Some tips on downloading and uploading DCPs and large files

Here are some tips on downloading and uploading DCPs and other large files like prores quicktime files that are often 100+ GB:


Downloading and uploading tips

-I recommended using a fast internet connection. (200/200 mbit/s). (Use a good network cable/router)
-I recommend using Filemail, Amazon S3, SFTP server and IBM Aspera to download and upload large files.
-I recommend using a download manager like free download manager or cyberduck which supports resume to download large files.

Different services I use to send and receive large files

Filemail
I have used filemail to receive files on film festivals I have worked on. I usually receive around 20 films that are around 20 GB – 100 GB each. I use Amazon S3 and SFTP Server as alternatives to using filemail.

Price
15 Dollars per month for a Filemail Business account

Speed
With the filemail desktop app I can get fast speed to and from filemail server in Norway and downloading in Norway.

Storage 
With a Filemail  Business account you can send and receive large files, up to 1000 GB. And you can store 1000 GB permanently. With a Enterprise account you get 5 TB of permanent storage. You can delete transfers that are downloaded and verified to free up storage. You can choose different servers in different countries to store the files.

Ease of use
The Desktop filemail app works best on 100+ gb files and support resume and error checking and can be used to automatically download all incoming files. When I receive DCPs and Prores files at film festivals I ask that the files is sent using the filemail desktop client to my registered filemail email address. These files arrive in my filemail account and is auto downloaded by my filemail desktop app. I sometimes download the files using the FTP client Cyberduck. To enable FTP you go to  Company Settings –  Download page and choose enable FTP.

Verification
You can enable Filemail to show the md5 hash on the download page to add verification. If the MD5 hash sum is the same on filemail as it on the local hard drive the file is uploaded correctly. To enable MD5 verification you go to  Company Settings –  Download page.
You can also ask the sender to generate a  md5 checksum and send it to you.  That way you can verify the downloaded file.

Amazon S3
Amazon S3 can be used to deliver and receive big files on the internet . S3 storage is very reliable and scalable.

Price and Storage
You pay $0.09 per GB for data transfer and $0.023 per GB so it can be more expensive than filemail. But you only pay for when you are using the service and you can store unlimited data.

Ease of use and verification
-You can use the s3 web uploader or use Cyberduck and similar programs to upload to S3. It uses integrity checks when uploading. After uploading you can make the link accessible (public) and give the clients the S3 download link. You can also do more advanced S3 stuff like making a user with a bucket with it’s own access and secret key that can be accessed with cyberduck and similar programs. Or set up Amazon SFTP transfer 

Speed
Amazon S3 storage is very fast.

Dedicated root SFTP Server
I have a dedicated root server running Ubuntu and a SFTP server at Hetzner to send and receive DCPs and large Prores files. Having a dedicated 1000 mbit server that you can remote control with SSH is great because you have complete control.

Price
A dedicated server running SFTP at hetzner can be set up on the cheapest action servers that cost around 35 Euro a month.  

Storage
A Hetzner 35 Euro a month auction servers are typically 2×4 TB in RAID 0 which means one hard drive is redudant and storage is 4 TB. But more storage can be bought.

Speed
Max speed for all transfers is 1000 mbit.

Ease of Use
Using Cyberduck to upload and download from SFTP server is easy. I installed Ubuntu on a hetzner server and have secured it by keeping it up to date with 

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

and setting up SFTP with chroot jailsecure random passwords generated by the lastpass password generator and fail2ban to stop ssh brute force attacks.

Verification
You can ask uploaders to add a text file with the md5 hash values and verify the files when theyhave been downloaded. You can also use md5sum "file" on the files in a ssh terminal on the server before you download. You can also compress the files with rar or similar compression software.

Other services I have also used

IBM Aspera Cloud
I have used IBM Aspera Cloud on many DCP transfers. It is used by many film festivals and post-production services. It is very fast and uses a special client in your web browser. I have reached almost 1000 mbit on transfers.

Tools
7z or RAR archive utilities 

-If you want to send a uncompressed quicktime file, TIFF or DPX image sequences or wav files I recommend using RAR or 7z with normal compression if you have the time to do compression. A uncompressed quicktime file will be reduced to half the size after RAR or 7z compression.
-I recommend Keka on mac and  winrar on Windows.
-7z and RAR archives can be protected with encryption and a password and have a built in hash check.
-In Keka, choose 7z and store for no compression or normal for normal compression, then drag the folder to the Keka window.
-You can also split the archive in parts and upload the file in parts. Example 20 GB. If one of the parts is corrupted you only need to upload that part again.

Verification tools
-DCPs have the checksums for the files of the DCP in the XML files that can be verified with easydcp player or using this command
openssl sha1 -binary "FILE_NAME" | openssl base64 
If the sender sends a 7z archive, the receiver will know when unpacking if the file fails the 7z checksum test.
-When sending prores quicktime files and other files without built-in verification, it is common practice in post production that the sender include a md5 checksum to enable verification of the file.


Generating a MD5 checksum

The client can find the MD5 checksum of a file with utilities like Hash Tab for windows and Hash Tab for mac

You also use the command md5 "file" in a terminal on a Mac to generate a md5 file hash value. The Terminal app is in Applications – Utilities. You can type md5 and push space, then drag the file from a finder window and push enter.

You can use the command certutil -hashfile "file" md5 on a Windows 7, 8, 10 computer in a command prompt (CMD)

You can use md5sum "file" in a terminal or ssh on a linux computer.

DCP and quicktime specific advice

-When downloading a DCP folder in Filezilla from a FTP server it is important to change Transfer – transfer type – binary. It should not be ascii or auto, this way the XML files will pass the checksum test.

-Ask people who submit DCPs to ether upload the folder or the archive format RAR or 7z instead of zip. This way you can avoid the (large) Mac OS archive utility zip files that can only be opened by the Mac OS archive zip utility. Both Keka and 7-Zip can make 7z archives.

-I recommend checking DCPs in Easydcp player. The trial version will let you know if the DCP fails some checks. You can also run a file hash check.

You should also make a DCP quality checklist that may include:
-Is the DCP named correctly?
Is it in the correct scope or flat format? The DCP should have a correct digital naming convention name. Example: The DCP is called Dcpname_SHR_S but is actually Dcpname_SHR_F because the subtitles are burned in too low and will be cropped at a scope preset in your cinema.
-Is the DCP in the correct language/subtitle language?
-Will the DCP play at your venue. Example: You may have a server with old firmware that can play 25 SMPTE DCPs with burned in subtitles, but not SMPTE 2010 subtitles. (all film festivals should have updated firmware/software).

-If you have downloaded a DCP folder archive like DCP.7z on a mac and want to ingest in on a digital cinema media block/server/player you can extract it to a DX115 hard drive or similar.

Other tips

-If you get an error message extracting a zip file in Keka that says error code 2 using p7zip, you probably need to extract the zip file with mac os archive utility.

3 Replies to “Some tips on downloading and uploading DCPs and large files”

  1. Hi Knut.
    Great work! Just the info I needed to solve my problems transporting DCP files over the net.
    Thank you.
    Best Regards Ulrik Lyhne, Aarhus Film Workshop

  2. Hi Knut, thanks for the tips.
    Quick question.. Do you know if there is a site out there with limits as high as say, filemail.com, which allow you to upload via an FTP program like filezilla?
    Alternatively, a site which has a desktop uploader which you can use with a free account?
    – I seem to have trouble sending larger files over my internet connection using a web-browser; it often fails and I have to start again.
    Cheers!

  3. Hi.
    An alternative is Amazon S3. You can use CrossFtp and similar programs to upload to S3. And the link you give clients will be very reliable.

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