When I heard my friend Danny Lacey was figuring out how to make a DCP at home, I asked him to share what he learned! WOW! The DCP is the last technical hurdle to overcome when you want to get your movie into a professional commercial cinema – over to Danny…!
Up until now the words Digital Cinema Package (DCP) had usually been followed by many pound (or other currency) signs. Numbers like £10k, £30k and £50k+ were being used. My initial reaction…? We are all doomed, there’s no way I’m getting my short films shown at high resolution on the big screen.
Enter, OpenDCP and the modern age of Indie distribution. It’s free, it’s open source and it’s is so simple to use. Too good to be true, surely?
In this guest blog I wanted to share my experiences of making a DCP for my short films, in preparation for a premiere screening night.
What is a Digital Cinema Package?
Digital Cinema Initiatives (most of the major studios) coined the expression when looking at ways of packaging Digital Cinema contents. DCP is a collection of digital files used to store and convey Digital Cinema audio, image, and data streams (Wikipedia).
A DCP is usually made up of large MXF (Material Exchange Format) and XML files. I’m not going to get any deeper on the technical expression of the term right now (to get more technical, try Google).
Why do I need a Digital Cinema Package?
If you’re planning on showing your film on a large cinema screen, chances are you’ll need a DCP to get the absolute best digital quality. Most cinemas are now installing 2k and 4k digital cinema projectors, working from DCP servers. It’s becoming common practice and a major player for delivery to the big screen.
I’ll tell you what, this is going to open a lot of doors for Indie film makers too, I believe it’s going to be incredibly helpful for those going down the self distribution route. It’s quite simply chopping down the prices and expense of delivering your movie.
How do I make a DCP?
Watch the video for a more detailed look at the DCP making process.
In simple terms, it goes like this:
1. Export your film as a 16-bit TIFF sequence.
2. Use free, open source DCP software to convert the TIFF sequence into JPEG 2000
3. The DCP software then wraps the video (JPEG2000) and audio (WAV) in to MXF files.
4. The final stage is creating the DCP which generates 6 files that will be recognised by a DCP server.
Useful links from the video:
• OpenDCP – http://www.code.google.com/p/opendcp
• DCP Info (Academy specifications) – http://www.dcpinfo.com
• Matt Cameron DCP Blog post
• Hyde Park Picture House – http://www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk
• Useful Digital Cinema Package Wikipedia Page
I really do believe that being able to make our own DCP’s is a real game changer for us low budget indie film lot, cuts out the middle man and all of that expense.
Don’t get me wrong, If I’m working on a bigger budget project, I’d absolutely be paying a facilities house to take care of it.
Hope you find this of some use.