Dynamic Normalization and Relay for Video Action Recognition

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Dongqi Cai, Anbang Yao, Yurong Chen


Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have been the dominant model for video action recognition. Due to the huge memory and compute demand, popular action recognition networks need to be trained with small batch sizes, which makes learning discriminative spatial-temporal representations for videos become a challenging problem. In this paper, we present Dynamic Normalization and Relay (DNR), an improved normalization design, to augment the spatial-temporal representation learning of any deep action recognition model, adapting to small batch size training settings. We observe that state-of-the-art action recognition networks usually apply the same normalization parameters to all video data, and ignore the dependencies of the estimated normalization parameters between neighboring frames (at the same layer) and between neighboring layers (with all frames of a video clip). Inspired by this, DNR introduces two dynamic normalization relay modules to explore the potentials of cross-temporal and cross-layer feature distribution dependencies for estimating accurate layer-wise normalization parameters. These two DNR modules are instantiated as a light-weight recurrent structure conditioned on the current input features, and the normalization parameters estimated from the neighboring frames based features at the same layer or from the whole video clip based features at the preceding layers. We first plug DNR into prevailing 2D CNN backbones and test its performance on public action recognition datasets including Kinetics and Something-Something. Experimental results show that DNR brings large performance improvements to the baselines, achieving over 4.4% absolute margins in top-1 accuracy without training bells and whistles. More experiments on 3D backbones and several latest 2D spatial-temporal networks further validate its effectiveness. Code will be available at https://github.com/caidonkey/dnr.