DCP Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is a DCP?
- Do I need a DCP copy of my film (instead of a DVD, Blu-ray, Digibeta, HDCam etc.)?
- What is the best way to send my film to have a DCP made?
- Why are your prices so low?
- Are your DCP’s good quality?
- Why is encrypting my DCP a bad idea
A DCP is set of files that contain a very high quality copy of the picture and sound along with text files used to assist in the playback of the picture and sound. A DCP encodes the picture as JPEG2000 (not to be confused with JPEG or motion JPEG) and audio as lossless compression to insure ultra-high quality that is superior to DVD, Blu-ray, HD and even the low cost film prints that are often distributed to theaters.
The DCP is typically delivered via satellite, a Linux-formatted hard drive in a special caddy, a USB drive or even on DVD-ROM’s. Problems do arise that some venues can not load DCP’s in all these forms despite the DCI standards that specify most, but not all aspects of DCP distribution.
Well, no one “needs” any type of copy of a film at all if nobody will ever see the film. But although you don’t have to make a DCP of your film or trailer, it’s highly desirable. It’s the highest quality version of your film that can be distributed easily to any part of the world and reliably played back other than 35mm film. More film festivals are moving to DCP playback as well.
It also is the best way to show your film for a local premiere or to potential distributors as DVD playback is low quality, and many theaters do not have Blu-ray capability. Also, audio and video quality of both DVD and Blu-ray can suffer as they are often not plugged into the high quality connectors for theater projection and sound.
Simply, the highest quality render of picture and sound directly from the master edit, preferably in an image sequence although many other formats are suitable. Download the complete list of preferred and acceptable picture/sound formats here: DCP Processing File Specs.
The SV2 DCP tagline is “by filmmakers, for filmmakers”. I got into the DCP biz because I was shocked at the pricing for creating a DCP of test footage for my non-profit film, so I created my own process. Then, filmmaker friends were interested in getting DCP’s made and word got around. I do this as a service for my fellow filmmakers using gear I already have for my non-profit film, so despite my low prices, SV2 DCP supports my film-making efforts.
Usually, when filmmakers are faced with good, fast, cheap, we only get one or two. But in this case, it’s all three. Because I created this process for my film that is for IMAX ™ theaters, I was obsessed with the very best quality – exceeding the open source and off-the-shelf software solutions. My recipe uses extremely high quality color space conversion and JPEG2000 encoding to insure perfect quality.
Filmmakers have raved about the quality and my own personal DCP have screened on 4K DLP projectors on the largest screens in the world, side-by-side with major studio DCP’s and always match and occasionally exceed those quality levels.
The KDM encryption process was developed as big, piracy-obsessed Hollywood studios demanded military-grade encryption for their films. KDM encryption is the number 1 headache for DCP users, specifically the theaters and distributors that want to play your film.
The hard, cold truth is unless you just made The Avengers, Dark Knight or have footage of the Second Coming, no one wants to steal your DCP. A DCP package is an awkward file to deal with to pirate a copy. It’s in a different colorspace, audio is hard to extract and file sizes are large. A HD camera in the back of a theater, a stolen DVD or Blu-ray from a post house etc. – this is how pirates steal a film.
KDM encryption will cost you far more money and create endless difficulties in screening your film. Many festivals require unencrypted DCP’s precisely because of this. You should only consider an encrypted DCP if you are forced contractually or you dealing with dishonest distributors and want to control screening times (in that case, find a better distributor). Most theaters will delete your film as soon as possible as they are always running out of disk space, so unauthorized showings are rare.