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.

Updates:

  • You are allowed to have many DCPs and Assetmaps on the same hard drive according to the ISDCF Disc File Format guide and updated SMPTE standards.
  • Many cinemas are connected to digital DCP transfer networks like Movie Transit. Film festivals often accept uploading to Filemail and FTP servers. I wrote a post about it here.
  • Cinema DCP servers/players may use older Linux versions, which do not natively support exFAT formatted hard drives.
  • GUID/GPT hard drives are not supported on older systems but works on upgraded systems.
  • NTFS can be an alternative to MBR Linux ext2/3. If you are downloading a DCP and want to ingest it on a player/server it can be simpler to format it to MBR NTFS.

DCP hard drives:

USB 2/3 HARD DRIVE

DCPs are often delivered on small USB 2/3 hard drives in a small Pelican case:

-Lacie rugged hard drive
(Amazon link #ad)

-Pelican 1120 case
(Amazon link #ad)

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)

USB 3.0 to USB Splitter Cable (Y-cable)
(Amazon link #ad)

Cru DCP KIT 3

Pre-built CRU DCP KIT 3 with USB 2/3 adapter pre-formatted to ext3:

https://www.cru-inc.com/products/digital-cinema/digital-cinema-dcp-kit-3/

Custom made Pelican case/CRU DX115 KIT

Use these parts:

-The Cru Dataport DX-115 harddrive carrier/caddy:
(Amazon link #ad)

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

Western Digital Caviar Blue 2 TB 3.5 Inch Hard Drive or similar
(Amazon link #ad)

Pelican 1200 case

Together these could look like this:

Pelican 1200 cables
Pelican 1200 dx115
Pelican 1200 case

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 you can use a Raspberry Pi 400 or run Linux in Virtualbox on macs or windows.
See this post for more info on installing Ubuntu 20.04 in Virtualbox

Formatting the hard drive to ext 2/3 with gparted

In terminal. Install gparted.

sudo apt-get install gparted

Run GParted

sudo gparted

In Gparted

Make a MBR partition

(Max 2 TB)

Choose the correct hard drive like /dev/sdb

Click on “Device” – “Create a partition table”

Choose msdos and apply. All data on the disk will be erased.

Partition and format it to ext2

The hard drive is now empty and the partition is unallocated

Right-click the unallocated partition and choose
Create new partition

Choose
Create as: Primary Partition
File system: ext2
Label:DISK234 or something similar

Click on the green checkmark “Apply All Operations”

Now the hard drive is usable on modern cinema equipment

Reformat with inode 128 (optional)

If you want to support very old equipment you can reformat as inode 128

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


Copy the DCP in a file manager

Run nautilus with sudo 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.

Make the DCP directory read-only and executable

In Terminal use the chmod -R 755 command on the folder you made.

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

Verifying downloaded DCPs

You can check if the downloaded DCP is OK in the trial version of EasyDCP Player

You can mount ext 2 hard drive read-only on windows with Paragon extfs for windows or on macs with Paragon extfs for mac

Drag the DCP to Easydcp player

Choose Asset – Hash Checker
In Hash Checker
Choose start



Or use this command in terminal and compare the values to values in the Assetmap XML file:

openssl sha1 -binary "FILE_NAME" | openssl base64
CPL XML file with hash values

NTFS hard drives

GPT NTFS hard drives

If you are downloading a DCP to a hard drive and want to ingest it in your cinema, GPT NTFS hard drives from the store work on upgraded cinema players/servers. You can use Paragon NTFS for mac to format and write to NTFS hard drives on Macs.

MBR NTFS hard drives

If you have older equipment or are sending a hard drive to a cinema, MBR NTFS 1 partition hard drives are readable also on the older cinema players/servers. MBR has a limit of 2 TB per partition.

How to check/format a 1 partition MBR NTFS hard drive in Windows:


Computer Management –
Storage – Disk Management.

When I right-click the Disk it says “Convert to GPT”, Now I know the hard drive is MBR.

If it 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.

You can right-click the volume and format it to NTFS


24 comments

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

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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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?

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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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