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The best common practice to deliver a Digital Cinema Package (DCP)

The best common practice is to deliver the DCP on a Linux ext-2 USB 2 compatible hard drive. The Cru Dataport DX-115 hard drive caddy with a USB 2/3 adapter is often used. These hard drive caddies load directly into a lot of digital cinema equipment. Like Dolby/Doremi and the newer Sony media block.
Updates:
-Some film festivals only accept Cru-DX115 hard drives.
-You are now allowed to have many DCPs and Assetmaps on the same hard drive according to the ISDCF Disc File Format guide and updated SMPTE standards.
-Some film festivals accept digital links to the DCP like filemail and Aspera and many cinemas are connected to digital DCP transfer networks like Movie Transit. I wrote a post about it here.

Standard physical DCP deliverables are made from these parts:

-The Cru Dataport DX-115 harddrive carrier/caddy:
Amazon link
eBay link

-The Cru Dataport Move Dock DX115 USB 2/3 with USB cable and universal power supply (US plug)
Amazon link
eBay link

-Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB 3.5 Inch Hard Drive or similar :
Amazon link

To transport these safely, you could use a Pelican 1400 Case:
Amazon link

Together these could look something like this:

New SSD DX115 version


Use a more robust Solid State Drive (SSD) and a smaller Pelican 1200 case (Use SSDs >240 GB)

-The Cru Dataport DX-115 harddrive carrier/caddy:
Amazon link
eBay link

-The Cru Dataport Move Dock DX115 USB 2/3 with a USB cable and universal power supply (US plug)
Amazon link
eBay link

-SanDisk SSD PLUS 480 GB Internal SSD
Amazon link

-Smaller Pelican 1200 case
Amazon link

Together these could look something like this:

Pelican 1200 cables
Pelican 1200 dx115
Pelican 1200 case

USB 2/3 HARD DRIVE

You could use a smaller USB C/2/3 hard drive in an even smaller case:

-Lacie rugged hard drive
Amazon link 

-Pelican 1120 case
Amazon link

Together these could look like this:

Note: Y cable:
You can deliver DCPs on USB 2 hard drives, but the DX-115/move dock adapter also works with equipment that does not supply the standard power on the USB 2 port. You can supply a Y cable with the LaCie rugged hard drive to support powerless USB 2 ports. (Cinemas with non-standard USB2 connections most likely have their own adapters)

Cable Matters Micro USB 3.0 to USB Splitter Cable (Y-cable)
Amazon link

The physical medium specification for DCPs

The physical medium specification for DCPs is a USB 2/3 external hard drive formatted as MBR Ext 2/3. (2 TB limit)
Doremi and Sony (and others) support MBR NTFS, but the recommended format is the Linux format Ext 2 or Ext 3 with an inode size of 128 that is read and executable only.
Source: ISDCF Disc File Format

To format Ext 2/3 hard drives, I have used:
-a PC running Ubuntu Linux
-Ubuntu Linux run from a USB Pendrive made with USB Linux creator.
-Ubuntu running in VirtualBox on a mac. Read more here.
-120 USD Raspberry Pi 400 kit pc Amazon link eBay link

You can copy the DCP to an inode 128 read and executable only EXT2/EXT3 hard drive in many ways.

Formatting the hard drive



In terminal. Install gparted.

sudo apt-get install gparted

Run gparted

sudo gparted

In Gparted

Click on “Device” – “Create a partition table”
Choose msdos.

Use add partition and format the drive as ext2 or ext3.

Note the name of the partition (like sdb1) and format it again in terminal with -I 128 inode.


Ext3

sudo mkfs.ext3 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1

ext2

sudo mkfs.ext2 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1


Run nautilus in Terminal to get a root GUI file manager.

sudo apt install nautilus
sudo nautilus

Then copy the dcp directory to the hard drive in the Files/Nautilus file manager.

Then make the dcp directory read-only and executable:
In Terminal use the chmod command on the folder you made.

sudo chmod -R 755 /media/kese/harddrivename/foldername

Note:
To make the ext 2/3 partition without reformatting, you can use parted.
More detailed explanation in the ISDCF Disc File Format guide and here 

In terminal. Install parted.

sudo apt-get install parted

Use parted to make an MBR partition

sudo parted /dev/sdb mklabel msdos

run mkpart and make an ext 3 partition

sudo parted -a opt /dev/sdb mkpart primary ext 3 0% 100%

then format the partition with -I 128 inode

ext3
sudo mkfs.ext3 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1
ext2
sudo mkfs.ext2 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1

Verifying

You can verify the hash values in the trial version of EasyDCP Player or using this command and compare the values to values in the XML files:
openssl sha1 -binary "FILE_NAME" | openssl base64

Note:
If you use Extfs for windows or Extfs for mac to mount the Linux hard drive, you can enable it to be mounted read-only.

Note: MBR NTFS
MBR NTFS 1 partition hard drives are readable by the older Linux version used on Doremi/Dolby and other players/servers. MBR has a limit of 2 TB so a 50 USD 1 TB Western digital hard drive is suitable. (Amazon link)
MBR NTFS are used on some DCP hard drives.
It can be easier if you are in a hurry to download a DCP directly to a 1 MBR NTFS hard drive.

You can format a 1 partition MBR NTFS hard drive in Windows using
Computer Management –
Storage – Disk Management.
When right clicking the Disk and it says “Convert to GPT”, the disk is MBR.

If it is Exfat you can right click the volume and format it to NTFS

If it is says “convert to MBR”, the disk is GPT. To convert it to MBR you need to delete the partitions/volumes on the disk and then you can convert it to MBR and format it.

Note: exFAT is not supported:
New Linux distributions supports exFAT.  Cinema DCP servers/players use older Linux versions, which do not natively support exFAT formatted hard drives.

24 thoughts on “The best common practice to deliver a Digital Cinema Package (DCP)

  1. An external (USB connection) hard drive is great for portability, but its data transfer rate will be less than 10MB/sec. So if your content is a trailer or a short movie it won’t take that long to transfer.

    However, a full 120GB DCP file will take longer than 3 hrs to transfer + the verification time on top of that! If the theatre has the time to transfer it – great. But don’t expect to just drop it off the night before a screening.

    A friendly reminder from your independent cinema’s projectionist.

    Math:
    10MB/s x 60/s = 600MB/min. 120,000 MB / 600MB/min = 3 hrs, 20 min!
    Verification is typically 1/2 the time it takes to transfer so let’s say an additional 90 min.
    You’re now up to almost 5 hrs (and I’ve been generous in the transfer rate)!

  2. It is true that a USB 2 pendrive can have really slow transfer speeds like 5 MB/S or 10 MB/S, and if a doremi server is busy playing a movie the transfer speed will be 10 MB/S for all sources. But USB2 is faster than 10 MB/S, it can reach 40 MB/S.

    A USB 2 harddrive usually have a transfer speed of 20-40 MB/S on a Doremi server and a 80 GB feature film will transfer in an hour with verification.

    A CRU Sata harddrive docked in the server or a gigabit ethernet transfer will have a transfer speed of 80-100 MB/S of a 80 GB feature film will take 20 minutes with verification.

  3. If having problems you should check that the harddrive is MBR,
    you could also use a Linux live USB key and make the directory with the DCP read only and executable like I described in the post.

  4. True, I have found that Dolby servers will only play nice with drives formatted “Master Boot Record”.

    I use format MBR for all DCP delivery using Ubuntu.

  5. Hello. We have a MacPro running the latest version of OSX and have been using the trial version of easyDCP to create some tests prior to purchasing the full license. The problem we are now having seems to be the compatibility between the Mac and the Linux formated external drives that we are trying to load the DCP files onto. Any suggestions? We’ve tried two different versions of Linux and they keep crashing. One suggestion was that we network a PC to the Mac and simply use that to transfer onto the external drives. Again, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have to think that other people have solved this problem.
    Thanks

  6. I run Easypeasy Linux on USB pendrive made with USB linux creator. You should be able to copy from windows and mac harddrives in linux to the linux harddrive.

  7. I run a dolby dss200. I need to make room for new content but do not have a Linux computer nor do I know anything about its operating system. Anyway to use a windows or mac system to transfer content ( trailers, unencrypted ) to an external HD?

    Thank you!

  8. I am only familiar with the Doremi server, with the new sofware on those servers you can plug in a linux formatted harddrive and tranfer DCPs to that. But it seems you can FTP to your DSS-200 and look in a folder called generatedPackages where you can find the DCPs on the server (according to this dcinema forum thread)

  9. I received an answer to my question and wanted to share it in case others have the same need.

    http://www.partition-tool.com/download.htm

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsd/files/

    The top link is the only freeware partition format tool that works for EXT2 and 3. You want to format your drive for EXT3. Once you download the tool, it is pretty easy to figure out. Just remember that you have to hit the apply button whenever you make a change. (that screwed me up for a while)

    The second link is for an ext2 volume manager…that’s so you can give a drive letter to the drive and drag and drop dcp files to and from it on your computer.

    Don’t be discouraged if you have to format it a couple of times … it usually works the first time, but I’ve had to re-format a drive a couple of times before the dolby would recognize it.

  10. I used final cat pro for my final cut. then used Wraptor (Only for mac) to export film via compressor 4. Upoladed (Via USB 3) to sony 2K/$K projector and got great result. Used just regular portable Hard Drive.
    But i would like to have one that can be uploaded to doremi server. So with all those parts named do they come with power supplies?

    Thanks

  11. […] Knut Erik Evensen – KESE  CreativeCOW Simple DCP Color workflow HD to DCP : Apple Color […]

  12. The docking station has a power supply. I’ve updated the post.

  13. […] I’ve spoken to filmmakers who have ignored many or all of the above and still run their DCPs successfully in cinemas, but I decided to play it safe and do all of the above, except the Cru Dataport, which was a little too expensive. Instead I bought a 500GB LaCie Rugged USB drive and put my DCP on there. Read Knut Erik Evensen’s excellent blog post on DCP delivery for more info on Dataports and US… […]

  14. Hi,
    Do you think the pelican 1200 case will fit the CRU + HD + adapter + power plug and cables?
    Os just the pelican 1400?
    thanks,

  15. You can fit everything in the pelican 1200, but you will get less protection.

  16. Hi Knut! Your blog is still such a great resource. Thanks also for linking to the great AE plug-in j2k which I use all the time.
    I’m not knowledgable in Unix at all, but I recently installed Ubuntu on an old Dell to be able to format devices in EXT3 with an i-node of 128 which is something Tuxera or the likes don’t seem to do on a Mac. Some festivals demand ‘DCI-compliant’ EXT3 i-node 128 carriers. I really wonder which D-Cinema server won’t ingest from an NTFS formatted drive..
    An avid Unix user told me the following command will format a device in EXT3 with an i-node of 128 all at once:

    sudo mke2fs -t ext3 -I 128 -L DCP 0/dev/sdb1
    where sdb1 is the port in which you’ve plugged your external storage device. To check where it is, type the command ‘mount’ first.
    “-L DCP” creates a volume label named ‘DCP’, you can pick your own name of course
    If your drive needs to be unmounted first,
    type sudo umount /dev/sdb1

  17. Hi Knut! Great info! I put some info on preparing a DCP on a dedicated website i made. It has some info on a way to format to ext3 and on sound in DCP as well. Look at 24beelden.nl

  18. Hi Knut! Thanks so much for your post, it’s very helpful. I’m a total newbie and I’ll be formatting a hard drive for the first time to put a DCP on it and I’m wondering if using Neil Oseman’s method is safe:

    “Once Ubuntu was running, I right-clicked the LaCie Rugged in the list of drives in the lower left of the desktop and chose format from the contextual menu. To get more than the default options, I clicked Disk Utility in the dialogue box that came up. I could now select EXT3 as the file system (leaving the other settings at their default values). When I clicked format, Ubuntu didn’t seem to be doing anything, but after a few minutes the Disk Utility showed that the volume had been created.”

    Or do I need to go through your method to be on the safer side?

  19. Hi. MBR, inode 128 and chmod 755 is recommended.

  20. Hi,
    Has anyone done a ext3 MBR, inode 128 and chmod 755 using on a Win10 system
    EaseUS Partition Master and then paragon ExtFS for Windows to copy your DCP to the drive.

    -Evan

  21. Well over my head here…
    But I have created a DCP file for my local theater…

    They have a Doremi? server and Christie 2K projectors.

    I put the file on a normal cheap flash drive and nothing showed up at the theater… What should I do differently to transport my DCP to the theater? We have 15 student films scheduled to play in 3 days and I need help.

    I downloaded the trial easyDCP to be sure my DCP file would play and it did.

    Thanks for any help!

  22. Sounds like you have a GPT or Exfat flash drive. I updated the post with a description on how you can check if you have a 1 partition Master Boot Record NTFS hard drive/ USB pen in Windows. The people working at the cinema should be able to copy the content to a working flash drive.

  23. Hi, What are the rules on the naming of the first folder of the DCP? Also can that folder be re-named?

  24. Question, why does a USB3 stick like Corsair Flash Voyager Slider 128gig take SO much longer to format then a 1TB HHD USB3 drive.
    Also I’ve heard it is not good to use hard drivers 2TB or larger for DCP’s. But since 500gig drives are almost impossible to get and 1TB drives are going that way also. What will be the plan?

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