Reports from ACM Multimedia 2021

Introduction

Due to the COVID-19, the annual ACM Multimedia Conference (https://2021.acmmm.org) was held in a hybrid mode – onsite in Chengdu, China, and online jointly this year. The organizers have made meticulous preparations for this conference and totally more than 1000 researchers from all over the world participated. 

Besides, there are also AI companies, e.g., Huawei and ByteDance on site trying to attract researchers. It is worth mentioning that in order to prevent the COVID-19, staff and volunteers make a lot of efforts, such as testing the body temperature and providing free masks for attendees.

To encourage student authors to fully engage with the event, SIGMM has sponsored 39 students with Student Travel Grant Awards this year. Students who wanted to apply for this travel grant needed to submit an online form (https://acmsigmm.wufoo.com/forms/sigmm-student-travel-application-form/) before the submission deadline and then the selection committee has chosen the travel grant winners according to selection criteria. The selected students received up to 1000 USD to cover their airline tickets as well accommodation costs for this event. We interviewed some travel grant winners to share their wonderful experience of attending the conference. The following are comments from them.

Students interviewed at ACM Multimedia 2021

Shaoxiang Chen (Fudan University)

It was such a great pleasure to receive the student travel grant and attend the ACM MM 2021 conference in Chengdu. The organizers have devoted a significant amount of effort to ensure the attendees have a nice experience, and in fact, we did. The prepared check-in gifts including masks, an umbrella, and small notebooks were considerate. The onsite covid-19 test was convenient for us to travel back. The keynote talks were closely related to the popular topics in the multimedia community, and I have learned a lot about deep learning and multimodal pre-training. As for the doctoral symposium, I have met excellent PhD students from all over the world and received helpful suggestions from the mentors during my own presentation. Finally, the wonderful performances at the dinner banquet made the entire conference experience even more perfect.

Yuqian Fu (Fudan University)

It is the second time that I attend ACM Multimedia onsite. The first time was in Nice, France in October 2019. That is also a very nice trip. Another thing that I want to share is that I have one long paper accepted by ACM Multimedia in 2020. The conference was supposed to be held in Seattle, USA. However, due to the COVID-19, we had to attend the conference online, which is a big pity. Therefore, it is really a happy thing to participate in this year’s conference in Chengdu. During the conference, I have the opportunity to talk with other researchers face-to-face, and I also presented my work actively to them. I learned a lot in the past few days and had a good experience. Finally, I would like to thank SIGMM for the travel grant, thank the organizers for all the efforts they made to ensure the progress of the conference, and the volunteers for their kind help.

Zheng Wang (Fudan University)

It has been a wonderful experience for me at the ACM Multimedia 2021 in Chengdu this October. Owing to the COVID-19 outbreaks in the past two years, we were so lucky to be together again. Many thanks to the local organizers for their tremendous efforts to hold the conference onsite. At the poster sessions, I was able to present my paper for video moment retrieval to attendances and discuss my idea with them. I could also stop by others’ work, and understanding their work gives me a direct observation about what is going on in the multimedia community. I enjoy the poster session since it helped me know the research trades better. One issue is that the hall for the poster session is relatively crowded, and some walls have two posters arranged one above the other, making the communication a bit inconvenient. In the keynote sessions, I was able to see diverse research areas gathered under the same topic, which let me see a problem from different aspects. As I am in my last PhD year, I could talk with several researchers from university institutions and companies, and I got valuable advice on what should I get prepared for pursuing a career in research or business. Thanks to the local organizers for arranging trips to see cute pandas, which makes visiting Chengdu a delight and unforgettable memory.

Yang Jiao (Fudan University)

It was a great honour to attend the ACM Multimedia in Chengdu this year. This year’s ACM Multimedia is a special conference, for it is the first top conference held onsite since COVID-19. It was the first time that I attended this conference and I enjoyed the academic atmosphere there. I have met a lot of friends with similar research interests as well as famous teachers to share research experiences. What excites me most is the best paper session, where a great number of outstanding works investigate interesting frontier tasks in multimedia society, such as generating music according to visual motion, estimating postures based on one’s speech tune, etc. Moreover, the dinner banquet surprises me a lot. Besides the regular host introduction and dining time, organizers also elaborately prepare wonderful shows as well as a lucky draw. I, fortunately, won the third prize. In summary, thanks for all the efforts of the organizers and excellent talks given by outstanding researchers in this year’s Multimedia. It was a really impressive experience for me!

Yechao Zhang (Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) )

It was such an honour for me to receive the student travel grant. Frankly, I am merely a grad student in my second year in HUST, and it was the first time for me to attend any academic conference ever. The acceptance from ACM Multimedia 2021 is a major inspiration for me, which had inspired me to apply for a PhD program just so I could keep contributing to the academic research in the area of Multimedia in the future. During the conference, I had very much enjoyed my time visiting Chengdu. Apart from the amazing food adventure, I had the most beneficial conversations with researchers from all over the world. All these wonderful experiences would not be possible if there wasn’t for the travel grant from SIGMM. Many thanks for the recognition and support from SIGMM. I sincerely hope ACM Multimedia will gain more international influence.

Jingru Gan (University of Chinese Academy of Sciences)

The ACM Multimedia held this year is an extraordinary conference in terms of the organization and attending experience. I am most impressed by the refined arrangement of hybrid oral sessions which accommodates onsite and online presenters from everywhere on earth. The great importance of this meeting is that it intensifies the bond of researchers from pages of papers to face-to-face meetings. To get a chance of knowing how others go through months of trial and error before achieving a satisfactory result is inspiring, which encourages me to completely dedicate myself to my future work.

Yanqiao Zhu (University of Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Although this was not my first time attending international conferences, my experience at ACM Multimedia 2021 was still very exciting and unforgettable, especially after a long-time travel block due to COVID-19. This year, the diverse program not only makes me feel more connected with the multimedia research community but really broadens my vision. During the conference, I presented my paper on multimedia recommendation, met with many prestigious scholars from both academia and industry, and exchanged many interesting ideas. I believe most of the discussions will spur sparks for future research directions. I also participated in social networking programs, during which I made a lot of friends in related research areas. Overall, it was a great honour for me to receive the SIGMM travel grant that supports me attending ACM Multimedia 2021 physically. I would like to sincerely thank all organizers for their effort in making this year’s ACM Multimedia a great success.

Yudong Wang (University of Electronic Science and Technology of China)

As an undergraduate who received the student travel grant, this is my first time attending an international conference. According to the 2019-nCoV, the attendees onsite are almost Chinese and the room for the poster is a little crowded, but fortunately, people are orderly. At the conference, I stand on my poster and share my work with some researchers in the same field. Apart from that, I talk with some people who work on recommendation algorithms. They help me get to know the other AI application and brand new methods to realize intelligence. I listen to some oral work from a different area of the world and learned a lot about the other field of multimedia. The most impressive thing is the banquet. Although from different schools, the atmosphere among strangers on the table is harmonious. We talk about our daily life in our school and enjoy the performances on the stage. By the way, the gifts prepared for the attendees are surprises. If there are any regrets, it must be that I was not a volunteer to help others and failed to draw a lottery. In summary, thanks to the committee, I had a great experience on ACM Multimedia 2021.

Peidong Liu (Tsinghua University)

I am pleased to attend ACM MM 2021 conference onsite in Chengdu, China. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference adopts a hybrid form, i.e. both onsite and online, to make most of the people participating in the academic exchange. It is noted that this is my first time to attend the onsite international conference in the last few years and I find it more convenient to exchange ideas onsite than online. There are several points worth talking about. First off, this conference utilizes an app called Whova in the procedure of the conference and we can complete personal research interests and affiliated institutions to communicate more conveniently with other researchers. Besides that, volunteers are patient to help us with the check-in process and give us a nice experience at the conference. Finally, thanks to the support from the conference community, I gain the opportunity to communicate with the researchers onsite all around the globe.

Haoyu Zhang (Shandong University)

This was my first time attending an international conference, and I was very happy to participate offline in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. The feeling of participating in the offline conference was something that cannot be experienced online. The volunteers at the conference were very enthusiastic and answered some questions about attending the conference for me. The ACM Multimedia was very caring, prepared many exquisite gifts for each participant, and provided dinner with very local characteristics. The delicious food made me linger. In the daily meeting, I watched and browsed the reports and posters that I was interested in, and had detailed exchanges with the authors, which not only broadened my horizons but also inspired my thinking. In short, I was very honoured to be able to attend this ACM Multimedia conference, and it was a very impressive experience. Finally, I wish the ACM Multimedia better and better.

Summary

Overall, almost everyone has a high evaluation of the experience of participating in this conference. Besides, we can tell that the travel grant does help a lot to the students. To summarize, this conference was held successfully and left a very good impression on the participants.