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Ni Wins PCM 2011 Best Paper Award


Bingbing Ni, postdoctoral fellow at the Advanced Digital Sciences Center, was presented the Best Paper Award at the 2011 Pacific-Rim Conference on Multimedia (PCM 2011) for his research on image re-emotionalizing.

PCM is a major annual conference that highlights the advances and research results in the fields of theoretical, experimental and applied multimedia analysis and processing. From over 175 paper submissions, the conference awards one best paper award and one best student paper award. In the winning paper, "Image Re-Emotionalizing," Ni and his collaborators developed a system for synthesizing user-specified emotional affection onto any input image.

Ni works with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Pierre Moulin on ADSC's Interactive Digital Media project, Multi-Modal Visual Analytics. His research focuses on computer vision, multimedia computing and machine learning.

According to Ni, the algorithm could have many potential interesting multimedia applications. If a user wants to change the coloring or shading of an image so that viewers perceive the photo as being sad or frightening or awe-inspiring, Ni's algorithm would colorize and shade the image in such a way that elicits this reaction. This would be especially useful to an inexperienced user who would have little knowledge about how to alter photos in programs, such as Adobe Photoshop.

"The result of this research is an algorithm whose input is any arbitrary image and a user-specific emotion category, such as amusement, neutral, sadness or fear, and the output is a synthesized image with that target emotion," Ni said. "I think this is the world's first work on synthesizing emotion information onto arbitrary input images. Winning this award is regarded as the acknowledgement from the community for this promising and brand-new research direction."

Ni co-authored the paper with National University of Singapore (NUS) Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D. student Mengdi Xu, NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Shuicheng Yan and Nanjing University of Science and Technology (China) Computer Science Professor Jinhui Tang.

The research Ni has done on image re-emotionalizing ties closely with many Interactive Digital Media projects at ADSC. For example, Ni's image-based rendering can be incorporated into University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Minh Do's Immersive Telepresence for Entertainment and Meetings research project. In this project, Do aims to present videos in different styles, such as cartoon, oil painting or as a portrait. Ni's algorithm now allows them the option of presenting videos and images with different emotions.

The Advanced Digital Sciences Center is a Singapore-based research center for faculty of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ADSC focuses on breakthrough innovations in information technology.