Challenge track. I loved talking with them and discussing the future and their interests. In conclusion, I am so glad that the student grant brought me to Europe for the first time, opened up my mind and showed me wonderful things that I had never seen before.
Chia-Wei Hsieh (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan)
I attended the ACM Multimedia 2019 in Nice, France, and listened to new AI approaches by experts and scholars from various countries. In this conference, I got the chance to learn about the latest studies’ results from world-renowned universities and research institutions, and learn about the latest developments in the industry. These most advanced tools broadened my view and realized the disabilities that can be improved in our future research. Furthermore, I appreciated serving as a volunteer at the conference. This forced me to interact with people and have made many good friends from all over the world. Everything is really well to attend MM’19, but a fly in the ointment is that the attendance of the last two days was pretty low. With some special benefits for people to stay, there could be more academic exchanges at the conference.
Michael Kerr (RMIT University, Australia)
I came to the conference this year hoping to learn about some very specific research that was being presented in my own field of employment of video surveillance. My expectations around these presentations was well met, but additionally I also took away new insights into other areas that were previously not of great interest to me, mainly as I had not explored their application to my own field.
I particularly enjoyed the Tutorials on Multimedia Forensics and was interested to see the work done in areas that had been developed in recent years. I was very engaged by the application of CNN to solve forensic challenges and quickly found that the application of these systems was a major theme in the entire conference. So, whilst I enjoyed many of the practical applications such as the Tutorials, the System Demonstrations, and the Open Source Software Competition, I also learnt a great deal about the growth of CNN technologies within the multimedia discipline as a whole. This has had a positive effect by helping to develop my own research plans and in particular enabling the identification of new applications that may be of interest to those working in multimedia as well as my specific field of interest.
Saurabh Kumar (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India)
I had an enjoyable experience at ACM Multimedia and learned a lot as this was my first big international conference. The papers were from diverse applications, and it was great talking to the speakers after the talks and at the posters. This allowed me to meet many amazing people from various backgrounds and talk about the exciting research they are doing. It was easy to approach anyone at the conference for casual or technical discussions. These days conferences are recorded with recording and proceedings are put up online, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Attending a conference is a much broader experience, and I got an opportunity to experience this thanks to this travel grant. I made friends from many countries, thanks to the friendly atmosphere, and learned how my research fits in. I would like to highlight that being a volunteer was the primary reason all of this was possible. As a volunteer, it was so much easier to talk to people, and it was great helping them around. I would love to come and help out again anytime. The conference was just perfect, and I will remember my experience as a volunteer, which made it way more fun and especially the people I interacted with. I am certainly submitting to the next MM and coming back again with more exciting research and to meet this fantastic community. Also, visiting Nice was a delight, and it is a magnificent city, and the food was delicious.
Yadan Luo (University of Queensland, Australia)
It has been a great experience attending ACM Multimedia 2019 in Nice this October, where I met many brilliant people working in the same field. The Invited Talks offered impressive ideas, inspiring visions of the future and excellent coverage of many areas, like preserving audiovisual archives and data protection law. The most impressive part of the conference was the Art Exhibition, which showed a great power of installation art and interactive multimedia. Moreover, this great meeting brought me a lot of precious opportunities of meeting other researchers working in other subfields like video streaming, domain adaptation, and image generation. All chatting with them helped me quickly pick up plenty of new knowledge and opened a door to other research directions. In conclusion, I would like to sincerely express my thanks to people who have prepared the conference, in which I have benefited a lot from this fantastic event.
Kwanyong Park (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Korea)
ACM Multimedia 2019 was especially special to me in terms of my improvement. Honestly speaking, my paper, presented in ACM Multimedia 2019, is my first international research accomplishment. So I really lacked experiences and skills about presenting my work and communicating with other researchers. But after ACM Multimedia 2019, I have confidence that at least I can do better and better. Combination of Oral and Poster sessions was really impressive and effective to obtain a lot of information in a short time. Every paper had at least 2 minutes oral presentation, and I could catch the core concept. Based on that, I easily decided whether the paper is closely related to my interest or not. I agree that this kind of configuration is a really efficient way. Through the conference, I saw which topics the students, who have mostly academic perspective, are focusing on. Although it is a great stimulus to me, I think practical perspective from various companies is also important to broaden the horizon. However, research from companies was relatively hard to find in ACM Multimedia 2019. I think that having some interactive booths from companies would be helpful.
K. R. Prajawal (International Institute of Information Technology, India)
ACM Multimedia was not only my first top-tier conference, but my first conference as well. I was pleased to see a lot of interesting and impactful papers from people from various backgrounds and universities. I particularly liked the conference venue as well, as it was spacious and comfortable to encourage a healthy discussion. I personally feel the food and meals could have been better curated. For example, I’m a vegetarian. I understand I have few items to eat, but the vegetarian items were not clearly labeled. This can be rectified in the future editions of the conference. I also believe that most of the presentation rooms were well prepared and organized for the presentation. During my oral presentation, however, I had an issue in playing a demo video. This issue had occurred because the conference organizers were not fully prepared to play a video during the presentation. That is rather odd, I felt, given this is a top-tier multimedia conference, which means it will have lots of audio and visual content. But, other than that, I had a very pleasant and fruitful time at the conference. I was able to connect and socialize with eminent researchers at ACM Multimedia and I hope to attend the next edition as well.
Estêvão Bissoli Saleme (Federal University of Espírito Santo, Brazil)
ACM Multimedia 2019 in Nice was such a unique experience. I volunteered for six sessions and attended a couple more, including the Best Paper session which I particularly liked the most. Not only because it brought original ideas, but also because I had the opportunity to witness an innovative presentation of the paper “Multimodal Dialog System: Generating Responses via Adaptive Decoders,” in which the speakers kept a dialog between them to give their talk. Besides that, I enjoyed the poster presentation hall, which we could mingle with other participants, get to know other people’s work better, and interact with them. One presentation that impressed me was entitled “Editing Text in the Wild.” In this work, the researchers proposed a method to replace any text in a picture keeping the background intact. The outcome looked like a real figure. Just impressive! Technically, I was more interested in Quality of Experience and Interaction, but I thought the subject of the papers in this session was spread out, which hindered the interaction with other presenters. It lacked a bit of work related to QoE itself. Finally, another aspect that deserves praise was the organization. Whova helped hugely, and we could post photos and interact with other people there. Moreover, Martha, Laurent, and Benoit were omnipresent and tireless. They were just on fire and worked very well to deliver such a great conference!
David Semedo (Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal)
My experience at ACM MM 2019 was very positive. I presented two full papers: one as a full oral and one as a short presentation. As such, the whole event was quite intense for me but also very personally enriching. I could do a lot of networking, with both students and senior researchers (the ConfLab contributed in this regard). As I am in my last Ph.D. year, I could talk with several researchers, from which I got valuable advices on how to take the next steps towards pursuing a career in research. At the poster sessions, I had the opportunity to discuss in detail my work with several people, from which I received constructive feedback. While I liked the fact that posters stayed posted during the whole conference, some were hard to find or were a bit hidden (e.g. the ones facing the wall). The conference program covered a wide range of topics on Multimedia. This allowed me to understand which techniques are being used on different tasks, and identify common technical aspects across these different tasks. It not only helped me in being updated, in terms of state-of-the-art approaches, but also in defining potential future research directions.
Junbo Wang (Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China)
From 21-25 October 2019, I attended the ACM Multimedia 2019 Conference in Nice, France. This conference is a premier international conference in the area of multimedia within the field of computer science and I am very proud of attending this professional conference thanks to the ACM student travel grant. In this conference, I met many famous researchers in the area of multimedia, such as Tao Mei, Tat-Seng Chua, and Changsheng Xu. During the Poster or Oral sessions, I discussed many academic problems with these researchers, which really gave me new vision and insight. In addition to many academic talks, I also enjoyed a lot of French food, such as Macaroon and Foie Gras. As a session volunteer, I was also very happy to help the attendees in some session talks. The interesting and professional talks inspired me and guided my interest to many different research areas. Moreover, the conference was held at the NICE ACROPOLIS Convention Center in Nice, which is a beautiful and peaceful city. The fresh air and pleasant sea breeze gave us a good mood every day and made us have an unforgettable experience in this city. Overall, I think this conference was very successful to reach its fundamental objective: free communication. However, I also found that the sponsors this year was far less than that for last year, which can be expected to be better in the next year.
Xin Wang (Donghua University, China)
In my experience, I think MM’19 was very impressive and easy to follow. The arrangement of the conference was very reasonable especially the Whova APP helped me a lot whenever I wanted to figure on what is going on during the conference. Except one thing that I found in the first two days, there were still some workshops that had different room numbers between the session volunteer schedule (a Google sheet). That made me confused for a while, but luckily Martha told us use the APP as the standard. I really loved the Demo session and I think there must be people who had the same feeling like me. I met and talked with many researchers from all of the world, such as NUS, DCU, Nagoya University, Shandong University, National Chiao Tung University, etc. I still keep contact with some of them and exchange our research ideas. Besides, the weather in Nice was very comfortable. The food during the conference was rich and delicious. All of these reasons make me look forward to the next year’s MM conference.
Yitian Yuan (Tsinghua University, China)
It was very enjoyable to attend the ACM MM 2019 conference. As a volunteer, I could meet peers from other countries and schools and communicate with them, which is of great benefit to my scientific research knowledge. I think the agenda of this ACM MM conference was compact and reasonably arranged, but there are still the following problems that I think need to be improved: (1) The entrance of the main conference hall was dimly lit and the signs were not obvious, so volunteers needed to guide, otherwise it was difficult for participants to find the place. (2) I wish the stage at the Banquet had a bigger screen, so that everyone can see the name of the winners and the prize information. Finally, I wish the ACM MM better and better and more international influence.
Zhengyu Zhao (Radboud University, The Netherlands)
This was my second time to attend ACM Multimedia, after the first time in Korea in 2018. Overall, I felt the conference this year was a very successful edition, reflected by the perfect location, delicious food, well-designed program and especially the efforts from the volunteers. But still, I have some suggestions for further improvement. Specifically, from the experience of the poster presentation of my reproducibility paper, I realized that most people actually know nothing about this new reproducibility track. This made most of my time spent on explaining the general background of the track and so less time for my own research. I was happy to explain and get more people involved in this track but it would be better if the organization team could give more exposure of this track beforehand. From this experience serving as one of the poster session chairs, I figured out that many people do not use the official communication APP Whova, so the instructions and important announcements could not reach all the participants timely. In my opinion, more offline solutions (e.g., a big screen on the spot) would help.
In general, the student volunteers seemed to have enjoyed the event to the full extent, but some of them have proposed constructive suggestions that organizers and participants to future versions of the conference could take in account to provide better experiences!
All in all, I think we can see from the submitted reports that providing the chance to experience top-level research and to mix with all-range of researchers at a top-level Conference to young researchers who may one day become leaders in our community, would surely benefit us in the future.