plain X, a novel human language technology (HLT) platform developed by DW Innovation in cooperation with Priberam, is now used to automate the production of subtitles for DW news bulletins screened at Flughafen Frankfurt am Main (FRA), Germany’s biggest airport.

Since 2005, DW has cooperated with Media Frankfurt, FRA’s marketing company, to provide travelers with up-to-date news bulletins on what are now an impressive 195 screens. At the beginning of 2020, the partners switched from English-language live TV to file-based delivery of individual videos. A couple of weeks ago, on September 1st 2021, there has been yet another switch:

Subtitles for the program – mandatory due to ambient noise and accessibility standards – used to be created manually for almost two decades. Now they are ingested semi-automatically via an HLT platform called plain X, the result of a long-standing cooperation between DW Innovation and Portuguese media/tech company Priberam. The software is based on previous projects like SUMMA and news.bridge and has become a powerful multilingual media production tool, capable of doing everything from AI-assisted transcription and translation to automated subtitling and voice-over production, and then some.

In the Frankfurt Airport use case, plain X retrieves (previously checked) scripts, syncs them with incoming videos, creates .SRT subtitles based on this process, and puts everything in designated folders. In a final step, DW sends the finished, subtitled news clips to the airport’s servers. This whole process is fully automated. In fact, plain X could also transcribe DW news on the fly, but since this would result in a number of errors, it was decided to establish a “script-checker in the loop” workflow, guaranteeing almost perfect results.

plain x will soon be released to the public as an HLT SaaS platform suitable for all kinds of media production use cases. We’ll keep you updated.


Alexander Plaum, Peggy van der Kreeft