Digital Cinema Package
Since 2012 I have added DCP creation to my services and since then managed to make several DCP's in different formats that have been playing around the globe in film festivals. If you are interested in having a DCP copy of your film, please continue to read some of the notes here concerning delivery specifications and workflow. Of course you can always contact me if you have any further question or if all this technical talk doesn't make any sense to you.
When creating a subtitled version of a DCP I rather choose to create a new 'reel' and have the subtitles 'burned-in', instead of having a separate subtitle track. This is mostly a safety and esthetic issue. Having burned-in subtitles leaves no room for error at playback plus guarantees the look of your subtitles. It might take more time in the encoding process, but it ensures no surprises later on in the theater.
The image can be delivered in almost any file format or resolution, from Quicktime MOV's to TIFF sequences to MXF files, preferably graded in a REC 709 colorspace. On the bottom of this page you'll find some examples of the different resolutions that are supported with in the DCI specification. For more information on the best resolution for your film feel free to contact me.
Audio needs to be delivered in a 5.1 or 7.1 surround setup, in separate WAV files of 48Khz/24bit. It is very important to have the audio at the exact same length (in frames) as the video. A good practice is to have some communication between the audio facility and me to make sure things are okay. Furthermore, I do not recommend a stereo mix. Most cinema's are designed to handle 5.1 or 7.1 surround mixes and have a dedicated 'center' speaker that plays most of the dialogue for example. Having a stereo mix on a dcp may result that your dialogue is coming from the sides of the theater, which is something you obviously don't want. Please also read the framerate chapter which contains important information on audio as well.
DCP's come in two types: Interop and SMPTE. One of the biggest differences between the two is the fact that Interop only supports 24 or 48 FPS, while SMPTE can support many different framerates of which 25 FPS is the most important one to notice, since all projects I've worked on are in that (European) framerate.
So why choose Interop? Well... Unfortunately there is still a small percentage of cinema's (my rough estimate is about 5%) who do not support the more modern SMPTE format. So Interop will play anywhere, while SMPTE has a small risk of not playing in a certain theatre. Therefore some people prefer the old Interop format and there needs to a framerate conversion from 25 to 24 FPS. The downside of this conversion is that the audio will have to be altered to match the video's new framerate, which results in a timestretch and/or pitch process, plus there's a change in length of the film, about + 4,2%. My general advice to filmmakers is to check with the cinema's they deliver to if they really need an Interop format DCP. If so, my advice is to have the soundmixer do the framerate conversion for the best result. If this is not possible I do offer the conversion myself as well.
The DCP's I create are unencrypted, as most film festivals demand this.
Finally, the DCP will be sent to the cinema on a portable drive. This drive has to be formatted in a special way to ensure ingest and playback on all servers. I work with 2,5" SSD's in a USB3 enclosure for fast data transfers and keeping the DCP shock-proof.